Republic of West Florida: September 1810
- Published: Wednesday, 28 September 2011 09:38
A small area of the southern United States bordered by the Mississippi River on the west, the Perdido River on the east, the 31st parallel on the north, and a line from the northern banks of Lake Pontchartrain across to the Gulf of Mexico was known as the Republic of West Florida for a whopping 90 days.
In June of 1810, representatives from the sixteen counties that would become the Republic of West Florida began to meet to discuss their displeasure with the Spanish government’s management of the region. During these meetings, Melissa Johnson, wife of Major Isaac Johnson who commanded the West Florida Dragoons, was elected to create a flag that would properly represent the delegates’ feelings. Because the region was neither a part of the United States nor French Louisiana, and the citizens of the region no longer wanted to be a part of Spanish territory, she decided on a single white star in a field of blue, to represent the desire to stand alone. The flag of the Republic of West Florida would come to be known as the Bonnie Blue Flag and would be used by the Republic of Texas in that territory’s struggle against Spain and later as the unofficial Flag of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
On September 23, 1810, militia forces of West Florida overran the Spanish fort at Baton Rouge, LA. They raised the flag of the Republic of West Florida and declared their independence from Spain. Representatives met at St. Francisville, the capitol, and created the Constitution of West Florida. They elected legislators and a governor, Fulwar Skipwith. However the life of the Republic would be a short one. One month after the attack on Baton Rouge, President James Madison announced that the newly formed Republic was actually part of the Louisiana Purchase and the region would be annexed into the United States. Initially, Governor Skipwith and the West Florida government were conflicted with the annexation but would eventually realize the economic value in becoming a part of the U.S. In December of 1810, St. Francisville was turned over to the federal government and the Republic of West Florida would fade into history.