The confederate flag or the "rebel flag" "the navy jack"
The Confederate Navy Jack, also called "The Southern Cross," is a rectangular precursor of the Battle Flag, usually about 5×3 feet. The blue color in the saltire (the diagonal cross) is much lighter than in the Battle Flag, and it was flown only on Confederate ships from 1863 to 1865.
The design was originally made by South Carolina Congressman William Porcher Miles with the intent to be the first national flag, but it was rejected by the Confederate government for looking too much like crossed suspenders. It was used by a few army units, including the Army of Tennessee as their battle flag from 1864-1865. (After General Joseph Johnston took command of the Army of Tennessee from Braxton Bragg, he ordered its army-wide implementation to improve morale and avoid confusion.) Today, it is the most universally recognized symbol of the South, where it is commonly called the rebel or Dixie flag. This flag is often erroneously called "the Confederate Flag". (This Flag is often incorrectly referred to as the Stars and Bars; the actual Stars and Bars is the First National Flag.)
The Confederate Navy Jack, 1861-1863Sometimes, the saltire is described as a "Saint Andrew's Cross." But it is unclear if this was the original intent, since Miles' proposals never mentioned this. "St. Andrew's cross" refers either to the national Flag of Scotland (a white saltire over a blue field), or the naval jack of Russia (a blue saltire on a white field). St. Andrew is said to have been martyred on a diagonal cross and is a patron saint of both Russia and Scotland. A legend dating from medieval times held that Saint Andrew's remains and relics washed up on Scottish shores, after a ship intended to convey them for safe keeping in a remote monastery was lost at sea. Most of the white Southern elite at the time of the War traced their ancestry to Britain, and Southern elites tended to identify their heritage as Anglo-Saxon, although much of the white population were in fact either Scots or Scots-Irish during the 19th century.
What is usually called "The Confederate Flag" or "The Confederate Battle Flag" (actually the Navy Jack as explained above) is still a widely-recognized symbol. The display of the flag is a controversial and very emotional issue, generally because of disagreement over exactly what it symbolizes. To many in the US South it is simply a symbol of their heritage and pride in their ancestors who held out during years of war under terrible odds and sacrifice. Others see it as a symbol of the institution of slavery, or of the Jim Crow laws established by the many Southern states enforcing racial segregation within their borders for almost a century later. As a result, there have been numerous political fights over the use of the Confederate battle flag in Southern state flags, at sporting events at Southern universities, and on public buildings. According to Civil War historian and southerner Shelby Foote, the flag traditionally represented the south's resistance to northern political dominance generally; it became racially charged during the Civil Rights Movement, when protecting segregation suddenly became the focal point of that resistance.
Over time the flag has acquired a wide range of meanings, some apparently contradicting one another. Since the CSA was fighting for independence during the Civil War, much as the United States did during the Revolutionary War, the Confederate Flag has always had connotations of rebellion, patriotism, self-determination, dissent, freedom, and liberty. Since the issues of slavery and, later, segregation, are deeply intertwined with the CSA and the Civil Rights Movement, the Confederate Flag has connotations of racism and slavery. Part of the enduring power and controversy of the flag stems from its symbolization of both liberty and slavery, both freedom and segregation. The United States flag, the "Stars and Stripes", can be seen to stand for similar contradictory symbols as well. Racism has been as much a feature of the North as of the South. The Antebellum slave system depended on financial investment from the North. The Confederate Flag can symbolize treason, yet the American Flag is seen by some to symbolize empire and conquest. But because the Stars and Stripes is the national flag today, it remains relatively free of the kind of controversy that surrounds the Confederate Flag. As John M. Coski put it in his book "The Confederate Battle Flag", the Confederate Flag remains a powerful symbol and is unlikely to go away.
On April 12, 2000, the South Carolina state senate passed a bill to remove the flag of the former Confederate States of America from on top of the statehouse dome by a majority vote of 36 to 7. Placed there in 1962, according to one local news report, "the new bill specified that a more traditional version of the battle flag would be flown in front of the Capitol next to a monument honoring fallen Confederate soldiers." The bill then went to the House, where it encountered some difficulty. But on May 18, 2000, after the bill was modified to ensure that the height of the flag's new pole would be 30 feet, it was passed by a majority of 66 to 43, and Governor Jim Hodges signed the bill five days later. On July 1, the flag was removed from the South Carolina statehouse. Current state law prohibits the flag's removal from the statehouse grounds without additional legislation. Police were placed to guard this flag after several attempts by individuals to remove it. Some regard the flag as easier to see in that location than when it was atop the State House Dome.
More recent studies, however, show changing attitudes toward the Confederate battle flag, particularly among blacks - perhaps due to media reports of the issue stemming from legislative battles regarding the flag's official use in Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. In 2005, two Western Carolina University researchers found that 74% of U.S. African-Americans polled favored removal of the flag from the South Carolina Capitol building. Cooper & Knotts, 2005 As battle lines over the use of the flag have (again) hardened, the NAACP and many civil rights groups have attacked the flag. Other groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans have actively protested the use of any Confederate flags by the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups, stating that the hate groups are blemishing the memory of the ancestors of the SCV. Some members of the SCV have even faced down Klansmen at their rallies and marches, to protest the inappropriate usage of these flags. The NAACP maintains an official boycott of South Carolina, citing its continued use of the battle flag on its Statehouse grounds.