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The flag that flies over the southern state of Florida in the beginning of the 21st century is the same flag from a century before. Created three years after the end of the Civil War, the modern state flag originally featured just the state seal on a vast field of white. In 1890, however, then-Governor Francis Fleming suggested that the flag, limp on a pole, could resemble the white flag of surrender. In 1900, the modern flag was complete, when the legislature, followed by the voters, changed the state constitution to add the red "X" of St. Andrew from corner to corner.
This is not the only time that Florida's state flag has included a blood-red cross. The Cross of Burgundy flew over Florida when the state fell under the rule of Spanish viceroyalty in the 14th to 17th centuries. St. Andrew was the patron saint of Spain's colonial viceroyalty, the House of Burgundy, and the cross's "X," or saltire, is barbed in that version of the flag, as if twigs have been shorn from two, overlapping branches.
According to the Florida Division of Historical Resources, these red, diagonal lines on Florida's state flag were meant to represent the branches of the tree from which St. Andrew was lynched. The state of Alabama also bears St. Andrew's diaganol cross, but does not include its state seal. No other state flags follow this symbolic pattern.
The historic seal at the middle of Florida's state flag, officially adopted by voters in 1868, is a reflection of some of Florida's attributes. A Seminole Indian woman is spreading flowers along the green land that meets a blue shore. On the distant waters is a gleaming sun and steamboat. Originally, the Native American woman was dwarfed by a cocoa tree, but in 1953, the sabal palm was adopted as the state tree, replacing the cocoa tree on the seal.
Between the end of Spanish rule in 1821 until the end of the Civil War in 1865, Florida's state flag had a few styles, none of which looked anything like the modern version. Shortly after the state was adopted as the 27th U.S. state in 1845, Florida's state flag was the same as the historic "lone star" flag of Texas. After succeeding from the union, several versions were adopted and then later scrapped, until the eventual loss to the North and the dawn of the modern American era.
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