How stars on state flags tell U.S. history

Skærmbillede 2017-05-12 kl. 14.58.59

It may not be easy to spot from a distance, but the number of stars on U.S. state flags matters. Following the original thirteen, all other states were admitted to the Union between 1791 and 1959. Count the stars and you’ll see that, for example, Indiana became the 19th state and Oregon the 33rd.

Ohio: The 17 stars in the Ohio flag symbolize that Ohio was the 17th state of the Union. Ohio was admitted in 1803, the fourth state after the original 13. The state flag was adopted in 1902. Its colors and 5-pointed stars come from the U.S. flag. The triangle and stripes suggest Ohio’s hills and valleys, roads and waterways. The white circle with the red disc is an O, the first letter in the state’s name, and also evokes the state’s nickname, “the Buckeye State”.

Indiana: The state flag of Indiana is dark blue with a gold torch surrounded by 19 stars. The 13 stars in the outer circle represent the original U.S. states. The biggest star with the state’s name in capital letters represent the state of Indiana which was admitted to the Union in 1816 as the 19th state. The torch stands for enlightenment and liberty. Indiana’s state flag was adopted in 1917, originally as the state banner.

Missouri: The State of Missouri became the 24th U.S. state when it was admitted to the Union in 1821. The Missourian flag was adopted in 1913. It is a horizontal tricolor of red-white-blue with the state seal in the middle. Both in the seal and surrounding the seal on the flag there are 24 stars showing that Missouri is the 24th state.

Arkansas: The state flag of Arkansas, adopted in 1913 and later modified, has a white diamond with a blue border on a red field. 25 white stars and four blue stars are arranged around the name of the state. The white stars on the diamond’s border represent the fact that Arkansas was admitted to the Union in 1836 as the 25th U.S. state. The blue stars represent the four nations that Arkansas has belonged to: Spain, France, the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. Arkansas was among the seceding states in 1861 and the colors and design of the state flag resembles the Confederate Battle Flag.

Minnesota: The first state flag of Minnesota is from 1893, the present version is from 1983. It is blue and has on it the state seal, the state’s name, the year 1858, 19 gold stars and a wreath of Pink and White Ladys’ Slippers, the state flower of Minnesota. The state was admitted to the Union as the 32nd state in 1858. The 19 stars on the state flag alludes to the fact that Minnesota is the 19th U.S. state following the original 13 states.

Oregon: There are 33 stars in the state seal of Oregon. They also appear on the obverse of the state’s flag together with the name of the state and the year 1859. Oregon’s is the only double-sided state flag in the U.S. On the reverse of the flag there is a beaver, the state animal. The state flag of Oregon was adopted in 1925. Oregon was admitted to the Union in 1859 as the 33th state.

Kansas: The state flag of Kansas is similar to that of Oregon. It is also dark blue and has on it the seal and name of the state. Above the seal there is a sunflower, the state flower. On the seal there are 34 stars because Kansas was admitted to the Union as the 34th state in 1861. The state flag is from 1927 and was modified in 1961.

Nevada: Nevada became a U.S. state in 1864 during the American Civil War. Hence the motto “Battle Born” on the state flag. The flag is dark blue and has a white star, representing the U.S. state born in wartime, and two sprays of sagebrush, the state flower of Nevada. The present version of the Nevada state flag is from 1991.

Utah: As so many other U.S. states Utah sports the state seal on a dark blue state flag. Some versions of this state flag, officially adopted in 2011, have exactly 45 stars divided between the two U.S. flags behind the shield in the middle of the seal. Utah was the 45th state to be admitted to the Union in 1896. The year 1896 appears on the seal together with the year 1847. The first Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.


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