The Facts Behind the Flag
By: Samantha Latta
Photo Courtesy of: Chrissy White
While most can spot the iconic Texas flag from miles away, not all know the meaning behind for which it stands. From the symbolic colors and honorable lone star, to the history behind the idea, there is much to learn and respect about the flag that represents the character, qualities, and culture of Texas!
From the heights of the Texas State Capitol to the flag poles in your neighbors’ front yard, the Texas flag waves brilliantly across the Lone Star State in the most regal and respected fashion. The sight of red, white, and royal blue adorned with a single lone star is perhaps the most iconic of all images that symbolize the great state of Texas. In fact, each part of the flag represents a unique tribute to characteristics, qualities, and history of Texas to boot.
According to the Texas Flag Code, each color is assigned a specific symbolic meaning. The red stands for bravery/courage, blue for loyalty, and white for purity/liberty.
Stories have been told that the red and white stripes actually play homage to the short-lived Republic of Fredonia, a small state near present-day Nacogdoches that seceded from Mexico in 1826 before its forced re-integration. An alliance between the local Anglo settlers and the Native American tribes initially allowed the new state to be formed, and therefore the Fredonian flag displayed a red and white stripe to symbolize the two ethnic groups that constituted the state together. Though this rebellion eventually failed, many believe it sparked inspiration for the Texas Revolution.
In the same aspect, the bold section of blue also holds some historical value from similar designs of Texas’s past. As many may know, the current flag Texans know and love today has not always been the official one flown over the Lone Star State. In fact, a flag with a blue (or azure) field and a large, centered gold star was accepted by the first Texas Congress in 1836. The design was presented by President David G. Burnet (commonly referred to as the “Burnet Flag”) and was the flag of the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1839. During the same time period, there is also record of a convention-adopted flag by a committee of five, including famous Texan, Lorenzo de Zavala. Although this flag was given only momentary recognition, it also consisted of a blue field and the letters T-E-X-A-S nestled between each point of a white, lone star, a timeless icon that still remains on the official flag today.
The single, lone star is said to represent all Texans and stands for our unity as one for God, state, and country. This prominent white star is also the source of the state’s risen nickname, the Lone Star State. It has also been told that the five points of the star represent the characteristics of a good citizen: fortitude, loyalty, righteousness, prudence, and broadmindedness. The idea of the star is actually known to predate the flag, as it symbolizes Texans’ unity in declaring independence from Mexico and is still viewed today as a symbol of Texas’s independent spirit.
Though the true designer of the current flag is unknown, Senator William H. Wharton introduced a bill on December 28, 1838 with the flag’s design. The bill was passed by the referred committee and approved by President Mirabeau B. Lamar on January 25, 1839. The Lone Star flag was then the legal and national flag until 1879, when the Sixteenth Legislature publicized the Revised Civil Statutes which neither included legislation concerning the flag, nor expressly continued the 1839 flag law; ultimately repealing the law and leaving Texas without an official flag from the date of the repeal until the 1933 Flag Act.
Then in 1933, a detailed description of the flag was created including precise instructions for design and proximity of each element. The colors were claimed as blood red, azure blue, and white. However, despite these specifications, the flag lacked a standard of what defined “blood red” and “azure blue,” causing manufactural issues in consistency. Therefore, the legislature revised the flag’s description in 1993 to reflect the correct proportional aspects, and stipulated a law that commanded the red and blue colors to be the same as those seen in the United States flag; the so-called “Old Glory Red” and “Old Glory Blue” as defined by the Standard Color Reference of America.