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Texas, The Lone Star State

For nearly 200 years, people all around the world have come to know Texas as the Lone Star State. However, it was not until 2015 that the 84th Texas Legislature designated “the Lone Star State” as the official nickname of Texas. The exact origins of this colorful phrase and the use of a single, white, five-pointed star to represent Texas are unclear. Some accounts trace it to a flag carried by the 1819 James Long Expedition, an early attempt to free Texas from the Spanish Empire. This first Lone Star Flag was a solid red flag with a “lone” white star in the center.

The first official use of the Lone Star flag came in 1836 when the Congress of the Republic of Texas adopted a flag with a five-pointed gold star on a background of deep azure, known as the David G. Burnet Flag in honor of the ad interim president of the new republic. In 1839, the Texas Congress adopted what is commonly known as the Lone Star Flag, showing a bright white star against deep blue on the left of the flag and two horizontal stripes of white and red on the flag’s right. The symbolism of these colors is the same as for the U.S. flag: blue stands for loyalty, white for purity, and red for bravery. The Texas Flag Code also states that the single (lone) star stands for the unity of Texas and Texans as one for God, State, and Country.

When the United States formally annexed Texas on December 29, 1845 as the 28th state, the national flag became the state flag. The Republic of Texas’s flag is one of only two state flags to have previously served as a national flag (the state flag of Hawaii is the other one). Another curious fact about the Texas flag is that a legislative oversight resulted in there being no official state flag from 1879 to 1933, the year the Texas Flag Code was passed.

However, the urban legend that the Texas flag is the only state flag that is allowed to fly at the same height as the U.S. flag is false. According to the U.S. Flag Code, any state flag can be flown at the same height as the U.S. flag, but the U.S. flag should be on its right (the viewer’s left).

Many Americans may be unaware that their state has an official pledge to the state flag. Seventeen states have such state flag pledges, distinct from the pledge to the American flag. Two states, Alabama and Tennessee, even include vows to die for their flag in their pledges!

The Texas pledge to the state flag was adopted in 1933 and the phrase “under God” was added in 2007. Texas state law requires the recitation of pledges to both the national and state flags every morning in public schools (although individuals may opt out). The Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas Flag reads:

“Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”

The “Lone Star” flag is widely regarded as a symbol of Texas’s independent spirit and as noted above, is the inspiration for our official nickname “The Lone Star State.” This historic emblem is to be treated with a great degree of reverence and esteem.

Article by Jannete Workman
AHS Board Member Jannette Workman taught Texas history in AISD for 37 years and contributes articles to both the AHS Newsletter and website.