Flags that Have Flown over Georgia Introduction
This section of GeorgiaInfo describes important flags associated with Georgia’s history as a territorial claim by rival European powers, as a British colony, and finally as a state. It is not meant to be a complete catalog of every flag that has flown in Georgia. Many flags existed in different versions, especially before 1879, when the General Assembly adopted Georgia’s first official state flag. Also, because of their sheer number, it was necessary to exclude some types of flags that have flown in Georgia - such as city and county flags, business flags, military flags, and foreign flags (flown on ships using state ports and at consulates and trade offices in Atlanta).
Flags consist of symbolic designs and colors portrayed on cloth or other material. As a coat of arms is a visual representation of a person or family, a flag usually represents a nation, state, or other political region. Distinctive flags and banners also symbolize monarchs, presidents, branches of the military, and some agencies of government. Additionally, major national and international organizations (such as the United Nations) frequently adopt an official flag.
While flags are important as political symbols, they serve other purposes as well. Historically, flags were essential at sea to identify the nationality of a vessel, as well as to communicate between ships. On the battlefield, flags identified military units and were used to rally troops at crucial times.
Flag-like symbols were displayed on poles to signal the authority of some prehistoric Native American chiefs in the Southeast. However, this brief history begins with the first European explorers and focuses on governmental or political flags that have flown over Georgia.
There are a variety of terms associated with vexillology (the study of flags). The most common are standard, banner, colors, ensign, pennant, and jack. With the exception of ensign (a national sea flag), pennant (a flag with a tapered end), and jack (a small flag flown on the jackstaff at the bow of a ship), these designations will be used interchangeably in this section.