"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding watercolor, metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Independence Day in "The Republic"

It's Independence Day in this country today, a country where I am a citizen by birth.
But don't expect to see more flags than usual there today. Go any day of the year and you'll find the flags flying or displayed almost everywhere, not just at car dealerships or on government buildings.
Yep, I'm talking about Texas, where folks fly their nation's flag year round. I don't care where you go in the vast state, you'll see the flag displayed or flying in front of homes. You'll see them on bumper stickers, even outside the state, with the words "Native Texan" on them. In Amarillo, I once drove past a garage door painted with the flag. In the other corner of the state, in deep east Texas, I saw them flying from flea markets. or on porches of homes on remote back roads.
The Texas Declaration 
It's perhaps the most recognizable state flag in the country, and it's been seen around the world. One friend got off the plane in Bosnia several years ago on military deployment. The first flag he saw was the Texas flag, flying from a tent.
What is it that makes Texans so proud of their flag? If you're not a Texan you can't understand, and perhaps chalk it up to Texans' reputation for being a little too boastful and arrogant. Perhaps.
But it goes deeper than that. It does go back to independence, bloodily won from Mexico. It goes back to an independent attitude, one used to thumbing its nose at the rest of the world.
The first Texas flag
The current flag wasn't the first, and is one of many. You're familiar with the "Six Flags Over Texas" parks, and see those flags flying from welcome centers when you enter the state. But there have been more.
The "Lone Star" flag was adopted by the Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1838, two years after independence. When Texas joined the union in 1845, it became the state flag, and helped give the state the nickname the "Lone Star State." The lone star goes back before that, symbolizing the state's determination to gain independence from Mexico. The idea of the stripes goes back to the short-lived Republic of Fredonia near Nacogdoches when seceded from Mexico in 1826 before it was squelched. The two stripes symbolized the alliance between the Anglo settlers and Indian tribes.
The Texian flag
There were apparently several flags during the revolution, including the Texian flag which was the American flag with just one star, and may have been the flag at the Alamo, six days after the Declaration of Independence was signed. It became the Texas navy flag. Many have thought that the Mexican 1824 flag was at the Alamo, but that wasn't claimed until 1860. It replaced the Mexican eagle with the date of the Mexican constitution theTexans were appealing to.
 Another flag of the revolution,  perhaps my favorite, was the Gonzales "Come and Take It" flag. Talk about attitude. The town of Gonzales was given a cannon in 1831. When the Mexican military wanted it back, the Texians resisted, and flew this flag. That attitude says so much about Texas.
The first flag of the Republic also had a lone star, yellow on a field of blue.  Called the Burnet flag  (designed by David Burnet, interim president of Texas in 1836), it may have been inspired by the "Bonnie Blue Flag" of the Republic of West Florida.
The geographic territory over which the flag flies today has as varied a history as the flags, and influenced the United States going to war with Mexico in 1846-1848, when Texas joined the union.
Texans' apparently have always thought big, claiming a huge territory which was disputed by Mexico, until the US won the war and annexed all of the southwest, The republic claimed all the present state plus parts of what is now Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. When the union joined Texas, Texas ceded all that area, including what became the Oklahoma panhandle. As a slave state, Texas couldn't have territory north of that parallel because of Missouri Compromise.

The Republic of Texas
March 2, 1836-Dec. 29, 1845

Clark house, March 2, 2013

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