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What Is the History of the State Flag of Arkansas?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2016
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The state flag of Arkansas was officially adopted on 26 February 1913and was originally designed by Ms. Willie Hocker, a resident of Jefferson County, Arkansas. Hocker's design depicted a white diamond on a red backdrop; a blue border, superimposed with 25 white stars, surrounded the white diamond. In the center of this diamond, Hocker placed three blue starts in a horizontal row. The state's General Assembly voted to modify the design by adding the state name, Arkansas, to the center of the white diamond, relocating the blue stars to accommodate this change. Later, an additional blue star was added to the center of the white diamond, commemorating Arkansas's time as part of the Confederate States of America.

The design of Arkansas's state flag is deeply symbolic of the state's history. Hocker chose the colors red, white, and blue for the flag to symbolize its status as one of the United States (US) of America, since the US uses these colors on its national flag. The presence of the white diamond on the state flag reflects the commercial mining of diamonds within the state. The 25 white diamonds used in the blue border commemorate Arkansas's status as the 25th state admitted to the United States of America.

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The three stars in the center of Hocker's flag design are simultaneously symbolic of several facets of Arkansas's history. They represent the three nations, Spain, France and the United States, to which Arkansas has belonged during different parts of its history. They also represent the year, 1803, in which the territory that would become Arkansas joined the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The three stars also symbolize Arkansas's status as the third state to be organized from the Louisiana Purchase territory.

The General Assembly redesigned the state flag of Arkansas again in 1923, adding a fourth blue star to commemorate the state's membership in the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. The 1923 design placed two blue stars above the name Arkansas on the state flag, and two below. The state flag of Arkansas was again redesigned in 1924, leaving one blue star above the state's name, two blue stars below it on a horizontal line, and the fourth blue star below that, so that the bottom three stars form an inverted pyramid. This design remains in use today.

The need for a state flag of Arkansas is said to have become apparent in 1912, when the christening of the battleship USS Arkansas was imminent. The Pine Bluff, Arkansas, chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) wrote to Secretary of State Earle W. Hodges to request a state flag for presentation to the battleship's captain. When Hodges wrote back that no such flag existed at that time, the Pine Bluff DAR, with Hodges' assistance, hosted a flag-design contest, ensuring that a state flag would be ready in time for the ship's christening.

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