Saturday, August 22, 2020

Liberty Flags of our Fathers--The Bonnie Blue Flag

 by Al Benson Jr.

Most Southern patriots are familiar with the Bonne Blue Flag and the song that goes along with it. For a long time I had a Bonnie Blue Flag flying at my house.

The history of that flag goes all the way back to the early 1800s all the way back to when Spain and France had a disagreement as to whether West Florida was included in the area each country claimed. When Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 he sort of inherited the debate. The inhabitants of West Florida were mostly people that spoke English and they were not real happy with either France or Spain, neither of which could deal with them in English.

A revolt took place in West Florida in 1803, led by the three Kemper Brothers. And while it was not successful, it told the Spanish they had better start taking the English-speaking folks in West Florida a bit more seriously. So Spain started dribbling out a few more liberties to them. A second revolt ensued in 1810, led by a Major Isaac Johnson He led a march to the capital in Baton Rouge, which was captured in late September of that year. A new flag was then raised over the fort there, which consisted of a single white star on a field of dark  blue. Shortly afterward a Declaration of Independence was passed and the Republic of West Florida came into being. The same flag was then adopted as their national flag.

The Republic was rather short-lived. In late October U. S. President James Madison proclaimed that West Florida was, in reality, part of the Louisiana Territory. The U. S. flag was then raised over the fort, but, by this juncture, the  image of the Bonnie Blue Flag had burned itself into the memories of  the Southern folks in that area as a symbol of liberty.

When the Republic of Texas came into being a similar flag was adopted, with Texas still being known as the Lone Star State. And in January of 1861, when Mississippi seceded from the Union and established the Republic of Mississippi, another blue flag with a single star was raised in Jackson.

In the audience at that event in Jackson was an Irish actor named Harry McCarthy. He was inspired to compose lyrics pertaining to the flag and he set them to a tune from where he was born. He called his turn The Bonnie Blue Flag. 

Some say this became the first flag of The Confederate States, but there is some debate over that. Whether it was accurate or not, the Bonnie Blue became, at least, an unofficial Confederate flag and still is today. The lyrics of McCarthy's tune are still enough, even today, to stir the hearts of Southern patriots. If you want to see or hear the words of the song just go on the net and type in Lyrics for the Bonnie Blue Flag into a search engine. You will probably find several different videos or sets of lyrics for the tune.

No comments: