Last modified: 2016-03-22 by rick wyatt
Keywords: virginia | united states |
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image by Mario Fabretto, 24 February 1998
Fringe Added by Zachary Harden, 13 June 2001
One of the original 13 colonies, Virginia is represented by a star and a stripe on the 13 star U.S. flags.
The seal of Virginia was adopted during the time of the rebellion against Great Britain, about 1776. The standing figure is female, wearing an ancient Greek helmet, with spear in right hand and sword in left. She represents Virginia or Liberty. The vanquished foe is male, wears what appears to be a Roman uniform, with a crown on the ground near his head. He represents George III or Tyranny.
The flag, which reproduces the seal on a blue field, was adopted by Virginia on 30 April 1861, after the Virginia Convention adopted the Ordinance of Secession (17 April 1861).
Devereaux Cannon, 10 March 1998
The Virginia state flag adopted in 1861 is a bit different than the flag adopted afterwards that flies today. The two changes are the laurel wreath that goes around the state coat of arms was a post-Civil War addition - as was the bared breast of the lady liberty figure in the coat of arms. During the Civil War era she was completely covered up.
Greg Biggs, 22 January 2003
A link at secure01.virginiainteractive.org, the state's Department of General Services offers Virginia flags for sale. Since
the DGS is the office that procures flags for official state use, the fact both the outdoor-hoistable and indoor/parade flags offered on the site are in 3x5 dimensions should be at least a de facto indication of a 3:5 ratio for this flag -- state law allows the Governor to set the dimensions for official use.
Joe McMillan, 8 November 2006
The State of Virginia also advertises a 5 x 8 flag on the same site that it sells the 3 x 5. I have a Virginia flag that flew over the state building in Richmond that is 8 x 12 feet. In the case of U.S. state flags, it would probably be wise to stay with whichever proportions are officially given, (when they are). Then let it be known that the three U.S. standard proportions are always de facto official due to the fact that state governments order stock flags from U.S. manufacturers.
Clay Moss, 8 November 2006
There were about 4 versions or so of this flag: the 30 April 1861 flag; a 1930 flag with fringe added; a 1931 flag with ornamental border added to the seal; and the 1949 law (effective 1 Feb 1950) that standardized the size, shapes and colors of the flag:
As for the Flag of the Commonwealth adopted in [30 April] 1861, some minor changes were made in the first half of the 20th century.Ben Cahoon, 7 February 2015
In 1930 the white fringe was added to the fly.
In 1931 the "ornamental border" of the seal was more precisely defined as a wreath of Virginia creeper.
On March 16, 1949, exact colors were assigned to the various design elements." [effective 1 Feb. 1950]
CODE OF VIRGINIA
Section 7.1-26. The great seal. The great seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia shall consist of two metallic discs, two and one-fourth inches in diameter, with an ornamental border one fourth of an inch wide, with such words and figures engraved thereon as will, when used, produce impressions to be described as follows: On the obverse, Virtus, the genius of the Commonwealth, dressed as an Amazon, resting on a spear in her right hand, point downward, touching the earth; and holding in her left hand, a sheathed sword, or parazonium, pointing upward; her head erect and face upturned; her left foot on the form of Tyranny represented by the prostrate body of a man, with his head to her left, his fallen crown nearby, a broken chain in his left hand, and a scourge in his right. Above the group and within the border conforming therewith, shall be the word "Virginia," and, in the space below, on a curved line, shall be the motto, "Sic Semper Tyrannis." On the reverse, shall be placed a group consisting of Libertas, holding a wand and pileus in her right hand; on her right, Aeternitas, with a globe and phoenix in her right hand; on the left of Libertas, Ceres, with a cornucopia in her left hand, and an ear of wheat in her right; over this device, in a curved line, the word "Perseverando."
Section 7.1-32. Flag of the Commonwealth. The flag of the Commonwealth shall hereafter be made of bunting or merino. It shall be a deep blue field, with a circular white centre of the same material. Upon this circle shall be painted or embroidered, to show on both sides alike, the coat of arms of the Commonwealth, as described in Section 7.1-26 for the obverse of the great seal of the Commonwealth; and there shall be a white silk fringe on the outer edge, furthest from the flagstaff. This shall be known and respected as the flag of Virginia.
Section 7.1-33. Governor to prescribe size of flag. The Governor shall regulate the size and dimensions of the flag proper for forts, arsenals and public buildings, for ships-of-war and merchant marine, for troops in the field, respectively, and for any other purpose, according to his discretion; which regulations shall be proclaimed and published by him as occasion may require.
Joe McMillan, 21 February 2000
The language of the modern Code is based on the original Ordinance adopted by the Virginia Convention on 30 April 1861, which stated that the "flag of this commonwealth shall hereafter be made of bunting, which shall be a deep blue field, with a circle of white in the centre, on which shall be painted or embroidered, to show on both sides alike, the coat of arms of the state, as described by the convention of seventeen hundred and seventy-six, for one side of the seal of state, to wit: [a description of the seal follows]."
The 1861 Ordinance did not describe the white fringe on the fly, but several surviving examples of 1861-65 period Virginia flags have that feature.
Devereaux Cannon, 20 January 2003
I assume that the Virginia state motto was taken from the Shakespeare play. It has certainly been used since 1776, and that's why J W Booth used it; it would have been instantly recognizable to most of the audience that night at Ford's Theater, not only by those who were familiar with Shakespeare's oeuvre but because many of them would have come from the northern Virginia suburbs (even though that term was probably not current then) of Washington such as Alexandria or Falls Church. Booth himself had played Brutus on the stage many times in the past, and he would have been aware of the significance of the phrase. His family were not Virginians but Marylanders, however.
Ron Lahav, 22 February 2004
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
"Virtus, the genius of the Commonwealth, dressed as an Amazon, resting on a spear with one hand and holding a sword in the other, and treading on Tyranny, represented by a man prostrate, a crown falling from his head, a broken chain in his left hand and a scourge in his right, all proper."
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000
image by Randy Young, 22 January 2016
I have a flag for Virginia in my flag collection, placing the Virginia state seal in the blue bar at the hoist. These flags became popular in the South during the debates and arguments that began in 2001 over the 1956 Georgia state flag. In each case, the 1956 Georgia flag design was adapted to one of the former Confederate states by replacing the Georgia state seal with the seal or other prominent flag emblem from one of the states.The idea behind the flags following this pattern was to show support for and solidarity with the supporters of the 1956 Georgia state flag design.
Randy Young, 22 January 2016