From the March 4, 1977 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

At a ceremony in the State House’s Hall of Flags, Rep. Terrence P. McCarthy was presented with a flag for the new state of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

The flag shows a white seagull in upward flight, against a red-orange sun, all on a field of deep blue.

The flag was presented Tuesday by Eric Davin and Fran Forman, both of Cambridge, and both active members of the Martha’s Vineyard Statehood Support Committee, recently formed to “support the independence aspirations of the Islanders and to draw attention to the gerrymandering disaster which has linked Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket with the outer arm of Cape Cod in the new state representative district proposed by state Rep. George A. Keverian.” The group is composed entirely of non-Islanders, though many of them are frequent summer residents.

Accepting the banner, Mr. McCarthy thanked the group for their support and concern.

He also said final choice of a state flag would be up to the people. This flag is the first entry.

The proposal to secede has continued to draw attention from the nation, and the flag presentation added to it.

Yesterday, Senator Edward M. Kennedy released this statement: “I fully understand the deep sense of frustration of Island residents as a result of the loss of their seat in the House of Representatives of the General Court.

“Since the beginning of this nation the unique resources of the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have provided all of us who represent these residents with an opportunity and a challenge to find ways to protect this uncommon, natural, scenic and cultural heritage.

“Senate passage of the Nantucket Sound Islands Trust legislation during the last Congress is a recognition on the federal level of government of the problems and potential of these Island communities.

“I hope that a way can be found to ensure that Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are fully represented in the House of Representative. I am confident that the Island residents who have proposed secession in order to focus attention on their concern prefer to remain fully represented participants in the Commonwealth. All of us understand that the special qualities of these Islands make Massachusetts the special place it is.”

A White House spokesman this weekend said he doubted the White House “would have a comment on the matter, as it is a state’s right problem.” Asked whether the government would attack the Islands if the Islands declared war on the United States, he said the nation might “if it became a matter of national security.”

Meanwhile, the Nantucket selectmen have taken no substantial steps on the secession move, mostly because they have been hampered by lack of a quorum. The matter was supposed to come up at their meeting Wednesday, but the press of other issues caused them to postpone it for a special meeting this coming Monday.

The response to the secession move has been favorable in Nantucket, although there are early signs of conflicts between the two Islands over appointments to high offices. Like Vineyarders, Nantucketers have begun nominating officials.

Nantucket had a head start in that, though. In 1972, Nantucket had a row with the Commonwealth over control of its great ponds. Before war was formally declared, the court ruled that the ponds belonged to Nantucket.

According to the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, the Nantucket selectmen’s office has already received a telephone call from New Hampshire, recommending the sales tax advantages of deserting Massachusetts and joining its northern neighbor. The phone call was anonymous.

The state flag presented to Mr. McCarthy was designed by Fran Forman, one of the members of the Support Committee. She is a professional designer of flags and banners, employed by Signage Associates of Boston. She says the elements of the flag “represent not only the proud and independent spirit of the Islanders, but also the Island’s rich resources — wildlife, air, and water — which are becoming increasingly endangered by human pollution.”

The committee, of which Mr. Davin is chairman, is urging all state residents to write their representatives and senators to support the Island’s effort to regain representation.

“There is neither a direct air route nor a direct ferry route from the Islands to the rest of the proposed state representative district,” Mr. Devin said at the flag presentation.

“If Island residents wish to talk to their state representative on the Outer Cape, they would be forced to make either a long-distance telephone call or take a long and ridiculous ferry and automobile ride to reach the representative.

“If the district lines are not redrawn to take into consideration the special circumstances and problems of the Islanders, they have no reasonable and just alternative but to secede from Massachusetts and establish their own government, one more responsive to their needs.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox