Flag of California

Flag of California

The Bear Flag is the official State flag of California. The precursor of the flag was first flown during the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt and known as the Bear Flag. A version of the Bear Flag was then adopted by the California State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Hiram Johnson in 1911 as the official state flag.The Statutes of California and Amendments to the Codes passed at the Thirty-Ninth Session of the Legislature 1911, Chapter 9, p. 6]

The 1911 statute stated:

In 1953, the design and specifications for the state flag were standardized in a bill signed by Governor Earl Warren. The California State Flag is often called the "Bear Flag" and in fact, the present statute adopting the flag, Gov. Code 420, states: "The Bear Flag is the State Flag of California."

The modern state flag is white with a wide red strip along the bottom. There is a red star in the upper left corner and a grizzly bear facing left (toward the hoist) in the center, walking on a patch of green grass. The bear depicted is a California grizzly bear, a subspecies that is now extinct. The size of the bear is 2/3 the size of the hoist width and has a ratio of 2 by 1. There is speculation that the five-point star is a nod to the Republic of Texas, and the bear represents strength.cite web
title = California State Library - History and Culture
url = http://www.library.ca.gov/history/symbols.html#Heading2
publisher = California State Library
accessdate = 2007-12-03


The colors of the Flag of California are specified in the following shades:

Original flag

According to the California Blue Book, "(t)he flag was designed by William Todd on a piece of new unbleached cotton. The star imitated the lone star of Texas. A grizzly bear represented the many bears seen in the state. The words ‘California Republic’ were placed beneath the star and bear."

According to the Sonoma State Historic Park the construction of the flag was described as such:cquote|At a company meeting it was determined that we should raise a flag, and that it should be a bear en passant [French: 'in passing'] , with one star. One of the ladies at the garrison gave us a piece of brown domestic, and Mrs. Captain John Sears gave us some strips of red flannel about 4 inches wide. The domestic was new, but the flannel was said to have been part of a petticoat worn by Mrs. Sears across the mountains…I took a pen, and with ink drew the outline of the bear and star upon the white cloth. Linseed oil and Venetian red were found in the garrison, and I painted the bear and star…Underneath the bear and star were printed with a pen the words 'California Republic' in Roman letters. In painting the words I first lined out the letters with a pen, leaving out the letter 'i' and putting 'c' where 'i' should have been, and afterwards the 'i' over the 'c'. It was made with ink, and we had nothing to remove the marks.
30px|30px|William L. "Bill" Todd, artist of original Bear Flagcite web
title = William Todd and the construction of the bear flag
url = http://www.dfg.ca.gov/projectwild/bear/33.pdf
publisher = Sonoma State Historic Park
accessdate = 2007-06-26
The original bear was near the top, looked somewhat like a pig, and had no ground to stand on (see picture). Also, though the bear was described as being "en passant" (i.e., walking), it was drawn on the original flag "statant" (standing). The modern flag shows the bear "en passant".


The original Bear Flag was raised for the first time in Sonoma, California in June 1846 on a date between the 14th and the 17th, by the men who became known as the "Bear Flaggers" led by William B. Ide. The exact creation date is at least somewhat unclear, however, U. S. Naval Lieutenant John Missroon reported the flag's existence as of June 17, 1846. California had been part of Mexico since Mexican independence in 1821 as the department of Alta California, and under the control of Spain for many years before that.

The original Bear Flag and the republic it symbolized had a brief career, from about June 14 until July 9. On July 7, 1846 Commodore John Drake Sloat of the United States Navy's Pacific Squadron first raised the 28-star American flag at Monterey, the capital of Alta California, and claimed the territory for the United States. This revived the earliest claims on California by his namesake, Sir Francis Drake (in 1579), and made good American colonial claims on the lands from the Atlantic to the Pacific, "from sea to sea" in the 1600s.

Two days later, on July 9, 1846, Navy Lt. Joseph Warren Revere arrived in Sonoma and hauled down the Bear Flag, running up in its place the Stars and Stripes. The Bear Flag was given to young John E. Montgomery (son of Commander John B. Montgomery of the USS "Portsmouth"), who, would later write in a letter to his mother "Cuffy came down growling"—"Cuffy" being his nickname for the bear on the flag.

The Bear Flag given to young Montgomery returned with the USS "Portsmouth" to the east coast of the U.S. in 1848, but in 1855 was returned to California. This flag was donated to the Society of California Pioneers on September 8, 1855 and was preserved at the Society's Pioneer Halls in San Francisco until it was destroyed on April 18, 1906 in the fires that followed the great San Francisco earthquake. Today, a replica hangs on display in the "Sonoma Barracks", or El Presidio de Sonoma. There is also a statue in the plaza of Sonoma, California commemorating the raising of the flag, the Bear Flag Monument. (A fictionalized version of this site was featured in the 2005 film "The Legend of Zorro".)

The bear on the current Flag of California was modeled on the last wild Californian Grizzly Bear in existence. The subspecies is now extinct. The bear, named "Monarch", was captured at Samhain by newspaper reporter Allen Kelley [cite web
title = Monarch Bear Institute
url = http://www.monarchbear.org/monarch/index.html
accessdate = 2008-04-16
] . The bear was subsequently moved to Woodwards Gardens in San Francisco. After the bear's death in 1911, it was preserved at Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park.




External links

* [http://www.militarymuseum.org/Flags_Over_Ca.pdf Flags Over California.]
* [http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/toddflag.html An 1890 photo shows the original Bear Flag.]
* [http://www.bearflagmuseum.org/BancroftIntroTOC.html Hubert H. Bancroft's "History of California,Vol. V. 1846-1848"]
* [http://www.vom.com/bearflag/REVOLT.HTM Creation of the Bear Flag.]
* [http://www.fotw.net/flags/us-ca.html Flags of the World: California]
* [http://www.bearflagmuseum.org The Bear Flag Museum]
* [http://www.napanet.net/~sshpa/bear.htm Sonoma State Historic Park Bear Flag Reference]
* [http://www.dfg.ca.gov/projectwild/bear/33.pdf William Todd Quote on Bear Flag construction]
*cite web | title=Simeon Ide's "A Sketch of the Life of William B. Ide" | url=http://www.bearflagmuseum.org/Simeon%20Ide%20Life%20of%20William%20B%20Ide%20Table%20of%20Contents.html| accessdate=2008-01-30

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