Louisiana State Flag History

Apr 30th, 2016

On April 20, 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state that was admitted to the Union. Before the state seceded from the Union in 1861, it did not have an official state flag. Unofficially, Louisiana flew a flag with a blue field that contained a Pelican in the center and the word Union, Justice & Confidence below that image.


Pelican Flag 1861


After its secession, Louisiana unofficially flew the flag of an independent nation. That flag had a red canton containing a yellow star. The field contained blue, white and red bars.


Secession Flag


Two months after Louisiana seceded, it joined the Confederate States of America. During the Civil War, 1861 through 1865, Louisiana flew the CSA flag. Originally, the CSA flag was the flag of an independent nation. In 1863, the CSA flag was revised because it caused confusion on the battlefield. The CSA flag was difficult to tell from the Union flag from a distance.


CSA flag


On July 1, 1912, Louisiana legislature official adopted a state flag. The flag displayed a field of blue with the state bird, a brown pelican, in a nest feeding its young centered and colored in white and gold, and the words Union, Justice and Confidence on a ribbon below the Pelican.


Pelican Flag 1912


In 2006, the Lousiana flag was revised. The ribbon that contained the words Union, Justice & Confidence under the pelican was changed to a banner shape, and three drops of red (signifying blood) was added to the chest of the pelican.


Pelican Flag 2006


The Lousiana flag was changed yet again in 2010. Apparently there was some confusion and some agencies and residents flew the 1912 version while others flew the 2006 version.


The 2010 flag was redesigned to show a more sophisticated pelican tearing at its breast with three red drops of blood flowing down. Historically, it is said that the blood represents Louisiana’s willingness to make sacrifices for its citizens. The revision also removed the and sign between the words included in the banner. This flag is still in use today.


Louisiana Flag Today


Interestingly, the pelican tearing at its chest to feed its young is based on a medieval belief that Pelicans tore their own flesh to feed their babies. The birds do not do that. It has been speculated that people may have gotten that impression because of the way that the bird holds its beak along its breast for the chicks to feed from its bill.


The pelican has been used as Louisiana symbol dating back to colonial times. It appears on the state seal, paintings, and other artistry used to represent the state.


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