The flag of the State of North Carolina was adopted in 1885. North Carolina was the 12th state to join the United States of America: it gained statehood in 1789. The flag is rectangular and uses the same colors as the flag of the United States—red, white, and blue—but also includes a golden color to highlight its lettering.
The left side of the flag, closest to the hoist, is blue with a white star in the center. The letter “N” appears to the left of the star, and the letter “C” appears to the right. The date May 20, 1775 appears on golden ribbon above the star, and the date April 12, 1776 appears on another golden ribbon below the star. To the right of the blue portion of the flag are two equally divided horizontal fields: the top field is red and the bottom is white.
The two dates on the North Carolina flag are important dates in the United States’ battle for independence and are also dates that recognize North Carolina as an important state in the revolutionary movement. May 20, 1775 recognizes the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which was the first declaration of independence made in the Thirteen Colonies. The citizens of Mecklenburg County signed the declaration on May 20, 1775 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
April 12, 1776 commemorates the Halifax Resolves, which was adopted by the Fourth Provincial Congress of the Province of North Carolina. Like the Mecklenburg Declaration, the Halifax Resolves was named for the town where the document was discussed. The Halifax Resolves motivated North Carolina’s leaders, including Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, and John Penn, to join the other United States colonies and declare independence from Britain.
When North Carolina seceded from the Union on May 20, 1861—just six years after the flag’s adoption—the date of the Halifax Resolves was replaced with North Carolina’s secession date. The blue field on the left was changed to red and included a larger star and the red field on the right side of the flag was changed to blue. The official North Carolina flag was restored after the Civil War.