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Alabama State Flag

Alabama State Flag and Banner

"crimson cross"

Adopted on February 16, 1895.

The current flag of the state of Alabama (the second in the state's history) was adopted by Act 383 of the Alabama state legislature on February 16, 1895.

"The flag of the State of Alabama shall be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross shall be not less than six inches broad, and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side." - (Code 1896, §3751; Code 1907, §2058; Code 1923, §2995; Code 1940, T. 55, §5.)

The cross of St. Andrew referred to in the law is a diagonal cross, known in vexillology as a saltire. Because the bars must be at least six inches wide, small representations of the Alabama flag do not meet the legal definition.

Another possibility is that the flag was inspired by the St. Andrews Flag of Scotland which possesses a blue field with a white cross. At one point, over 33% of Southeastern populations were of Scottish ancestry

The Alabama State Flag

Alabama Flag of 1861

Alabama Flag of 1861Though Alabama entered the Union in 1819, it wasn't until the state seceded from the Union in 1861 that Alabamans adopted a flag of their own. At the Secession Convention of January 11, 1861, distressed Alabama citizens decided to withdraw from the Union of the United States. At the same time, they adopted their own flag. Designed by a group of Montgomery women, the "Secession Convention Flag" became Alabama's first official flag.

 Alabama Flag of 1861Because Alabama had left the union, the flag was often referred to as the "Republic of Alabama flag."  One side of the flag displayed the Goddess of Liberty holding in her right hand an unsheathed sword; in the left a small flag with one star. In an arch above this figure were the words "Independent Now and Forever." On the other side of the flag was a cotton plant with a coiled rattlesnake. Beneath the cotton plant are the Latin words: "Noli Me Tangere," (Touch Me Not). This flag was flown until February 10, 1861, when it was removed to the Governor's Office after it was damaged by severe weather. It was never flown again.

From March 4, 1861 until General James H. Wilson's occupation of Montgomery in April 1865, a Confederate National Flag was flown, either the First National Flag or the Second National Flag. After the end of the Civil War, the United States Flag was used for all official occasions.

Alabama Flag of 1895

The present Alabama State Flag was authorized by the Alabama Legislature on February 16, 1895, by act number 383. According to the Acts of Alabama, 1895, the state flag was to be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross were not to be less than six inches broad and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side. The act does not designate a square or a rectangular flag.

It is sometimes believed that the crimson saltire of the current flag of Alabama was designed to resemble the blue saltire of the Confederate Battle Flag. Many battle flags were square, and the flag of Alabama is sometimes also depicted as square. The legislation that created the state flag did not specify if the flag was to be square, however. The authors of a 1917 article in National Geographic expressed their opinion that because the Alabama flag was based on the Battle Flag, it should be square. In 1987, the office of Alabama Attorney General Don Siegelman issued an opinion in which the Battle Flag derivation is repeated, but concluded that the proper shape is rectangular, as it had been depicted numerous times in official publications and reproductions; despite this, the flag is still depicted as being square, even in official publications of the U.S. federal government.

Salute and Pledge to the Alabama Flag

Alabama adopted its pledge in 2001:

Flag of Alabama I salute thee. To thee I pledge my allegiance, my service, and my life.

Alabama Flag Law

The Code of Alabama, 1975, Title 1, Chapter 2 & 2A

TITLE 1.
Chapter 2. STATE SYMBOLS AND HONORS.
§ 1-2-5. Flag of the state - Description. DESC
The flag of the State of Alabama shall be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross shall be not less than six inches broad, and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side.
(Code 1896, §3751; Code 1907, §2058; Code 1923, §2995; Code 1940, T. 55, §5.)

§ 1-2-6. Flag of the state - Display.
The flag of the state shall be hoisted on the dome of the Capitol when the two houses of the Legislature are in session, and shall be used by the state on all occasions when it may be necessary or customary to display a flag, except when, in the opinion of the Governor, the national flag should be displayed.
(Code 1896, §3752; Code 1907, §2059; Code 1923, §2996; Code 1940, T. 55, §6.)

Chapter 2A. THE ALABAMA STATE FLAG ACT.

§ 1-2A-1. Short title.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Alabama State Flag Act."
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §1.)

§ 1-2A-2. Historical information.

The Legislature finds it is appropriate to include within this chapter general history and related information concerning the state flag. The state did not have a flag from 1819 to January 11, 1861, when a resolution was passed designating a flag designed by a group of Montgomery women as the "Republic of Alabama Flag." One side of this flag displayed, under an arch bearing the words "Independent Now and Forever," the Goddess of Liberty holding in her right hand an unsheathed sword and in her left hand a small flag with one star. Displayed on the reverse side of this flag were a large cotton plant in full fruit and flower, a coiled rattlesnake, and the Latin words "Noli Me Tangere" (Touch Me Not) beneath the cotton plant. This flag, which flew for about a month, was removed to the Governor's office on February 10, 1861, apparently suffering damage caused by severe weather. The Republic of Alabama Flag was never flown again.

From April 1865 until 1895, the State of Alabama flew the United States Flag during all official occasions.

The Alabama State Flag as it exists today was adopted on February 16, 1895, pursuant to Act No. 383 of the 1895 Legislature of Alabama (Acts 1894-1895, p. 719), which is codified as Section 1-2-5, Code of Alabama 1975. Section 1-2-5, Code of Alabama 1975, provides\:

"The flag of the state of Alabama shall be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross shall be not less than six inches broad, and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side."

The St. Andrew's Cross resembles the letter "X" in the English alphabet and is also referred to as the "saltier" or "Crux Decussata." According to tradition, Andrew, the brother of Peter, was crucified on a cross of this shape. Andrew did not feel worthy enough to die on the same style of cross on which Christ died and requested a cross of another shape. His request was granted and he was crucified upside down on a cross which now bears his name. Rather than using nails to secure his limbs to the cross, Andrew was bound to the cross with ropes. His suffering was thus prolonged. St. Andrew's Cross came into wide use during the Medieval Period and became the national cross of Scotland, since St. Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland.

Currently, Alabama law requires the display of the Alabama State Flag at all schools supported by public funds when school is in session. The State Superintendent of Education has determined that the Alabama State Flag must be hoisted on a pole to be appropriately displayed at school buildings.

The salute to the Alabama State Flag provides:

"Flag of Alabama I salute thee. To thee I pledge my allegiance, my service, and my life."
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §2.)

§ 1-2A-3. Flag display protocol.

For purposes of this chapter and any other provision of general law, appropriate flag display protocol shall expressly include, but not be limited to, the requirement that when flown on the same pole, the order of placement from top to bottom shall be the United States flag, the state flag, and other flags.
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §3.)

§ 1-2A-4. Display of Alabama State Flag - Courthouses.

(a) Each county courthouse and courthouse annex in which a court sits on a regular basis shall prominently display the Alabama State Flag, in accordance with appropriate flag display protocol, on a flag pole or flag poles located near the main entrance of the courthouse and the courthouse annex. If the main entrance of a courthouse annex is clearly visible from the main entrance of the courthouse, or if the courthouse and courthouse annex are attached, the flag may be located near the main entrance of the courthouse only.

(b) Unless otherwise acquired pursuant to gift, donation, or other means, the flags and flag poles required by this section shall be purchased by the county within three years after August 1, 2001.
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §4.)

§ 1-2A-5. Display of Alabama State Flag - Law enforcement agencies.

(a) Each state, county, and municipal law enforcement agency headquarters, including the headquarters for state troopers, peace officers, marine police officers, and local police officers, shall prominently display the Alabama State Flag, in accordance with appropriate flag display protocol, on a flag pole or flag poles located near the main entrance of the building.

(b) Unless otherwise acquired pursuant to gift, donation, or other means, the flags and flag poles required by this section shall be purchased by the applicable law enforcement agency within three years after August 1, 2001.

(c) Any municipality with a population of 1,000 or less, according to the most recent federal decennial census, shall be exempt from this section unless other flags are being flown in the municipality by the municipality.
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §5.)

§ 1-2A-6. Display of Alabama State Flag - State parks or historic sites.

(a) Each state park or historic site administrative building, which is located on park property and open to the general public, shall prominently display the Alabama State Flag, in accordance with appropriate flag display protocol, on a flag pole or flag poles located near the main entrance of each administrative building.

(b) Unless otherwise acquired pursuant to gift, donation, or other means, the flags and flag poles required by this section shall be purchased by the applicable park or historic site within three years after August 1, 2001.
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §6.)

§ 1-2A-7. Display of Alabama State Flag - Department or agency facilities.

(a) Each facility or building located in this state that is affiliated with any department or agency of the state and supported in whole or in part by public funds, shall prominently display the Alabama State Flag, in accordance with appropriate flag display protocol, on a flag pole or flag poles located near the main entrance of each facility or building. Any facility or building that is not in public view or open to the general public, or is used only for storage or other warehouse purposes, may be exempt from the requirements of this section at the discretion of the director or chief official of the department or agency.

(b) Unless otherwise acquired pursuant to gift, donation, or other means, the flags and flag poles required by this section shall be purchased by the applicable department or agency within three years after August 1, 2001.
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §7.)

§ 1-2A-8. Display of Alabama State Flag - Municipal buildings.

(a) Each municipal building located in this state which is open to the general public and supported in whole or in part by public funds, shall prominently display the Alabama State Flag, in accordance with appropriate flag display protocol, on a flag pole or flag poles located near the main entrance of each building.

(b) Unless otherwise acquired pursuant to gift, donation, or other means, the flags and flag poles required by this section shall be purchased by the applicable municipality within three years after August 1, 2001.

(c) Any municipality with a population of 1,000 or less, according to the most recent federal decennial census, shall be exempt from this section unless other flags are being flown in the municipality by the municipality.
(Act 2001-472, p. 629, §9.)

 

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