Flag of Tennessee

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State of Tennessee
Flag of Tennessee.svg
Use Civil and state flag
Proportion 3:5
Adopted April 17, 1905
Design A blue circle with three white five-pointed stars on a rectangular field of red, with a strip of white and blue on the fly.
Designed by Colonel LeRoy Reeves

The flag of the State of Tennessee consists of an emblem on a field of red, with a strip of blue on the fly. The emblem in the middle consists of three stars on a blue circle. The flag was designed by Colonel LeRoy Reeves of the Tennessee National Guard. The Tennessee State Legislature officially adopted the flag on April 17, 1905.[1] The flag was first raised on October 10, 1911, during the dedication ceremonies for East Tennessee State Normal School in Johnson City.[2] The central emblem portion of the flag appears in the logos of some Tennessee-based companies and sports teams. Examples include the First Tennessee Bank, Tennessee Titans of the National Football League, and the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League.

In a 2001 poll conducted by the North American Vexillological Association, the flag of Tennessee was ranked 14th in a list of 72 flags of North America, including all the state and provincial flags of the United States and Canada.[3]



The three stars represent the three Grand Divisions of the state, East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee. The blue circle around the stars represents the unity of the "Grand Divisions" of the state. The blue bar at the edge of the flag was purely a design consideration. When asked about the blue bar, Reeves stated that "The final blue bar relieves the sameness of the crimson field and prevents the flag from showing too much crimson when hanging limp." The National Geographic magazine erroneously reported in October 1917 that the stars represent Tennessee's status as the third state to enter the United States after the original thirteen.[4] Vexillologist Steven A. Knowlton finds links between the Tennessee state flag and the Confederate Battle Flag.[5]

Star arrangement[edit]

Tennessee state law dictates on how the center emblem is drawn on the flag.

In 1976, the United States Postal Service issued a sheet of stamps with one stamp for each state. The Tennessee flag was upside down as represented on its stamp.[6]

Former state flags[edit]

State Flag, 1897-1905

Prior to the adoption of the current flag, the state of Tennessee used a tricolor in red, blue, and white. The three bands were slanted to represent geographically the three regions of Tennessee. It included the number 16 and the words "The Volunteer State", representing Tennessee being the 16th state in the Union, and the state's nickname.

Flag during the Civil War[edit]

Proposed Flag, 1861

As the civil war was approaching in 1861, a flag was first proposed for the state. It was modeled after the First National Flag of the CSA, but with the State Seal in the canton, instead of seven stars.

Government flags[edit]

Alongside the state flag, there are other flags used by the government of Tennessee. The Flag for the Governor of Tennessee has been in use since 1939. It is a scarlet flag, with four stars, one in each corner, and the State Military Crest, a tree with three white stars, in the center. The Tennessee General Assembly has its own flag as well.

General Assembly
General Assembly

LeRoy Reeves[edit]

LeRoy Reeves, who designed the Tennessee flag, was a Johnson City attorney who was also serving in the Tennessee National Guard in 1905, when he created the new flag design. He was born in Johnson City in June 1876 and educated at Science Hill High School and Johnson City College and Normal Institute. He taught public school in Johnson City from 1896 to 1898 before being admitted to the bar in 1899 and joining his father in the practice of law. He had organized Company F of the Third Infantry, Tennessee National Guard in 1903 and served as its first captain.[7]

Reeves left Company F in 1906. In later years, he rejoined the Tennessee National Guard, was appointed major judge advocate, and served in the Mexican border campaign in 1916. In 1918 he entered officers training school at Camp McClellan in Alabama, and was commissioned as a major in the U.S. Army in 1919. He served in the judge advocate general's department in Washington, D.C., retiring in 1940 with the rank of colonel. He died in 1960, at the age of 84, and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Johnson City.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Darnell, Riley C. (2006). Tennessee Blue Book (PDF). Nashville, Tennessee: State of Tennessee. pp. 515–516. 
  2. ^ "Image of "State Flag" Tennessee historical marker" (JPG). Johnson's Depot. Retrieved 2007-10-27. 
  3. ^ "NAVA.org". nava.org. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Tennessee State Flag". Tennessee Military Department. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Knoxville Philatelic Society News, February 2008
  7. ^ a b "LeRoy Reeves Papers 1703-1952". East Tennessee State University, Archives of Appalachia. 

External links[edit]