June Events: The Bear Flag Revolt, 1846

Bear FlagThe Bear Flag Revolt was a short-lived, quasi-military action in northern California. It began when a group of anxious American immigrants decided to start an armed insurrection against California’s Mexican government because they feared their expulsion was imminent if they did nothing. On June 10, 1846, they captured a large number of Mexican government horses where they were temporarily corralled at Martin Murphy Junior’s ranch in today’s Elk Grove. Next, a group of 30 or so men rode north to attack the headquarters of General Mariano Vallejo at his home in Sonoma. They took him prisoner and declared California an independent republic. Of course, they needed a flag. One was created using spare canvas for the body and red flannel for a stripe. The words “California Republic,” a red star and a painted bear—thought by some to more closely resemble a pig—completed the design. The Bear Flaggers didn’t know that just two months earlier, the United States had declared war against the Republic of Mexico.  Commodore John B. Sloat effectively trumped the Bear Flag Revolt on July 7, 1846, by raising the Stars and Stripes over the customs house in Monterey.

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