Beyond a doubt, Texas has the most widely recognizable American state flag. Seeing the Lone Star flag flying below (or even along side of) Old Glory is a truly Texan sight to see. But what does the symbolism and colors of the Texas flag actually stand for? This question asks something that is as big as everything else in Texas is perceived to dish up. Texas Outside wanted to know why.
History of the Texas Flag
Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas, and Mirabeau B. Lamar, Texas’ second president, were on opposite sides of the legislature when it came to annexing Texas to the United States. But for nine years, Texas was a sovereign nation, and every nation has a flag. President Houston wanted peaceful coexistence with Native Americans and President Lamar dreamed of a Texas that stretched to the Pacific Ocean.
The Modern Day Texas Flag
The Texas Flag colors we fly today (the Lone Star Flag with a single star) was commissioned in 1836 and approved in 1839, after the first Republic of Texas flag of 1836. In 1861, along with the 1839 Texas flag, an unofficial Texas flag flew on poles with 15 stars that represented the 15 Confederate states. Most historical research points to Interim President David B. Burnet of 1836 and 1841, and Texas Vice President (1839-1841), as the designer of the 1836 flag which became the 1839 Texas flag.
The Burnet 1839 flag is the design our Texas flag proudly waves today. Burnet’s first 1836 Texas flag design was a blue field with a large gold star in the center, and today’s flag is his second design. The Texas State Historical Association reports, “Stephen F. Austin designed a proposed Texas flag that was never adopted, and some authorities also claim that Lorenzo de Zavala designed a Republic of Texas flag.”
Adoption of the Texas Flag Design
Legislative report on the 1839 Republic of Texas Legislative session adoption of today’s Texas flag:
“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 Texas flag 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 with one being that the star, “from topmost to lowest points, shall be approximately one-third the depth of the blue field.”
A disruption in the official Texas flag lasted from 1879 to 1933. The revised Civil Statutes of 1879 of the Texas Legislature repealed all statutes that were not renewed in a specific legislative way. The flag fell under those statutes. The only official flag from 1879 to 1933 flying over Texas was the U.S. Flag. The Texas legislature officially adopted the Texas State Flag with the single white star in 1933.
Texas Flag Colors
Oliver Jones, a key figure in the Republic of Texas Legislature’s first years, served in the War of 1812, was a Texas pioneer, an Indian fighter, and ended up in Mexico City in 1822. Jones met Stephen Austin right after Mexico won its independence from Spain. He returned to Texas with Austin and became one of the first receivers of the first land grants of Austin’s first Texas colony. After that he went on to play many roles in the Republic of Texas and Texas state politics.
When Jones serving in the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas as a senator, he was chairman of the committee appointed to produce a flag and a seal for the Republic of Texas in 1839. Jones’ committee wrote the recommendations for today’s Lone Star Flag. This committee specified that the meanings should be white for peace, red for war, and blue for friendship. The Texas Congress did not adopt those committee recommendations.
Texas Flag Meaning
Both the American and Texas flag colors held the meanings of red for courage, white for purity and liberty, and blue for loyalty back then. You can see that there was a bit of a discrepancy in the ideologies of the colors and their meanings between the U.S. Flag and the Lone Star Flag even in the beginning. Since the Texas Congress did not adopt Jones’ committee’s recommendations, Texas official sources report today that the meanings of the two flag’s colors are accepted as having the same meanings.
Confusion walks in again as to what the colors of the U.S. Flag symbolize. The official meaning of the U.S. Flag colors in the 21st century are that white symbolizes purity and innocence, red for hardiness and valor, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice. The Texas Flag Code specifies that the Texas Flag colors and meaning are white for purity and liberty, red for courage, and blue for loyalty.
Why Is the Lone Star the Symbol of Texas?
Mystery surrounds the actual meaning of the “Lone Star” on the Texas Flag. The Texas Flag Code of 1836 states that the single (lone) star “represents ALL of Texas and stands for our unity as one for God, State, and Country”.
Texas uses the Lone Star to represent Texas as the Lone Star State. Texas established this lone star as a Texas symbol before Texas won independence from Mexico. The Texas Revolution is also called War of Texas Independence. The Texas Lone Star made its appearance officially during the Texas Revolution and represented defiance, pride, and independence.
What 6 Countries Have Flown Their Flag Over Texas?
If Native Americans had been in play with flags in their days, there would have been way more than six flags claiming sovereignty over what is now the great State of Texas. Before the first European country, France, planted their flag over Texas, Texas was a land of nomadic and settled Native Americans. Many tribes inhabited and farmed permanent homes, while others journeyed across Texas and beyond, depending on food sources and weather.
The Sovereign National flags that have flown over Texas are:
- French Texas: 1684 to 1689
- Spanish Texas: 1716 to 1821
- Mexican Texas: 1821 to 1836
- The Republic of Texas: 1836 to 1845
- The United States: 1845 to 1861
- The Confederate States of America: 1861 to 1865
- The United States: 1845 to present except for 1861 to 1865
The Texas Flag Pledge
Did you know that Texas has a flag pledge? The Texas Flag Pledge was written to honor Texas’ history as once being a sovereign nation. Today, the pledge refers to the flag as it is now. The Texas Flag Pledge is to show respect for the State of Texas, along with its history. There is some doubt in historical research about the pledge.
The original Texas Flag Pledge of 1836 read: “Honor the Texas Flag of 1836; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.” This pledge referred to the Republic of Texas. In 1951, the pledge changed to, “Honor the Texas Flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.” The Texas legislature did not adopt the new wording until 1965.
Is the Texas Flag a Confederate Flag?
During the Civil War, the various Confederate States of America flags and the Texas flag flew over Texas. The confusion comes in about the Texas Flag being a Confederate flag with all the flags that were used by the different Confederate states. There were several national Confederate Flags. The Confederacy covered only four years, and that did not give the Confederate states much time to legislate a national Confederate flag.
No, the Texas Flag is not a Confederate Flag. In Montgomery, Alabama, the Confederate Assembly adopted a flag as the national flag of the Confederate States of America in March 1861. This flag waved for two years, but was never officially adopted. As you can see, it took the Texas legislature three years (1836 to 1839) to adopt today’s Texas Flag design.
The Confederate States of America Flag
The first Confederate States of America Flag used a blue square in the upper left corner with seven stars representing the seven original Confederate states, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas, This flag had two red stripes and one white stripe and was the original Stars and Bars Flag with a blue square and stars. It officially flew for two years, but was also never adopted by legislation. To add to the confusion, an unofficial Texas flag flew with 15 stars that represented the eventual 15 Confederate states during the Civil War.
The Army of Northern Virginia designed a battle flag which was used as the second national flag of the Confederacy. It flew from May 1, 1863, to March 4, 1865. Its design was similar to the Stars and Bars Flag we recognize today. To save money, it was square instead of rectangle and sewn by ladies of Richmond, Virginia. The Confederacy adopted a third national flag one month before the South surrendered to the U.S.
The Confederate Naval Jack Flag appeared on May 26, 1863. It looked somewhat like the battle flag used by the Army of Tennessee in 1864. This flag flew from 1863 to 1865. Texas State Seal Flag used this flag design on its reverse side from August 26, 1961, to June 14, 1991. It is the design of the Stars and Bars Flag we see today.
What Does an Upside Down Texas Flag Mean?
When the Texas flag is flown upside down, it represents a sign of distress or extreme peril. The red stripe flying on top of the flag, when it is hung upside down, symbolizes blood. The white stripe once stood for peace, but today, it officially stands for purity and liberty. The red stripe originally symbolized war, and today, it officially symbolizes courage.
Why Is There No Texas Flag Emoji?
Emojis are starting to pop up in court cases, and judges are having a hard time knowing what to do with these cases and their ambiguities. In 2019, Jeremy Burge was the chief emoji officer at emojipedia.org and vice chair of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee. Burge reported, “Flags are…very troublesome, let’s say,…There’s never agreement by every country in the world [about] what is another country?”
Whatsapp and emojipedia publish a Texas flag emoji, but the Unicode emoji group has not adopted a Texas Flag emoji. The Unicode Emoji Subcommittee publishes a yearly list of new emojis. It may be that Texas is not a country, or it could be that Texas is considered a Red State, and diversity emojis ruled the 2019 Unicode list.