(Part of a series explaining the history behind my Texian Tees. Other entries: the De Zavala Flag; the Burnet Flag; the Gonzales Flag (Old Come and Take It); and the New Orleans Greys Flag. Click here to see and buy the shirts!)
It’s with sheer glee that I introduce my latest design. I’ve been working on this for weeks (in my spare time), even making a reconnaissance trip to see the flag itself and take its picture. I believe wholeheartedly that this is the best representation you’re going to find on a shirt of the San Jacinto battle flag. I’m very proud!
My research indicated that this image of seated Liberty with a staff, shield and Phrygian cap traces its roots through British coinage back to the Roman Empire — so I have restored the rock she originally probably sat on, as well as the plow and wheat sheaves on her shield. Read my full report on the symbolism in the flag here.
Now, my research also led me to believe that this design might have been adopted when the flag was repainted, and so it might not be quite what originally flew at the April 21, 1836 battle in which Sam Houston’s army routed Santa Anna’s troops and won independence for Texas. But this is the design that’s on the flag now, so that’s what I used.
As I was working, my mind wandered over what artistic choices James Beard might have made, if he truly did paint this for the Newport Rifles company, headed from Kentucky to Texas, back in 1835, and what it meant to the people who saw it then. I visited the state Capitol and pondered how cool it was that this icon of Texas independence hangs right there with the state representatives while the Lege is in session. I tracked down to my own satisfaction why Liberty is seated that way, and chatted with a coin expert in Switzerland about liberty-goddess images through the centuries.
The San Jacinto flag is very different from a lot of the other early Texas flags; no bold blocks of color, no Lone Star. And years ago when I first saw it, I wondered what exactly it meant to those early Texians. Now I understand a little better, and, at least to my eyes, it will never be a muddy, stained, obscure image again.
About my design:
I worked at creating a clean new version of the original stylized design, more or less as I think it would have looked when first painted. That is to say, the age spots and wear are all gone; I’ve researched what her symbolic devices are in order to fill damaged areas with a high-quality image; and because many Texans are used to the aged-cream background the flag has today, I’ve designed my image so that you can choose to place it on a cream-colored shirt or on a pale blue shirt, since the original flag was blue.
Short link for this entry: http://bit.ly/sanjacinto