Arkansas State Flag History

Sep 5th, 2016

Arkansas was the 25th state admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836. The state adopted its first official flag in 1913. Efforts to adopt a flag were initiated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR, Pine Bluff chapter after it discovered that the state did not have an official flag.

 

Arkansas State Flag

 

The DAR held a statewide flag design contest. There were 65 entries that varied between use of the state flower, the apple blossom, 13 rays alternating red, white and blue to represent the original colonies, and the state seal. The winner was a member of the Pine Bluff DAR, Miss Willie Hocker. Her design had a white diamond with a border of 25 white stars on a blue field, and 3 stars colored blue centered in a straight line in the diamond.

 

Arkansas 1913

 

Image courtesy of User:Zscout370, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Arkansas_(Hocker).svg

 

Hocker explained the meaning of her design. She stated that she chose the colors because Arkansas was a member of the United States. The three stars centered in the diamond mean: the three countries that Arkansas had been a part of through its history, France, Spain, and the United States, before it became a state; and Arkansas was the third state that was created from the Louisiana Purchase land that the United States purchased, the first two were Louisiana and Missouri. The stars surrounding the diamond symbolize that Arkansas was the 25th state admitted to the Union; the diamond represents the state’s status as the first diamond producing state in the nation; and the stars parallel to the left and right point of the diamond is a symbol of Arkansas and Michigan’s admission to the union. Both states were admitted within seven months of each other.

 

Once the legislature adopted Hocker’s design as the official state flag, a problem arose. The DAR had intended to present the official flag to the U.S.S. Arkansas battleship, but discovered that the flag did not have any indication that Arkansas had been a member of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, 1861 to 1865. The legislature corrected that problem in 1923 by adding a fourth star above the “R” in Arkansas, and changed the position of the single blue star to appear above the “A”.

 

Arkansas 1923

 

Image courtesy of User:Zscout370, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Arkansas_(Hocker).svg

 

The changes in the flag design caused a lot of controversy. Opponents believed that the changes destroyed the meaning of the flag design. As a result, in 1924, the legislature changed the design again by placing three blue stars under the word “Arkansas” and one blue star above the name. The lone star above the state’s name signifies Arkansas membership in the Confederate States of America. This flag has been the official state flag since that time.

 

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