The North Carolina state motto "ORO Y PLATA" (Spanish for Gold and Silver) is displayed on a ribbon at the bottom of the seal. On May 20, 1861, the day that the secession resolution was adopted by the state of North Carolina, an ordinance to adopt a North Carolina state flag was presented by Colonel John D. Whitford. The original ordinance stated that "…the flag of this State shall be a blue field with a white V thereon, and a star, encircling the words, "Sirgit astrum, May 20, 1775." The design intended by this original description for the North Carolina state flag was never to be. Colonel Whitford and his committee consulted an artist from Raleigh, William Jarl Browne, for advice. Mr. Browne prepared a model for a North Carolina state flag and submitted it to the committee for approval. The "Browne" state flag was not at all like that described in the original proposal but was, nevertheless, approved by the North Carolina Convention on June 22, 1861. The design for the North Carolina state flag, provided by William Jarl Browne and adopted by the Convention, was described as having a red field with two bars making up the fly; the top one blue and the bottom bar white.
Centered on the red field was a white five pointed star. Above the star, in a semi-circular mold, was the date May 20, 1775 representing the much questioned "Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence". Below the star was the date, May 20, 1861 representing the date of North Carolina's secession from the Union. This flag was carried by the North Carolina Regiments, along with the Confederate colors, throughout the Civil War. After the war, North Carolina adopted a revised design for their state flag. In March of 1865, a bill was passed and the design of the North Carolina State Flag changed from red to blue. The top bar of the fly was changed from blue to red. The gilt letters "N" and "C" were placed on either side of the white star and gilt scrolls were added above and below the star. The scroll above still displays the date of the "Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence" but the date displayed in black letters on the lower scroll displays April 12, 1776, the date of the "Hallifax Resolves" instead of May 20, 1861, the date of secession.