​Virginia's Flag History

Though flags similar to Virginia's current flag had flown in the State since the 1830s, Virginia did not adopt an official flag until after it had seceded from the Union in 1861. The Flag of the Commonwealth was adopted on April 30, 1861 almost two weeks after Virginia voted, on April 17, 1861, to repeal its 1788 ratification of the Constitution of the United States. The Virginia Flag of the Commonwealth displays the State Seal of Virginia centered on a blue field (background).

From January through mid-April, delegates to the 1861 Virginia Convention staved off efforts to vote Virginia out of the Union but their efforts fell short on April 17, perhaps assisted by the announcement that President Abraham Lincoln had just called for 75,000 volunteers for the Union army. In a vote adopting "An Ordinance to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution," Virginia declared its sovereignty and opened the way for the Commonwealth to join the Confederate States of America (CSA).

On April 30, 1861, a flag very similar to the current flag was adopted when Ordinance No. 30 was embraced by the Virginia Convention of 1861 - The Secession Convention. This ordinance was ratified by a vote of the electorate in May.

The State Flag of Virginia bears the Great Seal of the Commonwealth on a field of blue. The seal depicts the goddess "Virtus." She is dressed as an Amazon, armed with a spear, sword and stands over a defeated despot. Adopted in 1776. The two figures are acting out the meaning of the motto. Both are dressed as warriors. The woman, Virtue, represents Virginia. The man holding a scourge and chain shows that he is a tyrant. His fallen crown is nearby. The seal displays the State Motto,(Latin)"Sic Semper Tyrannis," which is Latin for, "Thus Always to Tyrants."

Link here to the Virginia State Historical Society for facts, figures and history of Virginia.