Flag of Florida
|Adopted||May 6, 1868(modifications made in November 1900 and May 1985)|
|Design||Two red bars on a white field, with the Florida state seal in the center.|
The flag of Florida, often referred to as the Florida flag, is the state flag of the U.S. state of Florida. It consists of a red saltire on a white background, with the state seal superimposed on the center. The flag was first adopted as the state flag of Florida in 1868. The flag's current design has been in use since May 21, 1985, after the Florida state seal was graphically altered and officially sanctioned for use by state officials. In 2001, a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) placed Florida's state flag 34th in design quality out of the 72 Canadian provincial, U.S. state and U.S. territorial flags ranked.
Spain was a dynastic union and federation of kingdoms when Juan Ponce de León claimed Florida on April 2, 1513. Several banners or standards were used during the first period of settlement and governance in Florida, such as the royal standard of the Crown of Castile in Pensacola and the Cross of Burgundy in St. Augustine. As with other Spanish territories, the Burgundian saltire was generally used in Florida to represent collective Spanish sovereignty between 1513 and 1821.
In 1763, Spain passed control of Florida to Great Britain via the Treaty of Paris. Great Britain used the original union flag with the white diagonal stripes in Florida during this brief period. The British also divided the Florida territory into East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine, and West Florida, with its capital at Pensacola. The border was the Apalachicola River.
Spain regained control of Florida in 1783. In 1785, King Charles III chose a new naval and battle flag for Spain, which was now a more centralized nation-state, and its territories. This flag, a tri-band of red-gold-red, was used along with the Burgundian saltire in the provinces of East and West Florida until 1821, when the Florida provinces joined the United States.
Between 1821 and 1861, Florida had no official flag. The Lone Star and Stripes, previously the Naval Ensign of Texas, was used as a provisional flag between January and September 1861, after Florida seceded from the Union and declared itself a "sovereign and independent nation", reaffirming the preamble in the Constitution of 1838. This flag was also used when Floridian forces took control of U.S. forts and a navy yard in Pensacola. Col. William H. Chase was Commander of Floridian troops and the flag is also referred to as the Chase Flag. Later in the year the Florida Legislature passed a law authorizing Governor Perry to design an official flag. His design was the tri-band of the Confederacy but with the blue field extending down and the new seal of Florida within the blue field. As a member of the Confederacy, Florida saw use of all three versions of the Confederate flag. The Bonnie Blue Flag, previously the flag of the short-lived Republic of West Florida, was briefly used as an unofficial flag of the Confederacy. It features a single five-point star centered in a blue background.
Florida Constitution of 1868
Between 1868 and 1900, the flag of Florida was simply the state seal on a white background. In a discrepancy, however, a later version of the state seal depicts a steamboat with a white flag that includes a red saltire, similar to Florida's current flag. In the late 1890s, Florida governor Francis P. Fleming advocated that St. Andrew's Cross be added so that it would not appear to be a white flag of truce hanging still on a flagpole. Floridians approved the addition of St. Andrew's Cross by popular referendum in 1900. The red saltire of the Cross of Burgundy represents the cross on which St. Andrew was crucified, and the standard can be frequently seen in Florida's historic settlements, such as St. Augustine, today.
Historical progression of designs
Lastly, some historians see the addition of a red saltire as a commemoration of Florida's contributions to the Confederacy by Governor Fleming, who served in the 2nd Florida Regiment of the Confederate army. The addition was made during a period of nostalgia for the "Lost Cause" around the time of the flag's change. According to historian John M. Coski, the adoption of Florida's flag coincided with the rise of Jim Crow laws and segregation, as other former Confederate slave states, such as Mississippi and Alabama, also adopted new state flags around the same time when those states instituted Jim Crow segregation laws themselves:
The flag changes in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida coincided with the passage of formal Jim Crow segregation laws throughout the South. Four years before Mississippi incorporated a Confederate battle flag into its state flag, its constitutional convention passed pioneering provisions to 'reform' politics by effectively disenfranchising most African Americans.— John M. Coski, The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (2005), pp. 80–81.
Not all historians agree. James C. Clark, a lecturer in the University of Central Florida’s history department, doesn’t believe that Fleming’s new flag had anything to do with the Confederacy. “That St. Andrew’s Cross that Fleming added, the red X, dates back to the original flag the Spanish flew over Florida in the 16th century. Canter Brown Jr., a Florida State-educated historian who has written extensively on Florida history says he's "seen no specific evidence linking this flag to the Confederate one.”
- List of flags by design
- List of Florida state symbols
- List of U.S. state, district, and territorial insignia
- Florida Memory. "The 1868 State Flag of Florida". The State Archives of Florida. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
- "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey - NAVA.org" (PDF). nava.org.
- "City of Five Flags". Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "Florida's Historic Flags". Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- Cannon, Devereaux D., Jr. (2005) [1st pub. St. Lukes Press:1988]. The Flags of the Confederacy: An Illustrated History. Cover design by Larry Pardue. Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-1-565-54109-2. OCLC 970744690.
- "Ordinance of Secession, 1861 (From: Florida Convention of the People, Ordinance of Secession, 1861, Series S972)". Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "Florida House of Representatives - About Florida – Flags of Florida". Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- "First Muster - Florida Department of Military Affairs". Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- "Florida Governor Francis Philip Fleming". National Governors Association.
- Williams, Dave (17 September 2000). "Flag debate spreading across Deep South". Savannah Morning News. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Ingraham, Christopher (21 June 2015). "How the Confederacy lives on in the flags of seven Southern states". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Coski, John M. (2005). The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem. United States of America: First Harvard University Press. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-674-01983-0. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
The flag changes in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida coincided with the passage of formal Jim Crow segregation laws throughout the South. Four years before Mississippi incorporated a Confederate battle flag into its state flag, its constitutional convention passed pioneering provisions to 'reform' politics by effectively disenfranchising most African Americans.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Munzenreider, Kyle (June 26, 2015). "Is Florida's State Flag "the Most Overtly Racist Symbol in the United States"?". Miami New Times. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- Garvin, Glenn (June 24, 2015). "Historians differ on whether Florida flag echoes Confederate banner". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
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