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Issue 12 

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FLAGWAVER

JOURNAL OF GREAT WATERS ASSOCIATION OF VEXILLOLOGY

December, 2001                                                               Vol. VI,  No. 2, Issue 12

FRENCH INFLUENCE SEEN IN LOUISVILLE FLAG

SEE FLAGWAVER JUNE, 2004 FOR NEW FLAG

 

One of the most attractively designed city flags in the United States is that of Louisville, Kentucky's largest city. The ordinance of adoption for the flag describes it in some detail, as follows:

    The following described flag is hereby adopted as the official flag of the City. A flag which shall have thirteen silver stars and three gold fleur-de-lis placed upon a field of blue. The stars shall be arranged in a circle in the first quarter after the manner of the thirteen stars of the American flag as adopted by Congress, June 14, 1777. Two gold fleur-de-lis shall be placed in the second quarter and one gold fleur-de-lis shall be placed in the fourth quarter so that the three form a triangle with the point at the bottom and the base at the top. The form of the fleur-de-lis shall be the same as the "Middle Ages" fleurs-de-lis form shown in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 10, page 449. The blue of the flag shall be the same shade of blue as is in the field of the American flag. 

The flag's symbolism is explained by the city "as an expression of the continuing good will between our people and the people of France." Louisville, founded in 1778 by a band of settlers brought by General George Rogers Clark to the place known as the Falls of Ohio, was named for the French King Louis XVI, in recognition of the help the French had given to the American colonists in their struggle for independence. Hence, the two prominent designs on the flag; the gold fleur-de-lis to honor France, and the thirteen silver stars to honor the original colonies and to commemorate the U.S. flag in use at the time of the city 's founding.¹ 

Little more is known about the Louisville flag. The actual date of adoption is cited variously as 1927 and 1934, although it would seem that it may have been designed much earlier, if the reference to the Encyclopedia Britannica's eleventh edition is any indication. That volume appeared in 1910-1911, so it is likely that flag may have been developed closer to that time.  The designer's name is lost, but there is some indication that a committee designed the flag, so that no one individual was credited. (JP)

¹The stars in a circle, of course, was just one of the arrangements in early U.S. flags, but the circular form has acquired popular appeal in the generations since as the typical U.S. flag of the 18th century.    

 

 

This was brought to the editors attention Sept. 17, 2007

It was posted online on the Brand Louisville website by the grandson of the flags designer.

Written by Charlie Farnsley   
Wednesday, 15 August 2007

The Louisville Flag

On October 5, 1949, an ordinance was approved adopting an official flag, for the City of Louisville. It was described as follows:

"A flag which shall have thirteen silver stars and three gold fleur-de-lis placed upon a field of blue. 'The stars shall be arranged in a circle in the first quarter after the manner of the thirteen stars of the American Flag as adopted by Congress June 14, 1777. Two gold fleur-de-lis shall be placed in the second quarter and one gold fleur-de-lis shall be placed in the forth quarter so that the three form a triangle with the point at the bottom and the base at the top. The form of the fleur-de-lis shall be the same as the "Middle Ages" fleur-de-lis form shown in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Volume 10, page 499. The blue of the flag shall be the same shade of blue as is in the field of the American Flag.'"

The adoption of this ordinance marked the culmination of efforts on the part of Mayor Charles Farnsley to provide a fitting symbol for the City. In its design he consulted flag makers, historians, students of heraldry and others.

The flag tells a story. It is the story of a band of frontiersmen fighting for independence who were grateful for the aid sent to them by France and sought to show this gratitude by naming their settlement for the French king.

 

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