jdmyprez (jdmyprez) wrote in civil_war_rebel,

Bonnie Blue Flag...It's historical connotations

I am sure you have all heard the song by Harry McCarthy entitled "The Bonnie Blue Flag". I often wondered when I was in my early teens how a new Government could generate such excitement by simply showing a blue flag with a solitary white star upon it. When I was 13 I set out to find out why and ended up comming across a long story that most modern history books and Historians have forgotten. The flag is first seen in North America in Western Florida during a time when the Spanish ruled the area. The area known as "West Florida" was a long debated over area that came into being after the end of the French and Indian War. The British took control over the Spanish colony of Florida and portions of the French territory (at least a third of what is now Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana). The area proved to be too large of an assignment for just one British Governor to control so the the newly acquired territory was divided into two colonies, East Florida, which comprised most of what is now the main body of the State of Florida and West Florida, which today is made of the Florida panhandle and sections of Alabama, Mississippi, and Lousiana. The territory remained in British control until the end of the American Revolutionary war and signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. As per the agreement of the Treaty, the British agreed to cede both East and West Florida back to Spain and so once again the Florida territories came under the Control of the Spanish. Almost before the ink on the treaty was dry there was a problem. Spain refused to acknowledge the boundaries as they were at the end of the war and demanded that they take control of all of what they thought was their territory. The new United States refused to accept that and the result pushed the two nations to the brink of warfare. The dispute was thankfully resolved when Spain backed down and accepted the old boundary line when they agreed upon the treaty of San Lorenzo. In 1800 Spain and France signed a treaty (cant remember the exact name of that treaty, sorry :-( ) that returned control of the Louisiana Colony to the French. The lesson of the Treaty of Paris was not learned as once again Spain failed to make sure the boundary was determined in the treaty. This failure led to tensions between the two nations as they both demanded control over portions of West Florida. This dispute was short lived because in 1803 France sold its territory to the fledgling United States, this included the territory that was in dispute with Spain. The U.S. and Spain began negotiations but while they were in talks a whole new problem came about. The area of West Florida was being overrun with colonists from America. That would not have been a major issue but the settlers in this region did not allign themselves with either the United States or the Spanish. Before long the colonists had formed militias and had declared war on Spain. This rebellion was crushed by Spain in short order but Spain had failed to kill the idea or the spirit. In 1810, the colonists officially declared West Florida as an independent Republic. The militias of West Florida made it to the Spanish Garrison in Baton Rogue and captured the facility whereupon they immediately revealed the new flag of their nation. This flag consisted of a blue field with a single white star in the center. It quickly became known by the Scottish colonists to this area as the "Bonnie Blue Flag". As we all know, West Florida would shrink and end up disolving into one state that would go on to be admitted to the Union but the flag had become notorious as a symbol of freedom. The flag would again show up during the more well known Texas Rebellion (only this time wityh a yellow star) and would show up again in California where it served as the inspiration for an early pattern of that state's flag. From here, the story gets a bit tricky. On January 9th, 1861 the State of Mississippi suceeded from the Union and raised the "bonnie blue flag" over it's statehouse. It is said by some that Harry McCarthy (who was present at the raising of the flag) wrote his famous song after witnessing this but I personally believe that the song came from the flags unveiling in Baton Rogue, LA in that same year where again Harry McCarthy was present. At the sucession convention in Louisiana, the vote came announcing that Lousiana would be the next state to leave the Union. The crowd let our a roar that shook the earth and a woman with tears in her eyes jumped on the state that the announcement was made from and began waving the "Bonnie Blue Flag" to signify their independence. Harry McCarthy was moved by this scene and very shortly after this moment the song "Bonnie Blue Flag" started to appear in the form of sheet music all throughout the South where it became a instant favorite among soldiers and civillians. Harry McCarthy shortly after that would sing the song in front of an audience for the very first in New Orleans. My next "Random Crap" post will be about what happened the first time the song was performed live.
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That really is interesting. I've always wondered where the "Bonnie Blue Flag" came from. Thanks for posting this. =)