Honor the Texas Flags

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Honor the Texas Flags
Most are probably familiar with “Six Flags Over Texas,” both as a theme park and as the conceptual depiction of the banners of the six countries which have ruled over Texas:  France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. But are you fully acquainted with the standards associated with Texas as an entity to itself?  There is more to the story than “A Lone Star.”

The Three Official National or State Flags

The first official flag, the “National Standard of Texas,” was passed by the Congress of the republic and approved by President Sam Houston on December 10, 1836.  It consisted of an azure ground with a large golden star central.  President David G. Burnet proposed the design in a letter to Congress on October 11, 1836, hence the design is known as the Burnet Flag.  It served as the national flag until January 25, 1839, and the war flag from that date until December 29, 1845.

The second official flag was the 1836 national flag for the naval service, or war ensign. This was the same flag Burnet adopted for the navy at Harrisburg on April 9, 1836. It was similar to the United States flag and showed thirteen stripes and a blue canton with a single white star. It was passed by Congress and approved by Houston on December 10, 1836; it remained in use until January 25, 1839.

The third standard is the Lone Star Flag we recognize today.  The Lone Star Flag was the legal national and state flag from January 25, 1839, to September 1, 1879, and the de facto state flag from September 1, 1879, to August 31, 1933. The Lone Star Flag was also the legal national ensign from January 25, 1839, to December 29, 1845. The Sixteenth Legislature promulgated the Revised Civil Statutes of 1879.  Since the revised statutes neither included legislation concerning the flag nor expressly continued in force the 1839 flag law, the 1839 law was repealed. Texas therefore had no legal flag from the date of the repeal, September 1, 1879, to the effective date of the 1933 flag act, August 31, 1933. The Mexican National Museum of Artillery has two revolutionary Lone Star flags, one dating from 1836 and the other from 1835-1837. Both of these flags display the red stripe over the white stripe, but otherwise resemble the 1839 national flag.

The 1933 description of the flag was extremely detailed and included precise instructions for the design and location of the Lone Star. The colors of the stripes, blood red, azure blue, and white, were said to impart the “lessons of the Flag: bravery, loyalty, and purity.” Despite these specifications, there was no standard reference to define what constituted “blood red” and “azure blue,” and few Texas flags were manufactured in the official proportions (hoist to fly) of two to three. In 1993 the legislature revised the description of the flag: “The state flag consists of a rectangle with a width to length ratio of two to three containing: (1) a blue vertical stripe one-third the entire length of the flag wide, and two equal horizontal stripes, the upper stripe white, the lower red, each two-thirds the entire length of the flag long; and (2) a white, regular five-pointed star in the center of the blue stripe, oriented so that one point faces upward, and of such a size that the diameter of a circle passing through the five points of the star is equal to three-fourths the width of the blue stripe.” The 1993 law stipulates that the red and blue colors of the state flag are the same colors used in the United States flag, the so-called “Old Glory Red” and “Old Glory Blue.”  

Unofficial or Unapproved Flags

Stephen F. Austin designed a proposed Texas flag that was never adopted. Austin designed his flag in New Orleans between December 1835 and January 1836, while he was serving as a commissioner to the United States. The design apparently used sixteen green and white stripes, a red and white English jack in the canton, and a red and white star in the fly.

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