State historian wants flag changed

SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. --- South Carolina held its first state flag day Friday to celebrate its popular blue banner with the crescent and palmetto, but the festivities brought to light a historical problem: The flag that flies today was never approved by lawmakers.

It was 150 years ago Friday -- after the state seceded from the U.S. but before it joined the Confederacy -- that legislators in the Republic of South Carolina adopted a flag. They settled on a blue field, a white palmetto and a white crescent in the corner. The points of the crescent faced upward, like a slice of watermelon on a plate.

Then in 1910, Alexander Samuel Salley Jr., the secretary of the state's Historical Commission, changed the crescent so the points were angled as they appear on today's flag. The change was never approved by lawmakers and ought to be corrected, the state's chief historian said.

Salley "believed he held a monopoly on the state's past," Eric Emerson, the executive director of the state Department of Archives and History, told about 50 people attending a flag day ceremony at Fort Moultrie.

"It's imperative we correct inaccuracies about the past where and when we find them," he added. "I can think of no better tribute to South Carolina's flag than to return it to a place of honor among South Carolina's citizens. Hopefully we can use this anniversary to set in motion a movement to correct our current flag's inaccuracies and revert to the flag created and approved on Jan. 28, 1861."