Flag of Mississippi

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State of Mississippi
Flag of Mississippi.svg
UseCivil and state flag
AdoptedApril 23, 1894; 124 years ago (1894-04-23)[1][2][N 1]
DesignThree horizontal stripes of blue, white, and red. The canton is square, spans two 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 unofficial flag that had been adopted in 1861 when Mississippi was a Confederate state. The flag was repealed in 1906 but remained in de facto use. When a referendum failed for a new design in April 2001, the state legislature voted to readopt the historic design that same month.[2] Since Georgia adopted a new state flag in 2003, the Mississippi flag is the only U.S. state flag to include the Confederate battle flag's saltire.

In 2001 a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) placed Mississippi's flag 22nd in design quality of the 72 Canadian provincial, U.S. state, and U.S. territorial flags ranked.[3]

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[4]

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]

Bonnie Blue Flag

Before 1861, Mississippi, like most other states, did not have an 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 Secession Convention delegates on the floor,[5] and one was raised over the capitol building in Jackson as a sign of independence.[6] 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.[7][8]

1861 flag[edit]

The "Magnolia Flag", used from 1861 to 1865 and unofficially until 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. It remained in use as an unofficial flag until 1894, when the current state flag was first adopted.[9] 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".[5] 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 neglected to adopt the flag officially 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.

Following the conclusion of the Civil War, a constitutional convention assembled in Jackson on August 22, 1865, 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]

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[further explanation needed] 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 by the state legislature on April 17, 2001.[2] There had been widespread protests by some African-American and other civil rights groups about adopting the flag with the Confederate emblem.

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.[2][15]

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]

2001 flag referendum[edit]

In January 2001 then-Governor Ronnie Musgrove appointed an independent commission which developed a new proposed design.[15][17] 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.[dead link] The referendum for a new flag was defeated in a vote of 64% (488,630 votes) to 36% (267,812), and the 1894 flag was retained.[18]

Subsequent developments[edit]

In the wake of the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, in which nine black parishioners of an Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were killed by white supremacist Dylann Roof, there were renewed calls for southern states to cease using the Confederate battle flag in an official capacity.[citation needed] This extended to increased criticism of Mississippi's state flag. Several municipalities and schools in Mississippi, including the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and the city of Biloxi, are now refusing to fly the state flag until the emblem is removed.[19][20][21] Over 20 flag-related bills, some calling for another statewide referendum, were introduced in the state legislature, but none were adopted.[19] A 2016 federal lawsuit alleging that the state flag is tantamount to "state-sanctioned hate speech" was dismissed by both a district court and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.[22][23] The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[24]

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. ^ "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey - NAVA.org" (PDF). nava.org.
  4. ^ "Section 37-13-7". Mississippi Code Ann. State of Mississippi. 1972. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ a b http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/105/flags-over-mississippi Flags Over Mississippi
  6. ^ Jau Winik, "A New Flag for a New Mississippi," New York Times, Feb. 11, 2001, Week in Review section, p. 17.
  7. ^ "Flags Over Mississippi", Mississippi History Now
  8. ^ The Lone Star/Bonnie Blue Flag, Washington Artillery
  9. ^ The Mississippi State Flag
  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. ^ "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. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  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. ^ "Election Results" (PDF). State of Mississippi. April 27, 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-21.
  19. ^ a b "Battle over Confederate symbols continues with Mississippi state flag." CNN. 2016-06-19. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  20. ^ "Biloxi won't fly state flag." Associated Press (via Clarion-Ledger). 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  21. ^ "State flag quietly removed from campus". The Reflector. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  22. ^ "Mississippi Confederate Flag Fight Moves to New Battlefield." US News & World Report. 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  23. ^ "Court Rejects Lawsuit Against Mississippi State Flag's Confederate Symbolism." 2017-04-03. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  24. ^ "Search - Supreme Court of the United States". www.supremecourt.gov. Retrieved 2018-01-16.

External links[edit]