North Carolina State Flag History

Nov 5th, 2016

N.C. Flag


North Carolina became the 12th of the original 13 colonies to be admitted into the Union on November 21, 1789. Its first official flag was adopted on May 20, 1861. On that date, North Carolina passed a resolution to secede from the Union and an ordinance to adopt a state flag. The ordinance described the flag as having a blue field featuring a white V, a star, the words “Sirgit astrum, and the date May 20, 1775”, and the creation of a state flag committee. That flag was never used. Instead, the committee asked for advice from an artist, William Jarl Browne. He designed a completely different flag and submitted it the committee where it was approved on June 22, 1861.


Browne’s flag had a field of red with a blue bar at the top and a white bar at the bottom. A five pointed star was featured in the middle of the red field with the date May 20, 1775 above it, and May 20, 1861 below it.  The 1775 date represented the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and 1861 represented the date North Carolina seceded from the Union.


N.C. Flag 1861


In 1885, a legislative bill was approved to revise the state flag design. The new design featured, among other changes, the Halifax Resolves date of April 12, 1776 rather than the 1861 date of secession. The Halifax Resolves is a historical document that that demanded independence from foreign powers and unconditional freedom during the Revolutionary War.


The flag adopted in 1885 has had minor changes over the years, but is basically the same today as it was when it was officially adopted. The changes included removing commas from the dates, and changing the flag length.


In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association conducted a survey of flags that included Canadian provinces and American states and territories. The North Carolina state flag was rated 33 out of 72 flags.


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