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The Flag Adopted by the New Southern Confederacy

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1083, p. 344.

April 13, 1861



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The Flag Adopted by the New Southern Confederacy of America. [p. 344]

The Congress sitting at Montgomery, Alabama, before its adjournment, adopted a report of the Special Committee appointed to devise a flag for the new Republic. This was a subject of grave deliberation. Severa [sic] designs were sent in by patriotic Southern ladies; but the Committee decided upon the flag of which we give an Engraving. On presenting their design for the acceptance of the Provisional Congress, the chairman explained it in the following words:—"A flag should be simple, readily made, and, above all, capable of being made up in bunting; it should be different from the flag of any other country, place, or people; it should be significant; it should be readily distinguishable at a distance; the colours should be well contrasted and durable; and lastly, and not the least important point, it should be effective and handsome. The Committee humbly think that the flag which they submit combines these requisites. It is very easy to make. It is entirely different from any national flag. The three colours of which it is composed—red, white, and blue—are the true Republican colours. In heraldry they are emblematic of the three great virtues—of valour, purity, and truth. Naval men assure us that it can be recognised at a great distance. The colours contrast admirably, and are lasting. In effect and appearance it must speak for itself. Your Committee, therefore, recommend that the flag of the Confederate States of America shall consist of a red field, with a white space extending horizontally through the centre, and equal in width to one-third the width of the flag; the red spaces above and below, to be of the same width as the white; the union blue extending down through the white space, and stopping at the lower red space; in the centre of the union a circle of white stars corresponding in number with the States in the Confederacy."

"The design of this flag," says the New York Herald, "is striking, and it has the merit of originality as well as of durability. The upper and lower sections, composing the 'fly' part, are red; the middle section white; while a blue union, containing seven stars in a circle, reaches from the top to the lower red. This flag possesses an heraldic significance probably not comprehended by the uninitiated. The blue union signifies firmness, constancy, faithfulness; the white, purity and peace; and red is emblematic of war. With the seven stars in the blue this flag can be read as follows:—'Blue—Seven States have entered into a covenant of good faith; White—to promote the general welfare in time of peace; Red—to provide a common defence in times of war.' To assist the reader to interpret the flag more fully we would state that in engraving heraldic devices it is rulable to make the portions delineating blue in horizontal lines, and red in perpendicular ones."

The flag was unfurled at Montgomery on the 4th of March last. The Montgomery Advertiser of the 5th ult. says:—"Yesterday was an eventful day in the provisional capital of the Confederate States of America, as well as in Washington. At half-past three p.m. the flag of the Confederates [sic] States of America was flung out to the breeze from the staff of the Capitol, and, as its proud folds gradually unclosed, it seemed to wave defiance to the northern wind that came rushing down from the Potomac laden with threats of Abolition coercion. A large concourse of spectators had assembled on Capitol Hill. Miss L.C. Tyler, one of the fair descendants of the Old Dominion, and a granddaughter of the venerable ex-President of the United States, had been selected to perform the principal part upon this occasion. When the time had arrived for raising the banner Miss Tyler elevated the flag to the summit of the staff, cannon thundered forth a salute, the vast assemblage rent the air with shouts of welcome, and the people of the South had for the first time a view of the Southern flag. Ere there was time to take one hasty glance at the national ensign, the eyes of all were upturned to gaze at what would perhaps at any time have attracted unusual attention, but on this occasion seemed really a providential omen. Scarcely had the first report from the salute died away when a large and beautifully-defined circle of blue vapour rose slowly over the assemblage of Southern spirits there assembled to vow allegiance to the Southern banner, rested for many seconds on a level with the flag of the Confederate States, then gradually ascended until lost to the gaze of the multitude. It was a most beautiful and auspicious omen, and those who look with an eye of faith to the glorious future of our Confederacy could not but believe that the same God that vouchsafed to the Christian Emperor the cross in the heavens as a promise of victory had this day given to a young nation striving for a liberty a Divine augury of hope and national durability."

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