flag of Massachusetts
The Bay State
Admitted February 6, 1788

The Massachusetts flag was the first state (commonwealth) flag to feature a plain white field and, for about 50 years, was a rare two-sided design.

The flag (and the seal) have received criticism for its depiction of a Native American man beneath a faceless arm weilding a broadsword. There is still pressure for Massachusetts to make changes to these symbols.

The current flag was officially adopted July 3, 1971.


The Massachusetts flag features a field of white charged with the commonwealth coat of arms in blue and gold, off-centered towards the hoist.

flag of Massachusetts


  • Native American man with bow and arrow


    Native peoples

  • arrow, pointed downward


    peace (pointed downward)

  • five-pointed star


    Massachusetts, an original colony

  • an arm holds up a sword, pointed downward


    peace only under liberty

  • Latin words on a banner


    “By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty”

Coat of Arms

The Massachusetts coat of arms was adopted in 1775. Inscribed in Latin on the ribbon are the words “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem” which translate to “By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty.”

Despite the claim that the broadsword references the commonwealth motto, the imagery of an Algonquin man beneath an arm weilding a sword has caused a great deal of pain, reminding many of the violence inflicted on Native Americans.

the Massachusetts coat of arms


The Secretary of the Commonwealth provides color values for the flag.

The blue of the flag represents the Blue Hills of Canton. The five-pointed star is white, unlike the seal where it appears silver.

Hex values here are approximations.Values corresponding to imagery:White: field, star
Blue: shield, outlines, ribbon, torse
Gold: man, arm and sword, torse
Cable No. 70001 White
Cable No. 70087 Royal Blue
Cable No. 70068 Spanish Yellow


The Secretary of the Commonwealth provides specifications for the flag, recreated here.

The flag can be produced with a few proportions, but 3:5 is recommended.

construction sheet for the flag of Massachusetts

Previous iteration

Before 1971, the Massachusetts flag had a different design on its reverse. It featured the blue shield with a pine tree.

With the importance of timber in the region, the pine tree became a symbol of New England. After the Pine Tree Riot in 1772, it persisted as an emblem for resistance and independence.

a field of white charged with a pine tree on a blue shield