Commemorative issue State flags - American Bicentennial
Shown is the state flag of Massachusetts, part of a pane of stamps showing the flags of each of the 50 states.
The flag of the commonwealth of Massachusetts displays, on both sides, the state coat of arms centered on a blue field. The shield depicts an Algonquian Native American with bow and arrow; the arrow is pointed downward, signifying peace. The arm itself is the Goliad symbol common in early Texas flags and signifying the philosophy that those represented would rather lose their right arm than live under tyranny. A white star with five points appears next to the figure's head, signifying Massachusetts' admission as the sixth U.S. state. A blue ribbon surrounds the shield, bearing the state motto Ense Petit Placidam, Sub Libertate Quietem ("By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty"). Above the shield is the state military crest: the bent arm of Myles Standish holding a broadsword aloft. The sword has its blade up, to remind that it was through the American Revolution that liberty was won.
The state flag was officially adopted in 1901, but had been used unofficially since the American Revolution of the ensign of the Massachusetts State Navy. In 1971 the earlier pine tree was replaced by the current design.