Hawaii State Flag History

Aug 12th, 2016

Hawaii was the 50th state admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959. The state was an organized territory of the United States from 1898 until its admission as a state in 1959. Hawaii’s current state flag features the United Kingdom’s Union Jack flag in the canton, and eight alternating white, red and blue stripes in the field. It is the only state flag that features the Union Jack.


Hawaii Flag


The Union Jack was used in the flag’s design to represent Hawaii’s ties to Great Britain in the past. The alternating stripes in the field represent the eight islands that are a part of the state of Hawaii and the state’s relationship with the United States. The islands are Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau and Oahu.


Hawaii has used the same flag since it was designed in 1816 by King Kamehameha I. Legend indicates that he designed the flag in an effort to avoid any conflict with Great Britain and the United States. The flag may have been designed based on the British East India Company flag pictured below.


British Tea Company


After King Kamehameha designed and adopted the flag for use to represent Hawwaii, a lot of controversy resulted about the order of the stripe colors in the field and the number of stripes. Some believed the stripes should be alternating white, red and blue, while others believed they should be alternating red, white and blue. Manufacturers of the flags tended to vary the stripes between seven and nine. There appeared to be no standard they observed, or the manufacturers simply chose a design that it favored. In 1845, Hawaii officially changed the design to feature eight stripes and alternating white, red and blue stripes.


Hawaii flag variation


The North American Vexillological Association conducted a survey of flags from Canadian provinces and U.S. territories and states. Hawaii’s flag ranged 11 out of the 72 flags that were rated based on the quality of the designs.


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