Michigan State Flag History

Feb 27th, 2016

Michigan was admitted to the Union and recognized as a state in 1837. Stevens Thomson Mason was its first governor and served from 1835, when he was appointed as acting territorial secretary by Andrew Jackson, until 1840. Mason was only 19 years of age at the time, but he was instrumental in getting Michigan admitted as a state. From then until 2016, three flags have been adopted to represent the State of Michigan.


The First Michigan Flag


During Mason’s governorship, he adopted a flag that had his portrait on one side and the Michigan coat of arms on the other. The coat of arms was adopted in 1835 and depicted a light blue shield with an image of the sun rising over a peninsula and a lake and a man with a long gun raising his hand inside that shield. The raised hand presented peace and the ability to defend rights. On the left side of that depiction was an elk, the right side a moose and at the top an eagle. The elk and moose represented the animals of Michigan, while the bald eagle represented the United States. Three mottos were featured: a red ribbon above the eagle contained the words E Pluribus Unum – meaning “out of many, one”, the words Tuebor on the top of the light blue shield – meaning “I will defend”, and, at the bottom of the shield, a white ribbon that reads “Si Quceris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice – meaning “if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”. The last is the official Michigan state motto.




The Second Michigan Flag


Michigan adopted its second flag, replacing the first, in 1865. That flag had the Michigan coat of arms one side and the United States coat of arms on the opposite side. This flag was first unfurled on the fourth of July in 1865 when the cornerstone of the monument that was placed at the Solders’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg was laid.


The Third Michigan Flag


The third, and current, Michigan state flag was adopted in 1911 when Public Act 209 was enacted. That Act dictated that the state flag should be blue and charged with the Michigan coat of arms. That act also dictates that the state flag must be displayed on the capitol building on public occasions, and during legislature the Michigan Supreme Court daily sessions.


Michigan state flag


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