The Flag of Texas: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Taiwo Victor

Published: January 11, 2023

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“Everything is bigger in Texas,” as they say. And when it comes to the American state’s population and area size, this rings true. Texas is home to nearly 30 million Americans over 268,596 square miles. It’s so big that it dwarfs all European countries.

Texas lies in the south-central part of the country, featuring a 350-mile coastline on the Gulf of Mexico and sharing a long border with Mexico. The states closest to Texas are Louisiana to the east and New Mexico to the west. 

As Texas continues to grow, it’s rapidly becoming one of the most diverse states in America. People across households in Texas speak up to 10 languages. While English is the most widespread, many people consider Spanish their first language.

According to 2021 statistics, Texas’s demographics are nearly evenly divided between Hispanic and Latino Americans of all races and non-Hispanic white people, with black and African-American constituting a minority. 

Visiting Texas, you’ll be aware of its proud independence streak, which probably stems from its unique history. On top of being proudly Texan and American, the people of Texas love to fly the Lone Star flag hoisted above any property, from skyscrapers to private houses.

Read on to learn the history, meaning, and symbolism of the flag of Texas. This guide will answer all your burning questions about the 28th U.S. state.

The Origin of the State of Texas

City of Dallas, Texas at night

Texas became the 28th state of the U.S. after being annexed by America in 1945. 

Approximately 37,000 years ago, Native Americans occupied the land that now forms east and west Texas. Though they were hunters, some Native American tribes established villages, developed political systems, and created their religions. 

Fast forward a few centuries, and the Spanish were among the first European settlers in Texas. In the 1680s, they established missionaries to spread Christianity and exert themselves as colonial powers across Texas. Distrust by Native Americans mounted around this time, resulting in power struggles between them and their Spanish rivals.

When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the former Spanish colony incorporated Texas and American states like California and New Mexico

Following this acquisition, Mexico named Texas “Coahuila y Tejas” and brought in settlers from America. The reason for bringing Anglo-American immigrants was two-fold; to develop sparsely populated land and to keep Texas part of Mexico. 

Ultimately, in planning to turn the settlers into Mexican citizens, they hoped to prevent Texas from falling into American hands.  

Plans by the Mexicans to grow Texas were partly successful. By the 1830s, the Texan population had increased significantly. But the relationship between the settlers and Tejanos was fueled by distrust and division. Although the Anglo-Americans obtained citizenship, they had closer ties to America than Mexico. This animosity resulted in an increasingly deteriorating relationship that culminated in a full-scale war – called the Texas Revolution – by the settlers who wanted to become an independent country. 

Despite being defeated by the Mexican army in 1836, the settlers eventually established a tiny nation called the Republic Of Texas. They would eventually become the 28th state of the U.S. after being annexed by America in 1945

Characteristics of Texas

As the 28th state of 50 states in America, Texas is an exciting place to live in and visit. Texas, which is derived from the Caddo Indian word “teycha,” means friendship. Any Texan would tell you this aligns with their welcoming southern hospitality. 

What makes the state so interesting is its vastness. Being the second-largest state in America after Alaska, you could say it’s pretty big.

Today’s population consists of individuals of Hispanic descent, followed by white people, and a small percentage identifying as black or African American. Only 1% of the population is Native American, with most living in cities or belonging to the three remaining tribes occupying land in the state’s three reservations. 

Although English is the official language of Texas, many people speak Spanish, Vietnamese, and multiple other languages. 

The History and Variations of the Texas Flag

Texas State flag on the pole waving in the wing against blue sky and white clouds.

Pre and post-independent Texas has had six flags, although the unofficial number is probably higher.

The Spanish Flag Over Texas

The first flag adopted by Texas was the burgundy cross of St. Andrew, Spain’s sovereign flag, in 1519. However, it wasn’t the only flag of that period. Another was introduced by Anglo-American fillibuster Dr. James Lon who led a failed expedition to take possession of Texas. Called the James Long Expedition flag, some believe that it was the first Lone Star Flag. It comprised 13 horizontal stripes alternating red and white and a red canton in the upper left corner with a lone white star at its center. 

The French Flag Over Texas

The French flag might be included in the six flags flown over Texas, but the degree to which the French had authority over Texas is debatable. 

Although the French Tricolore flag has flown over Texas soil, the French government has never controlled Texas. They, however, laid claim to eastern Texas territory in 1682.

The Mexican Flag and Unofficial Flags Flown Over Texas

Mexico’s green, white, and red tricolor flag was ubiquitous during the country’s occupation of Texas, although various other unofficial flags were flown too. Many settlers, rebelling against Mexico’s settlement in Texas, embraced their own symbolic banners representing self-appointed republics. 

The flag of the Freedonian Rebellion (circa 1827) is a rebellion flag that is worth mentioning because it’s highly symbolic. The red and white parallel bars with the inscription “independence, liberty and justice” stood for a union between Indians and Anglos against Mexican rule. 

Made in late 1835 by Sarah. R Dodson, the Dodson flag bore an even stronger resemblance to the current Texan flag than earlier versions. The tricolor flag was made up of three vertical squares of blue, white, and red, with a single white star incorporated into the blue. 

The First Official Flags Flown Over the Independent Republic of Texas 

The Republic of Texas adopted other official flags before choosing the Lone Star Flag. 

The first Texas congress introduced its first flag in 1836. It featured a blue field with a large gold star in the middle. Unofficially, it was called The Burnett Flag after President David G. Burnet, who suggested the design. Simultaneously, the Naval Flag was also widely used. With its seven red stripes, six white stripes, and a blue box with a white star, the flag closely resembled the American flag, minus a few white stars. 

Flags Used By The Southern Confederacy 

Over a brief historical period, Texas and other southern states left the union to form the Confederate States of America.

Three different confederate flags circulated in the Southern Confederacy between 1860 and 1865. The most notorious and widely remembered flag is the Southern Cross, which depicts a blue diagonal cross featuring 13 stars making up the 13 confederation members against a red field.

Although places like New York banned its usage because of their negative association with slavery and racism, confederate flags are still sold and displayed in parts of America today. 

The Symbolism of the Lone Star Flag

White represents purity and liberty, blue represents loyalty, and red represents courage. 

Approved in session by the third congress of the Republic of Texas, led by William H. Wharton, the Texas Flag, also known as the Lone Star Flag, was declared official on the 28th of December, 1839. The flag is made up of a perpendicular blue square one-third the length of the flag with a five-point white star at the center of the blue field. On the remaining two-thirds of space are two broad horizontal stripes. The upper white stripe sits above the bottom red stripe. 

Except for the five years it belonged to The Confederate States of America, the Lone Star has represented Texas since its independence. 

For those who don’t know, the Texan flag’s prominent white star inspired its nickname, The Lone Star Flag or The Lone Star State. The Lone Star, which predates the independence of Texas, symbolizes Texan solidarity for independence against Mexico. 

The symbolism of the colors of the Texas flag is identical to the American flag. White represents purity and liberty, blue represents loyalty, and red represents courage. 

Finally, the Texas state flag is one of two state flags to have previously served as the national flag for an independent country. As we’ve mentioned before, it was the Republic of Texas before it became part of The United States Of America. 

Flag-Flying Rules of Conduct 

Many rules govern the correct flag-flying etiquette, which must be adhered to. These guide people about where, how, when, and what time of day to fly their flag.

The below list shows some important must-follows if you’re new in Texas or need reminding.

  • Outdoor flags must be hoisted on a flagpole or staff at least two-and-a-half times larger than the staff. 
  • The flag must be flown the right side up – with the white stripe on top, except for cases of distress.
  • Flags can only be flown between sunrise and sunset but shouldn’t be left unfurled in inclement weather, as this type of flag treatment is considered disrespectful.
  • Citizens must fly their flag over historically significant events and State memorial days. 
  • All Texan schools should fly the Texan state flag on regular school days. 
  • When displayed at the same time as the United States of America flag, the Texas flag should be positioned to the left of it, with its staff behind the staff of the national colors.

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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