Bear Flag Revolt

1896 Replica at Sonoma State Historic Park

Just a FYI for you. The history of the California Bear flag is this; in 1846, soldiers captured Mexico’s military commander for northern California and proclaimed an independent nation, the California Republic. The new republic lasted a few weeks until the land was captured by American forces at the start of Mexican-American War. The original bear flag was kept as a memento for years until it was destroyed in a fire in 1906. A new and (honestly) better looking design replaced the old when it became California’s official state flag in 1911.

Replica of the original Bear Flag

So here’s the thing, all of the recreations of the original bear flag (which fly over Colton Hall in Monterey and the Sonoma State Historic Park) aren’t quite right. They’re based on an old black and white photo of the flag from the 1890s which left out an important detail… the colors of the flag. All of the more recent creations have made the bear either red (see the first image to the right) or brown (see the second image).

But according to the book Short History of California by Hunt (p. 350), those weren’t the colors of the flag. Instead, “The Bear Flag was quickly improvised, the colors – red, white, and blue – being quite naturally used.” Those colors make sense, don’t they?

The background of the flag is white, the star and the bar at the bottom are red. So where was the blue? Well, the only thing left is the bear.