Since its discovery in 1519 by Cortez, the history of Texas describes a long, hard and bitter struggle fro control as evidenced by the fact six separate national flags have flown over its borders. The flags represented the leading powers of the age and their desire to hold one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the history of the world.
Still, Texas has developed an identity that incorporates each of these nationalities. Here are the six flags of the nations that have each contributed grandly to Texas tradition and history.
Kingdom of Spain
The first European to land in Texas was Alonso Alvarez de Pineda in 1519. The effect was small at the beginning but the ramifications were enormous as Spain would exert a significant influence over a vast part of the Lone Star State until 1821.
Spain’s colonization efforts were concentrated in other parts of the New World, however, Though they continued to explore the area now known as Texas, it would be another 100 years before they established a permanent settlement in the West Texas town of El Paso.
Spain went on to construct numerous missions and establish many towns. Their introduction of the Roman Catholic faith still has serious implications in the culture and mores of Texas today.
Kingdom of France
The French “domination” of Texas only lasted five yeas, from 1685-1690, and only pertained to a very small area named Ft. Saint Louis near present day Corpus Christi. Starting from their base in Louisiana, the founding expedition, led by Robert de la Salle, took advantage of the fact that the eastern coast of Texas was completed undefended by Spanish forces. It would not be the last time that the width and breadth of Texas allowed for many different nationalities to simultaneously rule over parts of it.
Still, what the Spanish could not accomplish, disease, famine and hostile Indians did. The accumulated pressures caused an internal battle between de la Salle and his crew and he was murdered in 1687. The outpost did not prosper without him and it was finally abandoned a few years later.
Mexico independence from Spain was gained in 1821 and included the most of the area of Texas. For the next 15 years, this frontier land was flooded by both Anglo and Mexican pioneers. The initial years proved uneventful but by 1834, U.S. immigrants outnumbered their Mexican counterparts by four to one.
A series of poor political decisions by the Mexican dictator, Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón, resulted in an uprising by the Texian settlers. The matter would be settled in the Texians favor when they won the Battle of San Jacinto just east of present day Houston. The famous Battle of the Alamo occurred in this war.
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas adopted a red, white and blue flag with a single, white star on it. It was a nod is to their neighbors to the east who included a star for every one of their states and , yet, signaled their iconoclastic tendencies.
With the new flag came new responsibilities and for ten years, the fledgling Republic of Texas faced crisis after crisis including many border clashes with a still hostile Mexican government. Many of the grievances formed during these years would lead, after the admission of Texas to the Union, to the Mexican-American War.
It was during this period that many of the defining characteristics of Texas were formed. The King Ranch, still one of the largest in the world, gave rise to the American cowboy and the renowned law enforcement agency the Texas Rangers were also born in this era. It was era of resourcefulness and self-reliance; two qualities which are still very much in evidence in Texas today.
United States of America
Texas joined the Union on December 29, 1845 and became the 28th star on the United States flag. She was, immediately, the largest state in the Union and would remain so until the admission of Alaska in 1959.
The annexation of Texas was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for Mexico and she rescinded all diplomatic relations with the U.S. A minor engagement between a 2,000 man Mexican contingent and a 63 man American patrol started the “hot“ war. It was the last engagement to fought on U.S. soil int eh Mexican -American War.
Subsequent years saw Texas prosper from its large natural resources including oil, cotton and beef. Today, Texas is the proud home of almost 26 million people from almost every nationality in the world. Its largest city, Houston, may be the most polyglot on the planet with over 200 distinct languages spoken there.
In addition, its economy is staggeringly large. If it were an independent country, as many Texans fervently wish for, it would have the 15th largest economy in the world. Texas is also the largest exporter of goods to countries outside the U.S. with over $100 billion in annual trade.
Confederate States of America
An interregnum in the period during which Texas was a member of the United States resulted in the sixth and final flag to fly over Texas. During the American Civil War. Texas seceded from the Union in 1861 and became a member of the Confederate States of America.
The war only lasted four years and Texas did not suffer terribly during it. The subsequent years, during Reconstruction, saw Texas suffer for its past transgressions.
Credit: DevinCook The state of Texas in the 21st century is a multicultural haven for peoples from every country and walk of life, Though a decidedly Republican state with cities like Houston and Dallas, it still includes one of the most liberal enclaves in the country, Austin, within its borders.
In short, the state with the “third coast” is a financial and cultural powerhouse that equals and, in some cases, surpasses the attributes of its more well-known rivals on the east and west coasts of America. The time for Texas is now.