Flag Facts Friday

Flag of Florida

The flag of Florida, often referred to as the Florida flag, is the state flag of Florida. It consists of a red saltire on a white background, with the state seal superimposed on the center.[1] 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.[2] It is one of three U.S. state flags to feature the words "In God We Trust" (the U.S. motto), with the other two being those of Georgia and Mississippi.

Burgundian saltires captured by the Dutch in their war of independence at the Assembly of the States General of the Netherlands in 1651.

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.[4]

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 the Florida Provinces (las Floridas) after the Siege of Pensacola and the Treaty of Paris. In 1785, King Charles III chose a new naval and battle flag for Spain, which was now a more centralized nation-state, and its crown territories. This tri-band of red-gold-red was used with the Burgundian saltire in the provinces of East and West Florida until they joined the United States in 1821, finally achieving recognition as a state in 1845.

Provisional Flag after Secession

Between 1821 and 1861, Florida had no official flag. In 1845, at the inauguration of Governor William D. Moseley, a flag was flown with bars of blue, gold, red, white and green, along with the motto "Let Us Alone", however, this never was an official flag.[5] The Naval Ensign of Texas, was used as a provisional flag between January and September 1861,[6] after Florida seceded from the Union and declared itself a "sovereign and independent nation",[7] 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 a red St. Andrew's Cross be added so that it would not appear to be a white flag of truce hanging limp on a flagpole. Floridians approved the addition of St. Andrew's Cross by popular referendum in 1900.[8] 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