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Cool Things - State Banner

Kansas state bannerThe state banner pictured here was donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1960 by the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Around the turn of the century, many states pursued the matter of designating official state symbols. Kansas, as of its semicentennial in 1911, had only two state symbols—the Great Seal and the sunflower. Kansas was one of only a few states without a flag.

The state legislature began to feel considerable political pressure to designate a state flag. The fight to create one lasted for over a dozen years, with several designs being considered by the legislature during the early 1920s.

Efforts to declare an official flag were hampered by strong disagreements over an appropriate design. Several proposals involved designs that incorporated elements of the United States flag. Opponents took the position that a state flag of any kind, especially one involving red white and blue, would compete with Old Glory and should not be adopted. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a politically powerful organization of Union Civil War veterans, was especially insistent on respect for the national flag.

The GAR won out on February 27, 1925, with enactment by the state legislature of a law specifying an official state banner. Designed to not  compete with the U.S. flag, the banner would hang from a horizontal brass bar. The banner's blue field was to be adorned simply with the word "Kansas" at the top and a centered sunflower incorporating the state seal.

For two years, Kansas was the only state represented by a banner. Strong opposition arose. Some disliked the banner because it included the sunflower, viewed by many as a noxious weed. The main complaint was that the banner was awkward to hang and impossible to march with, and it had been rejected for display with other state's flags in Washington, D. C.

On March 21, 1927, the state legislature enacted a proposal specifying the first official Kansas state flag. The flag comprised a blue field with the state seal in the center, topped by the state crest incorporating a sunflower design. The state flag has remained basically the same since that time, with the addition by legislation of the word "Kansas" below the seal in 1961.

This banner was used from 1925 to 1927. Made of painted silk, it measures 21 inches by  28 inches.  It is in the collections of the Society's Kansas Museum of History.

Entry: Cool Things - State Banner

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1996

Date Modified: March 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.