Heritage, Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2000 Page: 17
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The Lone Star Flag, adopted by the
Republic of Texas in 1839, is the state's
most revered symbol. Perhaps unique
among United States state flags, it is recognized
around the world. It is natural,
then, to wonder who designed this great
For the flag's 150th anniversary in 1989,
the Legislature, by concurrent resolution
of both the Senate and House of Representatives,
said, "This beautiful symbol of
our state was designed by Dr. Charles B.
Stewart, the second signer of the Texas
Declaration of Independence; the design
was first approved by a committee of prominent
Texans including Lorenzo de Zavala,
William B. Scates, Thomas Barnett, Sterling
C. Robertson, Thomas J. Gazley, and
Richard Ellis; and ... the Lone Star Flag
was officially adopted by the Third Congress
of the Republic of Texas in Houston
on January 25, 1839." However, in 1992
the Legislature changed its mind and declared
in another concurrent resolution
that because "subsequent historical research
has revealed that the actual designer
of the Lone Star Flag is unknown," they
would instead "recognize Senator William
H. Wharton and Senator Oliver Jones for
their efforts in adopting this abiding symbol
of our state's unity." Finally, in 1997,
the House of Representatives passed a
simple resolution recognizing Dr. Stewart
as the flag's designer and declaring Montgomery
County as "the birthplace of the
Lone Star Flag."
While there are certainly many unanswered
questions about the flag's origins,
there is a great deal of information that is
The Dodson Flag
The first-and one of the best researched-histories
of Texas flags was written
by Adele Looscan and published in the
1898 book "A Comprehensive History of
Texas 1685 to 1897." In the section The
History and Evolution of the Texas Flag,
Looscan describes a flag made by Sarah
Dodson at Harrisburg in September 1835.
Texas Flag and Seal Design by Peter Krag.
Original color design sketch by Peter Krag of
flag and seal for the Republic of Texas,
approved January 25, 1839; signed by Lamar,
Hansford, and Burnet. From the Texas State
Library and Archives Commission.
The flag consisted of three horizontal
"squares" of the colors blue, white, and red,
with a white lone star centered in the blue
square (see top image). The flag's shape was
similar to the Mexican green-white-red tricolor,
and the white star allegedly symbolized
that Texas was the only Mexican state
in which the star of liberty was rising.
Looscan believed that the stripes were truly
square, although this certainly made for an
oddly shaped flag. In any event, the
Dodson flag and the Lone Star Flag are
obviously very similar, with only the rearrangement
of the white and red squares or
stripes into a white stripe over a red stripe.
The March 1836 Flag from the General Convention
The first discussion of a national flag for
Texas occurred at the March 1836 general
convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
The convention's journals, which are admittedly
incomplete, show that a flag committee
was appointed on March 3, 1836,
to "devise & report to this Convention a
suitable flag for the Republic of Texas".
The committee members were Lorenzo de
Zavala, William B. Scates, Thomas
Barnett, Sterling C. Robertson, Thomas J.
Gazley, and Richard Ellis. But here is where
the story starts to get complicated. The
March 12, 1836, convention journal states,
"On motion of Mr. Scates, the Rainbow
and star of five points above the western
horizon; and the star of six points sinking
below, was added to the flag of Mr. Zavala
accepted on Friday last". But what was
Zavala's design? The answer is simply not
known. The journals for Friday, March 4
and 11 are silent, and the convention hastily
adjourned on March 17 after learning
of the approaching Mexican army.
So there is an unknown flag design, to
which was added a rainbow and two stars.
Making matters worse, Charles Taylor in
Top image: The Dodson Flag. Blue, white,
and red squares; white star on blue square.
Made by Sarah (Bradley) Dodson in
September 1835 for use by her husband
Archelaus Bynum Dodson's company of
soldiers. Bottom: 1836 National Standard/
"David G. Burnet's Flag". Gold star on azure
field; national flag December 10, 1836, to
January 25, 1839. 1975 Whitney Smith.
Used by permission.
troduced another resolution on March 12,
1836: "Resolved that the word 'Texas' be
placed, one letter between each point of
the star on the national flag." The journals
do not say whether Taylor's resolution
passed, and it is not even clear that
the convention ever adopted a final flag
design. Although it is known that the convention
discussed the idea of a national
flag, it is possible that the arrival of news
of the March 6 fall of the Alamo foreclosed
further debate on the flag issue.
The National Standard of Texas
The first official national flag was the
"National Standard of Texas" or "David G.
Burnet's flag." President ad interim Burnet
proposed this design in an October 11,
1836, letter to Congress, and Senator William
H. Wharton sponsored the bill to
adopt it. The flag consisted of an azure
(blue) ground with a large gold star in the
center (see bottom image above); it served
HERITAGE * 17 * WINTER 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2000, periodical, Winter 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45388/m1/17/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.