The 21-gun salute became the highest honor a nation rendered. Varying customs among the maritime powers led to confusion in saluting and return of salutes. Great Britain, the world’s preeminent seapower in the 18th and 19th centuries, compelled weaker nations to salute first, and for a time monarchies received more guns than did republics. Eventually, by agreement, the international salute was established at 21 guns, although the United States did not agree on this procedure until August 1875.The gun salute system of the United States has changed considerably over the years. In 1810, the “national salute” was defined by the War Department as equal to the number of states in the Union–at that time 17. This salute was fired by all U.S. military installations at 1:00 p.m. (later at noon) on Independence Day. The President also received a salute equal to the number of states whenever he visited a military installation.In 1842, the Presidential salute was formally established at 21 guns. In 1890, regulations designated the “national salute” as 21 guns and redesignated the traditional Independence Day salute, the “Salute to the Union,” equal to the number of states. Fifty guns are also fired on all military installations equipped to do so at the close of the day of the funeral of a President, ex-President, or President-elect.Today the national salute of 21 guns is fired in honor of a national flag, the sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family, and the President, ex-President and President-elect of the United States. It is also fired at noon of the day of the funeral of a President, ex-President, or President-elect.
The T-shirt, now unisex and all-purpose, began its life as an undergarment worn by men. In the Middle Ages, T-shaped shirts made of woven cotton or linen provided a layer between the body and the garments worn over top. These shirts were easy to wash and provided a hygienic barrier for the skin. Wearing a clean, laundered shirt showed off a gentleman’s wealth. The shape of the shirt — large, rectangular pieces of cloth sewn into a “T” shape with long shirt tails that tucked between the legs — changed in the 19th century when the shirt tails were removed and the body of the shirt slimmed down to a tighter fit.The T-shirt underwent several significant changes in the 19th century. New knitting technology meant that it could be mass-produced in a more form-fitting shape, with added refinements and in a wider range of textiles such as calico, jersey and wool. Hygienists lauded knit-wool, T-shaped undershirts as protection against colds and bodily maladies, and recommended that women wear them instead of corsets. By the late 19th century, British sailors (above) had begun wearing white flannel T-shirts under their woollen uniforms. At the end of the century, the British Royal Navy began allowing their sailors to wear these undershirts when working on deck. The practice of wearing T-shirts as outerwear was quickly adopted by working-class men on the weekends. In 1880, the US Navy included a loose-fitting flannel shirt with a square neck in its uniform; in 1913, it adopted a white, cotton-knit T-shirt as its official underwear. The cotton dried faster than the flannel and was more comfortable.