Last modified: 2017-07-13 by rick wyatt
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image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 December 2007
The city website is at www.fsark.com but seems to make no mention of the flag. The Fort Smith municipal flag is depicted on the NAVA U.S. cities flag survey. It consists of a blue-white-red tricolor, with a
yellow square occupying the canton and covering the depth of the blue and white bands. On the yellow square is a blue-line version of the city seal.
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 (
www.fortsmithhistory.com/images/July2005/cityflag.html and www.fortsmithhistory.com/images/July2005/cityseal.html ) 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
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 7 December 2007