What Is the History of Washington's State Flag?

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen
The seal on Washington's state flag displays an image of George Washington.
The seal on Washington's state flag displays an image of George Washington.

Washington's state flag is the only state flag in the United States that features the image of a person, as well as the only flag with a green background. The emblem on the flag depicts an image of George Washington, the first president of the United States. When the state government began planning the flag, it knew it wanted to honor Washington in some way.

Washington state joined the union in 1889 but did not adopt a flag until 1923.
Washington state joined the union in 1889 but did not adopt a flag until 1923.

Prior to the adoption of Washington's state flag, communities throughout the state used an antiquated military flag showing George Washington's profile set against a blue bunting. Others were using another design, featuring a state seal in gold in the middle of either a green or purple background. That design is on display as a banner depicting the state's history in the main legislative building of the state capitol.

The seal on Washington's state flag was designed by Charles Talcott, a jeweler in Olympia, Wash. He used a postage stamp for the image of George Washington, and an ink bottle and a coin to create the rings. One of his brothers wrote the words around the seal, with another brother, created the dye used to print it.

Although the state was admitted into the Union on 11 November 1889, legislators in the state elected not to adopt a flag design for until 1923. When the state Legislature approved the law for determining a design for the state flag, it established a rule requiring the flag to be made of bunting or silk in a dark green. In the center was to be a reproduction of the state's seal. Originally, the law permitted the addition of green fringe. In 1925, however, legislation changed to specify that the fringe must be the same gold or yellow shade as the seal.

Educating members of the public regarding the proper protocols for displaying the flag, as well as its history, is the Secretary of State's responsibility. Washington's state flag's distribution policy is governed by this office, which is permitted to determine the price of the flag for distribution to citizens. The Secretary of State also has the authority to distribute the state flag to military units without charge.

Washington state honors the first US President in ways other than the official state seal and the flag. The official state ship is the President Washington. This 860 foot (about 262 meters) ship is one of the largest container ships ever built in the United States.

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    • The seal on Washington's state flag displays an image of George Washington.
      By: Georgios Kollidas
      The seal on Washington's state flag displays an image of George Washington.
    • Washington state joined the union in 1889 but did not adopt a flag until 1923.
      By: mmmg
      Washington state joined the union in 1889 but did not adopt a flag until 1923.