Flag of Mississippi

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State of Mississippi
Flag of Mississippi
UseState flag IFIS Equal.svg
  • March 30, 1861
    (158 years ago)
    (Magnolia Flag)
  • February 7, 1894
    (125 years ago)
    (current version)
DesignThree equal horizontal tribands of blue, white, and red. The canton is square, bearing a blue cross, consists of a red background with a blue saltire, bordered with white, and emblazoned with thirteen (13) five-pointed stars
Designed byEdward N. Scudder

The flag of Mississippi, often referred to as the Mississippi flag, is the state flag of the U.S. state of Mississippi. It consists of three equal horizontal tribands of blue, white, and red, with a red square in the canton (referred to specifically as the "union") bearing a blue cross, bordered with white and emblazoned with thirteen small, white, five-pointed stars. The 13 stars on the flag correspond to the original number of the states of the Union.[1] The current design was adopted in 1894.[1]


The design of the State flag has been modified officially two times since 1861. The current version is the longest-used and has been in use for over 125 years.[2]

First flag

Flag of West Florida, 1810 (aka the "Bonnie Blue Flag")
A flag (likely post-war and used by United Confederate Veterans units), similar to the "Magnolia Flag"[3]

When the State of Mississippi declared its secession from the United States ("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,[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, an Irish 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 Confederate States at the time.[2][6]

The first flag of Mississippi was known as the "Magnolia Flag". It was the state flag from March 30, 1861, until the end of the American Civil War.[3] It remained in use in an unofficial capacity until 1894,[a] when the current version was first adopted.[7] 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".[4] 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."[8] 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.[9] The Magnolia Flag was not widely used or displayed during the war, as the various Confederate flags were displayed more frequently.[10] Following the conclusion of the American 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 actions repealed was the ordinance adopting a coat of arms and a state flag, leaving Mississippi without an official flag.[11]

Flag Act of 1894

On February 7, 1894, the Legislature replaced the Civil War era Magnolia Flag.[2] The flag was repealed in 1906 but remained in de facto use. When a referendum failed for a new design in April 2001,[12] the Legislature voted to readopt the historic design that same month.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] Because of this oversight, likely inadvertent, the state of Mississippi did not have a state flag from 1906 to 2001. Nonetheless, the 1894 flag continued to be used as the de facto state flag until it was officially readopted by the Legislature on April 17, 2001.[13]

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.[13][16]

In 2000 the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled that the state legislature in 1906 had repealed the adoption of the state flag in 1894.[17] What was considered to be the official state flag was only so through custom or tradition during the previous 94 years.[18] The flag was officially readopted on April 17, 2001.[13]

2001 referendum

2001 flag proposal

In January 2001 then-Governor Ronnie Musgrove appointed an independent commission which developed a new proposed design.[16][18] 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.[citation needed] 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.[19]

Future of the flag

The "Stennis" flag proposal

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 Confederate-sympathizing white supremacist Dylann Roof, there were renewed calls for Southern states to cease using the Confederate battle flag in official capacities.[20] This extended to increased criticism of Mississippi's state flag. All eight public universities in Mississippi, along with "several cities and counties", including Biloxi, are now refusing to fly the state flag until the emblem is removed. At displays of all 50 state flags in New Jersey, Oregon, and Philadelphia, the flag has been removed, leaving 49.[20][21][22][23][24]

A Mississippi state flag on display outside of a Mississippi Welcome Center in 2016.

Over 20 flag-related bills, some calling for another statewide referendum, were introduced in the state legislature in 2015 and 2016, but none made it out of committee.[20] A 2016 federal lawsuit alleging that the flag is tantamount to "state-sanctioned hate speech" was dismissed by both a district court and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.[25][26] The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[27]

Mississippi specialty license plate advertising the Stennis flag proposal, made available for purchase in 2019.

An alternative was devised in 2014 by local artist Laurin Stennis, granddaughter of former U.S. senator John C. Stennis.[28] Her proposal was originally dubbed the “Declare Mississippi” flag and has been popularly called the "Stennis Flag". As she explained it, the flag consists of a single blue star on a white field, an "inverted" Bonnie Blue Flag (white star on blue). It is encircled by 19 smaller stars, one for each state in the Union when Mississippi joined it, and is flanked on each side by a vertical red band, representing "blood spilled by Mississippians".[29] Laurin Stennis' stated mission was to create "an image that would better capture our history and hopes without denying or romanticizing our past" and focus on HISTORY + HOPE + HOSPITALITY.[29]

Since its inception, numerous bills have been brought before the Mississippi Legislature to instate the Stennis Flag, but so far none have passed.[30][31] On April 17, 2019, Mississippian governor Phil Bryant signed a new specialty license plates bill. One of the new specialty plates will include the Stennis Flag along with the phrase, "History + Hope + Hospitality". This was the first time that the Stennis flag's design received some form of state sanction by being used in some form of official capacity.[32][33][34]

Pledge to the Mississippi state flag

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[35]

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."

See also


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


  1. ^ a b "State Flags". Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Sansing, David G. (August 2000). "Flags Over Mississippi". Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Mississippi Historical Society. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Clay Moss (June 21, 2015). "Mississippi's Magnolia Flags (U.S.)". Flags of the World (FOTW). Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Retrieved January 21, 2019. It was likely a post-war flag, designed for use by one or more of Mississippi's United Confederate Veterans units. Then over time, it was mistakenly identified as "the" Magnolia flag.
  4. ^ a b 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. ^ The Lone Star/Bonnie Blue Flag, Washington Artillery
  7. ^ "Mississippi State Flag - About the Mississippi Flag, its adoption and history from NETSTATE.COM". www.netstate.com.
  8. ^ Journal of the State Convention … January 1861 (E. Barksdale, 1861), 89–90
  9. ^ Journal of the State Convention … March 1861 (E. Barksdale, 1861), 27, 35, 42, 43, 77, 86
  10. ^ "Mississippi State Flag - About the Mississippi Flag, its adoption and history from NETSTATE.COM". www.netstate.com.
  11. ^ Journal of the Constitutional Convention … August 1865 (E. M. Yerger, State Printer, 1865), 214, 221–222
  12. ^ Firestone, David. "Mississippi Votes by Wide Margin to Keep State Flag That Includes Confederate Emblem". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d 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.)
  14. ^ "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey - NAVA.org" (PDF). nava.org.
  15. ^ Mississippi; Albert Hall Whitfield; Thomas Clendenin Catchings; W. H. Hardy (1906). The Mississippi code of 1906 of the public statute laws of the state of Mississippi, prepared and annotated by A. H. Whitfield, T. C. Catchings and W. H. Hardy: Under the provisions of an act of the Legislature approved March 19, 1904, and reported to and revised. Brandon printing company. p. 141.
  16. ^ a b "The Mississippi State Flag". NetState. February 6, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  17. ^ Mississippi Division of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans v. Mississippi State Conference of NAACP Branches, 774 So.2d 388 (Miss. 2000)
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Election Results" (PDF). State of Mississippi. April 27, 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-21.
  20. ^ a b c "Battle over Confederate symbols continues with Mississippi state flag." CNN. 2016-06-19. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  21. ^ "Biloxi won't fly state flag." Associated Press (via Clarion-Ledger). 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  22. ^ "State flag quietly removed from campus". The Reflector. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  23. ^ Victor, Daniel (October 26, 2015). "University of Mississippi Lowers State Flag With Confederate Symbol". New York Times.
  24. ^ Barron, James (April 29, 2019). "New Jersey Governor Refuses to Fly 'Reprehensible' Mississippi Flag". New York Times.
  25. ^ "Mississippi Confederate Flag Fight Moves to New Battlefield." US News & World Report. 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  26. ^ "Court Rejects Lawsuit Against Mississippi State Flag's Confederate Symbolism." 2017-04-03. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  27. ^ "Search - Supreme Court of the United States". www.supremecourt.gov. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  28. ^ "Watkins: Stennis granddaughter offers new flag option". The Clarion Ledger. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  29. ^ a b "Stennis Flag". Stennis Flag. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  30. ^ "News". Stennis Flag. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  31. ^ Monday, Joe Rogers Email the author Published 7:00 am; January 15; 2018 (January 15, 2018). "This should be Mississippi's state flag. And with enough support, it could be". Magnolia State Live. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  32. ^ Lee, China (April 17, 2019). "Mississippi residents can display state flag minus Confederate battle emblem with new specialty license plate". WMC-TV. Jackson, Mississippi. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  33. ^ "Mississippi drivers can put flag minus rebel X on license - The Washi…". archive.is. April 26, 2019. Archived from the original on April 26, 2019.
  34. ^ "Mississippi governor signs bill permitting license plates with altern…". archive.is. April 26, 2019. Archived from the original on April 26, 2019.
  35. ^ "Section 37-13-7". Mississippi Code Ann. State of Mississippi. 1972.

External links

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