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Alabama (U.S.)

Last modified: 2002-11-30 by rick wyatt
Keywords: alabama | united states | cross | cross of burgundy | confederate | republic of alabama | square | rattlesnake |
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by Joe McMillan, 23 February 2000

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In 1820, two stars were added, representing Alabama and Maine, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 23. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

Flag Description

Alabama state flag was adopted on Feb. 16, 1895 by act no. 383.
The state flag was to be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross were not to be less than 6 inches broad and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side.
Dov Gutterman, 9 October 1998

While both the modern Alabama and Florida state flags may have some historical tribute to Spanish rule in their design - both were definitely patterned after the battle flags of the Army of Northern Virginia - under which the bulk of the troops from both states fought.

Both of these flags have documentation stating the influence of the ANV battle flags in their design - particularly the flag of Alabama - which was created under the administration of Governor William Oates. Oates was a former regimental commander in the ANV. He is most famous for leading the confederate assault on Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Greg Biggs, 21 December 1999

Don't Be Square

by Zach Harden, 26 June 2001

It seems that the designers of the flag intended it to resemble the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, which was square. As early as 1917, Byron McCandless, in the National Geographic flags issue [geo17], said "the flag should be square," and depicted it that way.

But the statute describing the flag does not specify proportions or dimensions other than that the arms of the St. Andrews cross (so termed in the law) must be no less than six inches across. An Alabama native, I have never seen a square Alabama state flag in person or in photographs. I think generations of successive vexillologists have been repeating McCandless' conclusion that, because the flag is supposed to be modeled on the ANV battle flag, it should therefore be square. The designers may have intended it to be so. But it isn't!

Joe McMillan, 26 June 2001

Origin of the red diagonal cross

The red diagonal cross is based on the Confederate war flag. [güt92]
Jan Kuhlmann, 4 December 1995

The "Cross of Burgundy" (argent, sauteur gueules raguely) was one of the standards of Spain used by the Spanish Military in the South East US. I'm not sure, but it just struck me that this may be the inspiration for the Alabama and Florida flags.
Nathan Bliss, 20 January 1998

The post-war official state flag (please recall that the 1861 flag was more of a secession banner) was indeed patterned after the St. Andrews Cross battle flag of the confederate Army of Northern Virginia. It was also intended to be a square flag just like the ANV battle flag was. I have a color drawing of it from the Governor William Oates Papers in the Alabama State Archives.
Greg Biggs, 13 October 1998

Unofficial variant of 1861

An unofficial variant of the Alabama state flag in 1861 had a single gold star on a blue field.
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 29 April 1996

Secession Flag of 1861 / Republic of Alabama

No state flag existed from 1819-1861. On January 11, 1861, the Secession Convention passed a resolution designating a flag designed by a group of Montgomery women as their official flag. This flag has often been referred to as the Republic of Alabama Flag. One side of the flag displayed the Goddess of Liberty holding in her right hand an unsheathed sword; in the left a small flag with one star. In an arch above this figure were the words "Independent Now and Forever." On the other side of the flag was a cotton plant with a coiled rattlesnake. Beneath the cotton plant are the Latin words : Noli Me Tangere, (Touch Me Not). This flag was flown until February 10, 1861, when it was removed to the Governor's Office after it was damaged by severe weather. It was never flown again.
Dov Gutterman, 26 March 1999

According to research done by Peter Brannon of the Alabama Department of Archives and History the flag was not officially adopted as the Republic of Alabama flag. He perused the documents of the Secession Convention and nothing turned up to support its official adoption.

Like the flag of Georgia, it was flown in an unofficial capacity until the storm ruined the flag. It had been captured by Iowa troops in 1865 and taken back to Iowa. It was returned to Alabama in this century.
Greg Biggs, 26 March 1999

The symbolism of Confederate rattlesnake flags was not just the "don't tread on me" sentiment but a conscious effort to link what they called the "Second American Revolution" to the first one.
Joe McMillan, 14 July 2000

Simple Design

Alabama has the easiest flag to draw and reproduce. It also has only 2 colors...white and red.
Steve Stringfellow, 11 December 1997

Coat of Arms

by Joe McMillan, 23 February 2000

The state coat of arms, adopted in 1939 and blazoned in Section 1-2-2 of the Code of Alabama as: "arms: quarterly, the first azure three fleur de lis or (for France); second quarterly first and fourth gules a tower triple towered or, second and third argent a lion rampant gules (for Spain); third azure a saltire argent and gules over all a cross of the last fimbriated of the second (for Great Britain); fourth gules of a saltire azure, fimbriated argent 13 mullets of the last (for the Confederacy); at center in escutcheon chief azure paly argent and gules 13 (for United States) arms supported by two American eagles displayed. Crest: A full rigged ship proper. Section 1-2-1 explains the significance of the coat of arms as representing "the flags of four of the five nations which have at various times held sovereignty over a part or the whole of what is now the state of Alabama: Spain, France, Great Britain and the Confederacy. The union binding these flags shall be the shield of the United States. . . . The crest of the coat of arms shall be a ship representing the 'Badine' which brought the French colonists who established the first permanent white settlements in the state. Beneath the shield there shall be a scroll containing the sentence in Latin: 'Audemus jura nostra defendere,' the English interpretation of which is 'We Dare Maintain Our Rights.'"
Joe McMillan, 23 February 2000

State Pledge

"Flag of Alabama I salute thee. To thee I pledge my allegiance, my service, and my life."
Joe McMillan, 13 August 1999

Alabama State Military Crest

by Joe McMillan, 23 February 2000

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the Alabama National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "On a wreath of the colors a slip of cotton plant with full bursting boll proper."
Joe McMillan, 23 February 2000

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