Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adoption of the Confederate Florida State Flag, 150 years ago today

Florida's Confederate State Flag
adopted today 150 years ago today

The Confederacy had hundreds of flags under its name. There were three versions of the national flag, different battle and regimental flags, and perhaps the best remembered is the rectangular version of the battle flag. Remember that the battle flag was officially square - in theory but not always in practice.

The second version of the Confederate Navy Jack looks like the dominant modern version seen on the covers of books, posters, and pickup trucks.

Less popular are the state flags adopted by the individual states within the Confederacy. And it was 150 years ago today, that Florida adopted its own State flag under the Confederacy. It was basically the Florida Confederate Seal on blue with a mixed design of the first version of the Official Confederate Flag.

The rare 11 starred Confederate Flag
'at equilibrium version'
From July 2, 1861 to November 26, 1861

The first version of Confederate flag had four versions, that varied with the numbers of stars in the canton. The number of stars varied between 7, 9, 11, and 13. They were linked to the number of states in the Confederacy. Note that the Confederate flag never had an even number of stars - at least officially.

The seal featured a tree in the center by the shore. There are two ships in the distance. In front of the tree is a cannon pointing towards to hoist. To the right of the tree are a tepee stack of flags and pikes - on the far right is the Confederate Flag (eleven stars), while on the left you can see the Confederate Florida State Flag. To the left and in front of the tree is another tepee stack of four guns. Finally in the front foreground is a war drum and a pile of cannon shot.

In the ring around the seal is the Florida Confederate State Motto -
"In God is Our Trust."

Interestingly the Confederate Florida State Flag became official when 11 states made up the Confederacy. Over the course of the war, the Union only ever recognized 11 states as a part of the Confederacy. Before the end of 1861, two more states were accepted into the Confederacy - Missouri and Kentucky. However the Union never recognized this action, partly because the political efforts to join the Confederacy did not occur at either official state capital. Subsequently after the war neither Missouri nor Kentucky underwent Reconstruction.

So in a weird way the state flag of Florida under the Confederacy captures the eleven starred version of the Confederate Flag, before it had 13 stars. Eleven is also a point of political equilibrium when both the Union and Confederacy saw eye to eye, as to the number of states in rebellion. Also at this time, both the Union and Confederacy legally enforced and protected the institution of slavery.

The odd question is how many flags are on the Confederate Florida State flag? Since the seal repeats itself on the seal within - in theory it has an infinite number of Confederate flags. But in practice and reality there are only two flags on a Confederate Florida State Flag, maybe eight if you can sew real good?

The Confederate Florida State flag is the only 'US State Flag' to exhibit an 'infinite digression of design' since it features a seal that has its own flag on it - the inner seal has another pair of flags. Thus in theory there are and infinite number of Confederate Flags. It's like the phenomena of looking into two mirrors and seeing the an infinite reflection of reflections. But in the case of Florida's Confederate State Flag, the repeating flags would get smaller and smaller.

Ironically this design echoes of forever, is like a luminous shadow of the mystical fountain of youth.

The Florida State Flag with 11 starred National Confederate Flag
image is based on the flags as they appear
on the FL State Flag under the Confederacy

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