Annapolis man discovers historic flag error

May 23, 2010

ANNAPOLIS — The Rev. Richardson Libby certainly has an unflagging dedication to history. Thanks to his perseverance, the right version of the Stars and Stripes is hanging inside the State House rotunda.

Libby, who lives across the street from the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis, discovered that the flag thought to be an accurate reproduction of one made in 1783 was incorrect. The blue field of 13 eight-point stars should have been vertical instead of horizontal.

He worked with historians to rectify the situation over a period of several years, and the corrected banner was unveiled on Flag Day 2009.

"Being a history buff and a Colonial person, I feel very good (about it)," said Libby, who is scheduled to speak about the topic Tuesday at St. John's College as part of the school's lecture series.

Elaine Rice Bachmann, director of artistic property, exhibits and outreach at the Maryland State Archives, praised Libby's efforts, both in terms of the flag and his volunteerism.

"Rev. Libby is loved by many people in this town," she said. "He's one of those volunteers that are the lifeblood of institutions."

The 78-year-old Libby, a retired Episcopal priest, is a member of a long list of organizations, including the board of Hammond-Harwood, which is where the story of the flag first unfurled.

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