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Mississippi (U.S.)

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Official Fimbriated Version

by Clay Moss, 28 December 2005

Non-fimbriated Version

by Mario Fabretto, 24 February 1998

Municipal Flags:

See also:

In 1818, five stars were added, representing Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 20. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

Description of the Flag

"The Bonnie Blue flag of a white star on blue, was used as the state flag briefly. The Bonnie Blue type currently flown in Jackson at the Sillers Building, the state office building, is of a shade of blue like that of Somalia. The state then used a white flag which had a white star on a square canton of blue. The shade of blue varied greatly. Centered in the fly area was supposed to be a magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) in natural color.

The red actually is quite problematic. The way that the description is written can lead to an interpretation of a red fringe, a red border, a red bar on the fly and other variations.

There is one 6' x 10' version that flies regularly with other historical flags at the Sillers Building. This "recognized" version has a dark blue canton (the same as the U.S. flag) with the single white star. The canton is square and two-thirds of the width of the flag (like the current Mississippi flag). It has a magnolia tree in the fly in natural color (normally green and white-no brown trunk). The dispute over the red and where it is to go has led to the decision to omit it altogether. Also, many of the known variations of this flag used in the American Civil War do not have any red in them. Many of those use blue and white only without the natural colored tree or with unit markings instead of the tree.

The same type of debate over the description of the Magnolia Tree Flag also afflicts the current flag. The description of the current flag, as submitted by the Joint Committee on state symbols, is:
'They recommended for the flag one with width two-thirds its length; with the union square, in width two-thirds of the width of the flag; the ground of the union to be red and a broad blue saltier [sic] thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned with thirteen (13) mullets of five-pointed stars corresponding with the number of the original States in the Union; the field to be divided into three 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; the staff surmounted with a spear head and a battle-axe below; the flag to be fringed in gold and the staff gilded with gold.'
Many problems arise because the description would allow for stars to be placed anywhere on the saltire (even all on one arm of the saltire) and still be valid as an official state flag. However, the greater debate is whether there should be a fimbriation or none. A fimbriation is not mentioned, but the clear implication of the drafters was to reinstall (or fondly remember) the Confederate flag. The current flag, regardless of its declared symbolism, is an attempt to combine the national flags of the Confederacy in a new way. In the past, it was quite common to see both fimbriated and non-fimbriated flags flying over the Mississippi capitol.

Until about 1995 or 1996, there were no specifications as to where the stars should be placed, what their size should be, what direction they should point or if the canton should be fimbriated. In 1995 or 1996, Governor Kirk Fordice sent a memorandum, prepared by Clay Moss, to every manufacturer which regularized the format of the canton. This was the first time that so high an official sent such regulations.

Officially, the current flag of the State of Mississippi should have a fimbriation and the stars should point towards the top of the flag. The fimbriation should be the same width as the white bordering the canton (about 1/5 or 1/6 of the width of the blue bars that make up the saltire).

However, legally, the non-fimbriated version is still possible. It is just more difficult to locate a copy.

Sources: Report of the Joint Committee; _Hot_CofFEE_, Vol. 4, February 1995;
Personal discussion with Clay Moss throughout the process.

Paige Herring, 30 March 1998

I just came home from a road trip that included a week in Mississippi and can report that I saw not a single state flag flying anywhere in the state that lacked the fimbriation around the canton. The only non-fimbriated Mississippi flag I saw on the entire trip was in a display of all 50 state flags at the USS Alabama military and naval museum in Mobile, Alabama.
Joe McMillan, 1 August 2003

Governor Kirk Fordice's memorandum

I have a copy of that letter (and the occupying specifications), and am happy to share it:

The letter is dated 17 July 1996, and "suggests" that the "specification enclosed" be followed. It goes on to say that "Any non-fimbriated flags will be acceptable until supplies are exhausted". The accompanying specification gives a canton of 23" square, bordered by a fimbriation of 1". The Saltire is given as 5" bordered by a fimbriation also 1" wide, with the stars upright ("as is the case with the US Flag") and 3.5" from point to point and 4" apart. All on a flag of 36" x 54". The specifications indicate that "the industry standard ratio" of 3:5 is officially acceptable.

Christopher Southworth, 28 July 2003

Unofficial Flag of 1861

Mississippi adopted a 13 striped flag (6 white, 7 red) with a white star in the blue canton on Jan. 13, 1861.
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 29 April 1996

The first flag to fly over an independent Mississippi in January of 1861, was a blue flag with a single white star. This remained the unofficial state flag until an official one could be adopted.
Bart Mullis, 31 March 1998

When Mississippi's Ordinance of Secession was signed on 9 January 1861, it was marked by a ceremony in which the 'Bonnie Blue Flag' was raised over the capitol building in Jackson. Among those who witnessed the event was an Irish comedian named Harry Macarthy, who shortly after wrote and performed the famous song, 'The Bonnie Blue Flag'.
Filip Van Laenen, 31 March 1998

Official Flag of 1861

by Dov Gutterman, 2 October 1998

The official flag of Mississippi during the War for Southern Independence (1861-1865) was a white flag with a magnolia tree in natural colors. The canton was blue and had a single white star (reminiscent of the Bonnie Blue flag). The fly was a thin red bar extending vertically the length of the flag; sometimes it included red fringe as well. The flag was so popular, it is the reason Mississippi became known as the "Magnolia State." This remained as the state flag until 1894 when the present flag was adopted. According to the designers, the thirteen stars in the St. Andrew's cross of the canton (the Confederate battle flag) represent the original thirteen colonies that made up the United States at its inception. The red, white and blue horizontal stripes represent the colors of the U.S.A.
Bart Mullis, 31 March 1998

State Pledge

"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."
Phil Nelson, 13 August 1999

State Military Crest

by Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "A slip of magnolia full flower with leaves proper behind a trident sable."
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

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