The History of the Washington State Flag
Which state flag features a deep green background and is the only one to have a picture of a person (think Founding Fathers)? If the title of this article didn’t already give it away, you were still probably able to guess that the answer is Washington. One of the most distinctive flags in the United States, the Washington State flag is easy to remember once you’ve seen it.
Washington became the 42nd state on November 11, 1889, but it wasn’t until March 5, 1923 that their state flag became official. The Washington State flag itself is arguably the most distinct flag in the entire United States of America. Everything from the iconic emblem in the middle of the flag to the flag’s color scheme make it stand out from the others without standing apart from them.
Here is a brief history on how the Washington State flag came to be and what makes it unique from the other 49.
You would be hard-pressed to argue that the most prominent part of the Washington state flag is anything but the portrait of George Washington. To emphasize its importance, Washington’s portrait is enclosed by a golden border that brandishes the year 1889. The picture of George Washington was, naturally, intended to pay homage to the first President of the United States, the man after whom the state was named.
Not only was featuring Washington’s picture on the flag a way of conveying its connection to the union as a whole, it also made the flag stand out as the only one in the United States to feature a president (or any person, for that matter).
The color of a flag provides a backdrop for everything else. It’s essentially the canvas on which the picture is painted. The green field featured on the Washington state flag is intended to represent the state, which is known as the Evergreen State.
If you’ve ever driven through Washington, you know what an accurate nickname this is, as more often than not you find yourself surrounded by towering evergreens as you speed down the interstate. For most states, it would seem odd to base their flag’s color on a feature of its natural environment, but Washington’s forests give the state such a unique distinction that, in this case, it makes perfect sense.
Washington State Flag Design and History
Even though Washington entered the union in 1889, more than three decades passed before it had its own flag. In fact, it wasn’t until 25 years later, in 1914, when the Daughters of the American Revolution wanted Washington to provide a state flag which could be displayed in Washington, D.C., that it was noted the state still had not come up with a design for the flag.
Soon after, the Daughters of the American Revolution formed a committee that would come up with ideas and design the flag so that the capitol would have a flag to display to represent Washington. Finally, in 1923, Washington officially adopted the flag after a vote by the state legislature.
The seal of the Washington state flag was designed by the Talcott brothers, who were silversmiths. Besides serving as a tribute to America’s first president, George Washington’s image was also an unofficial oath that the citizens of the state would strive to embody his characteristics and principles. The green background represented not only the deep green forests in Washington, but also served as a declaration that Washington citizens would be committed to preserving their land and protecting their natural resources.
There have been many variations of the Washington state flag over the years, partly due to a fairly vague original description of it. Finally standardized in 1967, nearly a half-century after it was officially adopted, this is the flag that waves over Washington’s capital in Olympia and represents the state and those who live there to this very day.
It’s fitting that Washington’s state flag has a picture of the state’s namesake right in its center, and just as fitting that the lush green on the flag is what can best be described as forest green. The only thing which is surprising is that Washington, one of the last states to join the union, was the first to give a nod to one of the Founding Fathers, a group of men who played such a significant role in our history.
A couple things are for certain – without them, our country would not have been as great as it was, and Washington State would not have come to be, and neither would its flag.