Flag of Washington

This is a good article. Click here for more information.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

State of Washington
Flag of Washington.svg
UseCivil and state flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Reverse side is congruent with obverse side
Proportion1:1.6 (5:8)
AdoptedMarch 5, 1923 (standardized in 1967)
DesignThe state seal sized at 1/3 the length of the flag centered on a field of dark green.

The flag of Washington consists of the state seal, displaying an image of its namesake George Washington, on a field of dark green with gold fringe being optional. It is the only U.S. state flag with a field of green as well as the only state flag with the image of an American president. The secretary of state regulates flag protocol related to the state flag, as well approving replica flags for commercial sale and other standards related to the flag.

The flag was officially adopted on March 5, 1923, and has been a symbol of Washington ever since. Washington had achieved statehood in 1889, but did not have an official flag at the time. The Washington chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution designed the flag in 1915 and campaigned for its adoption by the Washington State Legislature in the early 1920s. The state flag has undergone minor revisions since its adoption, including the use of standardized colors in 1955 and a modernized seal in 1967.


Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Flag of Washington prior to the 1967 adoption of a new seal and standardization

Washington adopted its seal during the state constitutional convention on August 21, 1889,[1] months prior to official admission as a U.S. state on November 11, 1889.[2] While the new state did not have an official flag, a military flag displaying a gold profile of George Washington, the state's namesake, on blue bunting was used across the state at the turn of the 20th century and was first carried by the Washington Volunteer Infantry during the Philippine–American War in 1899.[2][3] Another popular design was a purple or green flag bearing the state seal in gold.[2][4]

In 1913, representative William J. Hughes of Whatcom County proposed the formation of a commission to adopt the state flag, consisting of the governor, secretary of state, and adjutant general.[5] Governor Ernest Lister became a supporter of the idea, issuing a call for designs from the state's citizens and city organizations.[6] The campaign for a state flag, however, was opposed by patriotic groups like the Sons of the American Revolution and Sons of Veterans, finding the use of a state flag to be detrimental to the national flag.[7][8] Hughes' bill was passed 69–20 in the state House of Representatives, but did not make it to the floor in the state senate.[9]

The Washington chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) began a campaign to adopt an official state flag during the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition of 1909, a world's fair hosted in Seattle.[10] In 1914, the national DAR requested that the Washington chapter send a state flag to be displayed in the DAR Memorial Continental Hall in Washington, D.C.[11] Upon discovering that the state lacked a suitable flag, the DAR formed a design committee, led by Emma Chadwick (wife of Washington Supreme Court justice Stephen J. Chadwick), to design a state flag. The DAR's flag, adopted in 1915, consisted of a green background with the state seal in the center. The flag was manufactured in Washington, D.C., at a cost of $48 (equivalent to $1,300 in 2021),[12] and displayed by the national DAR until 1916.[3][13][14] The flag was returned to the Washington chapter for their April 1916 general meeting in Everett, where DAR State Regent Elizabeth Bowden called on the chapter to ask the legislature to accept the flag as an official state symbol.[3]

A 1917 issue of National Geographic Magazine on U.S. state flags featured an unofficial flag of Washington similar to the DAR's design, a green background and the state seal in gold, sourced from "military authorities".[13][15] Another major flag proposal merged in 1920 from the short-lived Washington State Nautical School, where secretary-treasurer Grover C. Gaier designed a green flag with the state seal and fringe in gold. The flag would fly aboard the USS Vicksburg, representing the state nautical school during a voyage along the West Coast and to Hawaii.[11][16]

The DAR renewed its lobbying for a state flag in 1922, having gained the approval of the Sons of the American Revolution and other civic organizations.[3] A bill adopting the state flag was introduced in the 1923 legislative session and passed unanimously in the Senate by February,[17] and the House of Representatives on March 5, 1923.[18] The governor's approval was not required and the bill became law, formally adopting the state flag.[3][19] The law took effect on June 7, 1923, and an unofficial flag was unfurled on Flag Day by the DAR.[20] At the time of its adoption, Washington was one of four states lacking an official state flag.[10] The first official state flag, manufactured by Willis Bloom of the secretary of state's office, was unveiled on July 23, 1924.[21] The new flag was celebrated with a "State Flag Waltz" performed at the Inaugural Ball on January 15, 1925, following the inauguration of Governor Roland H. Hartley.[22]

During the 1925–26 session, the state legislature approved a change to the state flag that replaced the green fringe with a gold to match the state seal.[23][24] The gold-fringed flag made its official debut on June 27, 1927, flying on the official automobile of the governor during a tour of Fort Lewis.[25] In 1929, the DAR presented a state flag to Governor Hartley, who received it on behalf of the state for display in the Washington State Capitol.[3][26]

The Washington Secretary of State issued standardized colors for the state flag in 1955, including the modern colors used in the state seal.[3] The state seal itself was redesigned by Dick Nelms at the request of the secretary of state in 1967, using Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait painting of George Washington.[27][28] The new state seal was approved by the state legislature in April 1967, placing it on the updated state flag with immediate effect.[29][30]

In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association surveyed its members and other flag enthusiasts on the designs of the 72 U.S. state, U.S. territorial, and Canadian provincial flags. Members ranked the Washington state flag 47th out of the 72 flags surveyed, with a score of 4.53 points out of 10.[31] Washington's flag was criticized for its complicated seal, use of lettering, and similarities to other U.S. state flags that used seals on solid colors.[32]


The flag of Washington consists of a dark green field with the seal of Washington, a portrait of George Washington inside a ring with the words "The Seal of the State of Washington 1889", in the center.[33] The flag may also have an optional gold fringe.[34] It is the only U.S. state flag to feature a green background,[33] as well as the only one to feature the likeness of an identifiable historic person.[2] The flag has an aspect ratio of 1:1.6 (equivalent to 5:8), with the exception of two alternate flag sizes: 3 ft × 5 ft (0.9 m × 1.5 m) and 4 ft × 6 ft (1.2 m × 1.8 m). The size of the seal is proportional to the length of the flag, with a ratio of 1:3 between the seal diameter and length of the flag. On a 5 ft × 8 ft (1.5 m × 2.4 m) flag, the seal has a diameter of 31 in (78.7 cm).[35]

The flag's colors follow both the Standard Color Reference of America,[35] and the Pantone Matching System.[2][36] According to Senator Guy B. Groff, sponsor of the 1923 bill that adopted the flag, the flag's green field represented the "verdant fields" of Western Washington, while the gold seal represented the "wheat areas" of Eastern Washington.[17]

Washington state flag colors[35][37]
Use(s) Color Pantone
(CMYK printing)[36]
Textile color RGB values[38] Hex[38]
  Irish Green
PMS 348 80210 0-132-61 #00843D
State Seal (border)
  Spanish Yellow
PMS 116 80068 255-205-0 #FFCD00
State Seal (interior)
  Oriental Blue
PMS 311 5-195-222 #05C3DE
State Seal (portrait, lettering, rings)
PMS Process Black 0-0-0 #000000
George Washington's face
PMS 169 80004 255-179-171 #FFB3AB

Usage and protocol[edit]

The state flag (center) flying at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Washington

The Washington Secretary of State regulates flag protocol as well as the distribution and sale of the state flag.[34] Replica flags made for commercial sale are required to be approved by the secretary of state.[39] The state seal on the flag must be stitched on both sides with the profile of George Washington facing the same direction, making the Washington state flag among the most expensive U.S. state flags to manufacture.[35][40]

When flown within the state of Washington, the state flag occupies the highest position of honor after the U.S. flag and the flags of other sovereign nations. When flown alongside other U.S. state flags, the Washington state flag is placed 42nd, the order in which it ratified the U.S. Constitution and became a state.[41] A section of the Revised Code of Washington also requires that the state flag and the U.S. flag "shall be prominently installed, displayed and maintained in schools, court rooms and state buildings."[42][43] The state flag and U.S. flag are also required to be prominently displayed by code cities and displayed on certain holidays by all cities, towns, and counties.[44]

The lowering of the state and U.S. flags to half-mast is left at the discretion of local entities, but may be ordered by the Governor of Washington during the observance of memorial days, as well as in the event of the death of prominent government officials, state employees, public safety servants in the line of duty, and members of the United States Armed Forces from Washington.[44][45]


  1. ^ Utter, Robert F.; Spitzer, Hugh D. (2013). The Washington State Constitution. The Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States (2nd ed.). New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-0-19-994616-7. OCLC 819105189. Retrieved June 26, 2017 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c d e Howe, Randy (2010). Flags of the Fifty States: Their Colorful Histories and Significance. Guildford, Connecticut: Lyons Press. pp. 165–168. ISBN 978-1-59921-824-3. OCLC 891397358. Retrieved June 26, 2017 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Gallagher, Michael J.; Riley, Edward F. (April 5, 1963). "Senate Resolution Ex 1963-19" (PDF). Washington State Legislature. Retrieved June 26, 2017 – via Washington State Department of Enterprise Services.
  4. ^ "History of the State Flag". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  5. ^ "Would Do Away With All Grade Crossings". The Seattle Times. February 7, 1913. p. 12.
  6. ^ "Ad Club Seeks Design for Washington Flag". The Seattle Times. September 28, 1913. p. 24.
  7. ^ "State Flag Decried; Bad for Patriotism". The Seattle Times. January 30, 1914. p. 14.
  8. ^ "Patriotic Society Against State Flag". The Seattle Times. September 27, 1914. p. 11.
  9. ^ "Pass Mothers' Pensions Bill; State Flag Approved". Aberdeen Herald. February 13, 1913. p. 1. Retrieved May 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ a b "D. A. R. Will Get First Official State Flag Banner Authorized by Act of Legislature". The Seattle Times. April 1, 1923. p. 14.
  11. ^ a b Nelson, Gladys (March 4, 1962). "Washington State's Official Flag and Its Restless Date". The Seattle Times. pp. 13–14.
  12. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Duncan, Don (February 20, 1972). "Everything official, except for state fish". The Seattle Times Magazine. pp. 4–5.
  14. ^ "Take Pride in State Flag". The Seattle Times. November 12, 1923. p. 8.
  15. ^ Grosvenor, Gilbert H., ed. (October 1917). "Our State Flags". National Geographic Magazine. Vol. XXII, no. 4. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. pp. 334–337. ISSN 0027-9358. OCLC 881577140. Retrieved June 26, 2017 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Fish, Byron (April 2, 1954). "State Navy, Torpedoed By Economy, Had Brief Splash on High Seas". The Seattle Times. p. 28.
  17. ^ a b "Washington State Flag Bill Passed By Senate, 39 To 0". The Seattle Times. February 16, 1923. p. 5.
  18. ^ "Refuse Fund Levy Cut". The Seattle Times. March 6, 1923. p. 17.
  19. ^ "Chapter 174: State Flag" (PDF). Session Laws of the State of Washington, 1923. Washington State Legislature. March 5, 1923. pp. 573–574. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  20. ^ "Chapter of D. A. R. Honors Flag Day". The Seattle Times. June 19, 1923. p. 8.
  21. ^ "First Official State Flag Is Completed". The Seattle Times. July 23, 1924. p. 2.
  22. ^ "Capital Ball Brilliant Affair". The Seattle Times. January 14, 1925. p. 14.
  23. ^ "Senate Overrides 3 More Vetoes By Nonpartisan Vote". The Seattle Times. January 2, 1926. p. 2.
  24. ^ "Chapter 85: State Flag" (PDF). Session Laws of the State of Washington, 1925 Extraordinary Session. Washington State Legislature. January 2, 1926. p. 100. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  25. ^ "10,000 See Guard Review; Old Buddies Are Reunited". The Seattle Times. June 27, 1927. p. 5.
  26. ^ "D. A. R. Gives State Flag For Capitol Building". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. February 22, 1929. p. 17.
  27. ^ Duncan, Don (February 20, 1967). "The Man (Not George) Behind State's New Seal". The Seattle Times. p. 25.
  28. ^ Johnsrud, Byron (July 13, 1966). "State Orders New Seal; Washington Has Too Many Faces". The Seattle Times. p. 51.
  29. ^ "Chapter 65: State Seal—State Flag" (PDF). Session Laws of the State of Washington, 1967 Extraordinary Session. Washington State Legislature. April 19, 1967. pp. 1666–1667. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  30. ^ Mertena, Bill (April 6, 1967). "Senate Approves State-Seal Bill". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. p. 13.
  31. ^ Kaye, Edward B. (2001). "Good Flag, Bad Flag, and the Great NAVA Flag Survey of 2001" (PDF). Raven: A Journal of Vexillology. North American Vexillological Association. 8: 38. doi:10.5840/raven2005122. OCLC 300992732. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  32. ^ Sears, Kelton (August 26, 2014). "The Washington State Flag Sucks". Seattle Weekly. Archived from the original on October 25, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  33. ^ a b Smith, Whitney (January 26, 2001). "Flag of Washington". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  34. ^ a b "RCW 1.20.010: State flag". Revised Code of Washington. Washington State Legislature. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  35. ^ a b c d "Specification of Design and Layout". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  36. ^ a b "Specification of Design and Layout". Washington Secretary of State. Archived from the original on October 21, 2002. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  37. ^ "WAC 434-04-017: Description of seal for use on state flags". Washington Administrative Code. Washington State Legislature. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  38. ^ a b "Find a Pantone Color". Pantone. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  39. ^ "Regulations Governing the State Flag". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  40. ^ Casey, Jerry (October 18, 2008). "Should Oregon redesign the state flag? Want to give it a try?". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  41. ^ "Display with the U.S. and Other Flags". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  42. ^ "RCW 1.20.015: Display of national and state flags". Revised Code of Washington. Washington State Legislature. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  43. ^ Wright, Don (March 5, 1967). "Times Troubleshooter: It's the Law". The Seattle Times. p. C7.
  44. ^ a b "Flag Display Requirements and Protocol". Municipal Research and Services Center. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  45. ^ "Flag Lowering". Governor of Washington. Retrieved June 28, 2017.

External links[edit]