Monday, January 9, 2012


The name "Illinois" came from the name of the native people in the area, via French, who where the first explorers in the area from Europe.

It was originally explored by the French in the 1600's via the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and the lands fell under the control of the French Empire, until 1763, when it was passed over to the British. Following The American Revolutionary War, the lands where ceded to the new United States, and absorbed into the new Northwest Territory.

It was then incorporated into the Louisiana Territory with Ohio entering the Union as a state, in 1800. Finally, in 1809, the Illinois Territory was created, when Louisiana was admitted to the Union as an independent state.

The northern parts of its lands where divided off in 1818, when Illinois was finally admitted as the 21st state.

The state adopted its first Great seal in 1819, which essentially copied the Great Seal of the United States. Then, in 1839, a redesign saw the introduction of the second seal. Finally, the current seal was introduced as the third seal in 1868.

It has a bald eagle pitched on a rock, with a shield in its talons. The shield uses a modified stars and stripes, with the 13 stripes and stars representing the original thirteen states. The eagle carries a ribbon in its beak up which is printed the state motto, "State sovereignty, National union."

On the rock are 2 dates. 1818, the year in which Illinois was admitted formally into the Union, and 1868, the year in which the current seal was adopted. Surrounding the emblem in a ring, is the text "Seal of the State of Illinois" and "Aug 26th 1818" the date when Illinois became a state.

Initially, the state did not have a flag, until Ella Park Lawrence, as state regent, began to campaign for one. She was ultimately unsuccessful during her time as state regent. However, she did not give up, and continued to campaign during her time with the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

Finally, in 1914, a competition was held amongst the various chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution to design a new state flag. The competition was carried out, and judged, with the winning flag finally becoming the new state flag in 1915. A simple white banner with the state emblem placed in the centre, with no additional text.

In the 1960's, CPO Bruce McDaniel petitioned to have the states name placed on the flag. He argued that during the Vietnam war, many troops who came from Illinois failed to recognise their own flag! so, the addition of the state name was signed into law in 1969, and a new flag adopted with the state name below the emblem adopted in 1970.

In 1918, a special banner was designed for the state. To commemorate 100 years as a state, a special flag was designed. This had 3 horizontal stripes of alternating white, blue, and white. And 20 stars arranged in a triangular form above and below the blue stripe on the hoist side.  These represented the 10 northern counties, as well as the 10 southern counties that make up the state. Placed in the central blue stripe was a single white star, representing the state itself.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Palau, one of the smallest and youngest nations, yet also home to human populations for thousands of years. The small group of islands located east of the Philippines.

Palau first fell under the influence of the Spanish, who took control. However, the Spanish then sold the islands and the rest of the Caroline islands to Germany in 1899. Germany then held the islands until 1914, when Japan took control.

The US then forcibly took control during the Second World War, and was awarded trusteeship over the islands from 1947 by the United Nations. 

Palau was part of the Trust Territory of the South Pacific, formally governed by Japan, but after the war, by the US. Usually, the flag of the United Nations, or the US was flown. Finally, in 1965, the Territory had its first flag. A light blue field with a circle of 6 white stars. Each star representing an island group in the territory. The Marianas, The Marshall Islands, Yap, Chuuk, Phonpei, and Palau.

However, in 1978, 4 of the island groups formed the federated Micronesia. With Palau and Marshall Islands opting for independence. A new constitution was ratified in 1981, and a Treaty of Free Association signed with the US in 1982. Further referendums, and amendments to the constitution saw Palau ratify the compact in 1993, and become formally independent in 1994.

However, the flag itself was chosen in 1981. A light blue field, with a slightly off-centre yellow disc. A lot like the flag of Bangladesh. 

The light blue stands not for the ocean, but for the islands movement from dependency, to independence, and the yellow disc is not the sun, but the moon. For the Plauan people believe that the full moon is the most auspicious time for people. 


Idaho, admitted to the Union on July 3rd, 1890 as the 43rd state. A landlocked state located in the northwest of the US. Also, through its river network, and a system of dams and locks, is also home to America's most inland seaport in the city of Lewiston.

Idaho has been inhabited for a very long time, but the first records of Europeans points to French fur trappers. Something that is seen in the French place-names of several towns, such as Nez Perce, and Boise. But it was the Missouri Fur Company that made the first significant push into the land in 1810. Next was the Hudsons Bay Company from Canada, who took control of large parts of the land by 1820.

Idaho itself initially became part of Oregon Country. A territory that covered present day British Colombia, parts of Alberta, and the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The dispute between Britain and America finally was settled in 1846 with the Oregon Treaty. This finally settled the border dispute between the two nations. The border was extended along the 49th parallel all the way to the coast. Effectively splitting the claim in two. The only exception was Vancouver island, which Britain kept hold of in its entirety. 

In 1853, Oregon Country was divided into two, with the establishment of the Washington (green) and Oregon (blue) Territories.

The lands that make up current-day Idaho where reunited when Oregon became a state in 1859, and Washington Territory's boundaries where redrawn.

Many people had passed through Idaho on their way to settle in California drew by the gold rush, or where heading along the Oregon trail. But, not many stayed in Idaho. However, in 1860, Idaho saw the start of its own gold rush which saw a large influx of people to mine.

The start of the Gold rush also saw Idaho become its own territory, encompassing lands that make up today's Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. 

This was, however, broken up in 1863, with the creation of separate Montana and Wyoming territories.

And finally, in 1868, a further redraw saw more land being handed to Wyoming, making Wyoming into a rectangle, and giving Idaho its borders we see today.

Idaho was finally admitted as a full state into the Union in 1890.

The first seal for the state was drawn up in 1863. A shield with a representation of the state, topped by an Eagle. In a ring round the shield is the text "Seal of the Territory of Idaho" and the year "1863" representing the foundation of the territory.

It was redrawn in 1866. The shield remained, but this time, the eagle was removed, and replaced with a deer's head. Also, two female supporters where added. The date was also dropped from the seal.

The seal underwent a major redraw in 1890 when Idaho was admitted to the Union. The shield remained, with a scene from Idaho. However, the supporters where altered. Now, with Lady Justice, and a miner. The miner represents the main industry in Idaho at the time.

On the shield, the pine tree represents Idahos timber forests, the husbandman and the wheat sheaf under the shield together represents the states agriculture. The cornucopia's represents the horticultural elements within the state, and the states flower, the Mock Orange, grows round the feet of Lady Justice. Idaho also has a game law, protecting the elk and moose, and so an elks head is placed above the shield.

The text round the shield reads "Great Seal of the State of Idaho" and within above the elk is the states motto, "Esto Perpetua."

The flag itself was adopted in 1907, a is a simple blue banner with the state seal placed in the centre. Underneath the seal is a red ribbon bearing the legend "State of Idaho" in gold. Officially, the flag is supposed to have a gold fringe on three sides, but is quite often displayed without.


Hawai'i, one of only 2 states in the Union not connected to the rest of the mainland (the other being Alaska) and the only state not connected to the America's. It is an archipelago of islands located in the centre of the Pacific ocean.

Given Hawai'is location, it has seen many influences from the lands around. Many Polynesian influences, as well as others from Asia, and the America's. Its temperate climate and rich soils (thanks to the volcanoes) have made it a breeding ground for many truly breathtaking and wonderful forms of plant and animal life.

Hawai'i also is one of only 4 states that where independent nations before joining the Union. The others being the Republic of Texas, the Vermont Republic, and the California Republic. Also, Hawai'i, along with the Republic of Texas where the only states to hold international recognition.

It has also been an independent kingdom as well as an independent republic after the King was overthrown by American and European businessmen.

The islands of Hawai'i where originally settled by Polynesians who brought with them pigs, dogs, coconut, banana, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, chickens and taro. The first Europeans where most likely the Spanish in the mid-1500's, though there are no solid records. The first contact with the natives, and extensive documentation was by Captain James Cook. He arrived in January 1778, and named the islands the "Sandwich Islands," after his sponsor, the Earl of Sandwich.

Until Kamehameha I, the islands themselves where ruled by various independent rulers on each island. In 1810 Kamehameha united the islands as 1 kingdom under him. Originally, as a sign of friendship with the United Kingdom, Kamehameha I raised a British red ensign to fly over his Kingdom.

However, he lowered it to placate American interests and rose the American flag. However, under strong protests from British naval officers, Kamehameha I opted to commission a new flag. It was a deliberate hybrid of the two flags, and was probably inspired by the flag used by the British East India Company.

The first flag of Hawai'i consisted of the Union Jack in the upper canton, and had 9 stripes alternating red, white, and blue. There has been a lot of debate over whether the flag should have had 7, or 9, and in what order!

The Kingdom of Hawai'i did not manage to escape the attentions of the major powers, with America, France, Britain and Russia all vying for control. Indeed, Lord George Paulet in 1843, on board HMS Carysfort forced King Kamehameha III to cede control to Britain. Under the guns of his warship, he was forced to do so. However, letters went forth to protest this action, and later that year Rear Admiral Richard Darton Thomas, Paulets senior officer, arrived to repudiate Paulets actions and restore Hawai'i's government.

However, by 1887, life was not all well in Hawai'i, and there was a push by the Reform Party and an armed militia forced the King to sign a new constitution that stripped the monarchy of many of its powers. However, when the king died, his sister Lili'uokalani drafted a new constitution, giving back the monarchy its powers, and restoring universal suffrage.

However, in 1893, the Committee of Safety was established by American and British residents who, fearful of the new Queens actions, moved to overthrow the Queen and set up a new Republic with a view to being annexed by the US.

However, the annexation was not forthcoming. The Queen protested to the US, and initially the US found that its officers had played a material role in her overthrow, and moved to have her reinstated. However, the new President refused to reinstate her, and the US eventually found that the US itself had not played any major part, and was thus free to negotiate with the new Republic.

However, in 1895, there was an attempt to reinstate the Queen. But the rebellion was crushed. 

Finally, in 1897, President McKinley agreed a treaty of annexation, only to see it fail in the Senate, where the opinion was that the US' actions over rode those of the people living within Hawai'i, and was against their wishes. However, in 1898, McKinley did sign a treaty, the Newlands Resolution which effectively illegally annexed Hawai'i, creating the new Territory of Hawai'i.

Hawai'i remained as a territory until the Democratic Revolution of 1954, which saw mass strikes, acts of civil disobedience, and protests. The Hawai'i Republican party finally lost the governorship of the territory, and the Democrats gained power and held it for nearly 60 years, until 2002. 

Once in power, the Democrats pushed for full statehood, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Hawai'i Admission Act in 1959, making Hawai'i the 50th state.

Once statehood was granted, native Hawaiians pushed on for greater freedom, for more home-rule. This has also seen a rise in the use of an alternative Hawaiian flag. This consists of 9 horizontal stripes of red, yellow, and green. In the centre of the flag is a green shield featuring the kahili, the original Royal Standard. Crossing the kahili are 2 Hawaiian paddles. Each stripe represents one of the nine Hawaiian islands.

This flag was supposedly recreated from King Kamehameha's original standard, but there is no proof that it was used by him. Nor is it widely used by the sovereignty movement, since the current flag was in use by Hawai'i long before Hawai'i became a US state.

The current flag in use in Hawai'i saw the number of stripes cut from 9, to 8. The stripes run white, red, then blue, white and red twice. It was introduced following the overthrow of the Queen, and has remained in use since. 

The seal of Hawai'i goes back to the arms of King Kamehameha I, who unified the islands. His Coat of Arms consisted of a quartered shield. In the upper left, and lower right, it bore the stripes from the flag, and the other quarters where golden, and bearing a tabu ball on a black staff. In the centre is a green shield with the Royal Standard, and 2 crossed paddles. 

The supporters are traditional Hawaiian warriors, one with a spear, and the other with the Royal standard. Above the shield is the Royal crown.

However, with the abolition of the monarchy, the new republic commissioned a new seal from the Royal College of London. It carried on many of the elements from the Royal Coat of Arms. The shields shaped was altered, with the addition of extra filigree. The crown was also removed, and replaced with a rising sun. Beneath the shield is a Phoenix, to symbolize the rebirth of Hawai'i. It also bore the state motto of Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono. Over the top, it carried the title of "Republic of Hawai'i, as well as the year 1894, the foundation of the new Republic. Also, the republic replaced the two warriors with King Kamehameha I, and the Goddess of Liberty.

Over the years the seal was altered, but only slightly. With the annexation by the US, the title "Republic" was replaced with "Territory" and the year was altered to 1900.

finally, with Hawai'is admission as a full state, the seal was modified for the last time. This time with "Territory" being replaced with "State" and the year being altered to 1959. Also, the Royal arms where replaced with a single gold star. The star represents Hawai'i as the 50th state.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Georgia was the final of the 13 original states to be formed. The lands in the current state of Georgia saw its first European settlers coming from Spain in 1526, and over the following decades, saw more and more Spanish move north from Florida. However, they soon came into conflict with the English who moved south from their Carolina colonies.

Conflict broke out properly between Britain and Spain by 1670, and saw the Spanish effectively forced out by 1704. The area was formally settled by the Yamasee Indians who where allied to the British. However, following the Yamasee war of 1715-1717 saw the Yamasee Indians devastated, and fleeing south. This left the area of Georgia effectively depopulated, and ripe for a new British colony.

Aggressive settlement began from England by the 1730's, with the establishment of colonies made up with people moving from England to escape debtors prisons, looking for a new life. Georgia was formed in honour of King George, and was established in 1732 with the granting of a Royal charter.

Spain looked to regain control in the 1740's, only to be defeated by local militias. This left it in no doubt that England held sway in the region.

From 1735 to 1750, the colony formally banned slavery as a matter of policy. However, with the improving economics in Europe slowing immigration, and the success in the Carolina's which did allow slavery, Georgia took the decision to drop its ban.

Following the ban, from 1750, to 1775, slavery grew at such a rate, it went from around 500 to 18,000 slaves.

During the Seven Years War, which Britain fought with France, Georgia was sufficiently far from the battlegrounds that there was no direct threat. However, forces where built up because of a fear that Spain would look to take advantage, and expand Spanish control in the southern America's by pushing north from Florida.

By the time of the Revolutionary War, Georgia did not have any real gripe with Britain in itself, but sided with its colonial brothers and rose up in solidarity. Georgia effectively kicked out the British, and became a self-governing state. However, given Georgia's position with its coast and ports, the British came back, and almost pushed the Revolutionaries out. Georgia was one of the last bastions of Loyalist control at the end of the Revolutionary War.

The initial borders of Georgia lay within the Altamaha and Savannah rivers, following between them all the way up to their ends, where the territory essentially carried in a straight line due west to the Mississippi. Its territory expanded south in 1762, forming the boundary between Florida and Georgia we see today. It ceded lands back to South Florida in 1795, and ceded its Western claim in 1802. But it did extend its territory north with territories ceded to it from South Carolina in 1787.

Georgia was one of the first states to cede from the Union, and join the new Confederacy. Though they did keep the name "State of Georgia." During the War, it was felt that Georgia was relatively safe from the ravages for war. This, however, was not to be. Georgia was ravaged by war, leading to massive food shortages.

In the post war period, as Georgia was undergoing post-war reconstruction, it took Georgia until 1870 to be re-admitted to the Union. And during the period, Georgia was home to some of the worst excesses during the military occupation. In one incidence, companies could lease prisoners to help Georgia rebuild and industrialize. This led to reports of brutality being totally ignored.

In 1885, Georgia saw the birth of one of the worlds most famous brands. Atlanta and Fulton county decided to act to curb one of the "great excesses." Alcohol was banned. 2 years later, a chemist came up with a new sweet drink which he sold off. That sweet drink became known as Coca Cola.

The Great Seal of Georgia was formally adopted in 1776, with the adoption of the Constitution. It has remained largely unchanged since, with minor alterations.

The seal in the centre features a central arch, representing the state constitution, and three pillars which represent the three branches of government. Legislative, executive, and legal. Wrapped round the pillars is a ribbon bearing the state motto, "Wisdom, justice, moderation." Beneath the arch is a soldier with a drawn sword. Possibly from the American Revolution. This also serves as the states coat of arms.

Surrounding the coat is a ring, within which features the text "The State of Georgia" and the number "1776." The number was originally 1799m which was the date of the formal adoption of the seal, but was changed in 1814.

On the reverse, a ship is moored along Georgia's coast, bearing an American flag.  This ship has arrived to take on a cargo of tobacco and cotton, representing Georgia's export trade. A second ship is bringing crops from the inland regions, representing internal traffic. In the background, is a man plowing, and a flock of sheep. Surrounding all this is a secondary motto, "Agriculture and commerce."

In terms of state flag, there are no strong records detailing anything before 1879. However, it is likely that a simple banner was flown, as all regiments during the Civil War had some kind of banner identifying where they came from . At the time, many used a simple blue banner, with the states coat of arms on them. Though there where no rules on size, or colour of the coat of arms.

In 1879, Georgia introduced a new state flag. It bore a strong resemblance to the original "Stars and Bars." The first Confederate flag. But the Georgia flag took the blue square in the upper canton, and stretched it to the the full length of the hoist.

In 1902, Georgia added the coat of arms in the centre of the blue.

And then, in 1906, the Georgia placed the coat of arms within its own shield, and added a ribbon beneath bearing "Georgia."

Then, in 1920, a further chance saw the coat of arms replaced with a blue on white depiction of the Great Seal.

One major adaption was in 1956, when the original 3 red and white stripes where replaced with the old Confederate battle flag, of a blue saltire on red, bordered in white, and featuring white stars. This was hugely controversial  with many protesting that the change came about to celebrate an upcoming anniversary of the Civil War, with others protesting just as vehemently that the flag was simply a racist protest, during a time of great civil unrest in the US.

The controversy rumbled on for nearly 50 years, with several attempts to modify it blocked. However, the flag was finally altered when, after huge public outcries, a new flag was introduced. This time, going back to a plain blue flag with the Great Seal placed in the centre. Surrounding the seal where 13 white stars, representing the 13 original colonies. Under the Seal, a ribbon bearing some of the flags that had flown over Georgia, including the Bettsy Ross flag, the Blue coat of arms flag, the 1920's flag, the 1956 flag, and the current US flag.

This flag lasted about a year, when following another public campaign, a new flag was introduced. This time, taking the first Confederate flag, the "Stars and Bars" and placing in the upper hoist (blue) canton, the states coat of arms, surrounded by 13 white stars.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Florida is by far America's most popular state in terms of visitors, with something like 60,000,000 visiting every year. They visit to take advantage of the warm tropical weather, miles of beaches, and of course, the many amusements parks!

However, Florida is also home to a good deal of history too. Florida was named "La Florida" by the Spanish who arrived in 1513. However, it was the French who set up the first city in North America at Fort Caroline (Jacksonville today) in 1564, and the Spanish established their own settlement at San Augustine (Saint Augustine) the following year. So, Florida is home to the first city to be established in the US in Jacksonville, and in Saint Augustine, they have the oldest continuously inhabited city in the US. Jacksonville cant claim the title as the Spanish soon overran Fort Caroline and expelled the French!

The Spanish controlled Florida, and their territories extended from the Florida peninsula across the south of what is now the US all the way to the Mississippi. The Spanish, to govern it more easily, split them into East and West Florida. However, as the Spanish moved north, and the British moved south from their territories around Virginia, there was, inevitably, conflict.

The Spanish controlled Florida from their arrival, in 1565, to 1763. The Spanish lost Florida to the British after the British victory in the Seven Years War fought in Europe. As part of the treaty, the British returned Cuba which they had seized, in return for control of Florida. During British rule, the border line for West Florida was moved north, effectively taking control of the lower third of what is now Alabama and Mississippi.

However, during the Revolutionary War, Florida remained loyal to Britain through the conflict, but the British had to return Florida to Spain as signed in the Treaty of Paris. Spain wanted to keep the new, expanded boundaries, but the US got its wish, and the boundaries where returned back to the 31st parallel.

During Spain's second period in rule, there was little Spanish control. Americans moved south and settled in Florida, and many British remained. Focused in West Florida. Things came to a head when, in 1810, a rebellion took place in West Florida which established a new Republic, and unveiled its first, and only, flag. The Bonnie Blue flag. A single white star on a blue field.

The Republic of West Florida lasted all of 90 days, until it was annexed by the US. President James Madison issued a proclamation which saw the US declare West Florida as under the US' control because it was part of the Louisiana Purchase. West Florida initially refused to back down, but with American forces moving down, quickly backed down.

The lands that made up West Florida was soon carved up and incorporated into the Territory of New Orleans, and later, absorbed into the lands making up Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

East Florida became something of a haven for people who wanted to attack the US, given how little control Spain had over it. The US sent more and more troops into Florida in an effort to stop raids by the Native Americans, until it reached the point when the US effectively controlled the territory.

So, in 1821, the US gave up its claim on Texas through the Adams-Onis Treaty, in return for Florida. The US wanted to control Florida simply to protect its southern territories. Some parts of West Florida where returned, and merged with East Florida to form the Territory of Florida.

Florida finally achieved statehood, being admitted into the Union as the 27th state in 1845. The citizens of Tallahassee presented the first governor of the State, William D. Moseley, with a design for a state flag. This consisted of the new 27 star US flag placed in the upper hoist, and the rest of the flag consisting of 5 stripes of  blue, orange, red, white, and green. A new motto placed in a scroll on the orange. However, the motto of "Let Us Alone" proved controversial, so the flag was never used.

With President Lincolns election in 1860, Florida joined several other southern states in seceding from the Union. And after a month as an independent Republic, became one of the founding states of the new Confederate States of America. However, during its time as an independent Republic, a secession flag flew over Florida. One such flag was a white banner (OK, this one is grey!) split in half. On the hoist side, a large blue disc. Within which are 3 large red edged blue stars, with a further 12 blue stars around the edge. Above the disc ir reads "The Rights of the South at all hazards!" The fly side of the flag is divided amongst 13 horizontal stripes, alternating red, white, blue, white, and so on.

Another provisional flag that was used prior to the formation of the Confederacy saw Florida adopt the old naval flag from the Republic of Texas. This saw a return of the Lone Star, but this time, placing it on the upper hoist, and the rest of the flag made up of the 13 red and white stripes taken from the US flag.

A new state flag was adopted once Florida became part of the new Confederacy. This one copied the use of the3 horizontal stripes taken from the CSA's Stars and Bars flag. 

however, unlike the Stars and Bars, the blue was extended all the way down the hoist of the flag, and the new seal placed on the blue stripe. The seal was oval shaped, and featured the text "In God is our trust" and "Florida." In the seal is a tree, with sailing ships in the background. In the foreground is a field cannon with drums, rifles, and cannon balls. Displayed over the cannon are the Confederacy's "Stars and Bars" and Florida's new flag.

The CSA did not last long, losing the Civil War. Florida was formally readmitted to the Union in 1868, and instituted a new state flag. This flag, however, was very simple. A plain white flag with the state seal placed in the centre. The seal consisted of a native Indian with a garland of flowers (La Florida), a paddle steamer, and rays of the sun rising over the hills in the background. The new state motto of "In God we trust" placed at the bottom. However, one discrepancy is that the steamer displays a white flag with a red saltire.

The next change happened in 1900, when a red saltire was added to the flag. It was felt that when the flag was flying, and there was no wind, you could not clearly see the state seal, so the flag looked like a flag of surrender. The flag also had an updated version of the state seal.

The current flag was adopted in 1985, when the state lengthened the flag, and introduced a graphically improved seal.

The seal itself features the words "Great Seal of the State of Florida" and the motto "In God we trust" round the edge. The image itself features a Seminole Indian woman, with Hibiscus flowers, and 2 Sable palms. In the background a steamboat sails, with a sun breaking. The rays of which stretch into the sky.

It is likely that a red saltire was chosen in honour of the Cross of Burgundy, which is the flag that the Spanish used when they established Saint Augustine, America's oldest city.