Texas Under Spain (1519-1685, 1690-1821)
Spain established the first European claim to what is now Texas in 1519 when Cortez came to Mexico, and Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda mapped the Texas coastline. A few shipwrecked Spaniards, like Alvar Nunez, Cabeza de Vaca, and explorers such as Coronado, occasionally probed the vast wilderness, but the first Spanish settlement in Texas – the Ysleta Mission near present-day El Paso – was not established until 1681. Until Mexican independence in 1821, other Spanish missions, forts and civil settlements gradually followed. After 1785, the red and yellow striped Spanish flag depicted a shield with a lion (Leon) and a castle (Castile) topped by a crown.
Texas Under France (1685-1690)
In an attempt to expand west of Louisiana, France in 1685, laid claim to eastern Texas near the Gulf Coast. Though claimed by Spain, the nearest Spanish settlements were hundreds of miles away. French nobleman Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, founded a colony called Fort St. Louis. But by 1690 shipwreck, disease, famine, hostile Indians, and internal strife ending in La Salle's murder by one of his own company doomed the colony and France's claim. The French flag – actually the royal ensign for ships and forts – featured Fleurs-de-lis on a white field.
Texas Under Mexico (1821-1836)
After Mexican independence, pioneers from the Hispanic south and the Anglo north flowed into Texas. A frontier region for both, Anglo Texans became Mexican citizens. Tensions arose between the divergent cultures. These came to a head when Mexican General Santa Anna scrapped the Mexican federal constitution and declared himself dictator. Texans revolted and won independence April 21, 1836 at San Jacinto near Houston. Mexico's flag depicts an eagle, a snake, and cactus on green, white, and red bars.
Texas as a Republic (1836-1845)
Ten years of independence brought the Texas Republic epidemics, financial crises and continued clashes with Mexico. But enduring Texas imagery was born in this period: the American cowboy; Texas Rangers with their Colt six-shooters; the rugged individualism of Sam Houston. On December 29, 1845, Texas joined the United States. The red, white and blue flag with its lone star adopted by the Republic in 1839 became the state flag.
Texas in the Confederacy (1861-1865)
Though Governor Sam Houston urged Texans to stay aloof or re-establish a neutral republic when the Civil War broke out, he was driven from office. Texas took the side of the South suffering devastation and economic collapse like other Confederate states. The "Stars and Bars" shown here was the first Confederate flag flown in Texas and was the South's national emblem, although a Confederate battle flag with stars on crossed bars is far better known today.
Texas in the USA (1845-1861, 1865-Present)
Texas became the 28th star on the U.S. flag when it joined the Union in 1845. On rejoining the Union after the Civil War and Reconstruction, the "Star Spangled Banner" resumed its place as the national flag of Texas. The Lone Star emblem from the days of the Republic of Texas remains the state flag.
Original flag images are from http://www.lsjunction.com/facts/6flags.htm, accessed March 21, 2005. "Flags of Texas," Handbook of Texas Online at http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/FF/msf1.html, accessed March 24, 2005. See alsohttp://www.pinette.net/chris/flags/texas/texflags.html, http://www.pinette.net/chris/flags/texas/sixflags.html.