Just how many flags did present-day Sarasota County fly?
Well, a lot of these flags are metaphoric, since there weren’t a lot of folk around here for many years, and they were far too busy tripping over saw palmetto roots to bother with flags, but here’s a quick rundown to amuse you and amaze (and quite possibly bore) your friends and family:
1513: Near present-day St. Augustine, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León came ashore and claimed the territory for the Spanish crown. Cleverly dubbed the “Castle and Lion” flag, this was actually the King’s flag, since in 1513 there was no national flag of Spain.
1565: The indigenous folks were indignant, though, so successful Spanish colonization of the Florida peninsula actually began at St. Augustine in 1565. The Burgundian saltire, or Cross of Burgundy, represented Spanish rule in Florida from 1565 to 1763. (BTW: That saw-tooth design? It’s actually, really, called raguly.)
Those French, they have to do it twice, oui? The French established a short-lived settlement, in 1564, near Jacksonville at the mouth of the St. Johns River. During this period there was no single official flag for France. Their flag may have had a blue field which bore the royal golden fleurs-de-lys. The French also occupied Pensacola from 1719 to 1722 during the War of the Quadruple Alliance.
The red Cross of St. George, the patron saint of England, was the major element of the British flag. In combination with the white Scottish Cross of St. Andrew, it formed the Union flag. This flag flew over Florida from 1763 until 1784.
Yup, the Spaniards did it twice too. Charles III created this Spanish national flag in 1785. It flew over Florida until the United States took official possession of the territory in 1821.
The United States government admitted Florida as the twenty-seventh state on March 3, 1845. By law, new stars were added to the national flag on the fourth of July following the admission of each new state, so a twenty-seventh star was added for Florida on July 4, 1845.
During the Civil War, Floridians fought under several different patterns of Confederate flags. The “Stars and Bars” flag, now called the Confederate first national pattern, was selected (without a formal vote) by the Confederate government in March 1861. Read how the Confederacy ran through several design changes, all the while waging war.
Bonus points if you can identify this flag and where and when it was flown. Gold star if you remember any of your high-school Latin. (Click the graphic for the answer.)
Further reading and sources: History.com inspired this blog post. Each flag links to more info about its time period flying over Florida. And this way cool interactive map shows the contemporary boundaries of what we now call Florida. The various designs of the state flag can be seen here, and the Muskogee, Miccosukee, and Seminole flags are here.