USA Official State Flag of Mississippi

Mississippi (MS) 

When Mississippi seceded from the union on January 9th of 1861, the Confederate States of America did not exist. And so, like other southern neighbors, Mississipi became a sovereign state.

Bonnie Blue Flag

Initially, Mississippians flew the Bonnie Blue Flag, an 1810 flag depicting a single white star on a blue field. Within a couple of weeks however,on January 26, 1861, the Mississippi secession convention adopted an official state flag. Bonnie Blue Flag Referred to as "The Magnolia Flag" the first official Mississippi state flag depicted a Magnolia tree on a white field. This flag also incorporated the Bonnie Blue image in the canton corner. Though Mississippi flew the flags of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865, the Magnolia Flag actually remained the "official" state flag for 33 years. In February, 1894, the current state flag was adopted by the Mississippi legislature.

During the Civil War years, 1861 to 1865, Mississippi flew the official flags of the Confederate States: the Stars and Bars in 1861, the Stainless Banner in 1863. Near the end of the war, Jefferson Davis signed a bill approving a design for a third official flag. It is not certain if this third design, similar to the Stainless Banner but with a red vertical bar on the outer half of the white field, was ever raised above Mississippi.
 

 
First National Flag: Stars & Bars 1861   Second National Flag: Stainless Banner 1863
 

Because it had been so difficult to distinguish the Stars and Bars from the Stars and Stripes in battle, a new flag came into being. Designed by General P.G.T. Beauregard after the battle of Manassas, the so-called "Southern Cross", the Confederate Battle Flag, became a ubiquitous and potent symbol of the Confederate States. The Confederate Battle Flag consisted of a blue cross(saltire) edged in white on a red background. Thirteen white stars on the cross represented the Confederate states. The Confederate Battle Flag, never an official flag of the Confederate States, is, however, incorporated in the Stainless Banner and the third design for the official flag of the Confederate States of America.

 

Mississippi state flag
LARGE FLAG    COLOR ME FLAG

In 1894, Mississippi adopted the present state flag, replacing the Magnolia Flag adopted in 1861. The new flag consists of a "union square" in the canton corner and a field divided into three bars of equal width; the top one blue, the middle bar white and the bottom bar, extending the entire width of the flag, red. The official wording of the legislation adopting this official state flag is quite interesting. The Confederate Battle Flag in the canton corner is referred to as the "union square." The thirteen white stars on the cross(saltire) are "...corresponding with the number of the original States of the Union;" rather than the thirteen states of the Confederate States of America. The field of the Mississippi flag consists of the same three bars of the the first Confederate flag, the Stars and Bars, but the top stripe is blue. These three bars represent the "...national colors." 

On January 12, 2001, the Governor of Mississippi signed House Bill 524:

AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR A STATEWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELECTING THE OFFICIAL FLAG OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; TO SET THE DATE OF APRIL 17, 2001, FOR THE STATEWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION; TO ALLOW THE ELECTORATE TO VOTE FOR ONE OF TWO FLAG DESIGNS; TO SPECIFY THAT ONE OF THE DESIGNS SHALL BE THE 1894 FLAG DESIGN AND THAT THE OTHER SHALL BE A PROPOSED NEW DESIGN; ....

 

This bill was precipitated by a series of design proposals intended to remove the representation of the Confederate Battle Flag from the canton corner of the current state flag. Some Mississippians were offended by the official design and proposed a new design they thought would be more acceptable to the entire populace of the state. The legislature and the Governor decided to put an end to the controversy over the state flag and passed a law that would put the design of the Mississippi State Flag to a vote. This vote would determine whether the state flag that had flown over Mississippi for 107 years would continue to fly over the state or whether a new design would be raised over the state capitol. The vote was scheduled for April 17, 2001.

The 2001 proposal of new Mississippi state flag.

The new state flag design was similar to the 1894 design except that the canton corner color was changed from red to blue and the representation of the Confederate Battle Flag was replaced with 19 small white stars surrounding one large white star. The 19 small stars represented the number of states that were already part of the Union when Mississippi joined in 1817. The large white five-pointed star in the center represented the state of Mississippi.

When all the votes were counted the message was clear. The 107 year old Mississippi State Flag would continue to fly over the state. The vote, nearly 2-1, sent a clear message that Mississippians valued the historic symbolism of the 1894 flag.

If you want more information on the State Flags of the United States, you might want to check How Proudly They Wave: Flags of the Fifty States by Rita D. Haban. This book is geared toward kids... and for adults like me who want to know about the history and design significance of the flags of all fifty states but can't find this information in an expensive encyclopedia.