The state and territory flags of the U.S. offer a unique glimpse into the history of each place. Every flag features important people, dates, places, or events that are significant to each state or territory. In many cases, the choice of color is a deliberate reference to something in the state's background. Many of the current U.S. state flags date back to the 1890s. At that time, states wanted to have unique symbols of representation for display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
In 1938, a design created by graphic designer Charles A.R. Dunn was officially adopted as the flag of the District of Columbia. Inspired by George Washington's family coat of arms, the flag design consisted of three red stars (known as mullets) and two red bars.
The first state flag of Florida was created in 1868. It consisted of the State Seal of Florida on a white field. In 1985, realizing the inaccuracies of the state seal, the Florida government changed its design. It now has a Seminole Indian woman, a sabal palm tree (the official Florida state tree), and a more appropriate boat than the previous seal.
In 2003, after countless flags and years of discussion, newly elected Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue resolved to put an end to this dispute. The new flag consisted of the "stars and bars" from the first flag of the Confederate States of America, with the Georgia State Seal in the blue canton.
The flag of Guam consists of a red border, representing the blood shed by the people of Guam while under Spanish rule and during World War II. Within the border is a blue field, symbolic of the Pacific Ocean which surrounds the island. The central focus of the flag is the Great Seal of Guam. The seal is designed in the shape of a sling stone, which was used by the native Chamorro people to hunt and fight, symbolizing survival. Inside the sling stone is a coconut palm, symbolizing perseverance and sustenance. There is a canoe, known as a flying proa, which represents courage and freedom. The seal also shows a river leading to the sea, showing Guam's readiness to share its resources. In the background is Two Lovers' Point, representing Guam's faithfulness and commitment to its future people.
Hawaii's state flag has remained virtually unchanged since its creation in 1816. The flag consisted of eight red, white, and blue stripes with the flag of Great Britain in the upper-left corner. The eight stripes represent the eight main islands of Hawaii, while the Union Jack (another name for the flag of Great Britain) symbolizes the friendship between Hawaii and Great Britain.
The Idaho state flag was first flown in 1898 during the Spanish-American War as the banner of the First Idaho Volunteer Infantry. At the center of a blue field is the Great Seal of the State of Idaho. Within the seal are a woman (representing liberty), a miner, and other symbols honoring the state's rich history in forestry, farming, mining, and wildlife.
Illinois' state flag was officially adopted on July 16, 1915. In 1970, the flag was redesigned to include the state name. The flag features a bald eagle, representative of the United States, carrying a shield with 13 bars and stars to symbolize the 13 original colonies.
On a blue field, the Indiana state flag pictures a flaming torch, symbolizing liberty and enlightenment, and six rays, representing the expansive nature of these ideas. A circle of 13 stars represents the 13 original colonies, while a smaller circle of five stars represents the five states admitted after the formation of the United States. Directly above the torch is a larger star, signifying Indiana as the 19th state.
Iowa's state flag features an eagle on a white stripe between a red stripe (for courage) and a blue stripe (for loyalty, justice, and truth). The state name is written below the eagle in red, to symbolize the sacrifices of the men who went to war.
At the center of the Kansas state flag is the Great Seal of the State of Kansas, which pictures a landscape before the rising sun, a river and steamboat (signifying commerce), a cabin with a man plowing a field (representing agriculture), and a wagon train heading west (depicting American expansion). Also pictured is a group of Indians hunting buffalo. The cluster of 34 stars symbolizes Kansas' role as the 34th state of the American Union.