Flag of Mississippi

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State of Mississippi
Flag of Mississippi.svg
Use Civil and state flag
Proportion 2:3
Adopted April 23, 1894[1][2][N 1]
Design Three horizontal stripes of blue, white and red. The canton is square, spans 2 stripes, consists of a red background with a blue saltire, bordered with white and emblazoned with thirteen (13) five-pointed stars.

The flag of the state of Mississippi was first adopted by the U.S. state of Mississippi in April 1894, replacing the flag that had been adopted in 1861. The flag was subsequently repealed in 1906 and readopted in April 2001.[2] The flag is unique among U.S. state flags as it is the sole remaining U.S. state flag which still depicts the Confederate battle flag's saltire, after Georgia adopted a new state flag in 2003.

Pledge to the Mississippi state flag [edit]

The pledge to the state flag is:

I salute the flag of Mississippi and the sovereign state for which it stands with pride in her history and achievements and with confidence in her future under the guidance of Almighty God.

— Mississippi Code Ann., Section 37-13-7, 1972[3]

The statute is part of the set of state statutes that governs the curriculum of the state's public schools. Section 37-13-7 provides: "The pledge of allegiance to the Mississippi flag shall be taught in the public schools of this state, along with the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag."


Bonnie Blue flag[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandoned Bonnie Blue Flag

Prior to 1861, Mississippi, like most U.S. states, had no official state flag. When Mississippi declared its secession from the Union on January 9, 1861 near the start of the American Civil War spectators in the balcony handed a Bonnie Blue Flag down to the Session Convention delegates on the floor[4] and one was raised over the capitol building in Jackson as a sign of independence.[5] Later that night, residents of Jackson paraded through the streets under the banner. Harry McCarthy, a singer and playwright who observed the parade, was inspired to write "The Bonnie Blue Flag", which, after "Dixie", was the most popular song in the Confederacy.[6][7]

1861 flag[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandoned The "Magnolia Flag", used from 1861 to 1894.

The first official flag of Mississippi was known as the Magnolia Flag. It was the official flag of the state from 1861 until 1865 and it remained in use as an unofficial flag until 1894, when the current state flag was adopted.[8] On January 26 the delegates to the Secession Convention approved the report of a special committee that had been appointed to design a coat of arms and "a suitable flag".[9] The flag recommended by the committee was: "A Flag of white ground, a Magnolia tree in the centre, a blue field in the upper left hand corner with a white star in the centre, the Flag to be finished with a red border and a red fringe at the extremity of the Flag."[10] Due to time constraints and the pressure to raise “means for the defense of the state” the delegates actually neglected to officially adopt the flag in January, but did so when they reassembled in March.[11] The Magnolia Flag was not widely used or displayed during the Civil War, as the various Confederate flags were displayed more frequently.[12] The Magnolia Flag remained the official state flag of Mississippi until 1865, when following the conclusion of the Civil War, a constitutional convention assembled in Jackson on August 22 began to revoke and repeal many of the actions taken by the Secession Convention of 1861. Among those repealed was the ordinance adopting a coat of arms and a state flag, leaving Mississippi without an official flag.[13]

1894 flag[edit]

Flag of Mississippi
The flag of Mississippi in use from 1894 to present

On April 23, 1894 a new flag was adopted by the Mississippi Legislature in a Special Session. In 1906, Mississippi adopted a revised legal code that repealed all general laws that were not reenacted by the legislature or brought forward in the new code. [14] The 1906 legal code did not bring forward the law that created an official state flag and a coat of arms. Because of this oversight, likely inadvertent, the state of Mississippi did not have an official state flag from 1906-2001. Nonetheless, the 1894 flag continued to be used as the de facto state flag until it was officially readopted on April 17, 2001.[2] The Mississippi Code of 1972, in Title 3, Chapter 3, describes the flag as follows:

§ 3-3-16. Design of state flag. The official flag of the State of Mississippi shall have the following design: with width two-thirds (2/3) of its length; with the union (canton) to be square, in width two-thirds (2/3) of the width of the flag; the ground of the union to be red and a broad blue saltire thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned with thirteen (13) mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding with the number of the original States of the Union; the field to be divided into three (3) bars of equal width, the upper one blue, the center one white, and the lower one, extending the whole length of the flag, red (the national colors); this being the flag adopted by the Mississippi Legislature in the 1894 Special Session.[15][2]

2001 flag referendum[edit]

Design was proposed in the past, but never officially adopted 2001 proposed flag of Mississippi

In 2000, the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled[16] that the state legislature in 1906 had repealed the adoption of the state flag in 1894. What was considered to be the official state flag was only so through custom or tradition during the previous 94 years.[17] The flag was officially readopted on April 17, 2001.[2]

In January 2001, Governor Ronnie Musgrove appointed an independent commission which developed a new proposed design,[15][17] and on April 17, 2001, a non-binding state referendum to change the flag was put before Mississippi voters. The proposal would have replaced the Confederate battle flag with a blue canton with 20 stars. The outer ring of 13 stars would represent the original Thirteen Colonies, the ring of six stars would represent the six nations that have had sovereignty over Mississippi territory (various Native American nations as a collective nation, French Empire, Spanish Empire, Great Britain, the United States, and the Confederacy), and the inner and slightly larger star would represent Mississippi itself. The 20 stars would also represent Mississippi's status as the 20th member of the United States.[18] The referendum for a new flag was defeated in a vote of 64% (488,630 votes) to 36% (267,812) and the old flag was retained.[19]

2015 flag controversy[edit]

Following the Charleston church shooting in June 2015 and subsequent discussion regarding the flying of the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina State House, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn publicly called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the canton of the flag of Mississippi.[20] WLBT-TV in Jackson reported that some homes in the area had begun flying the Magnolia Flag. Mississippi U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker also stated that he believes the state flag of Mississippi should be replaced, saying: "After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians,” Wicker said in a statement. “As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi’s current state flag as offensive. However, it is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others."[21] Mississippi governor Phil Bryant also weighed in on the controversy, opining against a change, stating: "A vast majority of Mississippians voted to keep the state's flag, and I don't believe the Mississippi Legislature will act to supersede the will of the people on this issue."[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The flag was first adopted in April 1894. However, it was repealed in 1906, remaining in de facto usage until its official re-adoption in April 2001.


  1. ^ Firestone, David. "Mississippi Votes by Wide Margin to Keep State Flag That Includes Confederate Emblem". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e State of Mississippi (February 7, 2001). "Miss. Code Ann. § 3-3-16: Design of state flag". Mississippi Code of 1972. LexisNexis. HISTORY: SOURCES: Laws, 2001, ch. 301, § 2, eff from and after February 7, 2001 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the addition of this section.) 
  3. ^ "Section 37-13-7". Mississippi Code Ann. State of Mississippi. 1972. 
  4. ^ http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/105/flags-over-mississippi Flags Over Mississippi
  5. ^ Jau Winik, "A New Flag for a New Mississippi," New York Times, Feb. 11, 2001, Week in Review section, p. 17.
  6. ^ http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/105/flags-over-mississippi Flags Over Mississippi
  7. ^ http://www.washingtonartillery.com/Def.htm The Lone Star/Bonnie Blue Flag
  8. ^ http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/flags/ms_flag.htm The Mississippi State Flag
  9. ^ http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/105/flags-over-mississippi Flags Over Mississippi
  10. ^ Journal of the State Convention … January 1861 (E. Barksdale, 1861), 89–90
  11. ^ Journal of the State Convention … March 1861 (E. Barksdale, 1861), 27, 35, 42, 43, 77, 86
  12. ^ http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/flags/ms_flag.htm The Mississippi State Flag
  13. ^ Journal of the Constitutional Convention … August 1865 (E. M. Yerger, State Printer, 1865), 214, 221–222
  14. ^ "Mississippi Code". Section 13, Mississippi Code 1906. Brandon Printing Co. 1905. 
  15. ^ a b "The Mississippi State Flag". NetState. February 6, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  16. ^ Mississippi Division of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans v. Mississippi State Conference of NAACP Branches, 774 So.2d 388 (Miss. 2000)
  17. ^ a b Dedman IV, James M. (Fall 2001). "At Daggers Drawn: The Confederate Flag and the School Classroom - A Case Study of a Broken First Amendment Formula". Baylor Law Review 53: 877, 883. 
  18. ^ "Mississippi will retain its 107-year-old flag". CNN. 2001-04-17. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  19. ^ "Election Results" (PDF). State of Mississippi. 2001-04-27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-11-26. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  20. ^ Wagster Pettus, Emily; Galofaro, Claire (June 22, 2015). "Top lawmaker: Remove Confederate sign from Mississippi flag". Associated Press. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  21. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/24/roger-wicker-mississippi-i-now-believe-our-state-f/
  22. ^ http://www.msnewsnow.com/story/29381876/confederate-battle-flag-at-center-of-mississippis-state-flag-controversy Speaker Philip Gunn: 'We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi's flag'

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