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The West Virginia State Flag

West Virgiinia state flag

The citizens of the mountainous western parts of Virginia had long thought themselves neglected by the Virginia State Government and pushed the issue in the initial days of the Civil War. When Virginia decided to secede from the Union, representatives from the western counties saw an opening and stormed out of the Virginia Convention of 1861.

A few months later, the residents of the western counties voted for statehood.

West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a Free State with the agreement that current conditions of slavery would be phased out. President Lincoln approved the statehood bill for West Virginia on January 1, 1863. On April 20, 1863, West Virginia was proclaimed a State, effective 60 days later on June 20, 1863.

In the midst of the Civil War, turmoil was everywhere and it wasn't until September that West Virginia adopted its official State seal, its coat of arms the most prominent component of the State flag.

Another prominent component of the State flag is West Virginia's State flower, big laurel (Rhododendron maximum), adopted in 1903.

The following year, 1904, St. Louis, Missouri staged an exposition, "The Louisiana Purchase Exposition," also know as the Saint Louis World's Fair.

West Virginia needed to send a flag to the exposition to represent itself. A white flag with blue borders that featured the State flower on the obverse side (front) and the West Virginia coat of arms on the reverse side (back) was created. This flag was not an official representative of the State of West Virginia when it appeared at the exposition, but on February 24, 1905, the West Virginia Legislature made it so.

Evidently, this design sparked some discontent and, two years later on February 25, 1907, changes were officially approved. The coat of arms was moved to the obverse side (front) of the flag and the big laurel was moved to the reverse side (back) of the flag. Additionally, a red ribbon, reading "State of West Virginia" was added below the coat of arms.

Of course, it was found that producing a flag with a difference between the obverse side and the reverse side was not practical. It was expensive. To remedy the situation, big laurel, the coat of arms, and the red ribbon were combined to create a suitable display to appear on both sides of the flag.

The West Virginia Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution No. 18 on March 7, 1929. Resolution No. 18 described the West Virginia State flag the flies over the Capitol today.

Senate Joint Resolution No. 18

Source: "West Virginia State Flag." West Virginia Secretary of State. 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Mar. 2013 <>.
Source: Flags of the Fifty States and Their Incredible Histories: The Complete Guide to America's Most Powerful Symbols by Randy Howe. The Lyons Press; First edition edition (November 1, 2002).
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded by Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer. Greenwood Press; 3 Sub edition (October 30, 2001).
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols by George Earlie Shankle. Reprint Services Corp; Revised edition (June 1971).

Additional Information

West Virgiinia (U.S.): FOTW "Flags of the World" Web Site.

State Flags: Complete list of state flags with links to large pictures and images suitable for coloring.

Flag Terminology: The parts of a flag and terms associated with its design.

Visit Our Flag Shop: Purchase all kinds of flags and banners, lapel pins, 50 state flag sets, decals, patches, college banners at the Flag Shop.

Purchase West Virgiinia State Flags: You may purchase quality state flags from the United States Flag Store.

Flags of the Fifty States and their Incredible Histories: A complete guide to America's most powerful symbols by Randy Howe.

How Proudly They Wave: Flags of the Fifty States: This book, by Rita D. Haban, is geared toward younger readers.



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