HAPPY 200TH BIRTHDAY TO THE BONNIE BLUE FLAG!
On the 23rd day of September this year the Bonnie Blue Flag will celebrate her public existence of 200 yrs. The Bonnie Blue Flag has been heralded as the unofficial flag of the Confederate States of America, mistaken as the Lone Star State Flag of Texas, and her existence and true roots are still unknown by many Americans. Today I salute her along with her history and all that she stands for as she approaches this milestone.
She emerged from the sewing basket of Melissa Johnson wife of Major Isaac Johnson, the commander of the The West Florida Republic Dragoons on Sept 23, 1810 over a freshly conquered Spanish Fort in Baton Rouge LA. This was 35 years before Texas reached Statehood and when Jefferson Davis the one and only president of "The Confederate United States" was a mere 2 years of age. Two things happened at that moment of victory. Baton Rouge became property of The West Republic of Florida and the Bonnie Blue Flag became the official flag of that short lived independent country.
. **When people see the word dragoon and confederate in the same story line, red flags will undoubtedly go up. I want to clarify any misinterpretation of this before we go any further.
Dragoon was a military term used for many hundreds of years prior to this era by many different countries. It named the battle aspects of a unit as does Infantry, Calvary, etc. Dragoons of the timeline referenced here were considered as war divisions that were trained in horse riding and fighting. It would be totally out of context for dragoon as used here to be associated with the KKK which was not formed until 55 years later in 1865.**
The Bonnie Blue Flag - Gods and Generals
Most mainstream history lessons taught today will not reference The Republic of West Florida as it was only in existence for less than 90 days. Still it is a part of American heritage and was the birthplace of the Bonnie Blue. It had a very complicated and ever changing ownership and it's history reminds me much of the board game Risk.
The incidents leading to the rise of the Bonnie Blue and the short lived West Florida Republic actually began in "The Seven Year War" better known today as the French and Indian War. This was a battle between France and Britain on our southern turf which ended in 1763. Prior to 1763 the area belonged partly to Spain and included a Garrison at present day Pensacola FL and partly to France which had the outpost in Baton Rouge. The French lost the war and as part of the loss there was a surrendering of the rights by France to Spain of the land west of the Mississippi. and included about one third of Mississippi and Alabama and also what is referred to as "the toe" of Louisiana. Present day history refers to this area as part of The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 but that is not how it went.
REPUBLIC OF WEST FLORIDA
Florida had been divided into East and West in the signing of The Treaty of Paris by Britain and and the United States marking the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783 but its boundaries were not specified. In 1784 Spain wanted the boundaries of the territories they owned expanded. An agreement was reached in 1795 with the signing of yet another treaty the very important but rarely referenced Treaty of San Lorenzo (also known as the Pickney Treaty). One of the most significant aspects of this treaty was that it opened up the use of the Mississippi River for use by the young United States.
The boundary and possession battles still continued to exist. In 1803 the area was thought to have been bought by the United States in The Louisiana Purchase. As pointed out before the French had ceded the property in 1763 but Spain returned it to France in 1800 with the signing of a secret treaty, The Treaty of San Ildefonso but denied they had done so and continued to control it.
In 1808 Napoleon placed his brother Joseph on the Spanish Throne. This was the straw that broke the camels back and a movement for freedom began to take shape. The hot blooded American settlers and plantation owners who were referred to by the Spanish as "White Indians" (the most degrading insult of the era) felt the right to negotiate there own lives had been seized and grew tired of the upheaval surrounding whose rule they lived under. This resulted in the skirmish in Baton Rouge in 1810 along with the forming of The Republic of West Florida.
Fulmar Skipworth was the designated President of this fresh new country. He had been one of the main negotiators for the Louisiana Purchase under Thomas Jefferson. He swore to die for the Lone Star Bonnie Blue but on Oct 12, 1810 less than 3 months after the Republic formed it was annexed into the United States and ceased to exist without any further bloodshed.
This is a very complicated time line and I hope I have reconstructed it accurately. It is very easy for me to see why our modern history books just lumped all the above referenced property into the Louisiana Purchase but by doing so they overlook some important features of our nations history. These things all happened and are the roots of The Bonnie Blue Flag and the ongoing symbolism of a lone star as that of independence
Sheet Music Cover
After that the Bonnie Blue was tucked away but not forgotten. Descendents, bearing the original crest of a lone star came to be and they held her morals and beliefs tight.
The Texas Navy flew a modified "stars and stripes" version of the Bonnie Blue with a single star over a period of years preceding the Civil War, and the Republic of Texas adopted a Lone Star variation for their official flag in 1839.
California portrayed the lone star on a flag in 1846 as a show of support to Texas in its conflict with Mexico.
On the 9th day of January in 1861 she flew again this time over Jackson Mississippi as sign of their independence from the United States.
An Irish immigrant named Harry McCarthy was present at this event and was inspired to write the lyrics of a song about Independence. The chorus of the tune quickly became one of the most popular marching songs of the Confederate States of America and The Bonnie Blue Flag was deemed their "unofficial flag."
Later that year Mississippi adopted the Magnolia Flag which still bore the lone star as a proud symbol of independence.
Now 200 years old and united with many descendants The Bonnie Blue still proudly flies displaying the original lone star on a solid blue background and supporting her original cause, Independence. It was this core desire that established the original 13 colonies that our United States has now grown from.
Today as the desire for independence and freedom from unfair sanctions grows on American citizens, The Bonnie Blue is being unfurled and flown throughout this country in large numbers by political groups, business owners, and individuals as an expression of desire for independence and "getting back to our roots".
Along the 85 mile stretch of Interstate 12 (which is a bypass around New Orleans) and in the southern Louisiana Parishes that are situated on what was once a apart of The West Florida Republic you will see many roadsigns depicting the Bonnie Blue.
The blood that courses through the veins of the bearers of The Bonnie Blue and her family is the same blood that ran in the veins of our forefathers, rebels, and the "white indians" of The Republic of West Florida.Contained in this blood is the belief in the right to independence from repression, better known as freedom. Billions have shed blood and died for us to maintain this right.
Watch for her in your surroundings as people passively display her. Know what she stands for. Remember these words of the song written by Harry McCarthy in 1861.
"Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star."
Most importantly be thankful and uphold all of those who have been and are now brave enough to defend our right to freedom no matter what and iregardless of the repressive force.
God Bless America!