On June 15, 1836, Arkansas became the twenty-fifth state in the United States of America, but the state didn’t have a flag until national events overtook them in the form of the massive dreadnought, the
USS Arkansas (BB-33).
When the ship was commissioned in 1912, the ladies of the Pine Bluff Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution proposed sending a “Stand of Colors” to the new ship, consisting of the United States Flag, a naval battalion flag, and the Arkansas state flag. Imagine their surprise when they learned from the Secretary of State that Arkansas did not have a state flag.
This news did not sit well with the ladies from Pine Bluff, so they set out to correct the situation by holding a state-wide flag contest. A flag committee, overseen by the Secretary of State Earl W. Hodges, eventually reviewed sixty-five flag designs. They chose a design offered by Miss Willie Hocker, of Wabbaseka, a member of the Pine Bluff Chapter of the DAR, where the initial desire for a state flag began.
Hocker’s original red, white, blue design was rich in symbolism, simple in execution. According to Miss Hocker, the choice of colors show that Arkansas is one of the United States, and the diamond shape honors the country’s only diamond mine, found in Arkansas. The twenty-five white stars meant that Arkansas was the twenty-fifth state to be admitted to the Union, and the three blue stars have three meanings: that Arkansas belonged to three countries—France, Spain, and the United States—before attaining statehood; 1803 was the year of the Louisiana Purchase, when the land that is now Arkansas was acquired by the United States; and that Arkansas was the third state created from the Louisiana Purchase, after Louisiana and Missouri.
In her original design, only the three blue stars were inside the white diamond, lying in a straight line from left to right. The flag committee asked her to revise her flag by placing the word “Arkansas” in the middle of the diamond, with two blue stars below and one blue star above.
Thus was the flag adopted by the legislature February 26, 1913. A fourth blue star was added in 1924, to indicate that Arkansas had also been a state in another country, the Confederate States of America, and the flag has remained unchanged since.