INDIANA (WANE) — Believe it or not but Indiana’s state flag has not always been gold and blue. It took almost 150 years until Hoosiers statewide could recognize the Indiana State Flag flown today.
Before Indiana became Indiana, it was the Territory of Northwest of the River of Ohio. The Ordinance of 1787, also known as the Northwest Ordinance, added new states to the Union.
Once a territory had a population of 60,000 they could apply for statehood. Within the territory was Ohio (1803), Indiana (1816), Illinois (1818), Michigan (1837), Wisconsin (1848) and Minnesota (1858).
The journey to the gold and blue
From 1787 to 1900 there is no record of a flag. However, In 1901, the U.S. flag became Indiana’s State Flag. At the time there were only 45 stars.
The utilization of the U.S. Flag as Indiana’s state flag was shortlived. As in 1903, there is a record of a banner for Indiana. Found in the “Legislative and State Manual of Indiana,” on page 20. Shown is a blue banner with a gold fringe, with a red banner that says Indiana in gold. In the middle is the Indiana State Seal with gold ferns surrounding it with a patriotic badge in the middle. On top of the flagstaff is a sitting eagle.
According to a blog by the Indiana Historical Bureau of the Indiana State Library, the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) grew tiresome of not having an official Indiana State Flag; as Indiana was just one of few to not have an exclusive flag heading into the 20th century.
A few DAR delegates attended the 23rd Contential Congress of National Society, DAR in Washington, D.C. At the event, all of the state flags were lined up in the convention room, but not Indiana. The woman returned to Indiana, with their hearts set on bringing representation to Indiana via a state flag.
Their relentlessness in obtaining an exclusive state flag for Indiana did not end there. The Indiana DAR established a State Flag Committee and offered a $100 award for the winning entry. Over 200 submissions from men and women across the Hoosier state came in.
How did they pick one? So you say there technically could be 200 variations of the Indiana State Flag?
That is true, the committee could have selected any design however they had a difficult time selecting a design. Few chairmen such as Chairman Mary Steward Carey were very picky in the selection of the Indiana State Flag.
She stated in a report, “It is difficult to find a motive to be expressed on our banner, as Indiana has no mountain peak, no great lake or river exclusively it’s own—but it is possible to find some symbol expressive of its high character and noble history.”
Carey urged applicants to submit simpler designs that would make Indiana’s flag recognizable at a glance.
The winning design is from Paul Hadley of Mooresville. His design originally did not have the word “Indiana” above the torch. However, to be approved by the Indiana General Assembly, they ordered “Indiana” to appear on the flag.
Finally, in time for Indiana’s Centennial Celebration in 1916, the 1917 General Assembly adopted the modern-day Indiana banner. As the U.S. flag still stood as the state flag. It was not until 1955 that the General Assembly approved an act to transition Hadley’s design into the state flag.
According to the Indiana Historical Bureau, the torch stands for liberty and enlightenment; the rays represent their far-reaching influence. The thirteen stars in a circle represent the original thirteen states; the five stars in the circle represent the next five states; the large star is Indiana, the nineteenth state.
The state flag is always displayed on the observer’s right of the American flag.
Was the new design widely accepted?
No, not so much accepted but more so implemented. Most Hoosiers at the time could not recognize or acknowledge the banner if they passed it. Hadley’s banner design virtually disappeared for years. Hence the U.S. flag remained Indiana’s State Flag until 1955.
Hadley’s design was never flown at public events, universities or the Statehouse and was never formally manufactured.
This changed as more and more Hoosiers began serving in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It gave American soldiers a symbol of home and a notable emblem to recognize.
According to IN.gov, over 400,000 Hoosiers served in World War II, while the U.S. was a symbol of patriotic freedom … many Hoosier soldiers wanted a reminder of home.
By 1966, Hadley’s design was recognizable statewide. The flag, and its meaning, was implemented in schools and neighborhoods. Hadley’s and DAR’s efforts are noted during Statehood Day; which is annually on December 11.