Captain William Driver Monument

Monument LocationEssex and Summer Street
(click link for map)

Captain William DriverThe monument serves to honor Captain William Driver, a Salem native credited with naming the American flag: “Old Glory”. Born on March 17th, 1803, he gave his early years in service to the sea. At age 14, he signed onto his first assignment, the “China”, as a sailor boy. Throughout the years, he would eventually be promoted to master of the brig “Charles Doggert”.

In 1831, William’s mother and others from Salem made him an American flag to adorn on his ship. He would refer to the flag as “Old Glory”, and kept the flag throughout the years of his life. In 1837, he retired from the sea and moved to Nashville, Tennessee.

As tension between the North and the South rose in the early 1860’s, William continually displayed “Old Glory” outside of his residence. After the war began, however, he hid the flag under his mattress so that the Confederates would not take it. On a number of occasions, Confederate supporters and officials searched his home, but the flag was never found.

On February 22nd, 1862, the 6th Ohio Infantry from the Union Army captured Nashville in a victory over the Confederates. On this day, William approached the Regiment’s Captain and asked to display “Old Glory” over the Capitol building. The Captain agreed, and William raised the flag. He stood guard throughout the day and into the night, and eventually replaced “Old Glory” with a new flag the following day.  

William would go on to serve as the Provost for Nashville through the remainder of the Civil War. He eventually passed away in 1886. Touched by his story, Congress designated that his grave display the American flag at all times.

In 1968, Captain Nichols ran a fundraiser to erect a monument for Captain William Driver. With the assistance of hundreds of school children in Salem, enough money was raised to meet the goal. The monument is located at the corner of Essex and North Streets, dedicated in his honor.

Driver Monument