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The historic Gonzales Flag has recently soared in popularity due to the national debate on gun control vs. gun rights. Originally used in the Lone Star State, this iconic emblem continues to inspire and spark controversy. Despite the current political climate toward the Come and Take It Flag, there’s no denying it is a powerful part of American history. In our latest blog, we will uncover the history and meaning of the Gonzales Flag and its ties to Texas history.
The Gonzales Flag, or the Come and Take It Flag, was created during the battle for Texas’s independence from Mexico. The flag's creation was based on a bronze cannon provided by the Mexican government and kept by Texas independence fighters. While one of the lesser-known events in American history, the history of the Gonzales Flag is a prominent part of Texas' formation.
The cannon at the center of the controversy was a Spanish-made bronze six-pound caliber, swivel-mounted artillery piece. The people of Texas asked the Mexican political chief Bexar for the cannon to use as protection against local Native American attacks.
The cannon was delivered in March of 1831, but soon, an outbreak of hostilities between the Mexican government and Texas colonists would lead to talks of revolution. In 1835, Santa Anna, the Mexican president, made himself a dictator, dissolving the constitution and seeking to put an end to the Tejanos and Texans’ quest for liberty.
He sent Mexican troops under the military commander Domingo de Ugartechea with a corporal and five soldiers to get the cannon back. To safeguard the weapon, Texans buried it in a peach orchard. They then informed Ugartechea they were keeping the cannon and took the Mexican soldiers prisoner.
The rebels developed the motto, “Come and Take It,” and quickly designed an emblem originally called the Old Cannon Flag, which contained a small cannon and the phrase, “Come and Take It,” spanning the bottom. Not only was it the state’s first battle flag, but it was also the first Lone Star emblem!
At the end of September 1835, an officer from the Texas militia named Robert M. Coleman arrived in the area with thirty Indian fighters. The cannon was taken from its burial spot and mounted on wheels.
Word spread around Texas that the people in the town of Gonzales needed help. A communication was sent to the Committee of the Jurisdiction of Austin. They felt the seizure of the cannon was only a pretext to take away the colonist’s ability to defend themselves. The people were determined to protect their right to self-defense against a government authority.
Volunteers responded, and armed men rushed to the scene. The 18 individuals at the outpost grew to over 165 by the time the Mexican military arrived. The skirmish was the first step in forming the Republic of Texas.
The saying “Come and Take It” is in reference to the motto used by the Texas colonists. In October of 1835, a Mexican Lieutenant named Castaneda demanded the cannon be returned as a condition of the Mexican government’s loan.
The cannon stood about 200 yards behind the Texas rebels. They pointed to it and said, “There it is. Now, come and take it back.”
Leaders from the Texas military asked the women in the compound to create a flag in reference to the cannon. The flag they made had a white background with a black cannon in the middle of it. The words “Come and Take It!” were written above and below the cannon image at the center.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time in history that the phrase was used. Supposedly, in ancient Greece, during the Battle of Thermopylae, King Leonidas I uttered, "Molon Labe" ("Come and Take Them" in ancient Greek) as he stopped the Persian army from stealing his armaments.
“Come and Take It” appears again during the American Revolution. Colonel Josh McIntosh uttered the phrase as the British tried to overtake Fort Morris in Georgia.
When the Texas militia found the encampment of the Mexican military coming for the cannon, it was dark. They waited until daylight and posted the Gonzales flag by the disputed cannon, firing it on the Mexican forces.
The Mexican officer in charge asked to speak to the leader of the Texans and once again demanded they return the cannon. The Texas militia leaders refused, and when the Mexican military officer went back to his men, the two sides exchanged fire. The Mexican forces quickly realized they were outnumbered and left the battlefield, heading back to San Antonio in defeat.
The confrontation was considered a minor skirmish and was referred to as the Battle of Gonzales. While it only lasted a couple of hours, it became the first battle of the Texas Revolution and the first step toward freedom from Mexico.
A symbol of defiance, the phrase “Come and Take It,” was the message sent to the Mexican government. The failure of the Mexican forces to take back the cannon turned the flag into a symbol against tyrannical government policies.
Replicas of the flag are often seen at the Texas State Capitol, Sam Houston State University, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, and other prominent areas around the state of Texas. The Gonzales Flag is now commonly used by those who refuse to accept laws that infringe on their Second Amendment right to bear arms. It represents how many Americans openly reject the government’s desire to disarm them. Many across the nation believe the government has grown too bold and has begun to infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights.
While the Gonzalez flag is a symbol of defiance, it’s also a popular motto for companies looking to capitalize on the popular phrase. It’s seen on billboards, t-shirts, and print ads. While many states feel indifference toward the sentiment, “Come and Take It” remains a source of Texas pride due to the history and meaning behind the message.
AmericanFlags.com sells the ever-popular Come and Take It Flag and merchandise so you can display this essential piece of Texas history.
AmericanFlags.com is proud to offer the highest-quality, American-made Gonzales Flags. Crafted from heavy-duty, military-grade nylon, it features durable brass grommets for added strength.
All flags from AmericanFlags.com are designed to last the test of time with American engineering. Our commitment to superior customer service ensures an enjoyable shopping experience with exceptional products you can trust. Discover why more customers turn to AmericanFlags.com with your Gonzales flag today.