This Day (Bonnie Blue Flag Edition)

Published:April 30, 2011 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1861, the Virginia Convention, having seceded from the Union, now saw fit to establish a flag that was just perfect for a state on the go. Something in blue, I think.

Be it ordained by the convention of the commonwealth of Virginia That the Flag of this commonwealth shall hereafter be made of bunting, which shall be of deep blue field with a circle of white in the center, upon which shall be painted or embroidered, to show on both sides alike, the Coat of Arms of the State, as described the convention of 1776, for one side of the seal to-wit: ‘Virtus, the genius of the Commonwealth [etc. …] In the exergon the word Virginia over the head of Virtus and underneath the words “Sic Semper Tyrannis”, This flag shall be known and respected as the flag of Virginia blah blah blah.

According to our entry on the Confederate battle flag, the Virginia state flag was modeled on the so-called Bonnie Blue flag.

Featuring a single white star on a field of blue, the Bonnie Blue Flag had flown over the short-lived Republic of West Florida, whose territory was eventually divided into the Deep South states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The flag had flown over Mississippi’s capitol when the state seceded in January 1861, and a song, written in its honor, was soon popular across the South.

What’s not popular these days, at least among a certain segment of the random survey-responding public, is the Virginia flag. And by “these days,” I mean ten years ago, when the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) ranked Virginia’s banner a mere 54th of 72 state and North American flags. No Virginians are on record as caring, let alone complaining, but when a Montanan became upset at some passing vexillological insult and took the time to write in, a former NAVA president replied in terms that were defensive, condescending, smug, and even insulting. Just right for the Internet, in other words.

IMAGE: Virginia regimental flag captured in fighting on April 2, 1865, by Captain William Van Ormer of the 53rd Pennsylvania.


2 Comments on “This Day (Bonnie Blue Flag Edition)”

  1. Brendan Wolfe Post author

    Thanks for asking that, Ben. I went through the same frustration and should have made it more clear in the post. And, it turns out, the answer was hiding in plain sight. Click on the link marked “establish,” and it reads: “Virginia had no authorized flag until 1861.”

    Our entry on the State Seal of Virginia is nearing publication, and I think we need to commission a similar entry on the state flag.

    Thanks again for the comment.

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