Flag of New England
There is no official Flag of New England. Consequently, "the Flag of New England" can refer to any number of historical and modern banners used to represent the New England Colonies or the six states in the New England region of the northeastern United States. There are some variations, but common designs include a plain colored field (usually red) with a pine tree in the canton. The eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) is the most common symbol of New England and often represents that tree's former importance in shipbuilding and New England's maritime culture.
Most New England flags were based on the red or blue naval ensign of the Royal Navy which featured St George's Cross in the canton, which was used at both Jamestown, Virginia and Plymouth colony. Puritans in New England led by Roger Williams objected to the use of a Christian cross on their flag, and they flew a red flag with a plain white canton for a time. The new flag first appeared in 1634 in Salem, Massachusetts, but some considered it to be an act of rebellion against England and the cross was retained on crown property such as Castle Island (Massachusetts). The crossless flags became popular in New England, and militia companies designed unique patterns on their flags. In 1665, the Royal Commissioners recommended that all ships and militia companies be ordered to fly "the true colours of England, by which they may be knowne to be his majesties legittmate subjects."
Nevertheless, some crossless flags were still in use as late as 1680, and New Englanders continued to look for ways to represent their country. In 1684, the town of Newbury, Massachusetts changed to a green flag, though retaining the Cross of St. George. A pine tree was added to some flags during the reign of King James II, possibly inspired by the pine-tree shilling which was minted in Massachusetts. In 1707, a proclamation was issued that all merchant vessels fly the red ensign with the British Union Flag in the canton, and a woodcut was published in the Boston News-Letter on 26 January 1707 to ensure compliance, which was also the first illustration printed in an American newspaper.
Some controversy exists concerning which flag flew at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 at the onset of the American Revolutionary War. An officer of the Royal Marines reported that no flags were used by the Americans, but John Trumbull placed a red flag with a pine tree in his 1786 painting The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775. However, he later painted another version of this painting for the family of the fallen general which depicts a blue flag. Another variation commonly used to represent the battle has a blue field with a white canton, the canton quartered with St. George's Cross and a tree.
According to author Boleslaw Mastai, the blue field was due to an error in a wood engraving which caused confusion among painters. The printing error might have been caused by incorrect "hatching", whereby parallel lines represent heraldic tinctures or colors; horizontal lines represent blue and vertical ones represent red. However, Benson John Lossing writes in Field Book of the Revolution that he interviewed the daughter of a Bunker Hill veteran who told her that he hoisted a blue flag on Breed's Hill prior to the battle. Regardless of its authenticity, the blue variation has become a symbol of the Battle of Bunker Hill and also of Charlestown, Boston, the neighborhood encompassing Bunker and Breed's hills. It was also featured on a 1968 US Postage Stamp.
On June 8, 1998, K. Albert Ebinger of Ipswich, Massachusetts made a presentation to the New England Governor's Conference (NEGC) promoting the flag at right as the official flag of the NEGC. It is the blue "Bunker Hill Flag" defaced with six five-pointed stars in a circle in the fly to represent the six New England states. Ebinger had copyrighted this design in 1965, which the NEGC was unaware of when they adopted it. The New England Vexillological Association sent a letter of concern to the NEGC, who responded:
In 1998, Mr. Ebinger appeared before the New England Governors' Conference, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada during the annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers and suggested [that] the promotion of New England tourism would benefit from the use of a common symbol, such as his "New England Flag". At that meeting, the governors approved a motion to adopt the flag as the "official emblem of the New England Conference". They did not make any claims as to its legitimacy as an official or authentic flag of the six state region, nor did they adopt it as the official flag of the region.
- Mastai, pg 16
- Furlong, 39
- Furlong, 40
- Furlong, 42
- Furlong, 68
- "The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill". americanrevolution.org. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- "Boston Museum of Fine Arts - The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, 17 June, 1775". mfa.org. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
- Lossing, Chapter 23, endnote 19
- Edward O’Connor. "Alternate flags for New England". E. O’Connor. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- David B. Martucci. "The New England Flag". D. Martucci. Archived from the original on April 1, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- 'Historical Flags of Our Ancestors'. "Flags of the Early North American Colonies and Explorers". Loeser.is. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
- "New England flags (U.S.)". Crwflags.com. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
- "The Flag of New England Page". Midcoast.com. Archived from the original on April 1, 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
-  Archived February 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- "The New England Flag by David B. Martucci". Archived from the original on April 1, 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
- Furlong, William Rea; McCandless, Byron (1981). So Proudly We Hail : The History of the United States Flag. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 0-87474-448-2.
- Lossing, Benson J. (1850). Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution.
- Mastai, Boleslaw; Mastai, Marie-Louise D'Otrange (1973). The Stars and the Stripes. The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the Republic to the Present. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-47217-9.