BALTIMORE (WJZ) — During a social media campaign to derail HBO’s planned modern-day Southern slavery drama, one Twitter user’s posts about the history of the Maryland flag got a lot of attention.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that the Maryland flag is half confederate,” @benjancewicz wrote, using the hashtag #NoConfederate.
And, he’s kind of right.
Yes, even though Maryland was a Union state, the flag — which is featured on the state’s license plate and is a popular adornment for clothing and accessories — does contain some Confederate symbolism.
The flag’s older history is tied to George Calvert, an English politician and colonizer who more or less founded the Maryland colony, although he died just weeks before the charter for the state was approved in 1632. The settlement of the area was left to his firstborn son Cecil and his second son Leonard Calvert was the first colonial governor of the province.
“George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore, adopted a coat of arms that included a shield with alternating quadrants featuring the yellow-and-black colors of his paternal family and the red-and-white colors of his maternal family, the Crosslands,” state archives say.
“When the General Assembly in 1904 adopted a banner of this design as the state flag, a link was forged between modern-day Maryland and the very earliest chapter of the proprietorship of the Calvert family.”
But the red and white part of the flag, known as the Crossland arms, was also the design flown by Marylanders who sympathized with the South in the Civil War, according to state records.
“During the war, Maryland-born Confederate soldiers used both the red-and-white colors and the cross bottony design from the Crossland quadrants of the Calvert coat of arms as a unique way of identifying their place of birth,” the records say. “Pins in the cross bottony shape were worn on uniforms, and the headquarters flag of the Maryland-born Confederate general Bradley T. Johnson was a red cross bottony on a white field.”
During the slow process of reconciliation after the Civil War ended in Union victory in 1865, a “flag incorporating alternating quadrants of the Calvert and Crossland colors began appearing at public events” in the state.
The origins of the flag including both designs is not known, but state records say it was being flown by October 1880.
In 1888, the flag was carried by Maryland National Guard troops escorting Governor Elihu E. Jackson at the dedication ceremonies for the Maryland monument at the Gettysburg Battlefield.
The next year, the Fifth Regiment, Maryland National Guard, adopted the flag as its regimental color, becoming the first organization to adopt it officially.
And, as previously mentioned, it was declared the official state flag by the General Assembly in 1904.
Read more about the history of the state flag HERE, and tell us what you think of it.