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Republic of the Rio Grande (U.S.)

Last modified: 2015-07-25 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Republic of the Rio Grande] image by Ryan Fennell, 27 July 2000

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I spotted this flag in Laredo while traveling in south Texas. I was curious about its resemblance to the Texas state flag, so I did some research to determine its origins.

The red, black and white flag was the national flag of the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande. A group of rebels known as the Federalists declared a republic based on the Mexican Constitution of 1824. The new state was to include the Mexican States of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamulipas, with its capital at Laredo. The Republic of the Rio Grande was declared in January 1840.

The Centrists in Mexico City (who were responsible for the suspension of the 1824 constitution) moved to quickly bring the Rio Grande back into the fold. Laredo was captured by Mexican forces less than two months later, but the insurgency continued and the Federalists eventually retook the town. A major Centrist victory at Satillo in October 1840 effectively killed the Republic of the Rio Grande. The Federalists surrendered two weeks later and their new nation ceased to exist. The republic lasted 283 days.

Although the republic is long gone, its flag is still displayed in prominent places, including the masthead of the local paper.

Ryan Fennell, 27 July 2000

Color of the bottom stripe

About the color of the lower stripe on the Republic of Rio Grande Flag. I e-mailed you asking about a probable mistake in the color of the lower stripe which is displayed in black and that probablly the original was dark blue. I also contacted the Republic of Rio Grande Museum in Texas asking about the same topic. I received the following reply. I send this to you because one of the e-mails you forwarded to me said this museum has the flag displayed with the lower stripe in black. I hope this can help in the discussion.

"My name is Ricardo Villarreal. I'm the director of the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum in Laredo, Texas. Your question regarding the flag was forwarded to me by our parent organization, The Webb County Heritage Foundation.
"Our most prominent historian, Dr. Jerry Thompson, a professor at Texas A&M International University says the color in question was green on the original flag. He says that the original flag, which was captured by the Centralistas, is probably in storage at Chapultepec Museum.
"Another early local historian somehow made the mistake of changing that color from green to black, which has been used since the 1930s.
"I'm puzzled by the dark blue you mention. It is, in fact, the first time I've heard of it."
Ricardo Villarreal, January 25, 2005.
Alejandro Covarrubias, January 25, 2005.