The Confederacy was growing. South Carolina started it all in December 1860, followed by Mississippi, and Florida. Alabama would be the fourth to secede from the Union. Within a month Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas would follow. A great Civil War between the Union and the Confederates was beginning.
In January of 1861 delegates met in Montgomery, Alabama. They debated for several days, but ultimately wrote a document declaring, “…the State of Alabama now withdraws from the Union…” Russell Smith was one of the delegates, and wrote:
“When the doors were thrown open, the lobby and galleries were filled to suffocation in a moment… Simultaneously with the entrance of the multitude, a magnificent Flag was unfurled in the centre of the Hall…. Gentlemen mounted upon tables and desks, held up the floating end…”
The ladies of Montgomery had sewn the flag, and it was one of a kind. The Alabama Secession Flag has a field of blue. The front shows Liberty holding both a sword and a flag, one in each hand. The reverse side has a rattlesnake underneath a cotton bush. The rattlesnake is a traditional symbol of American independence and willingness to fight for liberty, dating from well before the Revolutionary War. The Latin words “NOLI ME TANGERE” are written on the reverse. A warning against meddling or interference, it is a translation of a Greek phrase meaning, “Cease holding on to me.”
The flag was flown over the Capitol in Montgomery for a month after secession. It survives today, preserved by the State of Alabama.