What Is the History of Wisconsin's State Flag?

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  • Written By: B. Chisholm
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Wisconsin's state flag was first adopted in 1913 and had its latest alteration in 1979, to allow it to be more distinguishable from the other state flags of the US. During the Civil War (1861 - 1865), despite Wisconsin having been a state since 1848, it still had no state flag. Soldiers fighting in the war requested a flag to fly and in 1863 a selection committee came together to choose Wisconsin's state flag.

It took years for the state flag to finally be made official, but in 1913, the flag, one very similar to that had been used by the regiments in the war, was adopted as Wisconsin's state flag. Essentially, it consisted of a deep blue background with the state coat of arms of Wisconsin in its center. On one side was a miner, and the other a sailor. In 1979, the word Wisconsin, in capitals, above the shield and the date 1848 below the shield, were added, as the flag was quite similar to those of some other US states.


The coat of arms, in the middle of Wisconsin's state flag, contains a blue ring in its center, with a smaller shield and the colors of the US in it, surrounded by the phrase "E PLURIBUS UNUM," meaning "Out of Many, One," the motto of the US. The coat of arms is then divided into four sections containing a plow, an anchor, an arm and hammer, a pick and shovel. These are representative of the main industries in Wisconsin, namely manufacturing, farming and agriculture, mining and shipping.

Above the coat of arms is Wisconsin's state animal, a badger, along with a white banner reading "FORWARD," which is the state motto of Wisconsin. Below the shield is a cornucopia, representing Wisconsin's agricultural wealth, and a pile of lead, representing its mining activity. Beneath that is "1848," for the year that Wisconsin was declared a state.

Wisconsin's state flag, along with its other state symbols, such as its animal, the badger and tree, the sugar maple, help to promote state spirit and patriotism. In combining symbols relating to the cultural, natural, and economic history of Wisconsin, it brings together a proud state. The flag is flown, along with US flag, at all federal and state buildings. It may be flown at half-mast on order of the Governor of Wisconsin, in the event of the death of present or former state officials or members of the armed forces.


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