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Isle of Eight Flags

Posted on April 18, 2016 |
Flags fly over the porch of the Florida House Inn in Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach
Amelia Island is the only place in America where eight different flags have flown. Take a look at this colorful history (and impress people by being able to name all eight in order.)  

French Flag 1562-1564
French Huguenots led by explorer Jean Ribault were the first Europeans to arrive. They established a short-lived settlement at the mouth of the St. Johns River near what is now Jacksonville.  The flag representing this period is called the Blue Capetian Banner. 

Spanish Flag 1565-1763 and 1783-1821
Marked with an x-shaped cross to symbolize the rough branches of the tree on which Saint André, was crucified, The Burgundian Saltire represented Spanish rule in Florida. The island was mostly notable for its missions in the first period, and, in the second became a thriving center for trade (and smuggling.)

British Flag 1763-1783
James Oglethorpe scouted the area and named the island in honor of Princess Amelia, the daughter of King George II.  The red Cross of St. George, the patron saint of England combines with the white Scottish Cross of St. Andrew to form the Union Flag.

Patriots Flag 1812
With secret U.S. blessings, the "Patriots of Amelia Island" overthrew the Spanish and hoisted their own flag on March 17th.  They replaced it with the U.S. flag the next day, but Spain demanded the island’s return. The Latin “Salus populi lex suprema” means “The well-being of the people is the supreme law.” 

Green Cross Flag 1817 
The Scottish adventurer Sir Gregor MacGregor led a small band of men to capture the island from its Spanish defenders on June 29th, raising the Green Cross of Florida flag without firing a shot. Four months later, they were forced to leave.

Mexican Revolutionary Flag 1817
As MacGregor ran out of money for men and munitions, he left Amelia under the care of Ruggles Hubbard and Jared Irwin, who joined with the pirate Luis Aury to raise the Mexican rebel flag.  US Troops occupied the island in December and held it “in trust for Spain.”

National Flag of the Confederacy 1861-1862
Confederates took over Fort Clinch in April 1861, but federal troops regained it on March 3, 1862 and occupied Fernandina for the duration of the War.

United States 1821-Present 
Spain ceded Florida to the US in 1821. The prosperity of the late 1800s prompted a building boom including two elegant hotels attracting well-heeled visitors such as the Vanderbilts, DuPonts, and Carnegies. Early in the 20th century, the modern shrimping industry was founded here.

To learn more, take the fascinating one-hour “Eight Flags Tour” held twice a day at the Amelia Island Museum of  History. Included free with admission to the museum, the tour provides an in-depth, insider’s view of the museum’s popular Eight Flags Gallery.  All eight flags are on display at the Amelia Island Welcome Center, staffed by friendly ambassadors who stand ready to help you make the most of your own explorations.

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About Amelia Island

Located just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is easy to reach, but hard to forget. With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved destination for visitors and residents alike.

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