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Missouri (U.S.)

Last modified: 2021-05-08 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Missouri] image by Clay Moss, 24 October 2007

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In 1822, a star was added, representing Missouri, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 24. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

State Flag and Seal

Nearly 100 years after achieving statehood, Missouri adopted an official flag on March 22, 1913. The flag was designed by the late Mrs. Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver, wife of former State Senator R.B. Oliver. The flag consists of three horizontal stripes of red, white and blue. These represent valor, purity, vigilance and justice. In the center white stripe is the Missouri coat-of-arms, circled by a blue band containing 24 stars, denoting that Missouri was the 24th state.
(RSMo 10.020)

The coat of arms is similar to the seal but not strictly equivalent:

"The Great Seal was designed by Judge Robert William Wells and adopted by the Missouri General Assembly on January 11, 1822. The center of the state seal is composed of two parts. On the right is the United States coat-of-arms containing the bald eagle. In its claws are arrows and olive branches, signifying that the power of war and peace lies with the U.S. federal government. On the left side of the shield, the state side, are a grizzly bear and a silver crescent moon. The crescent symbolizes Missouri at the time of the state seal's creation, a state of small population and wealth which would increase like the new or crescent moon; it also symbolizes the "second son," meaning Missouri was the second state formed out of the Louisiana Territory. This shield is encircled by a belt inscribed with the motto, "United we stand, divided we fall," which indicates Missouri's advantage as a member of the United States. The two grizzlies on either side of the shield symbolize the state's strength and its citizens' bravery. The bears stand atop a scroll bearing the state motto, "Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto," which means, "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law." Below this scroll are the Roman numerals for 1820, the year Missouri began its functions as a state.

The helmet above the shield represents state sovereignty, and the large star atop the helmet surrounded by 23 smaller stars signified Missouri's status as the 24th state. The cloud around the large star indicates the problems Missouri had in becoming a state. The whole state seal is enclosed by a scroll bearing the words, "The Great Seal of the State of Missouri." (RSMo.10.060".

Ivan Sache, 26 March 2008

Legal Description

Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)
10.020. The official flag of the state of Missouri is rectangular in shape and its vertical width is to the horizontal length as seven is to twelve. It has one red, one white and one blue horizontal stripe of equal width; the red is at the top and the blue at the bottom. In the center of the flag there is a band of blue in the form of a circle enclosing the coat of arms in the colors as established by law on a white ground. The width of the blue band is one-fourteenth of the vertical width of the flag and the diameter of the circle is one-third of the horizontal length of the flag. In the blue band there are set at equal distances from each other twenty-four five-pointed stars. The original copy of the design shall be kept in the office of the secretary of state. The flag shall conform to the design set out on page xxvi, RSMo.

10.060. The device for an armorial achievement for the state of Missouri is as follows: Arms, parted per pale, on the dexter side; gules, the white or grizzly bear of Missouri, passant guardant, proper on a chief engrailed; azure, a crescent argent; on the sinister side, argent, the arms of the United States, the whole within a band inscribed with the words "UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL". For the crest, over a helmet full-faced, grated with six bars; or, a cloud proper, from which ascends a star argent, and above it a constellation of twenty-three smaller stars, argent, on an azure field, surrounded by a cloud proper. Supporters on each side, a white or grizzly bear of Missouri, rampant, guardant proper, standing on a scroll, inscribed with the motto, "Salus populi suprema lex esto", and under the scroll the numerical letters MDCCCXX. And the great seal of the state shall be so engraved as to present by its impression the device of the armorial achievement aforesaid, surrounded by a scroll inscribed with the words, "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI", in roman capitals, which seal shall be in a circular form and not more than two and a half inches in diameter.

Joe McMillan, 15 February 2000

Civil War Battle Flag

[Battle Flag of Missouri] image by Christopher S. Johnson, 17 February 1999

This flag, nowadays called the Missouri Battle Flag although I don't think it was called that at the time, might be considered Missouri's first flag. Several Confederate Missouri units carried it.
Christopher S. Johnson, 17 February 1999

The Missouri State Guard of Gen. Sterling Price carried, according to orders, a blue flag with the state coat of arms on it. While I have accounts of these flags in battle at such places as Carthage and Wilson's Creek, to my knowledge none survive today. There are one or two surviving MSG flags that do not look like the prescribed flags.

Also - in early 1863 and again in early 1864, a new pattern of battle flag was issued to Missouri troops, first for Gen John Bowen's Division prior to Vicksburg and then for Sterling Price's forces in his 1864 campaign.

These were blue fields bordered in red and a white Latin cross set off-center towards the hoist edge. Those of 1864 were slightly fatter crosses than the earlier versions. The first batch were made in Missouri and smuggled into the division by Bowen's wife. The second batch were made in Federal occupied New Orleans and smuggled into Missouri.
Greg Biggs, 18 February 1999

State Military Crest

image by Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "A grizzly bear standing rampant proper."
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

Missouri State Guard

image by Scott K. Williams, 30 September 2002

A possible rendition of the flag of the Confederate Missouri State Guard from the American Civil War. This is the flag that Gen. Sterling Price calls for in his regulations for these troops. Unfortunately, none of them seem to exist today and those that were made for MSG troops that do survive, do not seem to have followed this pattern at all. If any have turned up I would love to see and hear about them. For more information see the website Flags of The Confederacy and the battle flags section of the Trans-Mississippi.
Greg Biggs, 30 September 2002