SHARE Collection Highlights

"Remember the Maine" 45-Star Flag

Originally produced in 1898 as an homage to the recently sunken USS Maine, this authentic 45-star American flag is emblazoned with the battle cry of the Spanish-American War.

On February 15, 1898, in a catastrophic explosion that was never fully explained, the USS Maine was destroyed in Havana Harbor off the coast of Cuba. While the cause of the explosion is still subject to wide speculation, popular opinion in the United States increasingly blamed an attack by Spain in retaliation for American intervention in Cuba's War for Independence—soon giving rise to the incendiary "Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!" catchphrase and ultimately catalyzing the start of the Spanish-American War.

A focal point of the Museum & Library's permanent exhibit space, this extremely rare, original 45-star American flag is prominently displayed on our main floor in the center of our Medal of Honor exhibit. The canton and stripes of the flag are constructed of treadle-sewn cotton, as are the 45 white stars, which are double-appliqued. The flag also features a canvas sleeve with eight button whip-stitched grommets, and, more noticeably, black chintz letters hand-sewn across the flag's sixth and eighth white stripes.

  • The 45-star flag was the official national emblem of the United States from 1896—upon the induction of the state of Utah—until 1908, when Oklahoma joined the Union as its 46th state.

  • The USS Maine—an armored cruiser that took nine years and cost the U.S. Navy more than two million dollars to build—exploded off the coast of Cuba in 1898, claiming the lives of more than 260 sailors.

  • Displayed prominently on the main floor of the Museum & Library, our "Remember the Maine" 45-star flag is among the true highlights of our collection.

  • In January 1898, just three weeks before its sinking, the USS Maine sailed into Havana Harbor to protect U.S. interests related to the Cuban War for Independence.