Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Flags of Vermont: Flying Our Early History

Happy statehood to Vermont, the 14th state of the Union!

The Vermont state flag
Vermont, originally territory disputed by the states of New York and New Hampshire prior to the Revolution, became a state on March 4, 1791.

The current state flag of Vermont was adopted June 1, 1923. It consists of a blue field with the state shield, a more modern version of the state seal, in the center. Just underneath the seal is the state motto, "freedom and unity." The state's name is placed in the center of this legend, immediately under the seal.

Vermont's state seal dates to 1779
The state shield contains a shield embraced by evergreen branches or trees on the outside. Above the shield is the profile of a stag's head resting on top of a blue and gold striped baton, wildlife that is still common to the area.  Inside the shield, taking center state, is a large evergreen tree. While evergreens are common to Vermont, this tree also could symbolize a Liberty Tree, representing Vermont's early role in the Revolution. A cow and three hay stacks are under the tree representing Vermont's dairy farming and farming history. Forests and mountains are in the distance, more traditional symbols of the Green Mountains state.

The actual State Seal of Vermont dates to 1779. It was designed by Ira Allen, a brother of Ethan Allen of Green Mountain Boy legend. It was originally carved by Reuben Dean in 1778. From 1821-1937, Vermont used several other designs for the state seal when the original seal became "worn" ( In 1937, however, it was decided to return to an exact replica of the original, Revolutionary-era seal designed by Allen and carved by Reuben.

One of the earliest flags flown in Vermont is the flag flown by the Green Mountain Boys, a community militia of early patriots that included Ethan Allen, hero of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. The 13 stars represent the original 13 colonies. The flag is still in use by Vermont's National Guard.
The Green Mountain Boys' flag was a regimental flag at the Battle of Bennington.

The Bennington Flag is named in honor of the Battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777. It contains 13 stripes and 13 stars like the national flag, but these stars have 7 points and the blue field has the year the Declaration of Independence was signed: '76. Traditionally, it is thought to have been flown at the Battle of Bennington in 1777. However, modern analysis has established that the flag was made using spun cotton, a 19th century process.

The original Bennington flag actually was created after 1800 (Bennington Museum)

This version of the Vermont state flag was adopted in May, 1804. Like the federal flag, red stripes bound the top and bottom. The legend "Vermont" is written across the top. It contains 17 stripes and stars in anticipation to two new states, Tennessee and Ohio, although that change that was not made on the federal flag.

The 1804 state flag of Vermont with 17 stars and stripes.
During the Civil War, a new state flag designed in 1837 was carried by Vermont regiments. It contained the Vermont state seal in a single large star designed in a quilt motif.

The Vermont state flag, Civil War era.

Let it fly!

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