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Bear Flag Revolt

BEAR FLAG REVOLT

BEAR FLAG REVOLT. In the last four years of Mexican rule in California, hundreds of Americans settled in the Sacramento Valley. Tensions rose between the United States and Mexico, and by the winter of 1845–1846 war seemed inevitable but remote. Spurring conflict was John Charles Frémont, a U.S. Army mapmaker on an official mission to map California, with a band of ninety well-armed men, a considerable army in thinly settled California.

Ordered to leave by Mexican authorities, Frémont fortified a hilltop east of Monterey and raised the American flag. Although the adventuresome mapmaker quickly backed down and withdrew north, the Mexican provincial government issued a proclamation ordering all foreigners out of California, meaning the settlers as well. The American settlers turned to Frémont for help, but he refused to act, even though the Mexican-American War had now begun further east. The settlers then took the initiative. They seized a herd of horses going south for use by the Mexican army; then, at dawn on 14 June 1846, they captured Sonoma, the only important Mexican stronghold north of San Francisco Bay.

General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, the dominant Mexican figure in Sonoma, favored American acquisition of California, and helped the Americans draw up the surrender. The rebels raised their banner, the Bear Flag, and proclaimed the Bear Flag Republic, an independent California. On 7 July, a U.S. fleet captured Monterey, California's capital. Now Fremont finally stepped in, taking command at Sonoma, and on 9 July the Bear Flag came down in favor of the Stars and Stripes. The original Bear Flag was destroyed in the San Francisco fire of 1906. A version of it remains the state flag.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ide, William Brown, and Simeon Ide. Who Conquered California? 1880. Reprint, Glorieta, N.M.: Rio Grande Press, 1967. A firsthand account by California's first and only president, William Ide.

Walker, Dale L. Bear Flag Rising: The Conquest of California, 1846. New York: Forge, 1999.

CeceliaHolland

See alsoCalifornia .

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Bear Flag Revolt

Bear Flag Revolt (1846) Uprising by US settlers in California. During the Mexican War a group of US emigrants in Mexico's territory of California proclaimed the Republic of California at Sonoma in June, and raised the “bear flag”. The republic lasted until US troops arrived in July and replaced the bear flag with the Stars and Stripes.

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