​Texas's Flag History

The official flag of Texas was adopted in session by the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas in Houston, January 25, 1839, on motion of William H. Wharton, Oliver Jones and others. It specified that the flag should consist of "a blue perpendicular stripe of the width of one-third of the whole length of the flag and a white star of five points in the center thereof and two horizontal stripes of equal length and breadth, the upper stripe of white, the lower of red, of the length of two thirds of the length of the whole flag." There was no other specification of the Flag of Texas until a statute was passed by the Forty-Third Legislature (Acts of 1933, p. 186, ch. 87) clarifying but not changing the original description given here. The statute did add specifications, however, one being that the star, from topmost to lowest points, shall be approximately one-third the depth of the blue field.

The Texas State Flag
National Standard of Texas adopted on 1836

On December 10, 1836, President Sam Houston approved the first national flag of the Republic of Texas. This flag, known as the "National Standard of Texas" displayed a large golden five pointed star centered on an azure ground. This flag flew over the Republic of Texas until January 25, 1839.

A bill describing the "Lone Star Flag", a flag that would become the second official flag of the Republic of Texas, was introduced on December 28, 1838 by Senator William H. Wharton. The bill was, of course, referred to committee and this committee proposed a substitute bill including the same flag design proposed by Senator Wharton. This bill was passed by the Texas Congress on January 21, 1839 and approved by Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar on January 25, 1839. This was almost six years before Texas became a member of the United States of America.

Early designs of the flag are attributed to many including Joanna Troutman, Sara Dodson, Charles Bellinger Stewart, Peter Krag and William Wharton, but it was long held that the actual designer of the Lone Star Flag was not known. The Texas House "may" have put an end to the mystery in 1997. House Resolution 1123, Commemorating Montgomery County as the birthplace of the Lone Star Flag, declares:

Colors in the flags of both the United States and Texas mean red for courage, white for purity and liberty and blue for loyalty. The committee, headed by Oliver Jones, which wrote the recommendations in 1839 for the present Lone Star Flag, specified that the meanings should be white for peace, red for war and blue for friendship. However, this part of the recommendation was not adopted by the Texas Congress, and the meanings of the colors in the national and state flags are commonly accepted as being identical.

The Texas flag is the only flag of an American State having previously served as a flag of a recognized independent country.

The Lone Star Flag described above was not the first official flag of the Republic of Texas. A flag consisting of a blue field with a large central gold star was adopted by the first Texas Congress, December 10, 1836. The design was suggested by President David G. Burnet and it is sometimes called the "Burnet flag." It was the flag of the Republic from 1836-1839. At the same time, the Congress adopted a Texas Navy flag which had been officially recognized as early as April 9, 1836, by President Burnet. This flag, described in Brown's History, was composed of "union, blue star central, with thirteen prolonged stripes, alternate red and white." It was like the United States flag except there was a single star on the blue field. There is also record of a convention-adopted flag in May, 1836, by a committee of five including Lorenzo de Zavala. This flag, consisting of a blue field and a white star with the letters T E X A S between points of the star, seems not to have been given more than momentary official recognition.

Many flags have flown over Texas with varying degrees of sovereign authority and of these, six are most widely mentioned in the history of Texas. They are the sovereign flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Southern Confederacy and the United States. The above flags are in one classification, a second classification included a large number of flags flown by various military units during the Texas Revolution prior to adoption of the Lone Star Flag officially in 1839 and a third classification of flags is recognized during the turbulent period of 1811-1821 when several attempts were made to free Texas from Spanish rule, following the failure of the Hidalgo revolt in Mexico.

The Spanish flag, the red cross of St. Andrew on a white field - was flown from 1519, when Pieda explored the Texas coast, until 1668 and again from 1707 until 1785. Sometime between 1668 and 1707, the colors were reversed - the white cross on the red field. Either color arrangement might be used appropriately in a group of the six flags, although the white field with the red cross was in use longer. The cross of St. Andrew was also called the cross of Bourgogne since St. Andrew was patron saint of the feudal lords of Bourgogne. The French flag was a white cross with scattered golden fleurs-de-lis, planted on Texas soil by LaSalle, according to most authorities. Although used by LaSalle as the personal flag of the King, it was not properly the national emblem.

The Mexican flag is a tri-color of green (next to staff), white (center) and red. On the white field is the coat-of-arms of Mexico: the eagle above the cactus with a serpent in its beak. The flag of the 1821 era is sometimes represented with the coat-of-arms enclosed by a wreath of laurel and oak.

Three different flags were adopted by the southern Confederacy. The first one, the Stars and Bars, is best known, and consists of a blue field in the upper corner, next to the staff, with white stars in a circular position and three stripes (bars), two of red and one of white. Probably this flag should be given preference in the group of six flags. The battle flag of the Confederacy - red field with blue cross and white stars -is often used.

Many different banners were raised in revolt against Mexico, largely flags of individual military units. Prior to the Revolution, a number of independent flags were flown over Texas. During the era of filibusters and revolts against Spain from 1811 to 1821, the flags of Louis Aury and Jean Lafitte, privateers, were flown at Galveston. Dr. James Long from Mississippi hoisted a flag of red and white stripes with a red field and a white star in 1819. Possibly this was the very first "lone star" flag.

Link here to the Texas State Historical Society for facts, figures and history of Texas.