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W.W. Carter Transcript

THE HEEL OF THE OLD FLAG-STAFF SHALL BRUISE THE RATTLESNAKE’S HEAD!

Baltimore Nov. 8, 1862
His Excy. The Governor of Maine
Sir!

On the 7th of August last I placed in the hands of the President of the United States, in the Executive Chamber at Washington, a small silken Union Flag, very handsomely gotten up, bearing in letters of gold, the motto, conceived by myself, that stands at the head of this page.

The presentation was accompanied by a letter explanatory of the motto, and at the same time requesting that the flag might be placed in the War Department, in order that the motto might be incorporated into our national faith during the present struggle for the supremacy of the Constitution and the Laws, and the perpetuity of our nationality. The letter embraced much that this one does, and was deemed by the President in his written reply as ‘earnest and patriotic’.

The motto, your Excellency will observe, is National, Symbolic and Prophetic. The heel of the old flag-staff represents the Federal Government; the rattlesnake head represents the rebellion inaugurated by South Carolina, the symbol of whose sovereignty is that vicious reptile; and the declaration of enmity between the heel and the head is prophetic of the absolute power and inflexible determination of the Federal Government to crush out the rebellion at any and every cost commensurate with the life of the nation.

Let the motto be inscribed upon the flaunting banners of our advancing armies; let it be spread before the public eye and thundered into the public ear at all the loyal gatherings of the people; let it stimulate the heart of the nation all over the land; and finally let it be the battle-cry for the Union until the Flag of our Country shall again be planted upon every mountain-top and its musical flutterings again be borne upon every passing breeze.

Yea! Until
‘O’er all the cities and forts once more
The stars and stripes we shall restore’

I have taken the liberty of thus addressing your Excellency for the purpose of introducing the motto to your notice for such consideration as you may be pleases to bestow upon it.

Begging the honor of a reply to this letter, in order that I may know whether it has reached its destination,

I am, with the highest regard,
Your Excy’s ob’t serv’t
W.W. Carter