San Jacinto Museum of History

Six Flags Over Texas

The flags represent the six nations that have claimed sovereignty over Texas. They are the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of France, the Republic of Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America.

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The first nation to claim sovereignty over Texas was Spain, which exercised rule from 1519 to 1685 and again from 1690 to 1821. At this time Spain was a collection of kingdoms rather than a country, the most prominent of which was the united Kingdoms of León and Castile, or simply the Crown of Castile. Hence, both versions of the flag used during this period depicted the Crown of Castile’s lion and castle emblem.

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In 1685, France, which already claimed Louisiana, attempted to gain westward control. Under the direction of French explorer Robert de La Salle, France founded a new colony, Fort Saint Louis, near present day Victoria, Texas. After a series of mishaps, La Salle’s followers mutinied and murdered him, and the colony was abandoned by 1690. Since there was no official French flag during this time, various designs are used in the six flags representation.

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In 1821 shortly after gaining its independence from Spain, Mexico seized control of Texas. However, when Mexican General Santa Anna tightened his reins, abrogated the federal constitution and declared himself dictator, Texas revolted. And, in 1836 upon winning the Texas War of Independence, the Republic of Texas was established.

Republic of Texas
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During the Republic of Texas’ existence from 1836 to 1845, it had two national flags. The first was the Burnet flag, which was named after the then interim President of Texas David Burnet, followed by the Lone Star flag, which came into usage on December 29, 1845, when Texas joined the United States. The Lone Star flag is still recognized today as the state flag of Texas.

United States of America
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After gaining its independence from Mexico in 1845, Texas became the 28th state to join the Union. Although the fifth and present flag is that of the United States, there was a brief period when Texas abandoned this flag for its sixth when it seceded the Union from 1861-1865.

Confederate States of America
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In 1861, 11 southern slave states including Texas declared secession from the Union and established their own government, which was known as the Confederate States of America or simply the Confederacy, triggering the Civil War. In 1865, the Confederacy was defeated and Texas gained readmission to the Union. During the war the Confederacy had three national flags.