California State Flag History

Aug 14th, 2016

California State Flag


California was the 31st state admitted to the Union on September 9, 1850. The National flag was redesigned to add another star, making the total 31, in the canton to represent the number of states in the Union.


US 31 Star Flag


California’s state flag is called the “Bear Flag”. It was designed based on the Bear Flag that was flown in 1846 during the Bear Flag Revolt. That flag was designed by Peter Storm to represent California and Texas fight to end Mexico’s rule. Those that fought and carried the flag were known as bear flaggers. The original Bear Flag was taken down and the United States flag raised in 1846 when California was claimed as a territory of the United States. It was given to the son of the commander of the USS Portsmouth, John E, and left to head for the east coast on the USS Portsmouth. It was returned to California in 1855 and presented to two California senators, William M. Quinn and John B. Weller. It was then donated to the Society of California Pioneers where it was preserved. The original flag was lost to fires in 1906 after the devastating San Francisco earthquake.


CA 1846 Flag


The state did not adopt an official flag until 1911 when the California state legislature adopted the Bear Flag and the governor signed it into law. It was described as having a white field, a red stripe on the lower part of the flag, a red star in the upper left corner of the field, and the word “California Republic” at the bottom of the white field, and a California grizzly walking on grass towards the hoist in the center of the field.


In 1953, the California flag design was standardized and the colors to be used were defined. Those colors include White, old glory red, maple sugar, seal and Irish green.


Legend claims that the bear represents persistence and strength, the red star freedom, the grass fertility and prosperity, the red stripe courage, and the white peace and purity.


The North American Vexillological Association’s 2001 survey of 72 Canadian province and American territories and state flags rated the Bear Flag 13th best design. Flags that did not include a blue field and the state seal generally rated much higher than those that had simpler designs.


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