Our Flag
H. Doc. 100—247
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Entered the Union in 1819 as the 22nd State; flag adopted in 1895. The diagonal cross and the square shape of the flag recall the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, organized in February of 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama's capital.


Entered the Union in 1959 as the 49th State; flag adopted in 1927. Benny Benson, a 13-year-old student, chose the North Star and the Big Dipper when he designed Alaska's flag in a territorial school contest. Its colors recall the Alaskan sky and its gold.


Entered the Union in 1912 as the 48th State; flag adopted in 1917. Red and yellow are the colors of Spain, while blue is for the United States and the copper star symbolizes mineral resources. The rays suggest the setting sun over the desert.


Entered the Union in 1836 as the 25th State; flag adopted in 1913, modified in 1923 and 1924. Arkansas' rank in the Union is indicated by the stars which border the diamond, recalling that it is the only State where minerals are mined. The four stars in the diamond refer to important aspects of Arkansas history.


Entered the Union in 1850 as the 31st State; flag adopted in 1911, modified in 1953. Americans, in what was then Mexican territory, proclaimed the independence of California on June 14, 1846. The banner of their "Rear Flag Republic" was later adopted by the State.


Entered the Union in 1876 as the 38th State; flag adopted in 1911, modified in 1964. Yellow and white refer to the mining of gold and silver while these colors plus blue are found in the Rocky Mountain columbine, the State flower. Red is also for the Spanish word for that color—colorado.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the fifth State; flag adopted in 1897. The grape vines in the coat of arms refer to the three original colonies—Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook. The motto "He Who Brought Us Over Will Sustain Us," is based on the 80th Psalm.


Ratified the Constitution on December 1, 1787, as the first State; flag adopted in 1913. Revolutionary War uniforms are honored in the blue and buff colors while commerce (the ship), and agriculture (wheat, corn, ox, farmer) are featured in the coat of arms.


Entered the Union in 1845 as the 27th State; flag adopted in 1900, modified in 1985. The cross derives from the Confederate Battle Flag. The State seal shows a Seminole woman, a steamboat, and the State tree—a sabal palmetto palm.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the fourth State; flag adopted in 1956. The pillars in the seal are for the three branches of government, defended by the State military forces. The Battle Flag of the Confederacy recalls Georgia's Southern heritage.


Entered the Union in 1959 as the 50th State; flag adopted in 1816, modified in 1845. The British Union Jack recalls the one presented to King Kamehameha I in 1793 Captain George Vancouver. The eight stripes are for the principal islands of Hawaii.


Entered the Union in 1890 as the 43rd State; flag adopted in 1927. The seal incorporates symbols of agriculture, mining, forestry, wildlife, and women's rights. The Latin motto means "May She Last Forever."


Entered the Union in 1818 as the 21st State; flag adopted in 1915, modified in 1970. The central design is from the State seal and shows national symbols plus dates of Statehood (1818) and the seal itself ((1868).


Entered the Union in 1816 as the 19th State; flag adopted in 1917. The outer ring of stars is for the original States, the inner ring for those up to and including Indiana. Enlightenment and liberty spreading throughout the land are represented by the torch and rays.


Entered the Union in 1846 as the 29th State; flag adopted in 1921. The eagle and motto ribbon are found in the State seal. The stripes recall the French Tricolor since Iowa was acquired from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase.


Entered the Union in 1861 as the 34th State; flag adopted in 1925, modified in 1927 and 1963. A sunflower, the State floral emblem, appears above the State seal with figures representing pioneer life. The motto means "To the Stars Through Difficulties."


Entered the Union in 1792 as the 15th State; flag adopted in 1918, modified in 1962. The frontiersman and hunter, representing Kentucky and the original States, express the meaning of the motto in the seal. The State flower (goldenrod) frames the design at the bottom.


Entered the Union in 1812 as the 18th State; flag adopted in 1912. In heraldry a pelican tearing at her breast to feed her young is a symbol of self sacrifice. Louisiana used this symbol as a territory prior to Statehood.


Entered the Union in 1820 as the 23rd State; flag adopted in 1909. The motto "I Direct" refers to the North Star, Maine having once been the northernmost State. Agriculture, shipping, and forestry are symbolized by other elements in the coat of arms.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the seventh State; flag adopted in 1904. The coat of arms of the Lords Baltimore unites symbols of the Calvert and Crossland families. Maryland has used similar flags since at least 1638.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the sixth State; flag adopted in 1908, modified in 1971. The State motto translates "This Hand Oposed to Tyrants Searches, with the Sword, for Peaceful Conditions Under Liberty." The star indicates Statehood while the Native American was a Massachusetts symbol as early as 1629.


Entered the Union in 1837 as the 26th State; flag adopted in 1911. The national motto is accompanied in the Michigan arms by the slogans "I Shall Defend" and "If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look Around You." An elk, moose, and scenes from nature are included in the design.


Entered the Union in 1858 as the 32nd State; flag adopted in 1957. A scene from pioneer life appears in the State seal together with the motto "The North Star." The nineteen stars indicate Minnesota's rank in Statehood, following the original thirteen States.


Entered the Union in 1817 as the 20th State; flag adopted in 1894. The State flag is a combination of two Confederate flags—the Stars and Bars and the Battle Flag, both including the national colors.


Entered the Union in 1821 as the 24th State; flag adopted in 1913. On a background of the national colors appear the Missouri arms framed by stars indicating its order of Statehood. The Latin motto means "Let the Welfare of the People Be the Supreme Law."


Entered the Union in 1889 as the 41st State; flag adopted in 1905, modified 1981. The State seal shows the Great Falls of the Missouri River and tools indicating mining and agriculture. The motto "Gold and Silver" appears on a ribbon below.


Entered the Union in 1867 as the 37th State; flag adopted in 1925. Included in the State seal are the Rocky Mountains, the Missouri River, wheat and corn, a steamboat, a train, and a blacksmith with his hammer and anvil.


Entered the Union in 1864 as the 36th State; flag adopted in 1929. A spray of the State flower, sagebrush, frames a star of silver which recalls the mining industry. "Battle Born" refers to Nevada's Statehood during the Civil War.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the ninth State; flag adopted in 1909, modified in 1932. The importance in New Hampshire of shipbuilding during the Revolutionary War is suggested by the State seal. The nine stars correspond to New Hampshire's rank among the States.


Ratified the Constitution in 1787 as the third State; flag adopted in 1896. The buff background is for the uniforms worn by Revolutionary War soldiers from New Jersey. The coat of arms has the goddesses of liberty and agriculture, as well as three plows and a horse's head.


Entered the Union in 1912 as the 47th State; flag adopted in 1925. The red and gold colors of Spain, which once ruled the area, are combined with an ancient sun symbol of the Zia tribe of Native Americans in this flag.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the 11th State; flag adopted in 1901. The coat of arms shows a scene along the Hudson River, framed by goddesses of liberty and justice. The American eagle surmounts the world at the top; the motto "Excelsior" appears below.


Ratified the Constitution in 1789 as the 12th State; flag adopted in 1885. The national colors, a star for Statehood, and the initials of the State are included. The dates are for the Mecklenburg Declaration of In dependence (May 20, 1775) and the Halifax Resolves (April 12, 1776).


Entered the Union in 1889 as the 39th State; flag adopted in 1911. A military flag with a modified version of the United States coat of arms was carried by the Dakota Territorial Guard and later the North Dakota National Guard. The State flag is a modified version of those banners.


Entered the Union in 1803 as the 17th State; flag adopted in 1902. The only non-rectangular State flag has stars indicating Ohio's order of Statehood. The red disk and white ring are for the State tree (the buckeye) and first letter of the State name.


Entered the Union in 1907 as the 46th State; flag adopted in 1925, modified 1941 and 1988. An Osage shield stands for defense, its small crosses for lofty ideals. The blue background symbolizes loyalty, while the olive branch and calumet are for peace.


Entered the Union in 1859 as the 33rd State; flag adopted in 1925. The ox wagon of pioneers combines with scenes of nature and symbols of agriculture and shipping. The reverse of the flag is blue with a gold beaver.


Ratified the Constitution in 1787 as the second State; flag adopted in 1907. The coat of arms incorporates a ship for commerce and a plow and wheat sheaves for agriculture. Draft horses, the American eagle, and the State motto complete the design.


Ratified the Constitution in 1790 as the 13th State; flag adopted in 1897. An anchor, traditional symbol of hope, was first adopted by Rhode Island as a symbol in 1647. Rhode Island troops in the Revolutionary War carried flags of white with an anchor and thirteen stars.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the eighth State; flag adopted in 1861. Troops defending harbor forts during the Revolutionary War displayed a blue flag with a white crescent. The State tree, a palmetto, was added to the flag when South Carolina proclaimed its independence in 1861.


Entered the Union in 1889 as the 40th State; flag adopted in 1963. The State seal is represented against a sunburst. Its design includes symbols of stock raising, industry, agriculture, commerce, and nature.


Entered the Union in 1796 as the 16th State; flag adopted in 1905. The three stars refer to the fact that Tennessee was the third State to join after the Original Thirteen and is composed of three geographic regions. The colors are found in the flags of the United States and of the Confederacy.


Entered the Union in 1845 as the 28th State; flag adopted in 1839. The American origin of the settlers who revolted against Mexican rule and established the independent Republic of Texas was reflected in the flags they carried, including the one which eventually became the State flag of the "Lone Star State."


Entered the Union in 1896 as the 45th State; flag adopted in 1911, modified in 1913. The beehive symbolizes industry, while the American eagle and flags stand for loyalty to the Nation. The early settlers were saved from starvation by eating the sego lily, now recognized as the State flower.


Entered the Union in 1791 as the 14th State; flag adopted in 1923. The coat of arms, based on the State seal, shows a scene from nature with pine tree and mountains. Branches of pine below commemorate the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh.


Ratified the Constitution in 1788 as the 10th State, flag adopted in 1861. The Latin motto "Thus Ever to Tyrants" is reflected in the design of the seal, which shows a woman subduing a king. Around the edges are vines of the ivy known as Virginia creeper.


Entered the Union in 1889 as the 42nd State; flag adopted in 1923, modified in 1967. The "Evergreen State" shows the color green for the background of its flag, which bears the State seal. The president for whom the State was named was made part of the seal in 1889.


Entered the Union in 1863 as the 35th State; flag adopted in 1905, modified in 1907 and 1929. The big laurel, the State flower, frames the shield of the State seal. The hunter and miner stand over a motto meaning "Mountaineers Are Always Free."


Entered the Union in 1848 as the 30th State; flag adopted in 1913, modified in 1981. Various symbols of agriculture, mining, shipping, and industry are found in the coat of arms of Wisconsin. The badger over the shield is a reference to the State nickname.


Entered the Union in 1890 as the 44th State; flag adopted in 1917. The State seal appears on a silhouette of a bison, familiar to 19th century settlers. The red is for Native Americans, white for purity, and blue for the sky, justice, and loyalty.


Established in 1791; flag adopted in 1938. The personal arms of George Washington form the District flag. It has no historical relationship to the Stars and Stripes, despite the similarity of design.


Unincorporated American territory since 1900; flag adopted in 1960. Red, white, and blue are the colors of Samoa and the United States. The American bald eagle holds traditional Samoan symbols, a staff and war club.


Established as a territory of the United States in 1898; flag adopted in 1917, modified in 1948. The traditional Chamorro canoe, a palm tree, and the mouth of the Agaña River appear in the seal. The shape of the seal recalls the ancient Guamanian sling stone.


Commonwealth status established in 1986; flag adopted in 1972. Blue is for the Pacific Ocean, the star for the Commonwealth. The grey latte stone is for Taga, a legendary Chamorro hero.


Commonwealth established in 1952; flag adopted in 1952. Based on the Cuban flag and, ultimately, the Stars and Stripes, the flag of Puerto Rico was created in 1895 when the island was seeking independence from Spain.


Established as a territory of the United States in 1917; flag adopted in 1921. The coat of arms of the United States has been simplified and stylized for use in the territorial flag together with the initials of the islands. Many believe the arrows stand for St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

Text by Dr. Whitney Smith, Flag Research Center, Winchester, Massachusetts.
Artwork copyright 1988 by the Flag Research Center, Winchester, Massachusetts.

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Last Updated: 16-Feb-2010