Rhode Island State Flag

The state flag of Rhode Island borrows its anchor from the state seal.
The state flag of Rhode Island borrows its anchor from the state seal.

Rhode Island is nicknamed The Ocean State and is officially referred to as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The state is in New England, a region comprising of six states in the northeastern part of the US. Rhode Island is among the 13 colonies that renounced their link to the British Crown and was the last among them to ratify the constitution of the United States. The New England state’s symbols include its flag which is known as the Flag of Rhode Island and a seal called the Seal of Rhode Island. Other symbols are the state’s motto, coat of arms, slogan, and nickname.

The Flag’s Design

The state flag of Rhode Island has three colors: white, gold, and blue. The flag is white and has a golden anchor at the center with 13 gold stars surrounding it. There is a ribbon just below the anchor with the inscription of the word “HOPE”. This word written in gold is the state’s motto. The stars on the flag represent the original 13 colonies and the status of Rhode Island among them, being the last to ratify the constitution. The flag is often illustrated with a golden fringe around its edges. The white color on the flag covers about 80%, with gold taking 17.5%.

History of the Flag

The anchor and the word “hope” first appeared on the state’s seal in the 1640s. Many believe that a biblical phrase found in the book of Hebrews inspired the words and emblems on the seal. The phrase reads, “hope we have as an anchor of the soul.” Rhode Island adopted its first nonmilitary flag in 1877 and used it up to 1822. This original flag had 13 blue stars compared to the second and present flags. The state used a second flag that closely resembles the current one between 1882 and 1897. This second flag was blue and had 13 gold stars surrounding a golden anchor in the center. Rhode Island formally approved the current flag 120 years ago in 1897.

Legislation on the Flag

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations enacted a law making the flag official. In the law, the flag is supposed to measure five feet and six inches by four feet and ten inches. The golden anchor at the center should be twenty-two inches high, on top of 24 inches long and five inches wide blue ribbon, with the state's motto "Hope" appearing on it in gold. The law states that a spearhead shall surmount a nine-foot-long pike.

Other Flags in Rhode Island

A flag commonly flown in the state is the Flag of the Rhode Island Regiment. Olney's Battalion used this flag during the American Revolutionary War that ended in 1783. The University of Rhode Island Rams flies this flag during home football games. Most of the houses in the state also fly this flag. There is also the flag of the Governor of Rhode Island which comprises of four stars just like in most of the United States governors’ flags. The North American Vexillological Association ranked the Rhode Island flag 18th out of 51 flags.


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