Texas Flag Pledge: History & Words

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Texas is a unique state with a very unique history, one which is reflected in its pledge to its state flag, of all places. In this lesson, we'll talk about this flag pledge, and see what this means for Texans today.

The Texas Flag Pledge

I love Texas. Why? Because Texas is just so proud of itself, not that it doesn't have reason to be. But, that does make it an incredibly fun state to study. Did you know, for instance, that by federal law, Texas is the only state in the Union allowed to fly its state flag at the same height as the national flag? Texas is also one of twelve states that requires school children to say a pledge of allegiance to their state flag every morning. I mean, it's a cool flag and all, but really, Texas? Aren't you getting a little carried away? Actually, there's a very strong historic reason for this. So, please rise, and let's talk about the Texas flag pledge.

The Lone Star flag of Texas is the only state flag which can be displayed at the same height as the American flag
Texas flag

History of the Texas Flag

Believe it or not, Texas has actually existed under not one, not two, but six national flags, each of which went through several variations. Many events in Texas will feature all six flags in a tribute to the state's history. First, we've got the colonial flags of both Spain and France, each of which controlled parts of Texas at various points. Next is the flag of Mexico, the nation Texas belonged to after achieving independence from Spain. After that, however, is when this gets interesting.

In 1836, the white and Mexican Texans came together to declare independence from Mexico, creating the Republic of Texas. Their first official national flag, adopted in 1836 and proposed by interim president David G. Burnet, featured an azure background and a large, golden star. In 1839, the Republic of Texas adopted a new national flag, featuring a white star on a field of broad red, white, and blue stripes. This would become known as the Lone Star flag, and serves as the basis of the state's flag today.

The six flags of Texas
six flags of Texas

Texas did go on to recognize two other national flags in its history as well. In 1845, they joined the Union, and in 1861 seceded in order to join the Confederate States of America, the sixth nation they claimed participation in.

The Flag Pledge

When Texas was admitted to the Union, it got to bypass the normal process of being a territory and went straight into statehood. This came with the understanding that the Union would always respect Texas' history as a sovereign nation, thus the reason why Texas can fly its state flag (and former national flag) at the same height as the American flag. So, the flag has always meant something very specific in Texan history. In 1933, state legislators decided to formalize this by requiring school children to recite a pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag, along with the US flag. The original wording looked like this:

Honor the Texas Flag of 1836: I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.

Now, there's a problem here. If you remember, the flag in 1836 was not the Lone Star flag but the David Burnet flag, so technically students were not pledging allegiance to the same flag they were looking at. Texas legislators realized their error, but didn't remove the words 'of 1836' until 1965.

Flag of the Republic of Texas from 1836-1839
Republic of Texas flag

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