The History of State Flags

State flags are not only a sign of the state’s heritage and ideals, but also serve as a marker of where they stand on national political issues. That is why this blog post will explore the history of state flags and their current stances on social and political issues. Let’s get started!

State flags have been used in America since colonial times. The first flag was adopted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, which was made up of thirteen stripes (one for each colony) and a British Union Jack. Years later, the Continental Congress created the “Stars and Stripes”; however, this flag proved to be unpopular due to its resemblance to the British flag. In 1777, after many revisions, a new design was created that incorporated 13 red and white stripes with one star for each state (the stars were arranged in a circle). This flag was known as the “Betsy Ross Flag” which is still flown today but is not recognized as an official U.S. flag. The “Betsy Ross Flag” is used by some states as their state flag, most notably Pennsylvania.

In 1794, under President George Washington in response to the Whiskey Rebellion, the U.S. government passed a new law that stated all ships must fly their country’s flag at the foremast head and each ship must carry one while underway of a different design for each nationality of vessel (so three if a country had more than one). In 1818 Congress passed a new law which required all American ships to hoist the same national flag that was used by Navy vessels.

In 1845 the U.S. flag was changed to 20 stars and 13 stripes, with one star for each state entering the Union from 1796-1819. The “Betsy Ross Flag” was commonly used as a naval jack until President Taft established separate designs for naval jacks and flags in Executive Order 1637 (26 June 1912). With the addition of Arizona and New Mexico in 1912, the flag became 11 alternating red and white stripes representing the original 13 colonies with one star for each of the 50 states.