The Real Mystery Behind The Texas State Flag

The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. But the lone star featured on the state flag has a special place in the hearts of Texans. They take their flag so seriously that in 1933, lawmakers established a special pledge of allegiance: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible." So imagine the dismay lawmakers must feel when people mistake another country's flag for the Texas flag or when someone mentions that the flag's exact origins are unknown.

The mystery of the twin flags

The Texas flag and Chilean flag aren't identical, but they darn sure look like fraternal twins.  Both feature a single white stripe above a red stripe and a lone star against a blue background. The flags differ in that the Chilean lone star sits in a blue square in the upper left corner while the Texas lone star sits between the top and bottom corners on a blue background that runs all the way down the left side. The striking resemblance has led to some awkward mix-ups. Per the Washington Post, in 2010, it was discovered that absentee voter ballots for Atascosa County bore the Chilean flag for "several years" without anyone noticing. The Dallas Morning News reports that Sir Paul McCartney "walked out on stage waving the Chilean flag at Austin City Limits festival 2018." 

The Chilean flag was adopted in 1817, and Texas adopted its flag in 1839, prompting some to question whether the Lone Star State ripped off Chile's flag. However, Houston resident and self-taught flag-ologist Charles Spain shredded the suggestion, noting that "Flags were expensive to make," making simple tricolor designs attractive. Spain argued that the French, Mexican, and U.S. flags probably had the biggest impact on the Texas flag's design.

The mystery of the Texas flag's designer

Some Texans credit Charles Bellinger Stewart with designing the Lone Star flag, but according to KUT, the matter is hardly settled. Over the course of its history, Texas has actually had six different flags. Per the Texas State Historical Society, the flags of France, Spain, Mexico, the United States, the Confederacy, and the Republic of Texas have all flown over the land now known as the Lone Star State. When the time came for Texas to choose a state flag, the designs were all over the place, and the record-keeping was incomplete. One proposal was "basically the U.S. flag featuring a severed bloody arm holding a sword – minus the stars." So if things had gone differently Texas would be the "Severed Arm State."