Fabulous Facts about 50 State Flags

Published: 19th July 2010
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Fabulous Facts About Fifty State Flags

Alabama State Flag Facts

Adopted: February 16, 1895

Designed by: unknown


• The main feature is a cross of St. Andrew.

• It is nearly identical to the flag of St. Patrick, and also strongly resembles the state flag of Florida.

• Due to the rule of the cross strokes having to be 6 inches wide, miniature versions of the Alabama state flag can not actually be regulation.

Alaska State Flag Facts

Adopted: May 2, 1927

Designed by: Benny Benson


• The flag design was commissioned by an official territorial government contest, which awarded the winner $1000 and an engraved watch.

• The main features are the Big Dipper Constellation (Ursa Major) and the North Star (Polaris).

• The flag wasn't actually considered a state flag until 32 years after its adoption, since Alaska did not incorporate into the Union until 1959.

Arizona State Flag Facts

Adopted: February 17, 1917

Designed by: Colonel Charles W. Harris


• The Arizona State flag is considered one of the best-designed flags of the North American continent by the American Vexillological Society.

• The state officially adopted the flag without the signature of the governor.

• The 13 rays of red and yellow on the top half of the flag represent the original 13 counties of the state of Arizona.

Arkansas State Flag Facts

Adopted: February 26, 1913

Designed by: Miss Willie Hocker


• The original Arkansas state flag featured only 3 stars. The fourth star was added later in 1923 to represent the Confederate States of America.

• The original 3 stars in the Arkansas flag design represented the allegiances the state has held to the United States, France and Spain.

• The 25 white stars bordering the center diamond represent Arkansas' place as the 25th state admitted to the Union.

California State Flag Facts

Adopted: original - 1911, current - 1953

Designed by: William L. Todd


• The California flag also goes by the name "The Bear Flag."

• The bear depicted in the flag was a California Grizzly Bear named Monarch, who was on display in San Francisco until 1911.

• The designer of the original Bear Flag was William Todd, brother of Mary Todd, wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

• During the early days of the Civil War, the Bear Flag was used as a symbol of some Californian's desire to revolt and secede from the Union.

Colorado State Flag Facts

Adopted: June 5, 1911

Designed by: Andrew Carlisle Johnson


• The original official design of the Colorado state flag had a "C" that was much smaller and fit completely inside the white middle band. It was updated and standardized in 1964.

• The first design of the Colorado flag used until 1911 was a very complex design utilizing several symbols and two mottos. The top motto is in English and says, "Union and Constitution." The second motto is in Latin and says, "Nil sine numine," or "Nothing Without God's Will."

• The colors used in the official state flag are blue, white, red and gold. The blue represents the sky, the gold represents the sun, the white represents the snowcapped mountains and the red is interpreted as the land.

Connecticut State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1897

Designed by: Abby Day Slocomb


• The design adopted by the state governor and legislature was based on the seal of a colony named Saybrook that was eventually incorporated into Connecticut.

• The motto that appears on the banner reads, "Qui Transtulit Sustinet," or "He who transplanted still sustains." The origin and meaning is under dispute, but a reference can be traced back to one of the original Psalms in the bible.

• The 3 grapevines in the design represent religion, liberty and knowledge.

Delaware State Flag Facts

Adopted: July 4, 1913

Designed by: Official commission


• The Delaware state flag features the original state seal that was first adopted in 1777.

• There are three dates featured on the flag - 1704, which was the year that Delaware established its First General Assembly, 1776, which was the year that the colonies declared independence from Great Britain and 1787, which was the year that Delaware first ratified the United States Constitution.

• The motto featured on the banner in the design reads, "Liberty and Independence."

Florida State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1900

Designed by: Official commission


• The original Florida state flag was simply the state seal on a white background. In 1890 the Governor suggested to add the red cross to the design so it would not appear as a white flag of surrender when hanging still without wind.

• The Florida flag closely resembles the state flag of Alabama, as well as the flag of St. Patrick and a Spanish flag of rule known as The Burgundian Saltire.

• The official state seal of Florida in the center of the flag features depictions of a coastline, a steam boat, a woman holding flowers, and palm trees.

Georgia State Flag Facts

Adopted: original - 1879, current - 2003

Designed by: Official commission


• The current design of the Georgia flag is the outcome of an extended debate between various cultural interests. It was put to committee for redesign to eliminate any connection to the Confederate battle flag, but was replaced with a new design that directly resembles an earlier, less well-known Confederate flag.

• Two mottos are featured on the design. "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation" is on banners wrapped around columns, and "In God We Trust" is inscribed just under the seal, inside the circle of stars.

• The circle of stars refer to the original 13 colonies, just like in the flag designed by Betsy Ross.

Hawaii State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1959

Designed by: Under dispute. Narrowed to Alexander Adams or George Beckley by historians.


• Is agreed to be a hybrid of both the American flag and the British flag, due to the history of rule and the conflict during the War of 1812.

• It is the only US State flag to feature the Union Jack of Britain in the design.

• The Hawaiian state flag also closely resembles the official flag of the British East India Trading company.

Idaho State Flag Facts

Adopted: March 12, 1907

Designed by: Emma Edwards Green (seal)


• The Idaho state flag is the only flag featuring a seal designed by a woman.

• The seal in the center is a very detailed design with many features, including a miner, a deer head and the motto reading "Esto Perpetua," meaning "May it endure forever."

• The Idaho state seal features a woman holding scales that symbolizes both equality and justice.

Illinois State Flag Facts

Adopted: July 6, 1915

Designed by: original - Lucy Derwen, current - Mrs. Sanford Hutchinson


• The name of the state wasn't added to the flag design until 1969 in order to boost recognition.

• Within the seal on the flag there is a motto on the banner held by the eagle which reads "State Sovereignty, National Union."

• The Illinois state seal was created in 1819 and was designed to emulate the Great Seal of the United States.

Indiana State Flag Facts

Adopted: May 31, 1917

Designed by: Paul Hadley


• Indiana's flag is one of the few that have remained unchanged since the submission and adoption of the original design.

• There are 19 stars in total on the flag. They are arranged in a way as to convey special meaning to the state's history. The 13 in a circle represent the original 13 colonies, the 5 at the bottom of the torch represent the next five states admitted, and the large star just above the torch represents Indiana.

• The torch in the design is meant to represent liberty and enlightenment.

Iowa State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1921

Designed by: Mrs. Dixie Cornell Gebhardt


• The state flag resembles the official flag of France, and the land which is now Iowa was included in the Louisiana Purchase between France and America.

• The ribbon held by the eagle reads, "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain."

• The designer of the Iowa flag stated that the blue stripe stands for loyalty, justice, and truth, the white stripe represents purity, and the red stripe stands for courage.

Kansas State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1927

Designed by: John J. Ingalls (seal)


• The Kansas flag actually started out as a horizontally hung banner, but due to the unorthodox display requirements, the banner was rejected for display in the nation's capital until a proper flag was designed and resubmitted in 1961.

• There is a motto featured inside the state seal that reads, "Ad Astra Per Aspera," which means, "To the stars through difficulties."

• There are 34 stars contained in the seal of the Kansas flag to represent the state as the 34th accepted into the Union.

• The Standard of the Governor of Kansas appears very similar to the official state flag, with 4 stars added to the design, one in each corner of the rectangular field.

Kentucky State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1918

Designed by: Jessie Cox Burgess


• The motto featured inside the seal reads, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."

• The two figures within the flag design are meant to represent the cooperation and goodwill between all statesmen and frontiersmen necessary for Kentucky's success.

• The plant surrounding the bottom half of the state seal is Goldenrod, which is Kentucky's official flower.

Louisiana State Flag Facts

Adopted: original - 1912, current standardized - 2006

Designed by: Official commission


• The symbol of a mother pelican wounding her breast to feed her young from the blood is emblematic of Christian charity.

• Louisiana is the last state to make a change to their official flag. It was made in 2006, when an 8th grader informed one of the state legislators that some flags featured more drops of blood coming from the pelican's chest than others. The design was standardized to include 3 drops of blood.

• The motto on the banner directly under the pelican reads, "Union, Justice and Confidence."

Maine State Flag Facts

Adopted: February 23rd, 1909

Designed by: Colonel Isaac G. Reed (seal)


• In a strange twist of events, the Maine State Flag as defined by law does not exist. There are no physical examples of the flag that match written descriptions of it in any official Maine Statutes.

• The motto featured on the red banner at the top reads, "Dirigo," or simply, "I direct." Some historians observe that it can also be interpreted to mean "I guide."

• The star in the flag design represents Maine as a state northernmost in the collection of states. Since the flag has been adopted, Maine has been replaced as the northernmost state by Alaska.

Maryland State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1904

Designed by: Based on the banner of Sir George Calvert of England


• The Maryland flag is the only one among all states that's directly based on the banner design of English royalty.

• The flag's 2nd and 3rd quarters are fields of red and white, charged with a Greek cross. This portion of the flag was appropriated for the entire state flag by secessionists during the American Civil War.

• Maryland is the only state in the union that has a specific guideline on how to display the flagpole as well as the flag. The flagpole must have a gold cross bottony the official ornament for any flagpole flying Maryland's flag.

Massachusetts State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1908

Designed by: Unknown


• The blue ribbon features a motto that reads, "Ense Petit Placidam, Sub Libertate Quietem," or "By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty."

• The arm at the top of the design is a Goliad symbol that signifies the philosophy that citizens of Massachusetts would rather lose their right arm than live under tyranny.

• Until 1971, the Massachusetts flag had two different designs on each side, but the cost of manufacturing it had become too high.

Michigan State Flag Facts

Adopted: original - 1865, current - 1911

Designed by: Lewis Cass (seal)


• The Michigan flag features three mottos. E Pluribus Unum, or "Out of many, one," Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice, or "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you," and Tuebor, or "I will defend."

• The state's first flag actually featured a portrait of the first Governor, Stevens T. Mason on one side.

• The flag of Michigan has two direct references to the United States incorporated into the design. The first is the Bald Eagle, and the second is the official motto of the USA, "Out of many, one."

Minnesota State Flag Facts

Adopted: original - 1893, current -1957

Designed by: Pauline Fjelde


• The Michigan flag features a motto that reads, "L'étoile du nord," which is the French reference for the North Star (Polaris).

• There are 3 sets of numbers on the Minnesota flag: 1819 for the settlement of Minnesota, 1858 for the year of statehood and 1893 for when the state flag was adopted. The numbers appear in gold around the state seal.

• The flowers that surround the Minnesota state seal are pink and white lady's slippers, which is the state flower.

Mississippi State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1894

Designed by: Committee of General W.T. Martin


• The flag of Mississippi is the only state flag that incorporates a direct reference to the Battle Flag of the Confederacy.

• The first version of the Mississippi state flag was known as the Magnolia Flag. This design featured a Magnolia tree in the center on a white field, a blue canton with a single white star in its center, and a red vertical bar with hatch marks on the right side. It remained in use until 1894.

• In April 2001, a state referendum was put before Mississippi voters. It aimed to remove the Confederate flag design and replace it with an arrangement of stars. It failed by nearly 3 votes to 1.

Missouri State Flag Facts

Adopted: March 22, 1913

Designed by: Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver


• The three main color stripes are a reference to France, since the land that is now Missouri was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. The colors have other meaning. The blue stripe represents vigilance, permanency and justice, the red stripe represents valor, and the white stripe symbolizes purity.

• There are 24 stars that surround the Missouri's coat-of-arms. It signifies the state's position as 24th admitted to the Union.

• There are two mottos visible on the Missouri flag. One says "Salus populi suprema lex esto" meaning, "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law," and the other says "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."

Montana State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1905

Designed by: Commissioned by Colonel Kessler of the 1st Montana Infantry


• There is a single motto displayed within the Montana state seal which reads, "Oro y plata" or, "Gold and silver."

• The Great Seal of the State of Montana features a plough, a shovel and a pick, mountains, trees and falls of the Missouri river. These represent the farming and mining industries that are dominant in the state.

• Before Montana adopted the current design of the state flag, it was appropriated by infantry involved in the Spanish/American War.

Nebraska State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1925

Designed by: Isaac Wiles (seal)


• There is a single motto on Nebraska's flag which reads, "Equality Before the Law."

• Corn stalks that symbolize Nebraska's reliance on agriculture appear on the flag, even though Nebraska did not become known as the Cornhusker State until 1945.

• The tree that stands to the right of the blacksmith in the seal is a Cottonwood, which is Nebraska's state tree.

• The steamboat depicted in the flag of Nebraska indicates the massive effect that travel and trade on the Missouri river had on the state economy.

Nevada State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1929

Designed by: Louis Shellback III (seal)


• The words on the golden scroll read "Battle Born," indicating that Nevada was admitted to the Union during the Civil War.

• The branches on the flag are green sagebrush, which are also the state flower.

• The Silver Star representing the Nevada State metal and the wealth that the state's mines have provided for decades sit above the state name on the flag.

New Hampshire State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1909

Designed by: Official commission


• The New Hampshire flag has been changed only once. In 1931, the motto reading "Neo Hantoniensis 1784 Sigillum Republica" around the circular seal was replaced with the phrase "Seal of the state of New Hampshire 1776."

• The ship depicted within the state seal is known as the USS Raleigh and was one of the first 13 warships built for the new American navy.

• Surrounding the state seal is a circle of yellow laurel leaves and 9 yellow stars, signifying New Hampshire as the 9th state admitted to the Union.

New Jersey State Flag Facts

Adopted: March 11, 1896

Designed by: Pierre Eugene de Simitiere (seal)


• The two figures in the seal are the goddesses Liberty and Ceres. Liberty symbolizes freedom, and Ceres symbolizes agriculture and prosperity.

• Agricultural symbolism plays a prominent role in the New Jersey flag, represented by full cornucopia, and three plows appearing on the center blue shield.

New Mexico State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1920

Designed by: Dr. Harry Mera


• New Mexico is considered by the North American Vexillological Association as having the best-designed flag of any state on the North American continent (1st out of 72 flags).

• The Zia sun symbolizes the Circle of Life and has sacred meaning. The Circle of Life is interpreted as: four winds, four seasons, four directions, and four sacred obligations.

• The Zia philosophy of four sacred obligations follows as, we must develop strong bodies, clear minds, pure spirits, and devote ourselves to the betterment of our brothers.

New York State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1901

Designed by: Official commission


• There are two goddesses present on the flag of New York. The design is very similar to the stage seal of New Jersey. On the left, Justice symbolizes freedom before the law. On the right, Liberty symbolizes freedom from England.

• The word "Excelsior" featured on the seal's banner, is also the official motto of New York state. Translated, it means "Ever upwards."

• The body of water with two boats featured in the flag's design is the Hudson River.

North Carolina State Flag Facts

Adopted: March, 1885

Designed by: Official commission


• There are two dates on the North Carolina flag. The first is May 20th, 1775, which commemorates the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which is supposedly where North Carolina citizens met to declare their freedom from Great Britain.

• The second date present is April 12th, 1776, which commemorates the Halifax Resolves. This was the first official action by any of the 13 colonies calling for independence from Britain.

North Dakota State Flag Facts

Adopted: March 3, 1911

Designed by: Official commission


• The Flag of North Dakota strongly resembles the unit banner carried by the state's troop contingent in the Philippine-American War, when the Philippines sought independence from the United States.

• The 13 stripes on the shield worn by the eagle symbolize the original 13 colonies.

• The phrase on the banner reads, "E Pluribus Unum" translates to "Out of many, one," and is also the official motto of the United States. This motto is also found on the state flag of Michigan.

Ohio State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1902

Designed by: John Eisemann


• The Ohio flag is the only non-rectangular US state flag, and one of only two flags of the world with the unique shape. The proper name for this type of flag is a burgee, which is a tapering design that usually ends in a swallow tail (two points).

• The designs of the flag represent physical attributes of the state. The large blue triangle symbolizes hills and valleys, and the stripes represent Ohio's roads and rivers.

• The 17 stars in the flag design represent Ohio as the 17th admitted into the United States.

• The white circle with the red center represents the "O" in Ohio.

Oklahoma State Flag Facts

Adopted: original 1911, current April 2, 1925

Designed by: Louise Fluke


• The current flag of Oklahoma has only been changed once since it was formally adopted. The state name was added to the design of the flag in 1941.

• The 6 brown crosses on the shield are not a reference to the Christian cross, but is the Native American symbol for star.

• The main seal on the Oklahoma flag is a traditional Osage Nation shield adorned with 7 eagle feathers.

Oregon State Flag Facts

Adopted: February 26, 1925

Designed by: Harvey Gordon (seal)


• Oregon is currently the only state that flies a 2-sided flag.

• There are 33 stars on the Oregon flag. This represents the state being the 33rd admitted to the Union.

• The inscribed date 1859 is the year that Oregon was officially admitted into the United States.

• There are only two other flags of the world that have 2-sided designs: Paraguay and Moldova.

Pennsylvania State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1799

Designed by: Caleb Lowes (coat of arms)


• The bald eagle depicted on the flag represents Pennsylvania's loyalty to the United States.

• The motto on the banner at the bottom of the design reads, "Virtue, Liberty and Independence." This is Pennsylvania's official state motto.

• The two horses that are harnessed show that they are ready to draw the state out of all financial trouble to the solid ground of prosperity.

Rhode Island State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1897

Designed by: Official commission


• The 13 gold stars surrounding the anchor symbolize the original 13 colonies. It also symbolizes Rhode Island as being the 13th state to ratify the United States Constitution.

• The Rhode Island flag displays a single word motto: "Hope." It is 1 of only 5 states who display their single word mottos on their flags. The other states being Maine, Utah, Wisconsin and New York.

South Carolina State Flag Facts

Adopted: January 28, 1861

Designed by: original - Colonel William Moultrie, current - South Carolina General Assembly


• The current flag had a similar predecessor that lasted as the official state flag a total of only 2 days. The only difference between the current flag and the predecessor was the 2 day flag had a white-colored oval set behind the tree in the center.

• The tree featured in the South Carolina flag is a Palmetto tree, which is also the official state tree. It was placed on the flag in honor of Colonel William Moultrie, who defended Sullivan's Island against an attack from the British naval fleet in 1776.

• The silver crescent of the state flag recalls the symbol the South Carolina troopers wore on the front of their caps in the Revolutionary War.

South Dakota State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1909

Designed by: Ida M. Anding


• Until 1992, South Dakota attempted to keep the nickname "The Sunshine State." They gave up, since most people associate that nickname with Florida.

• In 1963, a Representative introduced a bill proposing that the flag be modified to display the Great Seal of South Dakota on both sides. State flags with double-sided seals are notoriously expensive to manufacture.

• The motto within the state seal on the flag reads, "Under God, The People Rule."

• The year 1889 featured on the flag is the year South Dakota was admitted to the Union.

Tennessee State Flag Facts

Adopted: April 17, 1905

Designed by: Colonel LeRoy Reeves


• The vertical blue bar of the flag has no actual symbolic meaning - it was purely a decision based on aesthetics by the flag's designer.

• There are 3 geographical divisions in Tennessee, which are represented in the flag by the stars. One of each stands for East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.

• The blue circle on the flag represents how all 3 geographical divisions are unified.

Texas State Flag Facts

Adopted: January 24, 1839

Designed by: Senator William H. Wharton (allegedly)


• There are three colors in the Texas flag. The white stands for purity, the blue stands for loyalty, and red for bravery.

• The flag of Texas bears a strong resemblance to the national flag of Chile and the state flag of North Carolina.

• The Lone Star state adorns its flag with a single star. This star "represents all of Texas and stands for the unity of all citizens as one for God, State, and Country." The star is used to symbolize the independence of Texas from Mexico.

Utah State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1913

Designed by: Harry Edwards (seal)


• The word "Industry" on the flag is actually the state motto of Utah. It is 1 of only 5 states who display their single word mottos on their flags. The other states being Maine, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

• There are two dates present on the Utah flag. 1896 represents the year Utah was admitted to the Union. 1847 represents the year Brigham Young led the Mormons across the country to settle in Utah.

• The depiction of the beehive on the flag represents progress, hard work, and community.

• The bald eagle within the design represents protection in both times of peace and times of war.

Vermont State Flag Facts

Adopted: original - May 1, 1804, current - June 1, 1923

Designed by: Robert Temple (allegedly designed the Vermont Coat of Arms)


• The original version of the Vermont state flag closely resembled the Star Spangled Banner, the United States flag that had 15 stars and red and white bars.

• The state seal on the flag has a motto that reads, "Freedom and Unity," which is the official state motto.

• Vermont has officially adopted a total of 4 flag designs, starting with what's known as the "Green Mountain Boys" version. There have been several attempts to switch the state flag back to this original design. None have been successful.

• The cow and 3 bundles of wheat symbolize Vermont's large dairy and agricultural industries. The buck's head that sits above the Great Seal of Vermont represents the abundance of wildlife.

Virginia State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1861

Designed by: George Wythe (seal)


• The inclusion of Caesar and Virtus from Roman mythology and history is attributed to the strong admiration for the Roman way of government felt by the Virginian leaders. In this instance Caesar represents the king of England.

• The state motto of Virginia appears on the flag and reads, "Sic Semper Tyrannis," or "Thus Always to Tyrants."

• The Virtus character defeating the Tyrant in the flag was bare-breasted in the original design. During the Civil War era, legislators voted to change the design and cover her up in the name of decency.

Washington State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1923

Designed by: Charles Talcott (seal)


• The Washington flag is the only U.S. State flag adorned with a likeness of an American President.

• Washington's flag is also the only U.S. State flag currently green in color.

• Flag manufacturers have noted that Washington's flag is the most expensive to produce, since the state seal needs to be stitched on both sides.

• Washington's flag uses a likeness of George Washington that was created by artist Gilbert Stuart.

West Virginia State Flag Facts

Adopted: March 7, 1929

Designed by: Joseph H. Diss Debar (coat of arms)


• The colors outside the West Virginia Coat of Arms are blue and white. The blue stands for Union, and the white stands for Purity.

• The plant that encircles the lower half of the coat of arms is the rhododendron, West Virginia's official flower.

• The date inscribed on the rock within the coat of arms is June 20, 1863. This is the date that West Virginia was admitted to the Union.

• The banner placed just under the farmer and the miner reads, "Montani Semper Liberi," or "Mountaineers are Always Free."

Wisconsin State Flag Facts

Adopted: 1913

Designed by: John H. Lathrop (seal)


• The flag features a badger, which is Wisconsin's official animal.

• The cornucopia displayed in the lower left area of the seal represents prosperity and abundance.

• Wisconsin's state motto "Forward" appears on the flag. Wisconsin is 1 of only 5 states with single word mottos displayed on their flag. The other states being Maine, New York, Rhode Island, and Utah.

• In 1979 the flag's appearance was changed to incorporate the state name, and the date 1848, the year when Wisconsin was admitted to the Union.

Wyoming State Flag Facts

Adopted: January 31, 1917

Designed by: Verna Keays


• The original design had buffalo facing the fly, but since buffalos are known to face the wind while weathering storms, the flag design was reversed so that the animal faces the flagpole.

• There is a main center banner within the state seal that reads "Equal Rights."

• There are 4 secondary banners within the state seal design that represent some of Wyoming's dominant industries: oil, mines, livestock, and grain.

• Each pillar within the design of the seal is capped by illuminated oil lamps, which signifies the "Light of Knowledge."

These fun flag facts are courtesy of U.S. Flagstore.

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