I don’t know about you, but I find the history of flags fascinating, from the colours chosen, to the symbolic placement of lines, stars, circles and more it’s more than a pretty design, flags have some incredible heritage. Now you may or may not know that within national countries many states (or counties) have their own state flags to represent their individuality.
Taking Northern America for example, each state has their own state flag, they also exhibit a variety of regional influences and local histories as well as different styles and design principles. Although if you look at the flags they are, at large, very similar. With all of the state flags using a variation on the red, white and blue as seen on the Star-Spangled Banner.
State flags, in terms of modern US history, were introduced from the turn of the 20th century. This was when the states wanted to have distinctive symbols for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition which was held in Chicago. Most of the state flags we see today (albeit some have had a facelift) were designed and adopted between this initial conception in 1893 and World War I.
Typically though you’ll see the majority of the state flags sharing the state seal which is superimposed on a monochrome background, which is usually blue.
Why do so many states have blue state flags?
In actual fact, 43 states contain the colour blue in various shades on their flag, with a staggering 26 using it as a block background. There are many reasons as to why so many states have a predominantly blue state flag,
There are countless reports as to ‘why blue’ however, according to the US Government blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. Whilst heraldry depicts blue as the colour of honour, fidelity and integrity.
Interestingly on June 14, 1777 the Second Continental Congress said: “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” So basically the blue is just the sky and background for stars, and together they represent the new country we established in the American continent, new bright stars in the sky.” So some reports state that the blue is for the sky, which in my opinion isn’t as meaningful as the depictions by both the US Government and traditional flag heraldry.
The State Flag Contest
Ironically, according to a 2001 survey by the North American Vexillological Association it concluded that New Mexico had the best-designed state flag of any US State, Territory or Canadian Province. This yellow field background features a red sun decal fro the Zia people with the flags taking inspiration from the heritage of the flags of Habsburg Spain (the Cross of Burgundy), Spain and the Crown of Aragon, brought by the conquistadors.
New Mexico is one of only four states which do not use the colour blue on their flag. The other three being Alabama, California and Maryland.
In the same study, Georgia’s state flag was rated the worst design, however, the state adopted a new flag in 2003. Georgia is also the state to have had the most changes to their state flag with this being their 7th attempt. The current flag bears three stripes consisting of red-white-red, featuring a blue canton containing a ring of 13 white stars encompassing the state’s coat of arms in gold.
In the coat of arms, the arch symbolises the state’s constitution while the pillars represent the three branches of the government. The words of the state motto, “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation”, are wrapped around the pillars, which is guarded by a male figure dressed in colonial attire from the American Revolutionary War. Within the arms, a sword is drawn to represent the defence of the state’s constitution with an additional motto, In God We Trust, which is featured below these elements. The ring of stars that encompass the state’s coat of arms represents Georgia as one of the original Thirteen Colonies.
Interestingly, Nebraska’s state flag, which was voted the second worst design remains in use still to this date. So does that now hold the accolade as the worst state flag or does Georgia still hold that title until the next survey?
Do you know anything really interesting about state flags? We’d love to hear your facts in the comments section below. And as always, if you’ve found this article of any value we’d love for you to share it with friends and family across the internet and beyond to help them to learn some things about state flags.