26 February, 2010

The Gadsden/Bonnie Blue Comparison

The Gadsden Flag is more like the Bonnie Blue than the Stars & Stripes.

In 1774 there were no united states. There was no united States. A minority faction of revolutionary thinkers, fundamental rights advocates and free-staters came together and penned a mighty document to provide future generations a foundation of liberty and personal responsibility.

Nearly every single one of those men died destitute or as an outlaw against the government which ruled at the time, that of King George, III of Great Britain.

There were few galvanizing events that shook these patriots (note the use of "patriots" before the existence of any nationality to ascribe) to the core was the confiscation of their personal arms. These men knew, as we do now, that in every instance where a tyrannical government has taken the effort to remove the ability (for they can never completely take the WILL) to defend themselves and their lands then they become slaves to that same government, unable to defend against despotism and abusive executive disposition.

In 1774 there was no flag. There was no "Stars & Stripes". There were only Thirteen (13) independent colonial subdivisions. Prior to the misapplication of the 14th Amendment and federally mandated "nationhood", these several, separate states were independent countries. They had no signal, no icon behind which to rally.

Enter the Gadsden Flag. Modeled after Patrick Henry's "Culpeper Militia" flag which was inspired by Benjamin Franklin's "Join or die" the flag depicted the thirteen colonies as rattles on the snakes tail, each united against a common foe, the British Government and King George, III, who ruled from afar and without perspective.

The Gadsden Flag was not a symbol of a united people for a common government. It was a symbol of soildarity of a minority against an usurping, interfering nationalist, centrist government, at whose head sat the King of England. After the Culpeper Minutemen's display, many brigades and commands took up the Gadsden for its simple message "Don't Tread On Me" which meant, simply "Leave me alone and let me live my life the way I see fit."

Recently a large number of "tea party" groups have adopted this flag to fly in display of their disillusionment of the present federal government's banking and Wall Street bailouts, nationalization of healthcare and industry and general displeasure with the course in which this country has been led. Side-by-side these "tea party patriots" fly the Gadsden Flag and the Star & Stripes of the same government whose actions they oppose.

In 1860 a group of Southern States, believing that the founders had provided them with a means and a duty to abolish or reject the federal government decided that the time to exercise their God-given right to be free had come. They similarly adopted a flag that could unite them against a centrist, nationalist tyranny. The Bonnie Blue flag had previously been used by the Independent and sovereign state of South Florida and was recognized, similarly to the Lone Star of Texas, as a symbol of state sovereignty and self-governance.

The original compact of the states was for them to be the supreme rulers of the federal government and for the people to empower those governments with ONLY the powers they deemed necessary to protect their sovereign rights. Since the invasion of Lincoln's armies in 1861, the dispute has been considered closed by many based on the merit of force-of-arms being the deciding factor. It is true, had France not intervened in the Colonies's bid for independence (read: secession) from the British Empire, our Independence would have been rendered null and based on sheer force of arms to coerce compliance from a willfully disobedient people.

The Gadsden Flag, for all that it represents, does not hearken to a people united to install an all-powerful, centralized federal hierarchy that would rule over them and force them to abide by its will. It was quite the opposite. The Gadsden was raised over a Continental (a "confederated") Navy and flown as a standard by makeshift armies of men who desired freedom from such a government. It is estimated that only one-third of all subjects at the time desired force of arms as a path to liberty. A full third desired to remain loyal to the British empire and the remaining third were either apathetic or preferred to continue diplomatic engagements for a peaceful solution.

In truth, the revolutionary spirit, the one that was once originally considered "patriotism" for its wanting to be liberated from Britain is the same spirit that is condemned and demonized by the liberal media cartels and neo-conservatives. These people today would represent the Tories and those who favor diplomacy and reform (respectively) rather than patriots.

The Gadsden Flag was flown as a symbol of confederation in a common cause, liberation from the British empire, but never for the purpose of reforming or revolutionizing the existing system. It was flown by thirteen separate, individual, sovereign nations who had come together in congress to independence from a common oppressor. These thirteen colonies remained as independent and wholly sovereign entities for almost five years before a compact could be agreed upon for a loose association of the existing several governments.

The original compact (and that which followed) specifically reserved all powers not delegated to the federal body to the states or the people. This government existed for less than two decades before it was decided that it did not appreciably address certain important details of common interest between the states and left the fragile new republic in jeopardy of itself.

Upon ratification and accession of the Constitution, the member states previously of the "permanent" (the only document to ever refer to such was the Articles of Confederation) union essentially seceded from that compact to form another that suited them better. Several states (Virginia included) wrote into their ratification statements that they reserved the right to exit such compact at any time that they felt it no longer served their interests or became too cumbersome or overbearing. In 1860 several states, believing that it was their sovereign right to abandon or abolish such government that acted to usurp and subjugate, attempted to peacefully leave the voluntary union.

And, much like King George in 1774, Abraham Lincoln could not allow the taxable base and conscription of the Southern people to leave. In a mere 72 years the united State government had devolved into the exact government itself had fought to abjure in 1774.

The Gadsden Flag was flown by separate, sovereign citizens representing independent countries, thirteen of them, who wished to be separated from tyranny. They knew this was only possible through their cooperative efforts, but it in no way implied them to be a united country. The Gadsden Flag should not be flown at "tea parties" unless the citizens flying them are intent on the abolishment of and separation from the federal government. The Gadsden Flag is a flag of liberation FROM tyranny, not a flag of compromise nor of reform.

Abjure the realm. The Bonnie Blue and the Gadsden Flag represent individual sovereignty and individual and state-level esprit-de-corps in DEFIANCE of an overreaching, all-powerful federal government. They DO NOT represent compromise, obedience or complicity with the status-quo of the current regime.


  1. The Gadsden Flag was originally a Naval Flag, the standard of Continental Navy Commodore Esek Hopkins, based on the artwork on a drumhead witnessed by Benjamin Franklin, and later recreated by SC Patriot Christopher Gadsden, who forwarded this new flag to the Commodore. This apparently took place sometime after December 1775.
    The following was recorded in the South Carolina congressional journals:
    "Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, "Don't Tread on Me!"

    The on again off again Bonnie Blue Flag (1st use 1810 in Fla, 2nd use in 1860, 3rd use as Somalia National Flag) was a popular banner of secession in some sections of the south, but not all. 2 examples are the Georgia secession banner which was a white field with a red star, and the SC secession banner that was a red fishtail flag with a white star and crescent.

    I reckon the 1st popular flag used by Continental forces that displayed a combined 13 seperate and sovriegn entities joined in unified opposition to King George and British tyranny was the Grand Union flag flown by Continental Army Commander George Washington

  2. I was concentrating less on its general use (anybody can read Wikipedia) an more on its value as a representative of an ANTI-FEDERAL movement which arose from distrust and disillusionment with the central government (British crown) of the day by a confederated group of SEPARATE states.

    The point is that the Gadsden is not a symbol of "American" patriotism, rather of personal patriotism and activism against an usurping government.

    It is not about repairing a broken system. It is about abolishing, by force if necessary, a tyrannical regime and abjuring its authority.