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Why do people call the American Flag “Old Glory”?

2010 March 13
by Flagpro Staff

According to the chronicles of American flag history, the name “Old Glory” was coined in 1831 by a shipmaster from Salem Massachusetts named Captain William Driver.  As the story goes, Captain Driver was on his way out to sea on a voyage to rescue the mutineers of the Bounty, when he was presented with a beautiful 24-star American flag.  Once at sea, when the flag opened up to the ocean’s breeze, he was heard exclaiming “Old Glory!”

Even after his retirement, Captain Driver would take his treasured flag with him to Nashville, where everyone in town recognized it as “Old Glory.”  His flag was so famous that after Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebel fighters were determined to seize and destroy it.  But after several attempts to find it in Driver’s home, they eventually gave up.

In 1862, when Union forces once again raised the American flag over Nashville, residents started asking the Captain, “Whatever happened to “Old Glory?”

Sure enough, he was able to produce the renowned flag by releasing it from the quilted enclosure of his bed covers. As soldiers peered inside, there it was – the 24-star original American flag “Old Glory”.  What a day that was in Nashville!  On February 25, 1862, a 60 year-old Captain Driver gathered up that flag and climbed to the top of city tower, where he replaced the small Union flag with his beloved “Old Glory” to the cheers of the Sixth Ohio Regiment.

To this day, Captain William Driver’s grave in Nashville is one of the few places in America where the United States flag can be flown 24 hours a day.

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