Last modified: 2002-12-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: the church of jesus christ of the latter-day saints | latter-day saints | mormons | ensign peak |
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Image provided by John-T Wardle, 27 November 2002; no reproduction or redrawing permitted.
For full history and frequently asked questions see the link to The Church Flag™ history and FlagFAQ page located at http://thechurchflag.com/FlagFAQ/FlagFAQ.htm.
Extracted from this page:
The LDS church created and displayed The Church Flag (a.k.a. The Mormon
Pioneer Flag) in the 1800s. One account of its display was during the first Utah
Pioneer Day in July of 1849. The Church Flag was unfurled and raised in a
celebration on Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City. You can even hear its references
in songs of the church:
"High On A Mountain Top A Banner is Unfurled,
Ye Nations Now Look Up It Waves To All The World !"
(Joel H. Johnson, 1853)
The flag takes its design from historical documents recorded in the mid
1800s. The flag's beginnings can be traced back to the prophet Joseph Smith Jr.
One recorded account was, in preparation to defend Nauvoo from attacks by
anti-Mormon mobs on June 22, 1844 Joseph Smith Jr. gave the instruction for a
"standard to be made and raised to the nation". Just five days later Joseph
Smith Jr. and his brother Hyrum Smith were killed by an angry, bloodthirsty mob
at Carthage jail. It was Brigham Young who continued the preparation for the
standard to be lifted in the mountains of Zion. It is well known in the church
that while still in Nauvoo, Brigham Young had a vision of Joseph Smith Jr., who
showed him the mountain which is called now Ensign Peak, in Salt Lake City, and
that he saw the "colors" fall upon that peak. In that vision Joseph said to him
"Built under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have
That's exactly what Brigham Young and the members of the church did after arriving in Salt Lake City. Many pioneer journals recorded Brigham Young preaching sermons in reference to a standard, or Mormon flag. As one account states, in Jan.13, 1846, "President Brigham Young said that the proud banner of Liberty would wave over the valleys that are within the Mountains and I know where the spot is and I know how to make this Flag. Joseph sent the colors and said where the colors settled there would be the spot". Another journal records, on May 29, 1847 that President Young said: "The standard and ensign would be reared in Zion...the standard would be a flag of every nation under heaven". Again, in 1853 it is written that Brigham Young stated that the saints had "hoisted
the flag of our independence".
B.H. Roberts explains the pioneers view of The Church Flag as this: "The
Ensign that these Latter-day Saint Pioneers had in mind, and of which they had
frequently spoke en route, was something larger and greater than any national
flag whatsoever, and what it was meant to represent was greater than any earthly
kingdom's interest...This Ensign in the minds of the Mormon Pioneers concerned
not one nation, but all nations; not one epoch or age, but all epochs and all
ages; not nationality but humanity; is its scope and concern. It was a sign and
ensign of the Empire of Christ; it was a prophecy of the time to come when the
kingdoms of this world would become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ,
and He shall reign forever and forever". In September 1877, an account of The
Church Flag being displayed was described by a visiting Californian: "Utah
history states that the flag known as the Stars and Stripes was placed on Ensign
Peak about the twenty-ninth day of July 1847. The so-called flag of the Stars
and Stripes placed there on that occasion was a flag having in its upper left
hand corner a...field with the circle of twelve stars and in the center
a...large star. The stripes on that flag, instead of being red and white
stripes, were blue and white stripes and it was to be the flag denoting Mormon
sovereignty over the area that they had now taken possession of...During Brigham
Young's Funeral this flag hung from a second story window of Herbert C.
located by Chrystian Kretowicz, 23 July
In fact, there is some ambiguity about the authenticity of this well known LDS flag, which has become associated with the events at Ensign Peak.
This is not the flag of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), but rather a flag associated with that church. We have no proof that this flag was used prior to the 1870's. It may be a creation of that era as there are no specific verifiable references to this particular flag in the 1840's. In 1866 Brigham Young wrote to Admiral Preble that the flag of the church was the "flag of the United States" This blue and white flag has become associated with the events of Ensign peak, but the flag may in fact be a product of the late 19th century, used to commemorate those events. This flag, with the circular star pattern in canton also seems to be trademarked. See www.thechurchflag.com
Also, we have supplied a variant of this flag with the 3-2-3-2-3 1, 13 star
canton to a pro-polygamy group which referred to it as the Kingdom of God flag,
however their website,
www.helpingmormons.org, shows a different flag.
There are at least two surviving flags from the 1840's that are known to have been used by the Mormons. One is the Flag of the Mormon Battalion, the other is a flag associated with the personal bodyguards of Brigham Young, a group known as the Danites.
There is evidence of a third LDS flag from the 1840's supposedly flown by Sam Brannan on the good ship Brooklyn when he sailed into San Francisco Bay. After he left the Church he kept the flag. A drawing of it was published n the San Francisco examiner in 1907, but the current location of this flag is unknown. Brannan claimed the Danites, or agents of the LDS Church stole the flag.
Jim Ferrigan, 23 July 2002
We cannot place this flag at Ensign Peak in 1847. In fact one journal account of the eight men who climbed the peak states that the inspiration for the name is Biblical not descriptive; while another states that the "ensign" used was only a symbolic yellow bandana on a cane. We really have no proof that this flag was used in 1847. It may have been used in early pioneer celebrations, it certainly was known by the 1870's, but its true origins are still unknown.
The flags modern popularity seems to date from fairly recently, especially
with the recent rededication of the park at Ensign Peak, it use by some
pro-polygamy groups, and attempts to market this flag during the Utah Olympics.
The whole subject of LDS flags is fascinating and deserves our attention, but we have an obligation to post the facts as they are.
This is one of the LDS flags, not the LDS flag, we must be careful not to identify it as such.
Jim Ferrigan, 24 July 2002
See also a response to the comments on this page.