In obedience to the order of Congress I have the Honor of transmitting to your Excellency herewith enclosed, a Copy of an Ordinance of his Catholic Majesty of 28th May last, directing what flags should in future be used by the Navy and Merchant Ships of Spain, with a Design of those Flags annexed.
To avoid the inconveniences and prejudices which it appears from Experience may be occasioned by the National Flag used by my Navy and other Spanish Vessels, not being distinguishable from each other at a great Distance, or in calm weather from those and other Nations, I have resolved that for the future my Ships of War shall use a Flag divided in its Breadth into three Stripes, the upper and lower one shall be red and the Width of each shall be a fourth part of the whole; the middle shall be yellow, and in it shall be placed the Scutcheon of my Royal Arms reduced to the two Quarters of Castile and Leon with the Royal Crown over it, and the Pendant with the same three Stripes and the Scutcheon at Large on a Square of Yellow in the upper part and that all other Vessels use, (without the Scutcheon) the same Colors, the middle stripe being Yellow, and in Breadth the third part of the Flag, and each one of the remaining parts being divided into two equal Stripes, red and yellow alternately, the whole according to the annexed Design.
No other Flags shall be used in the Northern Seas for Europe to the Latitude of Tenerife in the Ocean and in the Mediterranean, of the first of the year, 1786. In North America after the Beginning of July following, and in the other Seas after the first of the year, 1787. Let this be understood that it may be observed. Signed with the Hand of His Majesty at Aranjues the twenty-eighth day of May, 1785, A. D.