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nunst016The Flag of the State of Hawai'i is the official standard symbolizing Hawaii as a U.S. state, as it previously had as a kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory. It is the only state flag of the United States to have been flown under so many various forms of government and the only to feature the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, a holdover of the period in Hawaiian history when it was a British protectorate (1794–1843).

nunst016The Flag of the State of Hawai'i is the official standard symbolizing Hawaii as a U.S. state, as it previously had as a kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory. It is the only state flag of the United States to have been flown under so many various forms of government and the only to feature the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, a holdover of the period in Hawaiian history when it was a British protectorate (1794–1843).

The canton of the flag of Hawaii contains the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, prominent over the top quarter closest to the flag mast. The field of the flag is composed of eight horizontal stripes symbolizing the eight major islands (Hawaiʻi, Oahu, Kauai, Kahoolawe, Lānai, Maui, Molokai and Niihau). A ninth stripe was once included representing the island of Nihoa.

There are various accounts of the earliest history of the flag of Hawaii. One relates how King Kamehameha I flew a British flag, probably a Red Ensign, given to him by British explorer Captain George Vancouver as a token of friendship with King George III. Subsequent visits reported seeing the flag flying from places of honor. An adviser to Kamehameha noted that the Union Flag could draw Hawaii into international conflict as his kingdom could be seen as an ally of the United Kingdom, and he subsequently lowered the Union Flag over his home.

One account of events stated that in order to placate American interests during the War of 1812, a flag of the United States was raised over Kamehameha's home only to be removed when British officers in the court of Kamehameha vehemently objected to it. This account then explains why the resulting flag of Hawaii was a deliberate hybrid of the two nations' flags.

In 1816, Kamehameha commissioned his own flag to avoid conflict. As a result, the current flag of Hawaii was born. The original flag was designed to feature stripes alternating in the order red-white-blue. The flag was originally designed with seven horizontal stripes and in 1845 it was officially changed to eight stripes. The latter arrangement was adopted and is used today.

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