"Washington Bicentennial 1732-1932" Parade Flag, Printed Red, White, and Blue, circa 1930

Presented is a George Washington Bicentennial parade flag from 1932. The flag is printed with blue, white, and red stripes, with a prominent bust portrait of George Washington at center. The words “Washington Bicentennial” and the dates “1732-1932" are printed in white above and below the portrait. The flag is attached to its original stick, with a painted gold finial at top. This flag would have been used during a parade or similarly festive event celebrating the 200 year anniversary of George Washington’s birth. 

The bicentennial of Washington’s birth in February, 1932, was an occasion celebrated throughout the United States. In anticipation of the two hundred year anniversary, President Coolidge established the official George Washington Bicentennial Commission in December of 1924. Throughout the next seven years, the Commission organized numerous projects, programs and celebrations to commemorate the historic date, and encouraged communities and civic organizations throughout the United States to do so as well. 

The holiday was an “opportunity to reacquaint Americans with their country’s aspirations and principles of government, separate the man from the myth with educational materials about his life and accomplishments, inspire patriotism and have some fun” (Baskin). The excitement by which Americans lauded Washington was evident in the sheer scale of the celebration. Records indicate that there were “4,760,345 individual bicentennial programs held by churches, schools, civic bodies, fraternal orders and more” (Baskin).  Although the celebrations took place during the Great Depression, lavish and elaborate events were still planned. Grand parades and birthday balls were held across the country, many of which played colonial music and required dress in historic costume. 

There were also numerous educational components to the nine-month-long celebration. Theaters throughout the country showed an informative film, “Washington: The Man and the Capitol,” to educate Americans about the first president’s leadership. Students studied materials provided by the “Education Division” of the Bicentennial Commission, which were distributed nationwide to schools for free. The literature’s aim was to educate, as well as debunk overly flattering myths about the president. The Commission presented Washington not only as a great leader but also as a fallible man, persevering through moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. 

As expected, the nation was swept up in a surge of patriotism and “George Washington fever,” which inspired printers, publishers, and manufacturers to produce as much Washington-related material as possible. New biographies exploring all aspects of Washington’s life were published. Inexpensive engravings and lithographs depicting George Washington were printed and sold to the public.  And small printed flags and hand-held fans were made to wave during public parades and celebrations. 

CONDITION:

Very good condition. Printed flag. Flag is hemmed with a red thread, in a running stitch. Flag attached to stick with two nails. Original gold finial at top of stick. Some light staining along the hoist, as a result of the wooden stick. Flag has some wrinkles from past storage. Flag Dimensions: 4" H x 5 3/4" W (flag), 12 1/2"H (stick). 

Presented mounted to a dark brown archival fabric. In a newly built, custom wooden and gold frame, with UV glass, a gold six-pointed star, and an engraved gold metal plaque. 

Framed Dimensions: 16" H x 10.5" W x 1.5" D




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