Trivia Header
Museum Logo Small
 
Home Top Button
About Us Button
History Button
Chronology Button
Law
Graphics Button
Kids Button
Textual Button
Bibliography Button
Link Button
Contact Button
Questions
Answers
How long did the Bear Flag Revolt last?
It is pretty clear that the Revolt ended on July 9, 1846, when Lt. Revere caused the Bear Flag to be lowered and the U. S. Flag to be raised on the Plaza at Sonoma.  However, the length of the Revolt depends on what date one uses as the start of the Revolt!
 
Here are the options:
 
The Bear Flag itself was created and first flown at some time between c. dawn, June 14, 1846 and c. noon on June 17, 1846.  There does not appear to be demonstrable evidence that the Bear Flag was created before the Insurgents arrived at Sonoma at dawn on June 14th and we have an official military report from Lt. Missroon of the U.S.S. Portsmouth, advising that he left Sonoma at around noon on June 17th, and he provided a description of the Bear Flag which was already in existence before he left Sonoma.  If we use the Bear Flag's creation date as the date of the start of the Revolt, then it lasted for between  22 and 25 days.
 
It is pretty well established that William B. Ide created a Proclamation on the night of June 14th/15th, 1846 and issued that Proclamation on the 15th.  If we use the issuance date of the Proclamation as the commencement date for the Revolt, then the Bear Flag Revolt lasted a total of 24 days.
 
Another option which could be used as the commencement date for the Revolt is June 14th, 1846, the date the Insurgents arrived at and took over Sonoma.  If we use June 14th as the start of the Bear Flag Revolt, then the Revolt lasted 25 days.
 
Going backward in time, we know that a group of men left Fremont's camp near the Sutter Butte's, heading to Sonoma to take control of it on June 11, 1846.  If this date is used as the commencement of the Bear Flag Revolt, then the Revolt lasted from June 11th to July 9th, 1846, a total of 28 days.
 
The night before, on June 10th, 1846, the decision that a group of men would leave Fremont's camp and travel to Sonoma to overtake it was made.  If we use this date of the decision to take Sonoma as the commencement of the Revolt then it lasted 29 days.
 
The final option we can think of is the date a group of men left Fremont's camp with the purpose of catching up to Lt. Arce and taking the horses that Lt. Arce was taking with him to Mexican Commandante General Jose Castro.  That group of men lead by Ezekiel Merritt left Fremont's camp on June 9th, 1846 - the dame day on which they learned that Arce was bringing horses to Castro.  If this date is used as the origination of the Bear Flag Revolt, then it lasted from June 9th to July 9th, 1846, a total of 30 days.
 
Bottom line the Bear Flag Revolt lasted no more than 30 days and certainly no less than 22 days.
What Flag is the State Flag of California?

As it is called in the statute adopting the California State Flag: “The Bear Flag is the State Flag of California.”

Who Was the Second “Owner” of the Bear Flag?
Presuming for the moment that the Bear Flag taken down on July 9, 1846 at Sonoma, when the U.S. Flag was first raised is the original Bear Flag, the second “owner” of the Bear Flag was John Elliott Montgomery, the clerk of the U.S.S. Portsmouth and 16 year old son of Commander John B. Montgomery.  He traveled with Lieutenant Revere to Sonoma for the raising of the American Flag and subsequently was given the lowered Bear Flag.  It remained in his possession until his untimely disappearance and presumed death in November 1846.
When Was the Bear Flag, Which Was Lowered at Sonoma on July 9, 1846, First Flown in a Parade?

The Bear Flag lowered at Sonoma on July 9, 1846, which also may be the original Bear Flag, was first flown in a parade on September 9 or 10, 1855.  It was flown in the California Admission Day parade held in San Francisco on one of those dates.  Hussey New Light on the Original Bear Flag, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol XXXI, No. 3 (San Francisco September 1952), p.208, citing Daily Herald (San Francisco, September 11, 1855).

The day before, September 8, 1855, the flag was donated to the Society of  California Pioneers by U. S. Senator John Weller.  California Senators Weller and Gwin had earlier in 1855 obtained the flag from the U. S. Navy in Washington, D.C.  It had been deposited with the Navy by Commander John B. Montgomery of the U.S.S. Portsmouth in 1848 on the Portsmouth’s return to Boston that year.

Who Initiated the Specific Events that Ultimately Led to the Adoption of the Bear Flag as the State Flag of California?
Richard D. Barton.  In 1909, this San Francisco postman/musician, attending the annual convention of the Native Sons of the Golden West proposed that the convention pass a resolution recommending to the California Legislature that it adopt the traditional Bear Flag as the flag of the State of California.  His proposal was accepted by the Native Sons, and a Committee was formed to promote the idea to the Legislature.  Then, less than two years later, on February 3, 1911, Governor Hiram Johnson signed into law the bill adopting the "Bear Flag" as the California "State Flag."


What is the First, Known Written Description of the Bear Flag?

          
As best known, the original Bear flag was created at Sonoma on  June 14, 15 or 16, 1846, with June 14th or 15th being the most likely dates.  On June 16, 1846, Lieutenant John S. Misroon of the U.S.S. Portsmouth was sent to Sonoma by Commander John B. Montgomery, arriving at about Sunset.  The next day, June 17th, Misroon returned to the Portsmouth and wrote a report of his mission to Commander Montgomery.  This report contains the first known, written description of the Bear Flag.  Misroon wrote: "the insurgent party has hoisted a Flag with a white field, with a border or Stripe of red on its lower part, & having a Star & Bear upon it."
What is the First, Known Drawing of the Bear Flag?

            No drawing of the Bear Flag dating from the actual time of the Bear Flag Revolt (6/10 to 7/9/1846) is known to the BFM to exist. 

            The earliest known drawing of the Bear Flag is that which is contained in the July 25, 1846 letter of 16 year old, John Elliott Montgomery to his mother, within 16 days of his having been given the flag on July 9, 1846.  Young Montgomery was at Sonoma when the Bear flag was lowered and the U.S. flag was first raised and he was given the Bear flag at that time.  The drawing is as follows:

Text Box:  Text Box:

 

 

 

 

 


There is one drawing of the Bear flag  known to the  BFM  [above] which might possibly predate the Montgomery drawing.  We understand that there is a drawing of a Bear flag which is located on the bottom of a copy of the Ide Proclamation of mid-June 1846 which was made for or directed to or given to Mexican Governor Pio Pico.  The BFM has not seen the original drawing, but a re-drawing of this flag is at this webpage www.vom.com/bearflag/piopiflg.html and has the following caption: “This design, which appears as an illustration at the bottom of the Spanish version of California's Proclamation of Independence made for Pio Pico....”

What are the colors of the Bear Flag?

Present Statute

            By statutory enactment in 1953, the colors (and everything else!) of the Bear flag were standardized.  This 1953 description remains in effect.  The five (5) colors of the flag are white, green, red, and two (2) shades of brown.  The detail of the coloring as specified in Section 420 of the California Government Code is as follows:

Colors: The following color references are those of the Textile Color Card Association of the United States, Inc., New York; the colors on the flag are to be substantially the same as these color references.
White--of the white field, front of bear's eye, and on the bear's claws is White, cable number 70001.
Red--of the red stripe, the star, and the bear's tongue is Old Glory, cable number 70180.
Green--of the grass plot is Irish Green, cable number 70168.
Brown--of the bear is Maple Sugar, cable number 70129.
Dark brown--of the bear outline, paws, shading, fur undulations, iris of the eye, the 12 grass tufts in the grass plot, and the letters is Seal, cable number 70108.

 

Original Statute

            Prior to the 1953 statute, a single, color description of the Bear Flag had been in effect since the flag first became the State Flag in February 1911.  Only three(3) colors are referenced in the original State Flag statute: white, red and dark brown.  The field of the flag is white.  The stripe at the bottom of the flag and the star are red.  The bear is described as “dark brown.”  While the lettering “California Republic” and a “grass plat” are also mentioned in the flag description, no colors are identified for these elements of the flag.

 

1846 Bear Flag

            On July 9, 1846, a Bear Flag was taken down at Sonoma at the time the U. S. Flag was first raised there.  That flag was given to 16 year old John Elliott Montgomery, the son of Commander John Berrien Montgomery of the U.S.S. Portsmouth.  This flag which might be the original Bear Flag, and certainly was a Bear Flag flown during the Revolt was described by John E. Montgomery as follows, with reference to color:

Their Flag consisted of a Star Union with a Grizzly bear in the center looking up at the star and under the Bear the words “Republic of California” on the lower border there was a red Stripe of Flannel the whole was composed of a piece of white cotton & Black berry juice there being no paint in the country.  John Elliot Montgomery Letter to His Mother, Dated July 25, 1846.

            Three(3) months later in another letter to his mother, John E. Montgomery described the Bear Flag he had in his possession as follows:
& hoisted a flag of their own manufacture of this fashion.  A white field with a red border on the lower edge a Grizzly bear in the center with a star in the upper corner the whole composed of piece of white cotton with a Stripe of red Flannel the white coloured with black berry juice Brick Dust & oil ....  John Elliot Montgomery Letter to His Mother, Dated October 20, 1846.

            Later, in May 1848, and following the disappearance and presumed death of young Montgomery, his father, Commander Montgomery described this Bear Flag as follows:

The revolutionary flag being much soiled, and composed of cotton cloth, flannel, and black berry juice, ... I have caused another to be made of bunting to accompany it, on which I have taken the liberty to clothe the Bear in his appropriate color, instead of red, as unavoidably represented on the original flag.  Commander John b. Montgomery letter of May 5, 1848 to John Y. Mason, Secretary of the Navy.

            From these descriptions we know the following related to the colors of the Bear flag taken down July 9, 1846 from Sonoma (which flag may be the original Bear Flag).  We know that it had a bear, a star, a stripe, a field, and words.  We know the stripe was red.  We know the field was white.  We know the bear was red, as apparently were the star and the lettering.  It would seem this Bear Flag was three(3) colors -white, flannel red and a “juice stain” red.   The drawing contained in the July 25, 1846 letter does appear to have a plat beneath the bear on which the bear stands, although this is not specifically mentioned in the written descriptions and we have no color description of it.

 

Reality

            After the end of the Bear Flag Revolt on July 9, 1846, and in many cases through even today, the colors of the Bear Flag as manufactured or otherwise created have varied greatly.  Even though the standardization has created much regularity, it is common to see the lettering on the flag in black, not brown.  Further, graphic renditions of the flag and even actual flags vary widely in the colors used and how such are used.

When did the Bear Flag become the California State Flag?
February 3, 1911, when Governor Hiram Johnson signed State Senate Bill 291 - Holohan, “An Act to select and adopt the Bear Flag as the State Flag of California (Chapter 9, Statutes of 1911).
When was the design of the Bear Flag as the California State Flag Standardized?
On June 14, 1953, when Governor Earl Warren signed and approved State Senate Bill 1014 “An act to amend Sections 420 and 422 of and to add Section 425 to, the Government Code, relating to the State Emblems.”
Are there any businesses with the name Bear Flag in them?

“Bear Flag” Businesses and Entities in California as of 1/29/2007 as collected from WhitePages.com™

1.         Bear Flag Farm
            Davis, CA 95616

2.         Bear Flag Properties
            Kelseyville, CA 95451

3.         Bear Flag Gallery
            Gilroy, CA 95020

4.         Bear Flag Properties
            Calistoga, CA 94515

5.         Bear Flag Appraisal
            Riverside, CA 92504

6.         Bear Flag Marketing
            Novato, CA 94945

7.         Bear Flag Republic
            Hemet, CA 92543

8.         Bear Flag Group
            Sacramento, CA 95814

9.         Bear Flag Elementary School
            Sacramento, CA 95831

10.       Bear Flag Real Estate
            Santa Rosa, CA 95405

HomeAbout UsHistoryChronologyBear Flag LawGraphicsTriviaJust for KidsTextual MaterialsBibliographyContact Us