Massachusetts State Flag

The Massachusetts state flag features the state coat of arms.
The Massachusetts state flag features the state coat of arms.

The Massachusetts state flag has undergone a transition from the 1908 design to the current one, which was approved on June 2, 1971. The Massachusetts state flag is set on a white background and is characterized by the Massachusetts coat of arms (blue shield). The coat of arms is represented by an Algonquian Native American holding a bow and an arrow. On the upper right corner of the shield, there is a white five-pointed star. On top of the shield is a right hand holding a broadsword, and surrounding the shield is a blue ribbon with the Massachusetts motto inscribed on it in gold.


Massachusetts was among the first states of the US. The white star has five points which are a symbol of the admission of Massachusetts as the sixth state. The blue shield symbolizes the blue hills located in Canton and Milton, Massachusetts. The Algonquian Native Americans are the early inhabitants of Massachusetts who were mainly of the Algonquian language. The Native American is holding a bow, on the one hand, to symbolize readiness to defend the land fearlessly. The arrow, on the other hand, is facing down, representing peace. Using the Native American depicts the strong heritage of Massachusetts. The state of Massachusetts motto translated from Latin means 'by the sword, we seek peace, but peace only under liberty'. Right hand holding a broadsword is the image which represents the first part of the motto, ‘by the sword we seek peace.' The hand clutches on the sword in the air with its blade facing up, to symbolize the revolutionary war towards liberty. The hand used was that of an English military officer called Myles Standish and is an implication that it is better to lose the right hand than to stay under the oppressor.


The flag of Massachusetts can be traced back to 1776 when some flags were used for limited purposes. The first flags to be used formally were in 1908 when the Massachusetts volunteer regiments adopted a white flag with a blue seal which was common during the civil war. The flag of the state of Massachusetts was officially adopted in 1901, though it had been used unofficially from the time of American Revolutionary War. The flag had been used by the Massachusetts state navy initially. It had a slight difference with the current flag. On the front side it had the coat of arms, and on the back of the flag was a green pine tree on top of a blue shield. However, in 1971, the flag’s design was revised by removing the green pine tree and having the coat of arms on both sides of the flag. During the civil war, a modified version of the flag was carried by each of the Massachusetts volunteer regiments, together with the National colors.

Modern Flags

Currently, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has three flags; a governor’s flag, a naval and maritime flag, and a state flag. The governor’s flag is set on a white field, has the coat of arms enclosed in a triangle (with the top corner facing the right-hand side). The maritime flag, on the other hand, was adopted in 1776, and is set on a white field, having a green pine tree with the motto ‘An appeal to heaven.' However, the motto was removed in 1971, and the flag was named the naval and maritime flag.


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