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Louisiana (U.S.)

Last modified: 2006-08-05 by rick wyatt
Keywords: louisiana | united states | cajun | pelican |
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[Flag of Louisiana] image by Mario Fabretto, 24 February 1998

Municipal flags:


See also:

In 1818, five stars were added, representing Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 20. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

Law about the Flag

§153.  State flag; when to be displayed

A.  The official flag of Louisiana shall be that flag now in general use, consisting of a solid blue field with the coat-of-arms of the state, the pelican feeding its young, in white in the center, with a ribbon beneath, also in white, containing in blue the motto of the state, "Union, Justice and Confidence," the whole showing as below.

B.  The state flag shall wave from sunrise to sunset every day, over the State Capitol and the public departments and institutions of the state and over the court houses in the several parishes during the sessions of the courts.

C.  The state flag shall wave during the regular school hours every day of the school year over the public institutions of learning in the state that are now flying the United States flag and all other public institutions of learning in the state are authorized to fly the state flag.

Amended by Acts 1954, No. 449, §1; Acts 1964, No. 390, §1; Acts 1966, No. 42, §1.

David Iwancio 9 March 2003

The website at reported on 6 April 2006 that a bill requiring the flag to have three drops of blood on the pelican's breast was approved by a House Committee. Historical renditions and descriptions of the flag also include three drops of blood on the mother’s breast. The blood signifies the willingness of the state to sacrifice for its children, said D. Joseph Louviere, an eighth-grader at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma. It was part of the original descriptions of the state’s earliest flags. But Louviere found that the use of blood drops on the state flag has been inconsistent. Last month Louviere wrote a school report on the flag, which he presented to his local legislator, Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma. Baldone, a lawyer, said he noticed that, despite all the historical evidence, state law did not specify the number of blood drops. He drafted legislation to fix that. The House Judiciary Committee unanimously recommended House Bill 833, which would require all Louisiana flags made in the future to have three blood drops. The bill would not require old flags to be changed.

Louviere’s quest for flag history took him to a study printed by LSU in January 1920. The pelican was added to the state seal by William C.C. Claiborne, the state’s first American governor, and used unofficially to rally Andrew Jackson’s troops at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, according to the LSU study. Over the years, the pelican was on all sorts of flags, some red, others blue, according to the LSU study. A blue pelican flag was displayed at the convention when Louisiana seceded from the Union at the start of the Civil War. Union Admiral David Farragut removed a pelican flag from the Old State Capitol when he captured Baton Rouge. The pelican symbol was described in state law in 1902. The flag used now was legalized July 1, 1912. Its description requires “a pelican vulning herself, which means the mother’s beak is tearing at her breast to feed her own young. The bird is considered a symbol of self-sacrifice.

Lewis A. Nowitz, 6 April 2006

Variant of the Flag

[Flag of Louisiana] image by Clay Moss, 23 December 2006

This version of the flag lacks the three red drops of blood on the pelican's chest.
Clay Moss, 23 December 2006

[Flag of Louisiana] image by Clay Moss, 24 December 2006

This particular version of Louisiana's flag was flown in abundance throughout Louisiana from at least the mid/late 1960's (probably) until the early 1990's, as Annin apparently had a corner on the Louisiana flag market in Louisiana. In fact, this flag was so prominent during that time, that I thought this was how Louisiana's flag was supposed to look. It was only after the early 90's that Louisiana flags flown in the state began to all have a more or less standard look. I still occasionally spot one of these blue winged flags even today and saw one in Slidell, Louisiana a few weeks ago.
Clay Moss, 24 December 2006

Motto in Flag

Michael Smuda raised to question about the Louisiana state flag in regards to the wording.
The version I have says "UNION JUSTICE CONFIDENCE" with no punctuation or connector.
The FOTW version says "UNION, JUSTICE & CONFIDENCE" with the ampersand.
And I have seen several on the web with "UNION, JUSTICE AND CONFIDENCE" with "and" spelled out. Which is the official, and where did the others come from?

After checking with Whitney Smith, whose image shows the ampersand, it appears that the state is very lax about the flag wording and manufacturers use their own judgment.
Rick Wyatt, 2 April 2001

State Pledge

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the state of Louisiana and to the motto for which it stands: A state, under god, united in purpose and ideals, confident that justice shall prevail for all of those abiding here."
Joe McMillan, 13 August 1999

Flags Over Louisiana

According to the book, "Flags of Louisiana" by Jeanne Frois published in 1995, here is a list of flags that flew over Louisiana:
[Flag of Castile and Leon] [Flag of France - Fleur de Lis] [Flag of Spain 1763-1803] [Flag of Great Britain] [Flag of France]
[15 Star Flag of U.S.] [West Florida (Bonnie Blue) Flag] [1861 Flag of Louisiana] [Flag of CSA] [Flag of Louisiana]
Flag of Castile and Leon (1492-1541)
White Fleur de Lis (1672-1762)
Spanish flag (1763-1803)
British flag (1763-1779)
French tricolor (Nov 30, 1803 - Dec 20, 1803)
U.S. Flag (15 stars and 15 stripes) (1803-1861)
Flag of West Florida (Bonnie Blue) (Sep 1810 - Dec 1810)
National Flag of Louisiana (1861)
Confederate States of America (first national, with 7 stars)
The Current State Flag (1912 - )

Chris Pinette, 17 January 2000

Flags of 1861

[Early Flag of Louisiana] image by Chris Pinette, 15 July 1996

One of the many early flags of Louisiana. This was flown in January of 1861. It never had official status. It is described on page 147 of the book "Flag Book of the United States" by Whitney Smith. There is an image of this flag on page 136 of the book "Flags through the Ages and Across the World" by Whitney Smith.

[1861 Flag of Louisiana] image by Chris Pinette, 15 July 1996

This flag of Louisiana was adopted on 11 February 1861 based in design on the U.S. flag, having a square canton and 13 stripes. The canton was red, with a single yellow star, which replicated the colours of the Spanish flag. The stripes alternated blue/white/red/white/blue/white/red/white/blue/white/red/white/blue; replicating the colours of the French flag.

It is referred to as the flag of the Republic of Louisiana in some cases, but this is not accurate. By February 11, 1861 the Confederate States of America had been organized and Louisiana was a member, so this was the flag of Louisiana as a Confederate State.

The flag flown by Louisiana prior to the adoption of this flag, was the Pelican Flag, which was never officially adopted, but commonly used prior to and during the war. A Pelican Flag was flown at the time Louisiana seceded, so it might be more proper to consider it the flag of the independent republic between secession and creation of the Confederacy. The Pelican Flag was not officially adopted by Louisiana until July 1, 1912.
Devereaux Cannon, 2 October 1998

I came across some very interesting references to the flags that were used in Louisiana during the years 1860-61. All the references in this contribution are from Bragg, Jefferson Davis, (Louisiana in the Confederacy. Baton Rouge; Louisiana State University Press, 1941), the greatest scholarly work on the subject of Louisiana during that period. The first reference to a special flag during this period comes from a New Orleans newspaper, the Picayune. This is a report about celebrations on December 21, 1860, for the secession of South Carolina. "As the first gun was heard, the flag of Louisiana was hoisted from the third story window of the rooms of the Southern Rights Association, ... the flag is, like the original flag of Louisiana, of spotless white, with the addition in the centre of a red star, containing in its centre the emblematic pelican." (Bragg 24) The wording of this quote leads me to believe that this flag was somehow unique. It is interesting to note that pelican flags of various designs have been used in Louisiana since at least 1804. I have not been able to find any details about the size and proportions of this flag. I did however, create an image of this flag which I am forwarding to you in this email. Please edit it and use it as you like.

Now later on, in the same book, I did find another reference to a pelican flag that may or may not be the same as this flag. On January 26, 1861, the Convention for Secession voted to dissolve the Union between Louisiana and the United States. Bragg reports, "A beautiful Pelican flag was unfurled on the president's table." (32) Bragg provides no details about what this flag may have looked like, but it is reasonable to assume that it could be the red star flag described as being in use in New Orleans just a month earlier. It was not until February 11, 1861, that the "national" flag of Louisiana was adopted. However, this did not prevent the use of the pelican flag unofficially.

Michael J. Thompson, 29 December 2002

State Military Crestt

image by Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "A pelican in her piety affronte with three young in nest, argent, armed and vulned proper."
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000