An Appeal To Heaven Flag (ETSY)

San Francisco Quietly Removes ‘An Appeal To Heaven’ Flag Following Alito Controversy

An Appeal To Heaven Flag (ETSY)
An Appeal To Heaven Flag (ETSY)

The city of San Francisco, known for its progressive values and commitment to inclusivity, has found itself at the center of a controversy surrounding a historical flag that has supposedly taken on new meaning in recent years.

The “An Appeal to Heaven” flag, which once symbolized the quest for American independence, has now become a rallying symbol for certain right-wing and Christian nationalist movements, according to left-wing media outlets.,

This led to its quiet removal from a prominent display in the city.

The “An Appeal To Heaven” flag has its roots in the American Revolution, when it was first flown on colonial ships at the request of George Washington. The phrase “Appeal to Heaven” was inspired by a resolution adopted by the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts following the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which called for “Appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause.” The flag, featuring a simple pine tree design, quickly became a symbol of the American colonists’ fight for independence.

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According to the San Franciso Chronicle, the “An Appeal to Heaven” flag was one of several historical flags that flew outside San Francisco’s City Hall for many years as part of the city’s Pavilion of American Flags.

This collection of flags, installed during a period of heightened nationalism in the 1960s, was intended to represent different moments in American history.

The controversy surrounding the “An Appeal to Heaven” flag exploded when it was revealed that the flag had been flying outside the beach house of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. This led to accusations of Alito’s political leanings and calls for him to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election and former President Trump.

Rioters on January 6th carried these flags, as well as the U.S. Flag and many others.

Justice Samuel Alito Wednesday firmly stood his ground, rejecting demands to step aside from cases involving former President Donald Trump and the events of January 6th, 2021, over the flag flying at his home.

However, the city of San Francisco made the decision to quietly remove the “Appeal to Heaven” flag from its Civic Center display.

In a statement to SF Chronicle, Rec & Park officials acknowledged that while the flag once symbolized the “quest for American independence,” it had since “been adopted by a different group – one that doesn’t represent the city’s values.” The flag was swapped out for a standard American flag.

Using that logic, the American flag carried by rioters on January 6 would also be a symbol that ‘doesn’t represent the city’s values.’

The removal of the “Appeal to Heaven” flag from San Francisco’s Civic Center has not put an end to the debate over its meaning and significance. Some right-wing commentators have criticized the city’s decision, arguing that it represents a rejection of the flag’s historical context. Others have defended the move, stating that the flag’s current associations with extremism and divisiveness make it unsuitable for display in a public space.

The origins of the Appeal to Heaven flag can be traced back to the turbulent years preceding the American Revolution. In 1775, as the colonies stood on the brink of open conflict with the British Crown, Colonel Joseph Reed, who served as the personal secretary to George Washington, commissioned the creation of a squadron of six military cruiser ships. These vessels were to be adorned with a flag that would become a symbol of the colonists’ defiant stance against the tyranny of King George III.

Reed’s design was a simple, yet profoundly impactful one. Featuring a solitary pine tree, a symbol of the strength and resilience of the New England states, the flag bore the bold inscription “An Appeal to Heaven” across a white field. This powerful phrase, drawn from the writings of the British philosopher John Locke, encapsulated the colonists’ belief that when all other avenues for justice had been exhausted, they had the right to appeal to a higher power for deliverance.

The concept of “an appeal to heaven” was deeply rooted in the political and theological discourse of the time. John Locke, a prominent Enlightenment thinker, had argued in his “Second Treatise on Civil Government” that when a nation’s laws and governments failed to protect the fundamental rights of its people, they had the moral justification to take up arms and seek justice from a divine source.

Locke’s ideas resonated strongly with the colonial leaders, who saw themselves as facing a similar predicament. Denied their rightful liberties by the British Crown, the colonists believed they had no choice but to turn to a higher power for vindication. This sentiment was echoed in Patrick Henry’s famous “Liberty or Death” speech, as well as in the “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms” issued by the Second Continental Congress.

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The choice of the pine tree as the central motif of the Appeal to Heaven flag was no mere coincidence. In the 18th century, the Northeastern colonies, particularly New Hampshire, had become a vital hub for the British Navy, with the Eastern White Pine serving as the primary source of masts and lumber for the Crown’s ships.

However, the British government’s strict regulations on the harvesting of these prized trees, even on colonial land, had fueled growing resentment among the settlers. The infamous “Pine Tree Riot” of 1771, in which local mill owners resisted the British crackdown on lumber usage, was a precursor to the larger revolutionary movement that would soon engulf the colonies.

By incorporating the pine tree into the flag’s design, the colonists were making a bold statement about their determination to defend their natural resources and, by extension, their fundamental rights. The tree’s symbolic representation of strength, resilience, and the unyielding spirit of the New England people resonated deeply with the revolutionary cause.

The Appeal to Heaven flag saw its first significant use during the early stages of the American Revolution. In July 1775, as George Washington arrived in Cambridge to take command of the Continental Army, the flag was prominently displayed alongside the Connecticut state motto, “Qui transtulit sustinet,” which translates to “He who transplanted still sustains.”

The raising of the flag was accompanied by a solemn ceremony, with the reading of a manifesto from the Continental Congress and a prayer led by the army’s chaplain. This symbolic act, witnessed by the British forces on Bunker’s Hill, was a defiant declaration of the colonists’ unwavering resolve to fight for their freedom.

Throughout the war, the Appeal to Heaven flag continued to be used by the Continental Navy and privateers sailing from Massachusetts, serving as a rallying symbol for the revolutionary cause. Its presence on the high seas, as well as its display on land, underscored the colonists’ determination to appeal to a higher power for the justification of their actions.

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In the decades following the American Revolution, the Appeal to Heaven flag faded from the public consciousness, its legacy overshadowed by the rise of the iconic Stars and Stripes. However, in recent years, the flag has experienced a resurgence in popularity, particularly among certain political and religious groups.

For many, the Appeal to Heaven flag has come to represent a moral compass, guiding the nation through its most challenging times and reminding Americans of the fundamental values upon which their country was built. It serves as a powerful symbol of resilience, justice, and the unyielding pursuit of liberty – principles that continue to resonate with those who cherish the American spirit.

In the 21st century, the Appeal to Heaven flag has found new life as a symbol of Christian nationalism, often associated with the National Day of Prayer and flown by those who seek to uphold the nation’s purported Christian heritage. While this interpretation has been the subject of much debate and controversy, it underscores the flag’s enduring ability to captivate and inspire diverse segments of the American populace.

Regardless of one’s political or religious leanings, the ‘An Appeal To Heaven’ flag remains a powerful reminder of the sacrifices and struggles that paved the way for the United States’ founding.

It serves as a testament to the unwavering spirit of the American people, who, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, were willing to appeal to a higher power for the sake of their freedom and the pursuit of a more just and equitable society.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” George Santayana in his work The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense.

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