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New Jersey (U.S.)

Last modified: 2013-12-04 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of New Jersey] image by Clay Moss, 22 February 2009



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One of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey is represented by a star and a stripe on the 13 star U.S. flags.


Description of the flag

On March 23rd, 1779 during the war of the Revolution, the Continental Congress, by resolution authorized and directed the Commander-in-Chief to prescribe the uniform, both as to color and facings, for the regiments of the New Jersey Continental Line. In accordance with this resolution, General Washington, in General Orders dated Army Headquarters, New Windsor, New York, October 2nd, 1779, directed that the coats for such regiments should be dark blue, faced with buff.

On February 28th, 1780, the Continental War Officers in Philadelphia directed that each of said regiments should have two flags, viz: one the United States flag and the other a State flag, the ground to be of the color of the facing. Thus the State flag of New Jersey became the beautiful and historic buff, as selected for it by the Father of His Country, and it was displayed in view of the combined French and American armies in the great culminating event of the War of the Revolution, the capitulation of a British army under Lieutenant General Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown.

The same color has been prescribed for the state flag of New York, where a law requires it to be displayed with the United States flag over the capital when the legislature is in session.

The inquiry arises, why did General Washington select the beautiful historic buff facings exclusively for the Continental lines of New York and New Jersey when such facings were only prescribed for his own uniform and that of other Continental general officers and their aides-de-camp?

He evidently made the selection not only designedly, but for historic reasons. New York and New Jersey had originally been settled by the Dutch. Dark blue (Jersey blue) and buff were Holland or Netherlands insignia.

The Governor as commander-in-chief represents the State of New Jersey, and should have a prescribed headquarters flag, different from that used by infantry, cavalry or artillery. In custom, every state Governor has one, but the propriety of an enactment on the subject is obvious.

Mr. Hopkins, on leave, introduced Assembly Joint Resolution No. 2 to define the state flag.

Under Chapter 170, P.L. 1965, the official colors of New Jersey for use on the state flag and for other purposes were established by statute as buff and Jersey blue.

Dov Gutterman, 13 April 1999

According to the state-specification www.state.nj.us/njfacts/flagres2.htm "CHAPTER 170, LAWS OF N.J. Approved September 30, 1965,
SENATE, NO. 159, STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Introduced February 15, 1965 BY SENATOR FARLEY
AN ACT establishing the official colors of the State of New Jersey.

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey: The official colors of the State of New Jersey for use on the state flag and for other purposes shall be buff and Jersey blue. For the purposes of this act the specifications, references and designations for the official colors of the State are as follows:
Jersey Blue (Cable No. 70087, royal blue. The Color Association of the United States, Inc.)
Buff (Cable No. 65015, U.S. Army buff. The Color Association of the United States, Inc.)"
Jarig Bakker, 17 September 2001

The U.S. Army's Institute of Heraldry gives PMS 465 as the Pantone equivalent for buff.
Joe McMillan, 18 February 2004


State Coat of Arms

[Coat of arms of New Jersey]

In 1928, the New Jersey state legislature enacted Joint Resolution 8 blazoning the arms of the state as "Three ploughs in an escutcheon, azure; supporters Liberty and Ceres. The Goddess Liberty to carry in her dexter hand a pole, proper, surmounted by a cap gules, with band azure at the bottom, displaying on the band six stars, argent; tresses falling on shoulders, proper; head bearing overall a chaplet of laurel leaves, vert; overdress, tenné; underskirt, argent; feet sandaled, standing on scroll. Ceres; same as Liberty, save overdress, gules; holding in left hand a cornucopia, or, bearing apples, plums and grapes surrounded by leaves, all proper; head bearing over all a chaplet of wheat spears, vert. Shield surmounted by sovereign's helmet, six bars; or, wreath and mantling, argent and azure. Crest: A horse's head, proper. Underneath the shield and supporting the Goddesses, a scroll azure, bordered with tenné, in three waves or folds; on the upper folds the words 'Liberty and  Prosperity'; on the under fold in Arabic numerals, the figure '1776'."

The origin of the arms dates back to 1776. In September of that year the two houses of the legislature appointed a joint committee to recommend a design for a flag. On October 3, the committee reported back a proposal based on a coat of arms described as "three Ploughs in an Escutcheon; the Supporters, Liberty and Ceres, and the Crest, a Horse's Head." The committee was authorized by the legislature to engage Francis Hopkinson (the secretary of the Continental Congress who was later involved in the design of the American flag) to make the arrangements for producing the seal. Hopkinson in turn hired Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, a prominent heraldic artist in Philadelphia. Simitiere's work was presented to the legislature in May 1777 and accepted.

Shortly thereafter, the new coat of arms begin appearing in use. Early New Jersey copper coins, for example, show the horse's head crest, and the full arms appear on paper currency issued in 1781 (examples shown at www.coins.nd.edu/ColCurrency/CurrencyText/NJ-01-09-81.html). The specific details of colors, attitudes of the supporters, etc., varied according to the taste of the artist, as is encouraged by heraldic tradition. Among other things, given the original law's lack of specificity with regard to tinctures, the arms were often shown with a white field in the early years; later blue became the most usual choice and the invariable one shortly after 1900. The current detailed blazon was enacted to preclude all further variations in the artistic treatment of the arms, and the artist Warren E. Deming was hired to draw a permanent authoritative depiction.

The 1928 resolution also gave official sanction to the motto, which had first appeared in a representation of the arms on the 1821 edition of the state laws.

The three plows obviously represent agriculture. Simitiere placed the crest atop a forward-facing barred helmet--now always shown as gold--the position and type of helm appropriate to a sovereign in English heraldic usage. The motto alludes to the supporters, Ceres being the Roman goddess of the harvest.

New Jersey infantry regiments of the Civil War period carried two colors. One resembled the Stars and Stripes but with the New Jersey arms on the center of the canton surrounded by the stars. The other, the regimental color, was blue with the state coat of arms on the center. Cavalry regiments carried only a standard, the same basic design as the infantry regimental color but smaller. Most of these colors and standards had the arms displayed on a light blue disk with the regimental designation on a red scroll beneath it. For example, see the flag of the 2nd New Jersey (probably Cavalry) at www.nj.gov/military/museum/civil_war/CWF011lrg.jpg. Around the turn of the 20th century, regiments of the New Jersey National Guard carried dark blue flags with the arms embroidered directly on the field, such as that of the 4th Regiment, N.J.N.G., at www.nj.gov/military/museum/civil_war/CWF024lrg.jpg. The home page for the state military flag collection at the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum is www.nj.gov/military/museum/civil_war/.

Sources: [kng46] - National Geographic article on US and state seals; Whitney Smith (1975), Flag Book of the United States; Benjamin F. and Barbara S. Shearer (2001), State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide; The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army, Records Department, File 840-10 Heraldic Item, Flag: New Jersey; Eugene Zieber, Heraldry in America (1895)

Joe McMillan, 13 March 2004


Tricentennial flag

[Tricentennial Flag of New Jersey] image located by Jan Mertens, 13 October 2008

Offered by "edwinart" on eBay was a "Tricentennial New Jersey" flag, no. 200252292493 (accessed 12 Sep 2008). Size: Approx. 3 x 5 feet, made of Defiance brand cotton bunting. Obviously the logo is supposed to symbolize the tercentennial 1664-1964, but the symbolism is not clear except for the triangle: three centuries, possibly Masonic?

Vertically divided sky blue, white, and buff; in the middle stripe the Tercentennial logo (green triangle, point upwards, with two white lines reaching vertically up from the bottom broadening out in circular outlines) accompanied, next to the apex, by the years ‘1664’ (left) and ‘1964’ (right) in green.
Link to an envelope showing the logo: www.zianet.com/smithson/images/f1247.jpg.

Jan Mertens, 13 October 2008


Buff, light blue and medium green
[Tricentennial Flag of New Jersey]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 October 2008
Orange, medium blue and dark green
[Tricentennial Flag of New Jersey]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 October 2008

I must say that buff here seems to me to be sun faded orange, this flag coming from the former New Amsterdam area. But as I could not be sure of that, I made two versions as I redrew this flag:
with the colors as shown on the photo: Buff, light blue and medium green.
with what may have been the original colors: Orange, medium blue and dark green.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 October 2008


U.S. Bicentennial flag (New Jersey)

[Bicentennial US Flag of New Jersey] image located by Jan Mertens, 3 June 2010

A special bicentennial New Jersey / US flag was offered on eBay last year by "edwinart". It showed the logo in the national colours, on a white background, as it appears on this plaque: www.pl8s.com/ps-photos-3/3794.jpg. Additional information provided (slightly edited): "Roughly 3 x 5 Feet / Made by Nyl-Glo ~ 100% Nylon bunting ~ Annin & Co ~ Verona N.J. Printed Image."

White field, in the centre combined dark blue initials “NJ” (serif, the “J” lower) at upper right and vertically red & white striped year “76” (stylized, thirteen stripes in all) at lower left, surrounded by thirteen dark blue stars, five-pointed and facing outwards.

Jan Mertens, 3 June 2010


State Military Crest

image by Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "A lion's head erased or collared four fusils gules."
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000