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Fort Smith, Arkansas (U.S.)

Sebastion County

Last modified: 2018-07-31 by rick wyatt
Keywords: fort smith | arkansas | sebastion county |
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[Flag of Fort Smith, Arkansas] 4:7 image(s) by permission of David B. Martucci
image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright.

See also:

Current Flag

Text and image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) from American City Flags by permission of David B. Martucci.


The flag of Fort Smith is a horizontal tribar of equal dark blue, white, and red stripes, with a gold canton. The canton overlays the top two stripes at the hoist. In the center of the canton is the city’s seal, blue letters and figures on white. On a flag of 12 by 21 units, the canton is 8 units square and the seal’s diameter is 4.7 units.

Around the seal’s edge is a narrow beveled ring that encloses another ring on which appears CITY OF FORT SMITH ARK. in a Times Roman font, arched clockwise around the seal from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock. Curved below in an Arial font, counterclockwise, is INCORPORATED A.D. 1842. The inner edge of this ring is made up of dots. In the seal’s center, occupying most of the field, is a large bald eagle, with wings outstretched, facing the fly. From the eagle’s neck to the bottom of the seal, thus covering most of its body, is a heraldic shield divided horizontally into three parts. The top segment shows a paddle-wheel river-boat, steaming toward the hoist. The center segment depicts a plow on the hoist side and a beehive on the fly side. A shock of wheat occupies the bottom segment. On the eagle’s hoist wing rests a winged angel on a laurel bough, looking toward the fly, arms outstretched as if to steady the shield, legs extended along the hoist edge of the shield to the bottom.

On the eagle’s fly side are two elements, a ribbon issuing from its beak with two visible sections bearing REGNANT POPULUS (“The People Rule”); and below the ribbon, an unsheathed sword, slanted along the shield’s edge so the point of the sword is toward the hoist, and the hilt toward the fly. In the center above the eagle’s head is a small Goddess of Liberty standing on what appears to be a cloud. Facing the hoist, her left hand holds a staff surmounted by a liberty cap, and her right hand gestures toward the hoist holding a wreath. Curved next to the goddess’s right hand on the hoist side are three tiny fivepointed stars enclosed in squares, and beyond her left hand are five more. Without the light stars, this design essentially reproduces the state seal of Arkansas.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


The red, white, and blue are colors in the United States and Arkansas flags. Gold suggests the value placed by the citizenry on its city. The eagle on the seal is said to represent speed and wisdom, as well as generosity and forgiveness. The three stars on the hoist side above the eagle reputedly represent the three nations that ruled Arkansas before the United States (France, Spain, and the United Kingdom). The five stars on the fly side symbolize the five Native American tribes who once occupied Western Arkansas (presumably the Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Osage, and Quapaw). The angel on the hoist side represents Mercy; the sword on the fly side, Justice. The riverboat on the shield stands for commerce on the Arkansas River; the plow and beehive symbolize agriculture; and the wheat represents the fertile lands of the Arkansas Valley.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


Information unavailable.
Flag adopted: May 12, 1916
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


Information unavailable.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

More about the Flag

The flag is believed to have been adopted around 1912-1913 when the city adopted a new commission form of government.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Fort Smith was named for Gen. Thomas A. Smith who was commander of the military district that encompassed the region. There is no known record of him ever visiting the fort or the city. The fort was begun in late 1817 and the city was incorporated in 1842. John Rogers is the person most commonly cited as the 'father' or founder of the city. He was the sutler (storekeeper) for the first Fort Smith and established the first inn located in the city. Rogers stayed on after the first fort was abandoned and was instrumental in lobbying for a second fort near the site of the first. Rogers owned the land there and sold it to the federal government for $15,000 in 1836. He died in 1860. Fort Smith, some citizens complained, got an unfair reputation for lawlessness because so many infamous outlaws were tried in the federal court here. Belle Starr was well-known to the citizens of the Fort Smith and her daughter, Pearl, later earned a reputation of her own as one of the more prominent madams in the bordello district of the city. There were doubtless some wild times in Fort Smith, but it probably was not a "Wild West" town in the popular Hollywood sense. Fort Smith is most assuredly a crossroads city, officially it was part of the Confederacy but on one of its most western borders. Despite Arkansas' secession in 1861, there was strong Union sentiment in Fort Smith as well. Fort Smith has also looked West for most of its history, decidedly influenced by its close proximity to the Indian Territory, later Oklahoma. Not far to the north are the midwestern states of Missouri and Kansas.

Dedicated May 12, 1916, Fort Smith's flag displays the city's state and national allegiances in its colors and seal. The city seal bears elements from the state seal such as the state's motto, "Regnat Populus" or "The People Rule." The red, white and blue elements represent Fort Smith's loyalty to the United States. According to the flag's dedication speech, gold is meant to symbolize the city's solidity. This version of the flag is missing the city's motto though. The original flag read, "All for One, One for All" around the seal.

The address of Mayor Henry C. Read at the dedication of the flag of the city of Fort Smith, was delivered at Stadium Park, May 12, 1916:
"[...] I am proud that the honor has been bestowed upon me of dedicating to Fort Smith her municipal flag. (Raising of flag).
The national colors - red, white and blue - express our national patriotism. The field of gold typifies solidity for which Fort Smith is famous. Around the city seal, the white circle denoting continuity signifies that we will ever be loyal to our motto, "All for One, One for All." May this flag ever wave over as good and brave a people as it does today and speak to the world of their peace, purity and prosperity."
Ivan Sache, 25 February 2006

Official municipal website articles on the city flag and on the city seal ( and ) are both illustrated with photos of an actual flag (the latter showing a close up of the canton). These show the shade of red to be dark, as in the national flag, and the blue much lighter than "Old Glory Blue".
António Martins-Tuválkin, 7 December 2007

Former Flag

Fort Smith may have had a previous flag, with a somewhat different city seal. An additional outer ring surrounds the seal, with a five-pointed star on either side at the midpoints horizontally. Curved above in an Arial font is ALL FOR ONE; and below, ONE FOR ALL. This ring was later omitted from the seal, perhaps in the 1912-1913 civic government transition.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003 

The Seal

[Flag of Fort Smith, Arkansas] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 7 December 2007