Quantcast
logo

Facts about Bear Flag Revolt

What was the California Republic ?
The California Republic was California’s brief stint of independence from both Mexico and the United States. The California Republic was declared after a revolt, which became known as the Bear Flag Revolt. The Republic was never officially recognized as an independent entity by any country, and was taken over by the United States after less than a month.

When was the California Republic ?
The California Republic lasted for about a month during June and July of 1846. The group of rebels involved in the revolt set out on June 11, reaching their destination (Sonoma, California) on June 14. The Bear Flag was raised on June 14, after the group’s successful capture of Sonoma. California was annexed by the United States government on July 9.

What caused Bear Flag Revolt ?
Modern day California had been part of Mexico’s Alta California region since Mexico’s independence in 1821. Before that, the territory had been controlled by Spain. Americans, immigrants, and Mexicans were all living in the territory in 1846, though not peacefully. Rumors floated around saying that Mexico had plans to remove all non-Mexican inhabitants. Tensions were high, and conflict between the United States and Mexico was frequent, so inhabitants of California were already expecting action from Mexico.

The United States had already declared war on Mexico on May 13, 1846, but this news did not reach those in California until July.

John C. Frémont, who was traveling through California in 1846, encouraged the people to revolt against Mexico, while Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a Mexican national of Spanish descent, advocated the annexation of California by the United States government.

What happened during the Bear Flag Revolt ?
June 11, 1846 a group of about 33-34 Americans gathered near Sonoma, and agreed to take control of the city. No shots were fired in the takeover of Sonoma because General Mariano Vallejo, who was supportive of the annexation of California by the United States, surrendered easily. The rebels captured Vallejo and several others anyway, transferring them to Sutter’s Fort, where they were kept as prisoners.

Between June 14, the day of capture, and June 17, the men at Sonoma created the Bear Flag to represent their revolution. The exact date of the flag’s creation has been debated, but June 14 is widely accepted. The flag flew in Sonoma until July 9, when it was replaced with a United States flag.

What was the original Bear Flag ?
The original Bear Flag is sometimes called the Todd Flag, named for its creator, William L. Todd. The flag was raised after the capture of Sonoma, to proclaim California’s independence from Mexico. The original flag was made on a sheet of white cotton, with a strip of red flannel sewn across the bottom. A reddish star was painted (probably with blackberry juice) on the hoist side, a nod of recognition to California Lone Star flag of 1836. To the right of the star, a grizzly bear standing on its hind legs, represented strength, and lent the revolt its name, the Bear Flag Revolt. “California Republic” was printed across the flag below the bear. The original flag measured around three feet by five feet.

A flag believed to have been the original was kept on display in a San Francisco until the earthquake of 1906, when it was destroyed in a fire.

The Bear Flag is the precursor to today’s official California state flag, which follows the same design as the Bear Flag, except the grizzly bear is now on all four legs and is standing on a patch of grass.

How long did the Bear Flag Revolt last ?
The Bear Flag Revolt lasted a bit less than a month (around 26 days). The exact number of days the Revolt went on depends on which day the Revolt started, which has been debated. The flag itself was most likely raised on June 14, but the members of the Revolt left for Sonoma on June 11. The United States raised the U.S. flag in Monterey on July 7, before coming to the San Francisco area on July 9.

Who were the major figures involved in the California Republic and the Bear Flag Revolt ?
John C. Frémont: An instigator of the revolt, Frémont offered his own soldiers as support. He arrived with U.S. soldiers on June 23 to take over the Republic.

William B. Ide: He wrote a proclamation declaring the California Republic of June 14. Ide was the first and only president of the California Republic, and a leader of the rebellion and takeover of Sonoma

General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo: A Mexican national of Spanish descent, Vallejo worked for the Mexican military in California but supported the U.S. annexation of the territory. He was captured by the Bear Flaggers when they marched on Sonoma, and held at Sutter’s Fort until August 1.

William B. Todd: Todd was one of the men who marched on Sonoma, and is credited with the creation of the original Bear Flag.

What was the California Lone Star Flag ?
Juan Alvarado and Issac Graham led a rebellion for Californian independence from Mexico in 1836, ten years before the Bear Flag Revolt. The rebels managed to capture Monterey, but the revolution ultimately failed. The flag they chose to represent their rebellion consisted of a red star on a white background, which later influenced the creator of the Bear Flag, who included the red star in his design.

What is the relationship between the Texas Revolution and the California Republic ?
The group of rebels who rallied for Californian independence were inspired by the 1835 Revolution in Texas, and tried to emulate their course. California and Texas share a parallel history because of these events, as both states revolted against Mexican rule and became independent republics before joining the United States. Both states honor their histories as independent republics in their flags with a single star.