Our New Southern Star

Bonnie Blue Campbell, miniature North American Shepherd (“Aussie”), born 21 May 2017.

For Bonnie Blue Campbell.

STAR OF THE SOUTH.

Star of the South! Break forth on the nation!
Break forth o’er the land, beam out on the sea!
We’ve watched for thy coming with blind adoration–
They never are slaves who will to be free!

Our fathers bequeathed to our guardian keeping
Their own institutions. and our liberty;
Let our enemies find, tho’ they dreamed we were sleeping,
They never are slaves who will to be free.

High up in the sky steals out in her splendour,
Our new Southern Star in fresh brilliancy,
With all of the glory that Heaven can lend her
They never are slaves who will to be free.

Blest with thy light, their countenance beaming,
Thy children are turning their eyes unto thee,
In the varied expanse where thy beauty is beaming
For they never are slaves who will to be free.

Tho’ Mars all a-glow should kindle in ire,
Thou Star of our hope, burn brighter than he,
Till our enemies think the Heavens on fire
They never are slaves who will to be free.

We’ll fling out our flag that the breath of the South,
Ensnared in its folds, may lift it to thee;
From the banks of Potomac to the Old Father’s mouth,
They’ll never be slaves who will to be free.

Then Star of the South! Break forth in thy glory,
Uncurtained by clouds, beam out on the sea!
Till our children unborn shall inherit the story,
They never are slaves who will to be free!

— Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. 32, Issue 4, Apr 1861; pp. 287-288.

Our Just Rights Will Be Respected

…wherever the voice of justice and humanity can be heard, our declaration, and our just rights will be respected. But the blood which flows in our veins, like the tributary streams which form and sustain the father of rivers, encircling our delightful country, will return if not impeded, to the heart of our parent country. The genius of Washington, the immortal founder of the liberties of America, stimulates that return, and would frown upon our cause, should we attempt to change its course.

— Fulwar Skipwith, 1st (and only) Governor of the Republic of West Florida,
Inaugural Address,  1810.

* * *

On 23 September 1810, after meetings beginning in June, rebels overcame the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge and unfurled the flag of the new republic: a single white star on a blue field. This flag was made by Melissa Johnson, wife of Major Isaac Johnson, the commander of the West Florida Dragoons. It would later become known as the “Bonnie Blue Flag.”

The boundaries of the Republic of West Florida included all territory south of the 31st parallel, west of the Perdido River, and east of the Mississippi River, but north of Lake Pontchartrain. The southern boundary was the Gulf of Mexico. It included Baldwin and Mobile counties in what is now Alabama; the Mississippi counties of Hancock, Pearl River, Harrison, Stone, Jackson, and George, as well as the southernmost portions of Lamar, Forrest, Perry, and Wayne counties; and the Louisiana parishes of East Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Washington. Despite its name, none of present-day Florida lies within its borders. The capital of the Republic of  West Florida was St. Francisville in present-day Louisiana, on a bluff along the Mississippi River.

On 27 October 1810, West Florida was annexed to the United States by proclamation of President James Madison, who claimed it as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Initially, Skipwith and the government of West Florida were opposed to the proclamation, preferring to negotiate terms to join the Federal Union as a separate state. However, William C. C. Claiborne, who was sent to take possession, refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the West Florida government. Skipwith and the legislature reluctantly agreed to accept Madison’s proclamation.

* * *

Born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, Fulwar Skipwith was a distant cousin of Thomas Jefferson. Skipwith studied at the College of William & Mary, but left at age 16 to enlist in the army during the American Revolution. He served at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. After American Independence was achieved, he entered the tobacco trade.

Following the French Revolution of 1789, Skipwith was appointed US Consul to the French colony of Martinique in 1790. He experienced the turmoil of the revolution, and the aftermath of the abortive slave insurrection in Martinique before departing in 1793. In 1795,  he was appointed Consul-General in Paris under Ambassador James Monroe.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Virginia regimental flag captured in fighting on April 2, 1865, by Captain William Van Ormer of the 53rd Pennsylvania.
Virginia regimental flag captured in fighting on April 2, 1865, by Captain William Van Ormer of the 53rd Pennsylvania.

For Southern Rights Hurrah!

Cover of sheet music for “The Bonnie Blue Flag” by Harry Macarthy.

Here’s to Our Confederacy

Cover of sheet music for the popular song The Bonnie Blue Flag.

The third verse of the song misstates the order in which the states seceded from the Union. The dates on which the states seceded are as follows:

South Carolina (December 20, 1860), Mississippi (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10, 1861), Alabama (January 11, 1861), Georgia (January 19, 1861), Louisiana (January 26, 1861), Texas (February 1, 1861), Virginia (April 17, 1861), Arkansas (May 6, 1861), North Carolina (May 20, 1861), and Tennessee (June 8, 1861).

Thus, Alabama did not take South Carolina by the hand, but delayed its secession until the departure of Mississippi and Florida. The most likely reason for the discrepancy is literary license and a desire to fit within a certain poetic meter.

* * *

We are a band of brothers
And native to the soil,
Fighting for the property
We gained by honest toil;
And when our rights were threatened,
The cry rose near and far–
“Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star!”

CHORUS:
Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.

As long as the Union
Was faithful to her trust,
Like friends and like brothers
Both kind were we and just;
But now, when Northern treachery
Attempts our rights to mar,
We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.

First gallant South Carolina
Nobly made the stand,
Then came Alabama,
Who took her by the hand.
Next quickly Mississippi,
Georgia and Florida
All raised on high the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.

Ye men of valor, gather round
The banner of the right;
Texas and fair Louisiana
Join us in the fight.
Davis, our loved president,
And Stephens statesman are;
Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.

And here’s to old Virginia–
The Old Dominion State–
Who with the young Confederacy
At length has linked her fate;
Impelled by her example,
Now other states prepare
To hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.

Then cheer, boys, cheer;
Raise the joyous shout,
For Arkansas and North Carolina
Now have both gone out;
And let another rousing cheer
For Tennessee be given,
The single star of the Bonnie Blue Flag
Has grown to be eleven.

Then here’s to our Confederacy,
Strong are we and brave;
Like patriots of old we’ll fight
Our heritage to save.
And rather than submit to shame,
To die we would prefer;
So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.

— Lyrics by Harry Macarthy (d. 1880).

The Bonnie Blue Flag.