While all state flags have interesting histories, few states have a flag story as remarkable as that of Texas. The Lone Star State is one of the only states in America that had to fight for its right to fly its flag, as well as its independence from Mexico. The history and design of the Texas state flag are just as unique and patriotic as the people it represents.
History of the Texas Flag
Throughout history, Texas has flown seven flags, and six of these were national flags, which signified who ruled the state at the time. These include the French, Spanish, Mexican, Confederate, American and the Republic of Texas flags. Even today, Texans flies all six of these flags in public and private displays of patriotism.
The other flag was flown for just three years, from 1836 to 1839, and represented Texan independence. This flag featured a navy-blue background and a single gold star in the center, and was modeled after the Republic of Florida’s flag.
The Texas naval flag was adopted in 1836, as well, and bore a similar appearance to the American flag. Like the American flag, the Texas naval flag featured 13 red and white stripes and a single white star on a navy-blue background in the top-left corner.
The Texas state flag, as we know it today, was adopted in 1839, but it was not a state flag at first. In fact, it was once the flag of the Republic of Texas, and it was known as the Lone Star Flag.
Origins of The Lone Star Flag
Before the current Lone Star Flag was approved, other contenders put forth their designs for consideration. One was designed by 17-year-old Georgia girl named Johanna Troutman.
In 1835, the state of Georgia sent money and troops to Texas to assist its fight for independence, and Troutman designed and sewed a flag out of white silk, which featured a blue star in the middle. The words “Liberty or Death” were sewn beneath the star, and a Latin inscription was also sewn on the back of the flag. Her flag is now known as the Troutman flag.
Shortly before the battalion left for Texas, Troutman gave them the flag. The leader of the battalion, James W. Fannin Jr., carried it to Goliad, where he and almost all of his men would be massacred by the Mexican army. The story goes that Troutman’s flag was accidentally torn to shreds prior to battle.
Stephen F. Austin, a commissioner on behalf of Texas to the United States, also contributed a design in 1836 that was later modified and rejected. Austin’s design featured 16 green and white stripes, a red and white Union Jack, and a red and white star on the right side.
William H. Wharton, the senator who went on to approve the current flag, made some changes to Austin’s design. His altered version featured 13 green and white stripes, the same English Jack, a sun to replace the red and white star on the right side, and the Latin inscription “Lux Libertatis”, which translates to “Light of Liberty”.
The Lone Star
Almost every American history buff knows the story behind Texas’ famous Lone Star symbol. The Lone Star is a symbol that serves as a reminder of Texas’ former independence.
Texas was originally a colony of Mexico. In 1835, the state began the fight for independence. At first, the state did not declare its intention to become independent. Instead, it first sought independent statehood within Mexico.
Three commissioners were then chosen to elicit support from the United States. These commissioners were Stephen F. Austin, William H. Wharton and Branch T. Archer.
This happened at the same time that Stephen F. Austin and William H. Wharton were designing and modifying their red, green and white flag. The commissioners later concluded that the only way to garner support for their cause would be to break away from Mexico completely and declare independence.
This decision paved the way for a new flag design for a new nation—the Lone Star Flag. An artist from Austin named Peter Krag was later paid $10—equivalent to $250 in today’s dollars—to design the official flag and seal, as we know it today.
Colors of the Texas Flag
The official colors of the state flag are blood red, azure blue and white, and these colors were not chosen at random. Title 11 of the official Texas government code elaborates on the rationale behind the color choices.
Blood red symbolizes bravery. Azure blue is used to represent loyalty. White stands for purity.
The design of the Texas state flag is one that is enshrouded in legend, spirit and patriotism. Few states have had to fight for their right to fly their flag as Texas had to. The Lone Star flag represents the harrowing battle for independence and the famous Texan spirit of rugged individualism.