For some, the Confederate flag inspires pride and patriotism. For others, the Confederate flag is a symbol of discriminatory acts against minorities and can be viewed as a racist symbol. The most popular version of the Confederate flag bears 13 stars, each of which represent the original 13 states in the Confederate States of America.

Early 7-Star Confederate Flag

In 1861 after the formation of the Confederate States of America, there was a need for a new flag that would represent the Confederacy. The first flag that was created was a flag that bore two red bars with one white bar in the middle on the right-hand side, and in the upper-left hand corner was a navy blue square that contained seven stars that represented the seven Confederate states of the union. This flag was known as the "Stars and Bars" flag and was used as the official flag of the Confederacy from 1861 until 1863. The original seven stars represented South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

Later 13-Star Confederate Flag

As more states joined the Confederate States of America, more stars were added to the Confederate flag to represent each. The states represented by each star were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky. Although both Missouri and Kentucky proclaimed neutrality during the Civil War and did not officially secede from the Union, these two states were still represented by a star. The flag displays a red background with a navy blue "X" bordered by white and filed with the 13 white stars. On each leg of the X are three stars and in the middle rests one star. This flag design is known best as the "Southern Cross."

Alternative Designs

The Confederate flag took on two other designs that are not as well known. The first design, created in 1863, placed the Southern Cross design as a smaller box in the upper left-hand corner, with the rest of the flag as a white field. This design was commonly mistaken for a sign of surrender. In 1865, another new design was created. This second design bore the same Southern Cross in the upper left-hand corner on top of a white field, but a red bar was placed vertically along the right-hand side of the flag.

Controversy

According to USFlag.org, the 13-star flag is commonly associated with the Southern states of the United States of America, but is sometimes used inappropriately by political and religious groups that use the symbol as a sign of discrimination, particularly against minorities and African Americans. Some of the groups that have wrongly adopted the Southern Cross include white supremacists and groups who follow neo-Nazi ideologies. However, according to USFlag.org, the governments of the Southern states do not condone the use of the confederate flag in any discriminatory way and claim that such use promotes lies about slavery interests in the South before the Civil War.