Is there a connection? You bet!
Back in April of 1982, in response to Federal actions which greatly damaged the economy of the Florida Keys, the City of Key West voted to secede from the United States. Thus was born the Conch Republic. Though Mayor Dennis Wardlaw (who became Prime Minister of the republic) and the city council knew they had no chance of actually becoming free from the United States, they used the inevitable press attention to make their case against the Feds.
What is most interesting from a Southern nationalist perspective is not only the formal act of secession and defiant spirit of the people of Key West but also the design of the flag which was chosen as the republic’s banner. The flag is blue with a golden sun in the centre, coming very close to fitting the description of Robert Barnwell Rhett’s proposed Confederate flag. In fact, the information we have on Rhett’s proposed flag is extremely limited and therefore it’s possible that the Conch Republic flag is closer to his design than is the image we at SNN have created. Additionally, Key West sits out in the Caribbean, which many Southern nationalists such as Rhett wished to eventually incorporate into an independent Southern-led confederation. This was the basis of the Golden Circle concept.
It might be of interest to some SNN readers that while visiting Key West 10 years or so ago I saw their secessionist flag displayed by many different people. At one outdoor bar I visited they played what I was told was the Conch Republic anthem and everyone stood and sang the song! Naturally, I was very impressed by the people’s spirit. The anthem, written by Michael McCloud, includes the lyrics, ‘I’d rather be here, drinking a beer, than freezing my ass in the North!’