What Is the History of the State Flag of North Carolina?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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The state flag of North Carolina as it is currently flown was adopted in March 1885. General Johnston Jones is credited with proposing the bill that changed the state flag of North Carolina from its previous design, which represented North Carolina during the Civil War. The current North Carolina flag displays a wide, horizontal red top bar, above a wide, horizontal white bottom bar. A vertical blue bar decorates the left side of the flag, and superimposed upon this bar are the letters NC in gold, separated by a white star. Above these letters, a golden banner proclaims the date of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, 20 May 1775, in black letters. A similar banner below the letters NC displays the date of the Halifax Resolves, 12 April 1776.

The first person to suggest the adoption of a North Carolina state flag is believed to have been Colonel John D. Whitford. He is said to have made his proposal on 20 May 1861, the day that North Carolina voted to secede from the United States of America and join the Confederate States of America. While the North Carolina Convention approved of Whitford's flag proposal, the group ultimately rejected his design. They instead accepted a design created by William Jarl Browne. This design was officially adopted by the North Carolina Convention on 22 June 1861 and remained in use until after the Civil War.


North Carolina's original state flag is very similar in design to the present state flag of North Carolina. The position of the red and blue bars as they appear on the state's modern flag were reversed. The vertical bar to the left was red, and the horizontal top bar to the right was blue. The red vertical bar typically bore a white star.

Above this star was generally written the date of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and below it was generally written the date of North Carolina's official succession from the United States, 20 May 1861. Historians believe that North Carolina was one of only two Confederate states to issue official state flags to its regiments during the American Civil War.

Most believe that the need for a new state flag of North Carolina became clear when North Carolina rejoined the United States after the American Civil War. The state of North Carolina continues to use the basic flag design adopted in March 1885. An act of the state legislature in 1991 lengthened the state flag of North Carolina, and removed the commas from the dates displayed upon it.


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Post 4

One question I have about the state of North Carolina is whether there is more history to the design of the flag and how they decided on that particular design for the flag.

To me it seems like the flag itself is more of an official looking military design that would be used for a flag carrier in the military.

Considering that this was the flag's original purpose and the reason why it was created, I find this theory to be sound and I have to wonder whether or not this was designed with a strict military purpose in mind or if it was to be the flag of North Carolina for the long run.

Post 3

I find it completely understandable that the state flag of North Carolina changed slightly following its re-adoption into the Union, following the Civil War. Besides the fact that the original flag was used for the Confederate regiments during the Civil War there is very little history associated with this flag and it then becomes a case of what symbolism.

The flag itself is simple, but it does have a bit of symbolism simply due to the fact it was one of the founding states in the Union and considering the fact that it was not created until they left the Union, and their only change was when the state was re-admitted, the state flag has a lot of history associated with the state itself.

Post 2

@Izzy78 - To be totally honest a state flag is simply open to people's interpretation and one could make the argument that the state flag of North Carolina is simply looking at itself as a member of the Union and celebrating the fact that it was one of the founding thirteen colonies during America's founding in the Revolutionary War.

I agree, I do not find the state flag of North Carolina to be very creative, but I think that it is a little bit of a stretch to say that it does not really depict anything considering that it has the date of their founding as well as incorporates red, white, and blue into the flag.

Again, a state flag is about interpretation and one may look at the North Carolina state flag and see it as very patriotic and a simple symbol towards the founding of the nation as a whole.

Post 1

I am going to say that I am not too impressed with the state flag of North Carolina simply because I do not see it as being very imaginative and see it as rather un-creative.

I will say that I would rather have a flag that is rather official looking and does not really depict the state's culture or history than have a flag that has a really un-creative design.

I like the fact the flag at least has an indication and acknowledged the founding of the state in 1776, but besides that there is just generic American red, white, and blue in the flag, which I usually find OK but it nearly encompasses the whole patter of the flag.

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