What Is the History of the State Flag of South Carolina?

Emily Espinoza
Emily Espinoza
The South Carolina state flag.
The South Carolina state flag.

The state flag of South Carolina includes the crescent, the palmetto tree, and the state's secession from the Union during the Civil War. The crescent was first used as a symbol for the state before it was officially a part of the Union. The palmetto tree was a symbol of the state during the American Revolution, but it was not made an official part of the flag until much later. The current flag was created out of necessity when the state seceded from the Union during the Civil War.

South Carolina's first flag was adoped in 1775.
South Carolina's first flag was adoped in 1775.

The state flag of South Carolina has a blue background with a white crescent shape in the corner and a palmetto tree in the middle. The crescent symbol first appeared in the state in 1765 on the banners of protesters who were reacting to the Stamp Act imposed on them by the British. The banners had a blue background with three crescents across it. In 1775, Colonel Moultrie was asked to create a state flag that could be used by troops fighting against the British in the American Revolution. He chose a blue background with one silver crescent in the middle, which coordinated with the crescent that appeared on the caps and badges of the soldiers.

South Carolina's state tree, the palmetto, also became an important symbol of the state during the Revolution. Since it was abundantly available in the area, the wood of the palmetto was used to build a fort at Charleston Harbor on Sullivan's Island. Colonel Moultrie led troops in defending this fort against an attack from the British in 1776. The British shot cannonballs at the fort from their ships in the harbor, but could not break through the walls because the soft yet strong palmetto wood absorbed the force of the bombardment instead of breaking down. Its important role in the state's victory made the palmetto a revered symbol of the state from that point forward.

After the Revolution ended and the United States became an independent country, the state flag of South Carolina continued to be the design created by Colonel Moultrie with the single crescent shape. In 1861, South Carolina seceded from the Union and decided to create a new design to symbolize the new independent country they were creating. The new design simply added a palmetto tree to the center and moved Colonel Moultrie's crescent to the corner. Even after the Civil War ended and the country became united again, the state flag of South Carolina retained this design.

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Discussion Comments


@kentuckycat - I wish that my state flag was like South Carolina and at least expressed something that evoked the culture or history of the state.

I always here people question exactly what the South Carolina state flag is supposed to be and the fact of the matter is, is that it is something that all South Carolinians know and are proud of.

The state symbol is expressed in the flag and it's history can be traced back to when it officially became part of America. That evokes a history that cannot be replicated or changed in a state flag.

The flag of South Carolina has such a history that it has now become an icon in the state and has almost become sacred to those who reside in the state. It is pretty amazing how such a simple image can evoke such great feelings for living in ones state.


@JimmyT - I completely agree. Whenever I look at other state flags I always look at the significance of the symbol that is chosen to be depicted in the flag. I find that the best states as far as state flags go involve the thirteen original colonies and how they seek to have importance in their design and not just an intricate design for their state.

The state of South Carolina is not unique, when compared to others on the east coast as it involves a very simple symbol that represents the states history very well and allows for someone to look at the flag and see what it means to be a resident of that state.


@jcraig - You are absolutely correct. The symbol that is used as the South Carolina state flag is something special that makes it such a great state flag.

I find it to be similar to the Alaskan state flag in that it has a relatively simple design but evokes so much in a powerful image that would be known to those who call South Carolina home.

The history of the state flag is also unique in that it has not at all changed since the design was that which designated which troops represented the state during the Revolutionary War. I always found this to be an interesting aspect of the flag and saw it as showing how important the state flag of South Carolina really is.


It seems to me like the state of South Carolina's flag has quite a history of its own despite its relatively simple design.

It seems like despite the really simple design the flag itself evokes a lot of the state's history from its beginning and evokes a lot of the state culture into the flag.

For one, the state tree is presented in the flag and is a Palmetto, which is not seen in most of the state's in America and is seen as a symbol of South Carolina to make it stand out from other states.

Secondly, the history of the flag as being a symbol used to identify South Carolinian troops during the Revolutionary War only adds to the history of the flag and stresses the importance of the design and the reason why it was ultimately chosen to be the state flag.

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    • The South Carolina state flag.
      The South Carolina state flag.
    • South Carolina's first flag was adoped in 1775.
      South Carolina's first flag was adoped in 1775.