Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)
This year marks the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence. From the big cities to the small country towns, there isn’t a community in the state that isn’t doing something to recognize this milestone in our famed history. As you all know, I have a passion for Texas history and this year is going to be of particular interest for me – even from Washington, DC.
After six years as your Representative in Congress, I still have to explain some things to the folks up here “inside the beltway.” One: We don’t really care how you do it up North. Two: Yes, these are cowboy boots with the Texas flag on them; and yes, I really wear boots every day. (You might have caught a glimpse of them last year in the Washington Post. They were mentioned in their coverage of the healthcare debate. East coast reporters still don’t know what to make of cowboy boots as dress foot wear! I don’t even try to explain the etiquette of boot wear.)
Although I still have a language barrier to overcome with folks up here, the one recognizable symbol that transcends the regional divide is the Texas flag. Recognized all around the world, you can spot the Texas’ offices easier than all the rest.
The Lone Star Flag was adopted by the Texas Congress in 1839 and approved by President Mirabeau B. Lamar on January 25th of that same year. "The national flag of Texas shall consist of a blue perpendicular stripe of the width of one third of the whole length of the flag, with a white star of five points in the centre thereof, and two horizontal stripes of equal breadth, the upper stripe white, the lower red, of the length of two thirds of the whole length of the flag."
Aside from its international high profile, the Texas flag is unique in the fact that it not only flies over the great State Texas, but also once was the Lone Star of the Republic of Texas. For nearly ten glorious years, The Lone Star flew over an independent Texas. And because of this, when Texas was admitted into the union the terms of admission allowed the Texas flag to fly level to, and not below, the US flag. This is the only State allowed such recognition.
But one can’t really appreciate this without knowing about all the other flags that have flown over Texas. Six flags over Texas is more than an amusement park. Like the commercials say, “Texas: it’s a whole other country.” Matter of fact, it has been under five other countries and its own: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States, and the United States – twice. (The Republic of Texas became the 28th state of the United States in 1845, but succeeded during the War Between the States in 1861 and joined the Confederate States, but rejoined the United States at the end of the war in 1870.)
The first flag to fly over Texas was the Spanish flag. Spain laid official claim to what is now parts of Texas from 1716 – 1821, as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, or Colonial Mexico.
During this same time, a portion of Texas flew the Fleur-de-lis emblazoned flag. What all began as an accidental landing, later became the first French settlement in Texas. Meaning to secure the mouth of the Mississippi for the French, explorer La Salle was about 400 miles off target and landed in Matagorda Bay and the French claimed Texas as their own.
In 1821, Mexico declared its independence from Spain and formed its new borders that included Texas. Many Texans helped in that war of independence and Texas was now under the Mexican flag. However, the Texians, as they were called then, were also eyeing a new flag.
On April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston and the boys defeated a larger Mexican Army along the banks of the San Jacinto. Texas was a free republic.
Texas was admitted into the United States in 1845. Old Glory flew for 16 years over the plains of Texas until the War Between the States. In 1861, Texas lowered the Stars and Stripes and raised the Confederate States of America flag.
After the war, the Confederate States of America were no more and Texas was readmitted to the United States and the Star Spangled Banner has flown proudly ever since.
This year we will celebrate 175 years of history under all six flags. I encourage everyone, whether you’re a long-time Texan or a transplant, to take this opportunity to learn something new about our unique and fascinating history. Who knows, our past may just teach us something about our present.
And that’s just the way it is.