Women's History
Flag Day
Mary Pickersgill and the Star-Spangled Banner

Mary Pickersgill and the Star-Spangled Banner
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.29

     challenging words:    flag-making, brewery, burning, civilian, further, widow, military, schooling, successful, founded, favor, newly, death, businesswoman, government, absence
     content words:    Star-Spangled Banner, Mary Pickersgill, Rebecca Young, Revolutionary War, John Pickersgill, Major George Armistead, Some Americans, Major Armistead, Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key

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     Spanish: Mary Pickersgill y la "bandera de estrellas centelleantes"

Mary Pickersgill and the Star-Spangled Banner
By Mary Lynn Bushong

1     What do the War of 1812, the Star-Spangled Banner, and Mary Pickersgill have in common? Read a little further, and you will find out.
2     Mary Pickersgill lived in Baltimore, Maryland, for more than fifty years, but she wasn't born there. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 12, 1776.
3     Her mother, Rebecca Young, was a widow and supported her daughter by making and designing flags of all kinds. She not only made them for the military, but she also made them for civilian groups.
4     Rebecca worked through the Revolutionary War and taught her daughter her craft. Mary was still small when she moved with her mother to Baltimore, where they worked together making flags until Mary married John Pickersgill.
5     Rebecca moved back to Philadelphia with the newly married couple. Their absence from Baltimore lasted for twelve years. By that time, John had died, and Mary had a young daughter, Caroline. They returned to Baltimore to continue the business Rebecca had started there.
6     Mary established her own flag-making business there and ran it successfully. It's no surprise that when Major George Armistead wanted a special flag, he went to Mary.
7     In 1812, the Americans went to war with the British. Some Americans had burned the government buildings in what is now Toronto, Ontario (Canada), and the British returned the favor in 1814 by burning Washington, D.C.
8     Major Armistead was concerned that the British would soon be coming to Baltimore. He wanted a big flag to fly over Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore. When the British came, he wanted them to easily see to whom the fort belonged.
9     Mary listened to what he wanted and promised to have the flag ready in six weeks. Then she began to make what was probably the largest flag of her career.

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