Heritage, Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2000 Page: 20
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1836 National Flag for the Naval Service.
White star on blue union, alternating red and
white stripes. April 9, 1836, to December
10, 1836 (adopted by president); December
10, 1836, to January 25, 1839 (adopted by
Congress). 1975 Whitney Smith. Used by
In her 1898 article, Looscan is clearly
skeptical that the 1836 convention
adopted a flag, and she does not mention
Stewart at all in connection with the Lone
Star Flag. The Stewart claim appears to
have originated in the 1920s, when one of
Stewart's sons, Edmund B. Stewart, began
publically displaying what he claimed was
his father's original drawing of the 1839
Lone Star Flag and the seal.
In a letter of July 7, 1922, Stewart's son
claims his father and Lorenzo de Zavala
were appointed by President Lamar to a
committee of three to design the Texas flag.
Zavala, however, died in November 1836,
two years before Lamar became president.
Furthermore, the committee of three is
doubtless the 1838-1839 Senate committee
of which Senator Oliver Jones was the
chair. Lamar, as president, would have had
no role in appointing a Senate committee,
and it would have been highly unusual for
Stewart to serve on the committee since he
was not a senator or even a congressman.
The chief source of the Stewart claim is
in Mamie Wynne Cox's 1936 book, "The
Romantic Flags of Texas." Cox, relying on
information from Stewart's granddaughter,
Elizabeth Stewart Fling, identifies the three
members of the 1838-1839 Senate committee
as Senator William H. Wharton, Senator
Oliver Jones, and Stewart. Cox states
that Stewart personally designed the flag
and drew the original art for both the flag
and seal on linen, which was signed by
President Lamar on January 25, 1839, the
day Lamar approved the flag bill.
Although Stewart's papers were available,
Cox does not cite to any of Stewart's
letters or journals to support the claim that
he designed the flag. The Stewart art for
the 1839 flag and seal is reproduced as the
frontispiece to Cox's book. This art shows
the flag and seal in almost identical form
to the Krag art. The approval of President
Lamar is also almost identical to the Krag
art, including the fact that Lamar's writing
is upside down. One significant difference
is that the signatures of Representative
Hansford and Senator Burnett are absent
from the Stewart art. In their place is the
legend, "Original Flag-Republic of Texas."
In addition to promoting the Stewart
claim, Cox also began the legend that the
1836 convention actually adopted a specific
flag design. Cox illustrates this "Zavala
flag" as a blue field with a five-pointed
white star containing the letters "T-E-XA-S"
between each star point (see image
below). This "Zavala flag" runs contrary to
the convention journals, but instead appears
to come from elements of a flag carried
by Captain George H. Burroughs' company
of cavalry that arrived from Ohio in
The Stewart claim next appears in
Charles E. Gilbert Jr.'s 1964 book, "A Concise
History of Early Texas 1519 to 1861."
Gilbert relies largely on Cox for his research
but adds the claim that Stewart's
design for the Lone Star Flag was approved
by a committee consisting of Lorenzo de
Zavala, William B. Scates, Thomas
Barnett, Sterling C. Robertson, Thomas J.
Gazley, and Richard Ellis. This committee,
of course, was the 1836 flag committee
present at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Although Stewart was a member of the
1836 convention, Gilbert does not suggest
that Stewart was an active participant in
the flag debates. Gilbert's book was the
"Zavala Flag." White star and white letters
on blue field; design first appeared in 1930s;
neither design or claim that it was adopted as
first national flag is supported by historical
record. Whitney Smith. Used by
source of the historically inaccurate information
contained in the Legislature's 1989
concurrent resolution. This book was republished
in 1989 under the title "Flags of
Texas," and it remains in print.
Due to the influence of Cox's and
Gilbert's books, several other works have
mentioned the Stewart claim. A recent reference
to the claim is made in Stewart's bibliographic
entry in the 1996 "New Handbook
of Texas," written by Virginia Stewart
Lindley Ford. Stewart's original entry in the
1952 "Handbook of Texas" did not refer to
his designing the Lone Star Flag.
Did Charles Stewart design the Lone
Star Flag? Though it cannot be said that
he did not, the evidence presented so far
to support this claim is certainly not persuasive.
It is hard to believe that the Texas
Senate would appoint a nonmember to
serve on a Senate committee. It is also hard
to believe that the art pictured in Cox's
book was actually signed by President
Lamar on January 25, 1839. First, why was
Peter Krag paid to draw art for the 1839
flag and seal if Stewart actually designed
and drew the flag? Second, why would
Lamar approve and sign two similar documents
on the same day (and, curiously,
both upside down)? Third, why would
Lamar sign a document bearing the legend,
"Original Flag-Republic of Texas," when
that was obviously incorrect? The 1839 flag
bill was expressly intended to amend the
1836 flag bill by replacing the original national
flags of Texas-the Burnet flag and
naval ensign-with the Lone Star Flag.
What is lacking in support of the
Stewart claim is documentary evidence
from Stewart himself or other sources. His
personal papers are stored in the Montgomery
County Heritage Museum in Conroe,
but to date no one has found any reference
in those papers to the Lone Star Flag. The
same is also true for other key figures in
the story of the flag: Zavala, Burnet,
Wharton, and Jones. Until the historical
research is done through the papers of these
men and others, no one can provide a definitive
answer. It is possible that the identity
of the flag designer may remain a mystery
-- assuming it was just one person. But
the Legislature had the right idea in 1992
by recognizing Senator Wharton and Senator
Jones, two men we know were influential
in getting the flag adopted.
We can still safely speculate about the
HERITAGE * 20 * 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/m1/20/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.