American Flags: Symbols of the 50 States of the U.S.
More people are likely familiar with the American flag, but each state also has its own, individualistic flag. Each flag of every U.S. state demonstrates a huge array of regional influences and area histories. Each state flag also shows hugely different design principles
and styles. Many of the flags of each state date back to about the 1890s, when every state wanted to be represented individually at Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition in 1893. Many of the state flags were adopted and designed in the years between 1893 and World War I.
The state flag of Alabama was adopted by the state’s legislature on February 16, 1895. The flag displays the cross of St. Andrew over a field of white. This cross is a diagonal cross, which makes it a saltire, or a heraldic symbol.
The state flag of Alaska was chosen in a 1927 contest. The contest winner was a boy by the name of Benny Benson who was from Seward. It is made up of eight gold stars that form the North Star and the Big Dipper; all this is laid out on a field of dark blue.
The state flag of Arizona was adopted back on February 17, 1917, by the third state legislature of Arizona. It is made up of 13 rays of yellow and red on the top part of the flag. A star the color of copper sits in the center, and the remainder of the flag is blue for liberty.
The state flag of Arkansas was adopted back on March 16, 1924, and it was picked out of 65 entries in a contest in 1912. Wabbaseka’s Willie Kavanaugh Hocker made this design. The flag is made up of a red field punctuated by a white diamond with a blue border. Twenty-nine stars sit on the flag, and the word “Arkansas” shows up inside the diamond.
The state flag of California was adopted on February 3, 1911. Called the Bear Flag, too, it features a bear in the center of the flag, walking on a patch of green. The words “California Republic” appear underneath it, and a red band sits beneath that, while a red star sits on the top left of the flag.
The state flag of Colorado was adopted back on December 4, 1911. It features three horizontal stripes of the same width. The middle stripe is colored white while the bottom and top stripes are blue. A red, circular “C” with a yellow disk is located on top of all these stripes.
The state flag of Connecticut was adopted on September 9, 1897. It features a baroque shield of white and three grapevines that sit on a field of azure. A banner underneath the shield features the state motto of “Qui Transtulit Sustinet,” which translates to “He who transplanted still sustains.”
The state flag of Delaware is comprised of a diamond sitting on a field of blue. Inside the diamond lies the Delaware coat of arms. Underneath the diamond is the date “December 7, 1787,” which is the day the state ratified the U.S. Constitution.
The state flag of Florida is made up of a diagonal cross that lies on a white background. The seal of Florida is superimposed right on the center of the flag. It was adopted back on September 24, 1900.
The state flag of Georgia is comprised of three white and red stripes. The coat of arms of the state sits on a blue field in the upper left corner of the state flag. The flag was adopted on May 8, 2003, because there had already been several prior iterations of the state flag since 1879.
The state flag of Hawaii is the legitimate standard that represents Hawaii as a state in the Union. Interestingly, this state flag features the United Kingdom’s Union Flag, a relic of the time Hawaii was still a British protectorate. It was adopted on December 29, 1845.
The state flag of Idaho is made up of a state seal that sits on a blue field. “State of Idaho” is written in gold letters inside a band that is gold and red in color. This sits below the state seal on the flag.
The state flag of Illinois is made up of the state seal on a field of white.
The name of the state sits right beneath the seal. The state flag was adopted
back on June 27, 1969.
The state flag of Indiana is made up of a gold torch in the center that radiates 19 stars. The torch and the stars sit on a blue field. The state flag was adopted back on May 31, 1917.
The state flag of Iowa is made up of three vertical stripes of red, white, and blue. The middle white stripe features a bald eagle holding a ribbon. The ribbon reads, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
The state flag of Kansas is comprised of both the state seal as well as a sunflower. It was adopted in September 22, 1961 by the state legislature. In 1961, the original design was changed so that the word “Kansas” was added to the bottom.
The state flag of Kentucky was adopted back on March 26, 1918. The seal of the Commonwealth appears on the flag, sitting on a field of navy blue. The phrase “Commonwealth of Kentucky” sits around the seal.
The state flag of Louisiana features something called a heraldic charge referred to as a “pelican in her piety.” This is symbolized by showing a female pelican puncturing her breast to feed her offspring with her own blood. This is emblematic of charity in the Christian sense.
The state flag of Maine consists of the coat of arms of the state that lies on a blue field. A moose lies beneath a pine tree in the middle of the shield. The seaman and the farmer symbolize Maine’s position as a state by the sea and its dependence on agriculture.
The state flag of Maryland is centered around the heraldic banner of one George
Calvert. Calvert was the First Baron of Baltimore. It was adopted in an official
sense on November 25, 1904.
The state flag of Massachusetts was adopted on March 21, 1971. On each side, the flag shows the state’s coat of arms lying on a field of white. The coat of arms bears an Indian showing a bow and arrow, but it is not raised, which symbolizes peace.
The state flag of Michigan shows off the coat of arms of the state on a field of blue. It was adopted back on June 26, 1911. The coat of arms features a peninsula, a lake, the sun, a man with a long gun who stands for peace as well as the right to defend his land, a bald eagle, a moose and an elk.
The state flag of Minnesota is made up of a blue field that displays the seal of the state. On the seal, a farmer can be seen watching with his gun as an Indian flees his land. As a result, the state flag has come in for criticism for apparently showing Manifest Destiny.
The state flag of Mississippi is famous for being the only state flag that uses the Battle Flag of the Confederacy. It can be seen on the top left corner of the flag. The remainder of the flag consists of three strips of red, white and blue.
The state flag of Missouri is comprised of three stripes of white, blue, and red that run across the flag horizontally. In the middle white stripe, one can see the seal of Missouri that is encircled by a 24-star blue band. This symbolizes the admission of Missouri as the 24th state in the Union.
The state flag of Montana is comprised of the state seal of Montana, the word “Montana” in yellow above it, and a blue field. The state flag was adopted in the year 1905. The word “Montana” over the seal was put on the flag only in 1981.
The state flag of Nebraska is a field of blue that features the state seal of Nebraska. It was officially adopted on July 16, 1963. This flag was one of the last ones to be adopted by any state.
The state flag of Nevada was adopted on July 25, 1991. It features a blue-color field along with a silver star in the top left corner. The name “Nevada” surrounds this silver star, and above it sits a scroll that features the words “Battle Born.” Beneath the star, there are two bunches of sagebrush.
The state flag of New Hampshire features the New Hampshire state seal on a blue field. Inside the seal, the USS Raleigh is surrounded by a 9-star laurel wreath. The state flag was adopted in 1909.
The state flag of New Jersey features the emblem that comes from the great seal of New Jersey, sitting on a buff-colored field. The North American Vexillological Association has not been kind to this state flag. In 2001, this Association placed the New Jersey state flag as 26th worst out of all states.
The state flag of New Mexico is made up of a yellow field that features a red sun image of the Zia. The colors are in honor of Castile’s Isabella I, her heirs and the conquistadors.
The state flag of New York features the coat of arms of the state on a blue field. Liberty and Justice are seen on the flag in the form of personifications. The current version of the flag is a modern take on the Revolutionary War flag.
The state flag of North Carolina consists of three colors: red, white, and blue. On the left of the flag, a blue union sits, which features a white star and the letters “N” and “C” on either side of the star. Two scrolls are featured, too, one over and one under the white star.
The state flag of North Dakota was adopted back on March 3, 1911. The flag is a similar replica of the unit banner that was carried by North Dakota’s troop contingent during the Philippine-American War. This flag bears a resemblance to the Great Seal of the U.S.
The state flag of Ohio was adopted on July 10, 1902. It features a big, blue triangle and red and white horizontal stripes. The triangle stands for the state’s hills and valleys while the stripes symbolize waterways and roads.
The state flag of Oklahoma was adopted back on April 2, 1925. It features a buffalo skin shield from the Osage Nation and seven eagle feathers on a field of sky blue. The state flag is supposed to represent peace for unity’s sake.
The state flag of Oregon was adopted on April 15, 1925. It is a two-side flag that possesses an optional gold fringe and comes in gold and navy blue. An escutcheon from the state seal sits on the front, and a beaver sits on the back of the flag.
The state flag of Pennsylvania was adopted on April 24, 1907. The flag features the coat of arms of the state sitting on a blue background. In 2007, the state legislature proposed a bill to add the state name to the flag, but nothing has come of this.
The state flag of Rhode Island was adopted back on November 1, 1897. The flag is white and shows a golden anchor in the middle of the flag. This anchor is surrounded by stars, and a ribbon beneath the anchor features the state’s motto, which is “Hope.”
The state flag of South Carolina was adopted back on January 28, 1861. It features a white crescent tree in the middle of an azure background. On the top left corner is a white, crescent moon.
The state flag of South Dakota was adopted as recently as November 9, 1992. It features a version of the state seal in the middle, sitting on a background of sky blue. Around this seal are gold triangles that stand for the sun’s rays. Around this are inscriptions of “The Mount Rushmore State” on the bottom and “South Dakota” on top.
The state flag of Tennessee features an emblem on a red background, along with an outer band of blue, then white. The emblem itself features three stars inside a blue circle. It was adopted back on April 17, 1905.
The state flag of Texas was adopted on January 25, 1839. It features the colors red, white, and blue and a white star in the center of the blue, vertical stripe. Two other stripes colored red and white run horizontally on the flag.
The state flag of Utah was adopted in the year 1913. It features a navy blue field and the seal of Utah that is encircled by a golden circle. The seal of Utah prominently features the bald eagle.
The state flag of Vermont was adopted on June 1, 1923. The flag depicts the coat of arms of Vermont and a motto, both of which lay on a background of azure. The motto combines two ideals: the welfare of the common good and the citizen’s freedom.
The state flag of Virginia features Virginia’s seal on a blue field. Along the fly, a white fringe may also sometimes appear. It was adopted on January 31, 1861.
The state flag of Washington was adopted back in 1925. It features a state seal that shows George Washington; this lies on a green background. This state flag is unique since it is the only one that has Washington on it and a green background.
The state flag of West Virginia features the coat of arms of the state with a blue border and a white background. The coat of arms appears in the center of the flag. The coat of arms is symbolic of the main resources and pursuits of the state.
The state flag of Wisconsin is simple. It features a blue flag that is charged with Wisconsin’s state of arms. Its original design goes back to the year 1863.
The state flag of Wyoming was adopted on March 4, 1917. The state flag is centered on the silhouette of an American Bison. This silhouette is on a blue background that is framed by a white border and then a red border.