Many called for the Mississippi state flag to be replaced, and now it has been retired. Learn about the controversial nature of this former state flag here.
The state of Mississippi has a long history filled with ups and downs. It started out being claimed as a territory both by Spain and France due to its logistic location that benefited trade routes. More recently, controversy erupted over the Mississippi state flag that has led to its retirement.
Why is the Mississippi state flag controversial? Keep reading to learn more about it.
The Mississippi State Flag History
Did you know that Mississippi has had several state flags throughout its history? What’s more, until 1861, it had no flag at all.
The Spanish Flag of Castile and Leon
Hernando de Soto placed the first flag to ever fly over Mississippi in 1540. He was a Spanish conquistador who took his group into Mississippi from Florida. His party was searching for Gold and Silver and possible routes to China.
The King's Colors
King Charles II´s land grant established Carolina in 1663. Its western border was the Mississippi River at that time. Due to this, the British flag held dominion over the area until 1683, and that included Mississippi.
The Bourbon Flag of France 1682-1763
Cavelier and La Salle were the French explorers who claimed sovereignty over the Mississippi Valley in 1682. They dubbed it Lousiana in honor of their King. The area remained under a French flag until the end of the Seven Years War in 1763.
The British Red Ensign
In 1763 when the British landed at Forte Conde, near Mobile, Alabama, they didn’t have land flags with them and, instead, hoisted their “ships ensigns” as they secured the land previously controlled by the French. The Red Ensign flags were all the had available.
Following the American Revolution, Mississippi became a part of the newly formed United States of America at the Treaty of Paris.
The Flag of Spain
Governor-General, Gayoso, is credited with establishing Fort Natchez. It has also been known as "Fort Rosalie" by the French and then known officially as "Fort Panmure" by the British. Still, most people know it as Fort Natchez. During his time as Governor-General, Gayoso succeeded in transforming Mississippi as a viable and productive part of the Spanish empire.
His city of Natchez continued to grow long after the Spanish withdrawal. It was the first capital of the Mississippi Territory and the state of Mississippi. It was the most significant and wealthiest city in Mississippi for decades during this period.
The French Empire
Under Emporer Napoleon Bonaparte, France reclaimed the area raising its flag in 1800 through its ally Spain. Napoleon claimed the region with the target of building an empire in North America, but due to other rising conflicts, abandoned the plan and sold the area back to the US under the well-known Louisiana Purchase.
The Magnolia Flag
The first Mississippi state flag was called the Magnolia Flag. It was red with a white ground in the center that contained a Magnolia tree and a blue square in the upper left corner that included a star in its center. Unfortunately, this flag was short-lived. It was rejected a few years later at a constitutional convention.
The 1894 State Flag of Mississippi
The history of this flag is as intriguing as the controversy that surrounds it today. The design came from a state Senator from Mayersville who was also a colonel in the state militia. After returning home from his day in the legislature, he showed the idea he had drawn to his wife for the flag.
It was simple and contained three equal-sized horizontal stripes across the body and the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia in the upper left corner. The Confederate emblem was to honor the confederate soldiers for their service and sacrifice in a permanent way.
The flag became the state’s moniker until 1906 when new state ordinances included a provision to repeal laws that hadn’t been re-enacted. Among these was the law for the state flag.
The error in the law re-enactment left Mississippi without a state flag until 2001 when voters approved retaining the 1894 flag as the state flag over a new design.
The Mississippi State Flag Change
Controversy over historical monuments and flags came following the death of George Floyd. The historical Mississippi state flag was one of them. Despite many of the state’s residents being in favor of keeping the flag early in June, it didn’t remain that way. By the end of June, the tide had shifted, and on June 29th, a bill to retire the flag was passed by both the House and the Senate.
Flag Designers Everywhere
As many mourn the flag’s demise and history, flag designers are at work to offer options for a new flag. By the end of August, the committee hopes to narrow the over 2000 submissions to five finalists with the final contenders voted on in November.
Change has never come easy in Mississippi, and the loss of an emblem that waved for so many years won’t be easy either.
Patriotic Flag Stories
All flags have intriguing backstories, and the Mississippi state flag is no different. How many know how their flag came to be? We all know Betsy Ross designed the United States flag, but did she sew it herself? Know one knows.
There are stories and mysteries; the stories behind flags and monuments have recently come to the forefront. We should all know what these mean, whether the American, Confederate, or Rebel Flag.
The retirement of the Mississippi state flag may have you bummed, but there is good news. You can still buy one. Check out our selection of flags, no matter what your views are, we have something for you.
Not sure what you want? Get in touch with one of our experts who can help you out.