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The Gold Fringed Flag

by J. Krim Bohren

The flag of our nation is described and specified at law.1 Yet today more than one flag is in use in the United States-one is red, white and blue, and the other is red, white, blue and GOLD.

In our history the national flag changed a number of times. On June 15, 1775, the Continental Congress appointed General Washington to take "supreme command of the forces raised, and to be raised, in the defense of American liberty." A battle flag for this force was subsequently displayed on the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in July 1777. A resolution passed by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777 (Flag Day) describes the official national Flag for the United States of America.

It had thirteen stripes and stars.2 A Flag with fifteen stripes and stars, known as the 1795 Fort McHenry flag, was authorized by an Act of Congress and was flown during the War of 1812. This flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." In March 1818 an Act of Congress returned the Flag to thirteen stripes with 20 stars and ordered the addition of one star for each new State, to take effect the 4th day of July following the admission of that State.

A gold fringed flag is a battle flag reserved to the General of the Army for use over military headquarters and to display at courts-martial. The Commander-In-Chief, as the civilian authority over a lawfully standing national militia or Army, may designate that flag's use elsewhere. This gives a president, when acting as Commander-In-Chief, power to place the government's battle flag wherever he wishes to establish jurisdiction of the military force.

In 1925, an interpretation of statute law by the Attorney General of the United States clarified the intent and purpose of gold fringes or adornments to the national Flag to be within the discretion of the president as Commander-In-Chief. "Placing of fringe on national flag, dimensions of flag, and arrangement of stars in the union are matters of detail not controlled by statute, but are within the discretion of President as Commander- In-Chief of Army and Navy." 3 Thus, a gold fringed flag, often seen upon a staff or flagpole with a gold eagle atop it, or with gold streamers or tassels, is NOT the lawful, or OFFICIAL, Flag of our Nation.

A gold fringed flag used widely by courts, schools, service organizations and private individuals is NOT a symbol of our constitutional republic, or national Union of States. It signifies a military jurisdictional presence.

One official difference between the two flags is that when the fringe is placed around the Flag it denotes a military battle flag, not a national Flag. Now the lawful status of a Citizen becomes important. For in a military jurisdiction, where the court-martial tribunal displays the fringed battle flag, it may impose criminal sanctions for issues involving contracts, without due process of law. In a Judicial Department court under the national Flag, as described in the Constitution for the United States of America, as well as in State Constitutions, due process must be observed and followed, with all the protection of Constitutional Law.

The Founding Fathers, through the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, secured the sovereignty of the States for WE THE PEOPLE. A flag of bordered design, like the fringed battle flag, denotes that the jurisdiction of the federal government is present. If the courtrooms in your State display gold fringed flags, who is exercising jurisdiction?

1. Proper display of the Flag is covered in 36 USCS §§ 141 et seq.; 35 Am Jur 2d, Flag §§ 1, 7; 61 Stat. 642 (July 30, 1947) and; R.S. § 1792.

2. Congress of 1777, "...that the Flag of the United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white; that the union (a device emblematic of any political union) be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

3. Interpretive Notes and Decisions, to 4 USCS § 1


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