Kentucky gained statehood in 1792 and adopted Great Britain’s flag. Over the years between 1792 and 1918, the 15-star flag of Great Britain was used. The American flag was also used unofficially together with the flag of the Confederate of States.
Adoption of the Kentucky Flag
The Kentucky flag was officially adopted on March 26, 1918. Then, dimensions of the flag were allowed to vary as there was no direct law on specifics of the flag. It was until 1962 when this was remedied. The 1918 law was amended to provide for the color, material to be used, size, and other specifics. Despite the fact that the flag was adopted in 1918, the design was not finalized until 1928.
The first universal Kentucky state flag was designed in 1920. The flag was designed specifically for a ceremony. The design was not approved and after the ceremony, a committee was formed to review it. The tasked committee never got a chance to present their findings. Seven years later, Jouett Cannon instructed Jesse Cox Burgess to provide a design. Three designs were crafted from Cannon’s work and one was eventually approved by Governor Bert Combs.
Once Governor Combs approved a design, a detailed drawing of the flag was included in the law to curb future varying flags designs. The amendments to the 1918 law were officially adopted by the Kentucky legislature in 1962, and in 1963, the flag of Kentucky was standardized. In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) ranked the Kentuckian flag design 66th among its members (NAVA).
Color and Symbols
On a navy blue field, the Commonwealth seal is surrounded by the words “COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY”. Below the seal are springs of goldenrod flowers. The seal comprises of a statesman and a frontiersman embracing with the words “UNITED WE STAND" and "DIVIDED WE FALL” atop and below. These words borrowed from an American patriotic song, “The Liberty Song,” form the state motto. The frontiersman represents the country inhabitants of Kentucky while the statesman represents Kentucky’s city inhabitants. The goldenrod flower is the state flower while the colors of the flag were adopted from the original Kentucky militia colors.
Kentucky’s Flags Before 1918
Until the revolutionary war, Kentucky flew the flag of Britain, the “Union Jack.” After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the state adopted the flag of Virginia since, at that time, Kentucky was a commonwealth of Virginia. In 1792, Kentucky was admitted to statehood and adopted the 15 stars and 15 stripped flag of the union. During the Civil War, Kentucky used both the Confederate flag and the Union flag. The Confederate flag was the most used. Up to the World War I, Kentucky continued to use the Union flag as the state’s unofficial flag. In 1918, the current flag of Kentucky was officially adopted.