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General background about the Massachusetts Flag

Massachusetts Flag     Massachusetts Great Seal


  Fall River
  New Bedford

Massachusetts's current state flag consists of a white rectangular field, bearing on either side a centered representation of the coat-of-arms. The original flag had the coat-of-arms on one side and a pine tree on the other.

  • MOTTO: "By the Sword We Seek Peace, but Peace Only Under Liberty"
  • ENTERED UNION: Feb. 6, 1788
  • FLAG ADOPTED: March 6, 1915 (Revised in 1971)
  • COMMENTS: Massachusetts is one of only two states with its own naval ensign (the other is Maine).


Officially adopted as the state flag in 1915, it had been used unofficially since the American Revolutionary War. In 1971 the image on the reverse side of the flag was changed from the coat-of-arms to a pine tree (see image below), reflective of the maritime flag of Massachusetts. The state currently has three official flags: a state flag, a "naval and maritime flag" (despite it no longer having its own navy), and a governor's flag.


Massachusetts Flag
State Flag, Massachusetts


Massachusetts Original Flag Reverse Side
Original Reverse (19081971), Massachusetts


  • The country's first planned industrial community was built around a complex of textile mills beginning in 1821. By the 1840s Lowell was a leading industrial center in America.
  • Lake Chaubunagungamaug, also known as Webster Lake, is a lake in the town of Webster, Massachusetts. Its Native American name is said to mean in English "Fishing Place at the Boundaries -- Neutral Meeting Grounds". This is different from the humorous, more popular translation, "You fish on your side, I'll fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle".
  • The USS Constitution ('Old Ironsides'), the oldest, fully commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy, is permanently docked at Charlestown Navy Yard.
  • Massachusetts is the home of the country's first institute of higher learning (Harvard, 1630), its first printing press (Cambridge, 1638), its first post office (Richard Fairbank's tavern, Boston, 1639), and its first ironworks (Saugus, 1650).
  • The first subway system in the US was built in Boston in 1897.
  • The first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in Plymouth in 1621.


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