Our State Flag

December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state to be admitted to the union. There was no official flag of the new state.

January 9, 1861, Mississippi followed South Carolina and became the 2nd State to secede from the union and become a sovereign state. The Bonnie Blue Flag  bonnieblueflagflew over the state from January 9 to March 30, 1861 as the unofficial emblem of the state. On January 26, 1861 delegates to the Secession Convention opted to let a committee design a coat of arms and a flag for the state.

The committee recommended the Magnolia Flag  magnoliaflagand it was adopted as the 1st official state flag of Mississippi. It remained the official state flag until 1865.

March 29, 1861, Mississippi ratified the Confederate Constitution and became one of the eleven states of the Confederate States of America. The other 10 states were South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The first flag of the Confederate States of America was the Stars and Bars. starsandbars July 21, 1861, during the first Battle of Manassas (First Battle of Bull Run), the Stars and Bars was mistaken for the U.S. Flag.  usaflag 1861 There were 33 states in 1861 when the war started.  Kansas and West Virginia were added during the war.

If you have ever seen a re-enactment, then you know how much smoke is associated with the muskets and cannons of that day.

General Pierre G.T. Beauregard decided that a flag that was more easily distinguished from the U.S. Flag was needed. In October 1861, the confederate battle flag was formally accepted with military ceremonies in Centreville, Virginia. confederatebattleflag

The second national flag of the Confederate States of America was the Stainless Banner.

stainless banner

When hanging on the flag pole with no wind blowing, this flag could easily have been mistaken for a flag of truce.

The third national flag of the Confederacy, adopted March 1865, was the blood stained banner.

bloodstainedbanner

August 14, 1865, a constitutional convention met in Jackson, the state capitol, and revoked the actions taken by the Succession Convention of 1861. They declared the Ordinance of Secession null and void on August 22, 1865. They also repealed the ordinance adopting a coat of arms and the Magnolia Flag. For the second time, the state had no official flag.

January 22, 1894, Governor John Marshall Stone, the former confederate colonel of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment, asked the state legislature to adopt a state flag and a coat of arms. On February 6, 1894, a bill was sent to Governor Stone describing the flag:

“One with width two-thirds of its length, with the union square in width, two-thirds of the width of the flag; the ground of the union to be red and a broad blue saltire missflag thereon bordered with white and emblazoned with thirteen (13) mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding to the number of the original States of the Union; the field to be divided into three bars of equal width, the upper one blue, the center one white, the lower one red; the national colors; the staff surmounted with a spear-head and battle axe below; the flag to be fringed with gold, and the staff gilded with gold.” The new flag was designed by Senator E.N. Scudder of Mayersville. The bill was signed into law on February 7, 1894.

In 1906, Mississippi adopted a revised code and for some unknown reason, the new code did not bring forward the law that created the flag and the coat of arms.  coatofarmsmissDoes this mean that Mississippi did not have an official flag or coat of arms after 1906? Black’s Law Dictionary answers that question. “If the written law be silent, that which is drawn from manners and custom ought to be observed.”

A bill calling for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the canton corner of the state flag was first introduced at the beginning of the 1988 legislative session by Aaron Henry, a member of the legislature and president of the Mississippi Conference of the NAACP. He introduced the same bill in 1990, 1992, and 1993.

April 19, 1993, in the Hinds County Chancery Court, the Mississippi NAACP filed a lawsuit seeking “an injunction against any future purchases, displays, maintenance or expenditures of state funds on the State Flag” on the grounds that it’s display violated their constitutional rights. This suit was dismissed on June 14, 1993. An appeal was made to the Mississippi Supreme Court which upheld the lower court’s dismissal and stated that no citizen has been deprived of any constitutional rights. They also stated that the flag is a political issue that should not be decided by the courts.

May 4, 2000, Governor Ronnie Musgrove, Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tim Ford appointed a commission to consider the flag and coat of arms issue. The stated desire was to have a flag that would represent all of Mississippi and unite the races. Formal recommendations were to be submitted to the governor May 1, 2001.

The new flag proposed by the flag commission would replace the St. Andrew cross in the canton corner with 20 stars.  proposedflag The 13 stars in the outer ring represented the 13 original colonies. The 6 stars in the inner ring would represent the 6 nations that had sovereinty over the territory and later the state of Mississippi: Native Americans, France, Spain, Great Britian, the United States, and the Confederate States of America. The center star represented Mississippi itself. A total of 20 stars in all representing Mississippi as being the 20th state to enter the Union.

This issue was much debated in editorials, letters to the editor, and 5 flag commission meetings across the state. Those who wanted to keep the 1894 flag circulated a petition across the state asking for an up or down vote on the flag issue. To get the issue on a ballot required 91,673 registed voter signatures. Former Governor William Winter, who was head of the flag commission, stated that a vote of the people could not take place because the issue was too divisive and therefore must be decided by elected officials of the state.

In a referendum held on Tuesday, April 17, 2001, the 1894 flag was Proposal A and the newly proposed flag was Proposal B. The results were 64% for Proposal A and 36% for Proposal B over the entire State of Mississippi. The 1894 flag remained the official state flag and is still the official flag at the time of this writing.

The 2000 Federal Census shows that Quitman County had a total population of 10,117–30.5% white, 68.6% black, 0.9% other races. The flag vote in Quitman County was as follows: Proposal A—1,190, 54.86% and Proposal B–979, 45.14%.

The April 2001 vote wrote the 1894 flag into the Mississippi code but not into the Mississippi Constitution. Anthony Hervey, a black man from Oxford, walked from Oxford to Jackson dressed in a Confederate uniform, to deliver a constitutional initiative proposal to Eric Clark, Secretary of State. Hervey was quoted as saying that the issue should be decided by the voice of the people and not elected officials. Greg Stewart, a lawyer from Tunica, prepared the petition that was delivered by Hervey. On September 13, 2000, The Oxford Eagle quoted Stewart as saying that if the issue is decided by state leaders, “I’m afraid folks will think that some backroom deal has been cut…”

Anthony Hervey was an active supporter of the Confederate Battle Flag. To him it was heritage and not hate. His great-great-uncle, James Hervey, was a confederate soldier and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. Anthony Hervey wore the Confederate Soldier Uniform to honor the African-Americans who served in the war.

Anthony Hervey was the founder of the Black Confederate Soldier Foundation and a former member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. His vision was to build a monument with the names of the many black confederate soldiers who fought for the South. He made people think anew about the war during his many talks on the Oxford Square and at the University of Mississippi. To him and others the Confederate Battle Flag stood for freedom and states rights.

On Sunday, 19 July 2015, Hervey was returning from the “Monumental Dixie” Rally in Birmingham, Alabama along with fellow flag supporter, Arlene Barnum. He died on Highway 6 outside of Oxford when the SUV he was driving flipped over. He was 49 years old.

This page is dedicated to the memory of Anthony Hervey.

riphervey

For further reading
Our Flag – Part 2

Image of Stars and Bars By Nicola Marschall (1829–1917). (Vector graphics image by Gunter Küchler). (SVG based in this image) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image of Confederate Battle Flag and Stainless Banner By William Tappan Thompson (1812–1882). (Vector graphics by Fornax). This vector image was created with Inkscape. (SVG based on this image) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bonnie Blue Flag, Magnolia Flag, U. S. Flag with 33 stars, The Bloodstained Banner, the current flag of Mississippi, the Coat of Arms of the State of Mississippi and the proposed Mississippi flag are all part of the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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