Spanish Flag of Castile and Leon (1540 - 1542)
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish conquistador who landed in present-day Florida in 1539, then led an expedition exploring the southeastern and midwestern parts of North America carrying this flag. In 1540 he led his followers into Mississippi, and his was the first expedition documented to have crossed the Mississippi River. De Soto's North American expedition searched for gold, silver and even a passage to China. De Soto died in 1542 on the banks of the Mississippi River in what is now Arkansas or Louisiana.
Bourbon Flag of France (1682 - 1763)
The first flag that whipped in the Mississippi breeze stemmed from the arrival of Sieur de La Salle, the French explorer who in 1682 claimed the Mississippi River area for his king, Louis XIV. This flag flew over Mississippi forts at Ocean Springs (Fort Maurepas) and Natchez, until the French were ousted in 1763.
British Red Ensign (1763 - 1779)
England gained these lands in 1763 – when France, along with Spain and their Indian allies, lost the French and Indian War to England. Then England took possession of the northern half of Mississippi (as part of its Georgia colony) and the southern half of Mississippi (as part of its West Florida colony). During this era, the flag flew in Vicksburg and Natchez and opposed the Americans in the Revolutionary War, farther north.
U.S. Star Spangled Banner (1798 - 1818)
In 1798, Mississippi became a U.S. territory and this flag continued to fly as the Mississippi Territory was expanded. In 1810, the Republic of West Florida (including Mississippi coastal counties) became U.S. land. Later, Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian lands were added to the territory. This U.S. flag also waved in 1817, as Mississippi was admitted as the 20th U.S. state.
Republic of West Florida (74 days in 1810)
In 1810, southernmost Mississippi became part of the Republic of West Florida. Then this banner, known as the Bonnie Blue Flag, flew over Mississippi coastal counties. Before this, the U.S. believed it already had acquired southernmost Mississippi when it bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. But Spain refused to evacuate the area. So, in 1810, American settlers rebelled against the Spanish and drove them east. The Americans then formed the Republic of West Florida and applied for U.S. statehood. President James Madison responded that West Florida already was in the Louisiana Purchase and ordered officials to take possession. Then, that area was added to the Mississippi Territory. In 1861, this flag resurfaced at the Old Capitol in Jackson, where Mississippi had just passed the Ordinance of Secession. Its lone star, again, symbolized a claim of independence.
Mississippi Magnolia Flag (1861) - January 9, 1861
Mississippi voted to secede from the Union. For a few weeks, the old Bonnie Blue Flag of 1810 was the new Sovereign Republic of Mississippi informal symbol. But on January 26, the republic adopted a new flag with the Bonnie Blue Flag in its canton and a magnolia tree in its center field. When the Sovereign Republic of Mississippi joined the Confederate States of America, on March 27, the short-lived Magnolia flag was replaced by the Confederacy's flag.
Stars and Bars of the Confederacy (1861 - 1863)
On March 4, 1861, the first flag of the Confederate States of America was born in Montgomery, Alabama. Concern over the similarity of the Confederate flag to the flag of the United States led to a change in design and the Second National Flag. Difficulty distinguishing the Stars and Bars from the Stars and Stripes from a distance, particularly in battle, was one reason given for the change.
State of Mississippi Flag (1894 - present)
Adopted by the Mississippi Legislature in 1894. The thirteen stars, sometimes said to represent the number Confederate States and those that might have been Confederate, are said to represent the "original number of States of the Union" in the original description (source).
(Source: Myers, Leslie R. (1987, July 12). Banners Symbolize Eras Over Which They Waved. The Clarion-Ledger) Flag photos courtesy of www.anyflag.com