VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

 

Vice President of the United States Seal

 

SEAL

 

Vice President of the United States Flag

 

FLAG

1.  In 1975, Vice President Rockefeller desired to modify the seal and flag of the Vice President.  Executive Order 11884, October 7, 1975, prescribed the official Coat of Arms, Seal and Flag of the Vice President of the United States.  The changes included the American eagle displayed but not inverted, a bundle of thirteen arrows gray and, the crest—behind and above the eagle a radiating glory Or (Gold), on which appears an arc of thirteen cloud puffs gray, and a constellation of thirteen mullets gray. 

 

The Seal of the Vice President of the United States shall consist of the Coat of Arms encircled by the words “VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.”

 

The Color and Flag of the Vice President of the United States shall consist of a white rectangular background on which shall appear the Coat of Arms of the Vice President in proper colors within four blue stars.

 

2.  On 10 November 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 10016, which officially authorized a coat of arms, seal and flag for the Vice President of the United States.  This occasion was a first for the Vice President in the matter of a coat of arms and seal.  However, Executive Order No. 7285 of 7 February 1936, which applied to a previous authorization of a flag for the Vice President, was revoked by this Executive Order.  

 

3.  In the Washington Star’s announcement of Executive Order No. 10016, it was stated that when Senator Barkley took office as Vice President he would have a new coat of arms, seal and flag.  It was further stated that President Truman had issued an executive order the day before redesigning the heraldic emblems assigned the Vice President in 1936 to bring them more in line with the new Presidential coat of arms designed in October 1945.  Promulgation of this Executive Order was also made in the 16 November 1948 issue of the Federal Register, Volume 13, No. 223.

 

4.  The description of the coat of arms and seal given in the Executive Order was as follows:  The Coat of Arms of the Vice President of the United States shall be of the following design:

SHIELD:  Paleways of thirteen pieces Argent and Gules, a chief Azure; upon the breast of an American eagle with wings displayed and inverted holding in his dexter talon an olive branch all Proper and in his sinister an arrow Or, in his beak a Yellow scroll inscribed “E PLURIBUS UNUM” Sable. 

 

The whole surrounded by thirteen blue stars in the form of an annulet with one point of each star outward on the imaginary radiating center lines.

 

The Seal of the Vice President of the United States shall consist of the Coat of Arms encircled by the words “VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.”

 

5.  The description of the Vice President’s Flag under “Specifications” in Executive Order 10016 is as follows:

 

            Flag Base—white

            Stars—blue

            Shield:

                        Chief—blue

                        Stripes—white and red

            Eagle:

                        Wings, body, upper legs—shades of brown

                        Head, neck, tail—white, shaded gray

                        Beak, feet, lower legs—yellow

                        Talons—dark gray, white highlights

                        Arrow—yellow

            Olive Branch:

                        Leaves, stem—shades of green

                        Olives—light green

            Scroll—yellow with brown shades

            Letters—black

 

Device to appear on both sides of the flag but will appear reversed on reverse side of the flag, except that the motto shall read from left to right on both sides.

 

Illustrations of the seal and flag with flag dimensions were also included.  The design of this flag although similar in some respects is definitely different in design from the President’s flag authorized in 1945.  This was not the case in the previous authorization.

 

6.  Executive Order No. 7285 dated 7 February 1936, which was revoked in the 1948 Executive Order, is the first known executive order written by the President officially authorizing a flag for the Vice President of the United States.  The order reads as follows:  Prescribing the Official Flag of the Vice President of the United States.  “By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, I hereby prescribe an official flag of the Vice President of the United States, to be in accordance with the plan and design accompanying and forming a part of this order.”  Signed Franklin D. Roosevelt – The White House – February 7, 1936.

 

7.  The design of this flag was the same as the President’s flag, authorized by President Taft by Executive Order No. 2390, May 29, 1916, with the exception of the colors being reversed.  The President’s flag was of a blue background with four five-pointed stars, one in each corner and the President’s personal seal in the center with the eagle in white.  The Vice President’s flag was of the white background with stars in blue.  The design for the President continued in use until revoke in 1945. 

 

8.  In reference to the 1916 flag design, it might be of interest to point out that the seal or coat of arms used in this design, taken from the White House stationery, had the eagle’s head in heraldic terminology turn to sinister, or toward the arrows, instead of to dexter (toward the olive branch) as in the Great Seal of the United States.  Also, the four stars in the design were changed to the 48 stars surrounding the coat of arms in the 1945 version.  President Roosevelt, who suggested in March of that year that a new design of the flag be made, objected to the inappropriateness of four stars in the flag for the Commander-in-Chief when there were five stars in the flags of the Fleet Admirals and Generals of the Army, grades which had been created in December of 1944.

 

9.  That a new design of a flag for the Vice President was most probably under consideration at the time of the change of the President’s flag is suggested from the tone of correspondence in the records of the Office of The Quartermaster General.  In the spring of 1945, a requisition was sent to the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot for supply of a set of flags for the Vice President.  These flags were made previous to the October 1945 Executive Order.  In January of the following year (1946) the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot was told by the Office of the Quartermaster General there would be no more flags made of this design.

 

10.  In the Navy records it was found that on two occasions prior to 1936, flags were displayed for the Vice President of the United States.  A chronology of these events follows:

 

From data furnished by the Navy Department, it appears that the first record of correspondence leading toward the manufacture of a Vice President’s flag appeared in a telegram from the Navy Department to the Navy Yard, Mare Island, California, March 6, 1915, which is quoted:  “Manufacture authorized two Vice President’s flags, sizes one and six, similar in dimensions to President’s flags, same numbers.  Use white field instead of blue, colors of coat of arms as given plate one flags maritime nations described page eleven same book.  Required prior March twentieth.  Alterations President’s flag on hand authorized if it will facilitate manufacture.  Deliver Commandant Naval Training Station.  Wire bureau if delivery can be made by date specified.”

 

11.  The following order to the USS Colorado, March 15, 1915, is cited:  “To Flag Officer Colorado San Diego Calif.  A Vice President’s flag has been adopted similar to President’s except white field and one is obtainable at Training Station San Francisco.  Vice President shall receive gun salutes both upon arrival on board and departure salute for Assistant Secretary Navy is seventeen guns four ruffles etc inform vessels your command.  Roosevelt

 

12.  In a letter dated March 20, 1915, the Chief of Bureau of the Navy Department wrote:  “The Regulations do not prescribe a flag for the Vice President, but one has been tentatively adopted for that officer, and probably will be permanently adopted, which will be similar to the President’s Flags except the field will be white instead of blue.”

 

13.  Quoted in part from a letter written by the Commandant, Navy Yard, Mare Island, Vallejo, California, the following detailed information is given:  

            “TO:  Bureau of Construction and Repair.

            Subject:  Manufacture of Vice President’s Flags.

            1.  In accordance with Bureau’s telegram, reference (a), two Vice President’s flags were manufactured at Mare Island, one #1 and one #6, and were delivered to the Commandant, Naval Training Station, San Francisco, Calif. On March 19th, 1915.

            2.  For the Bureau’s information, there are forwarded herewith, photographs in duplicate, enclosure (A), of the completed flags.  The colors used in these flags followed as closely as possible the coat of arms as given on Plate #1, “Flags of Maritime Nations.”

 

            FIELD:  White

            EAGLE:  Brown bunting, feathers outlined in white worsted.

            EAGLE’S TALONS & BEAK:  Yellow bunting worked with black bunting and black worsted.

            SHIELD:  Red, white and blue bunting.

            HALO:  White muslin stars planted on field of light blue bunting, outlined with rays of yellow worsted.

            RIBBON:  Yellow bunting outlined in black bunting on #1 and black worsted on #6 size.

            LEAVES:  Green bunting.

            ARROWS:  Yellow bunting outlined with black worsted.

 

14.  The occasion for the above flags was a visit of the Vice President to the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco, California, in 1915.

 

15.  The disposition of the flags is indicated by the following letter:

 

                                                                                    “U.S. Naval Training Station at

                                                                                    San Francisco, California

                                                                                    April 10th, 1915

 

From:  Lieutenant Commander Wallace Bertholf, U.S. Navy

To:  Bureau of Navigation (Through Commandant)

Subject:  Disposition of Vice President’s Flags

 

            1.  Upon the visit of the Vice President to the Pacific Coast I was detailed as his aide.  A number one and a number six Vice President’s flags was [sic] received by me from the Navy Yard at Mare Island, California, and these flags were used during the Vice President’s official visits.

            2.  The Vice President requested that these flags be retained by him and I therefore turned them over to him.

            3.  Information is requested as to whether or not these flags should remain in the possession of the Vice President or whether a survey of them should be called in order that they may be expended from the books.

            4.  These flags are now in the possession of the Vice President.

                                                                                    Wallace Bertholf”

 

16.  The design of the President’s flag used by the Navy in 1915 was of blue background with the coat of arms of the United States in the center.  Although this design was changed in 1916, apparently the design of the Vice President’s flag was not changed, for again on October 23, 1919, the Navy Department ordered one each of No. 1 and No. 6 Vice President’s flag from The Industrial Manager, New York Navy Yard, which were made and delivered to the personal messenger service on 28 October 1919.

 

17.  SECOND OCCASION FOR DISPLAY OF VICE PRESIDENT’S FLAG:  The following is quoted form the log of the Mayflower for October 29, 1919Meridian to 4:00 P.M.

            12:25 Yard battery rendered salute to Vice President;

            12:35 Vice President came aboard; was rendered usual honors and his flag hoisted at main truck.

            12:44 Secretary of the Navy came aboard, and was rendered usual honors;

            1:24 Yard saluting battery rendered salute of 21 guns to King of the Belgians.

            1:27 King of the Belgians came aboard and was rendered National honors, and the Belgian National Ensign was hoisted at main truck, and Vice President’s flag shifted to fore truck.  Secretary of State, Secretary of War and many other official guests came aboard.

            1:32 Got underway for Mt. Vernon, in accordance with verbal orders of the Secretary of the Navy.  Standing down the Potomac River on various courses, pilot at the conn; standard speed, all possible with natural draft.  Draft upon getting underway:  Forward, 17’ 3”. Aft 18’ 8”.

            2:01 Alexandria abeam, starboard side, distant 200 yards.  Making 10.5 knots over the ground.

            2:30 Ft. Washington abeam, port side, distant 300 yards.

            2:38 Mt. Vernon abeam, starboard side, distant 600 yards.  Rendered usual honors.

            2:44 Anchored with starboard anchor, in 5 fathoms water, 25 fathoms of chain outside the hawse pipe.  Bearing of anchorage:  Mt. Vernon landing 346 degrees true, Bryan Pt. Pier, 87 degrees true,  and Marshall Hall Pier 234 degrees true.  Draft of ship coming to anchor:  For’d 17’ 2”, aft 18’ 8”.

            3:18 King and Queen of the Belgians, Vice President, Secretary of the Navy, and other officials left ship to attend the ceremonies.  Rendered all necessary honors; hauled down Belgian Ensign and Vice President’s flag.

            4:30 Party returned; rendered honors; and hoisted Belgian Ensign at Main, and Vice President’s flag at fore.

           

                                                                                                /s/ D.B. Caldwell

                                                                                                Lieut. (J.G.) U.S. Navy

                        Approved:  /s/ C.T. Osborne

                                                Commander, U.S. Navy

                                                            Examined

                                                                        /s/ L.W. Clarke

                                                                             Lieutenant-Commander

                                                                              U.S. Navigator

 

18.  Under date of February 21, 1922, The Commandant, New York was advised:  There is no official Vice President’s flag, as the Vice President has no official duties requiring the use of a flag excepting when he is acting as President and in this case the President’s flag would be used.”

 

19.  The so-called Vice President’s Flag referred to above was produced because of an emergency.  Vice President Marshall was acting for the President of the United States at the San Francisco Exposition in 1915 and again on the Mayflower in 1919.  It will be observed that the preceding information was developed without any Congressional action or issuance of an Executive Order to make such action official. 

 

20.  This was not the case with the three authorizations for the Vice President’s flag in 1936, 1948 and 1975.  Executive Order No. 7285 was issued 7 February 1936; Executive Order No. 10016, 10 November 1948 and Executive Order 11884, 7 October 1945.  The design of the 1936 flag was that of the President’s flag previously authorized, with the colors reversed.  The 1948 designs, however, were individualized and these designs of flag, coat of arms and seal, as well as the drafting of the executive order, making of seal, and manufacturing drawings of the flag for the Vice President were the responsibility of the personnel of the Office of The Quartermaster General.  The 1975 designs which modified the flag, coat of arms and seal, were completed by The Institute of Heraldry.