Why Is the American Flag Called ‘Old Glory?’

For nearly two centuries, the American flag has been called Old Glory. It’s become a common nickname used to describe our country’s signature flag consisting of 50 stars and 13 stripes. Unbeknownst to millions of Americans, though, there’s a story behind this nickname. To learn more about the American flag and why it’s called Old Glory, keep reading. In this post, we’re going to delve into the American flag’s history while revealing the origins of its now-iconic nickname.

The Origins of Old Glory

The story of Old Glory can be traced back to the mid-19th century. In 1831, a ship captain from Massachusetts named William Driver coined the nickname “Old Glory” during one of his voyages. At the time, Driver received an American flag from one of his shipmates, which he displayed proudly on his ship, the Charles Doggett. As the Charles Doggett sailed off from port, Driver discovered the American flag flowing gracefully in the wind, which prompted him to yell, “Old Glory.”

Driver had a close personal connection to the American flag. When he was just 13 years old, Driver left home to become a cabin boy on a local ship. During that time, he grew to appreciate the American flag and everything for which it stands.

In 1837, Driver retired from his career as a ship captain. Of course, it wasn’t long until the Civil War occurred. By this time, Driver’s nickname has spread throughout the Southeast, with countless other people calling the American flag “Old Glory.” In 1862, however, the town of Nashville was captured by Union soldiers who removed the American flag flying over the Southern town. In response, Driver went to his home where he gathered quilts and other scraps of fabric, which he pieced together to form a homemade American flag.

When writing about his thoughts to call the American flag “Old Glory,” Driver proclaimed, “It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?

Driver’s story has become synonymous with the history of the American flag. If it weren’t for Driver, the American flag probably wouldn’t have the nickname of Old Glory.

Old Glory isn’t the only nickname used to describe the American flag. Others include the Star-Spangled Banner, the Stars and Stripes and Red, White and Blue.

LIKE WHAT YOU READ?
Join thousands of others receiving our newsletter.
JOIN