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California 1846 Bear Flags (U.S.)

Last modified: 2012-08-14 by rick wyatt
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1846 California Bear Flags

In 1996 California began the celebration of the Sesquicentennial of Statehood with event #0001, the Raising of the Bear Flag, in Sonoma. This was the first in a series of celebrations which commemorated the events which ultimately lead to Statehood for California.

As a part of those celebrations a web page was created, and as part of that I was asked to aide in identifying the various the various known 1846 California Bear Flags. This list brief list included all the flags which survived into the era of photography, The Todd Flag, The Storm Flag, and the Revere Guidon. We also included those flags which could be logically reconstructed from either drawings or descriptions. Also shown is the McChristian flag, and although probably post 1846, it is the only surviving flag associated with one of the 33 "Bear Flaggers." More definitive work on the subject is in progress, with plans to present it in the year 2000.

James J. Ferrigan III, 3 October 1998


Todd Flag

[California flag] image by Devin Cook, 28 December 2004

The flag we commonly refer to as the "original" Bear Flag may not be. It seems that the commonly accepted flag is in fact not the first so-called Bear Flag as is commonly believed. According documents in the California Society of Pioneers the Todd flag was not made until the 17th or 18th of June. It is quite possible that NO Flag was made on the 14th, at least before Eziekiel Merrit departed with Lt. Col. Vallejo for Sutter's Fort. Instead another flag may have the honor of being the first Bear Flag. What we do know about the Todd flag is that it was the last flag of the California Republic, but it may not be the first. It would also seem that many California Republic flags were made in not only Sonoma but in other locals as well. between 14 June and 9 July 1846.
James J. Ferrigan III, 6 July 2001