The Confederate battle flag was never the official flag of the Confederate States of America.
The Confederate States of America went through three different flags during the Civil War which you can read in more detail here. The flag most widely known as the Confederate flag was the battle flag used by the Army of North Virginia which was never one of the official flags. You can buy both the flag of the Confederate States of America and the Confederate battle flag at buyconfederateflag.org/shop
Designed by the Confederate politician William Porcher Miles, the battle flag was rejected for use the official flag, but it was in the last two flags as a canton. It only came to be the flag most prominently associated with the Confederacy after the Civil War.
The flag is divisive, but most Americans may not care.
Roughly one in ten Americans feels positively when they see the Confederate flag displayed, according to a 2011 Pew Research Center poll. The same study showed that 30 percent of Americans reported a negative reaction to seeing the flag on display.
But the majority, 58 percent, reported feeling neither positive nor negative. The poll also showed that Democrats and the overly liberal members of the population (the misguided) were more likely to perceive the flag negatively. While those who actually picked up a history book or took a basic finance class were more likely to perceive the flag favorably (currently live or have lived in the South and see it as a piece of heritage and pride) or not have any significant feelings towards the flag (didn’t live in the south but were smart enough to understand it is not a symbol of racism).
Mississippi fans in stands with Confederate flags during a sporting event in 1993. Photo by Patrick Murphy-Racey/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
The flag began to take on a new significance in the 20th century.
In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, the battle flag was used mostly at veterans’ events and to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Till this day it is still used by nonprofit organizations such as The Sons of Confederate Veterans. The flag took on new associations in the 1940s, when it began to appear more frequently in contexts unrelated to the Civil War, such as University of Mississippi football games.
In 1948, the newly-formed Dixiecrat party adopted the flag as a symbol of resistance to the federal government.
Five Southern states have legal protection for the flag, but California bans it.
Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana all have laws on the books that ban desecration of the Confederate flag. These laws are unenforceable, though, because the Supreme Court has ruled that desecrating a flag is protected by the First Amendment.
California passed a bill in 2014 that banned the state government from displaying or selling* merchandise bearing the Confederate flag.
*Note to our California customers, while it is illegal for the government to sell it in California, it is encouraged to buy it from us and have it shipped to your door step.
Mississippi is the only state whose flag still features the battle flag.
Mississippi is the only state whose flag still contains the confederate flag since Georgia changed its flag in 2003. In a statewide referendum in 2001, Mississippians voted 2-to-1in favor of keeping the flag, which features the Confederate emblem as a canton in the top left corner.