US flag if California splits into three states

There’s a proposal for California to split into three states. If that happens, what would happen to the US flag?

The US flag has had 13 stripes from the beginning, representing the first 13 states. The number of stars has increased over time as the number of states has increased. Currently there are 50 stars, arranged in alternating rows of 6 and 5 stars.

If California breaks into three states, how would we arrange 52 stars? One way would be alternating rows of 7 and 6. Here’s a quick mock up of a possible 52-star flag I just made:

52 star flag

The difference isn’t that noticeable.

What if California [1] were to secede from the US? We’ve had 49 states before, in the brief period between the beginning of Alaskan statehood and the beginning of Hawaiian statehood. During that time [1], the flag had 7 rows of 7 stars, but the rows were staggered as in the current flag, not lined up in columns as in the 48-star flag before it.

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[1] I don’t know how many people seriously propose any state leaving the US. The last time a state tried the result was the bloodiest war in US history. There’s a group in Vermont that wants their state to withdraw from the US.

Texans talk about seceding from the union, and you’ll occasionally see SECEDE bumper stickers, but it’s a joke. Maybe a few people take it seriously, but certainly not many.

[2] There is a tradition dating back to 1818 that the flag only changes on July 4. So the period of the 49-star flag didn’t exactly coincide with the period of 49 states.

6 thoughts on “US flag if California splits into three states

  1. The various proposals to split California should be taken as seriously as any given proposal for a state to secede. That is, not seriously at all. The fact that they continually end up on the ballot says more about how broken our initiative process has become than any real backing for the proposal.

    Though if you want to handle the general case of new flags for California splitting (anywhere from 2 to 7 seems a reasonable span), that might be a fun post to read.

  2. You’re missing a 5 and a 6 in your description of the current flag.

    I didn’t know there was a 49-star flag. Always thought the additions of Alaska and Hawaii were so close that we jumped straight from 48 to 50.

  3. There was a 15-star and 15-stripe flag for a while (1795-1818 according to Wikipedia), before the stripes were reduced to 13 again. According to Wikipedia, this flag configuration even inspired “The Star Spangled Banner”.

  4. The flag hasn’t always had 13 stripes; at one point it had 15 stripes (and 15 stars).

  5. The US should always keep the number of states a prime number, so the country can be truly indivisible.

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