The current state flag of Missouri was designed by Cape Girardeau resident Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver as part of a Daughters of the American Revolution project in 1908 and was adopted by the Missouri General Assembly in 1913. The flag is a tricolor consisting of three horizontal stripes of red, white, and blue. The coat-of-arms of Missouri rests in the center of the white strip, surrounded by a blue circle with twenty-four stars that signify that Missouri was the twenty-fourth state admitted to the United States. The coat-of-arms used in the flag first appeared in the Missouri state seal adopted by the General Assembly in 1822. The Oliver flag reproduced the coat-of-arms, a shield divided into two parts, with the coat-of-arms of the United States on the right. The shield’s left side contains a crescent moon and a grizzly bear. Surrounding these symbols is the motto “United we stand, divided we fall.” The two grizzlies on either side of the shield are standing atop a scroll bearing the state motto, “Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto,” which means, “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.” Below this scroll are the Roman numerals for 1820 when the Missouri statehood Enabling Act was passed by the US Congress, although Missouri did not officially become a state until 1821. The helmet above the shield represents state sovereignty and the stars above the helmet reflect Missouri’s position as the twenty-fourth state to join the Union.
Creator: Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver
Collection Name: Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, Photograph Collection (P1103)
Contributing Institution: State Historical Society of Missouri
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Rights: No known copyright restrictions.
County: Cape Girardeau
Photograph Date: ca. 1943