California HISTORY

The Story Behind California’s Bear Flag

June 29, 2015

If you’ve been following me for a while,

you know I’m a bit of a vexillophile

(lover of flags)

with all the pretty colors and interesting stories behind the symbolism

So let’s explore the meaning behind one of the most

recognizable US state flags: California’s ‘Bear Flag’

The Story Behind California's Bear Flag

The first version of the Bear Flag was raised in the town of Sonoma in June 14, 1846

when a group of American settlers revolted against the Mexican government that ruled the area

In their success, the California Republic was an unrecognized state north of San Francisco

until the US claimed California as their own in the Mexican-American War a few weeks later

First California Bear Flag

Digital reproduction of original Bear Flag

When William Todd first constructed the flag,

the red stripe came from a strip of red flannel petticoat

worn across the mountains by Captain Sears’s wife

The red star is a symbol of freedom and referenced the Lone Star of Texas,

another territory which fought for independence during the Mexican-American War

Although grizzly bears no longer roam this state,

they were plentiful in 1846 and are a symbol of strength, persistence, and the Wild West

‘Cuffy’ was the nickname of the bear on the original flag

while the grizzly on the current flag is ‘Monarch’ from the in San Francisco Zoo

California State Flag

Current state flag

Interestingly, California’s flag is one of four state flags without the color blue

(as well as Alabama, Maryland, and New Mexico)

and I noticed the colors are the same as Mexico’s flag

The Bear Flag was appointed the state flag by California Legislature in 1911

Don’t you just love all the history visually bound onto one rectangle?!

Wishing you a wonderful week from the Bear State

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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  • Reply Beetree June 29, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    I had no idea the bear had a name (two, in fact)!!! Love the info Laura! 🙂

    • Reply Travel With Lulu June 30, 2015 at 8:38 am

      Thanks, Beetree! It was fun to research – I love factoids 🙂

  • Reply Amy at love made my home June 30, 2015 at 11:07 am

    It is amazing isn’t it how so much can all be bought together like that! Have you been to the Mission and so on in Sonoma, well worth a visit – and the cheese shop! xx p.s. I haven’t been to everywhere in CA that you have been going to! Just seems like it! xx

    • Reply Travel With Lulu July 1, 2015 at 6:57 am

      Hi Amy, you are well traveled around here 🙂 I love your comments and suggestions. Keep them coming!

  • Reply Elaine June 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    You always have such interesting posts, full of info. Thanks for sharing what you learn:)

  • Reply topchelseagirl July 4, 2015 at 7:04 am

    I never knew there were individual state flags. Thanks for the education!

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