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
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 colorcolorado.
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 coloniesConnecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook. The
motto "He Who Brought Us Over Will Sustain Us," is based on the 80th
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
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 treea 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
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
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
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
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
Entered the Union in 1817 as the 20th State; flag
adopted in 1894. The State flag is a combination of two Confederate
flagsthe Stars and Bars and the Battle Flag, both including the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
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
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
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.