Source: BIOGRAPHY OF HISTORIC CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, A Project
of the Bicentennial Commission of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. No copyright date.
Transcribed by: Anna Newell©2006
HISTORY OF MISSOURI FLAG
The State of Missouri has had an official state flag since the 22nd day of March 1913. It was conceived, designed and created by my mother, Mrs. Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver, at the stately Oliver home at 740 North Street here (Cape Girardeau).
By common consent she kept it in her home until her death in October 1944.
In 1908, the Daughters of the American Revolution appointed a committee to initiate a move to prepare a design for a state flag and if possible to secure the passage of a bill making it the official flag of the state.
My mother, a member of that committee, immediately began a study, corresponded with all of the other states, and after months of such study and research designed this flag. She called to her assistance Miss Mary Kochtitzky, then of Cape Girardeau, an artist of much skill and taste, to assist her in the execution and painting of the design.
Then my father, former Sen. Robert Burett Oliver, the husband of the designer, prepared and sent to Sen. Arthur L. Oliver of Caruthersville a draft of a bill and he introduced it in the Senate on March 17, 1909. Another bill was introduced by a Dr. Holcomb in the House of Representatives for the adoption of a different flag. Sen. Oliver, after conferring with my mother as to the meaning and interpretation of the design of the flag and what it stood for, publicly stated:
"The Constitution of the state provides that the emblems and devices of the Great Seal of the State as heretofore prescribed by law, shall not be subject to change. The coat-of-arms is a part of the great seal of the state and unquestionably should be made a prominent feature of a state flag. The Doctor Holcomb design for a state flag introduced in the House is objectionable in that it does not contain the coat-of-arms, and because the general design is similar to the national flag."
"It is liable to cause a confusion in the field and elsewhere.There is nothing in the Holcomb design that indicates state sovereignty of the relation of the state to the Union, except the abbreviation of Missouri by the use of the letters 'Mo.'"
"At the same time it respresents the state as possessing a local independence, a local self-government, but in perfect harmony with the great national compact, as shown by the mingling of the colors, red, white and blue, on every side of it."
"The coat-of-arms of the state is in the center of the national colors and represents Missouri as she is--the geographical center of the nation. The (24) stars on the blue band encircling the coat-of-arms signifies that Missouri was the twenty-fourth state admitted into the Union of States. The blue in the flag signifies vigilance, permanency and justice, the red, valor, and the white, purity."
"The crescent on the shield, in heraldry, represents the second son, so our crescent on this shield denotes that Missouri was the second state (Louisiana being the first) formed of the territory of the great Louisiana Purchase. The helmet of the coat-of-arms indicates enterprise, and hardihood and signifies state sovereignty."
"The great grizzly bears are peculiarly appropriate to a state traversed by the Missouri River, and in our coat-of-arms and on this flag these bears signify the size of the state, the strength of the state and the courage of her people, and further, they represent protection to the state from invasion from every source."
"This design for a state flag represents that while we, as a state are independent and support ourselves as a state, we are also in perfect harmony with and constitute an important part in the support and maintenance of the national government. The motto shows that the will of the people is the supreme law of the state. This flag, therefore, stands for something."
On April 21, 1909, the Senate passed the bill by vote of 24 to 1, but the bill failed to pass the House.
In 1911 the "Oliver Flag Bill," as it was known, was again introduced in the Senate by Arthur L. Oliver and was approved by a vote of 23 to 2. During that 1911 session of the General Assembly the State Capitol burned and that flag, being in the Capitol was likewise destroyed in that fire.
Mrs. Oliver again set to work, and having called to her assistance Mrs. S. D. MacFarland, then residing in Cape Girardeau, made the present flag. She sent it to Sen. Oliver at Jefferson City to enable the members of the General Assembly to see its effect and its beautiful design and blending of colors. In the confusion and delay incident to the fire the bill again failed to pass in the House of Representatives.
In the meantime the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Colonial Dames of Missouri each formally and cordially ratified and approved the design of this flag and urged the General Assembly to adopt it and make it the official flag of the state.
In 1913 Charles C. Oliver, representative of Cape Girardeau County in the General Assembly, introduced the "Oliver Flag Bill" in the House on Jan. 21, 1913. It met with almost unanimous approval by the members of the House and was adopted on March 7, reported to the Senate and there, for the third time, met with favorable action of that body. The bill was signed and approved by the governor on March 22, 1913, since which date it has been the official flag of Missouri.
When Mrs. Oliver transmitted the flag to Sen. Arthur L. Oliver she wrote him and gave to him the interpretation and meaning which was later given by him to the public press. It bespeaks patriotism to the state as well a patriotism to the national government.
As the judge of a court is the emblem of judicial authority, so the flag is the emblem of love, devotion and respect.
From the earliest days of recorded history, men of valor have had banners and flags carried in the forefront when the battle was on. From the earliest days men have been willing to lay down their lives for their flag as emblematic of their country.
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