Last modified: 2018-12-24 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | california | alvarado flag |
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image by Pete Loeser, 17 February 200
"Juan Alvarado (full name: Juan Bautista Valentín Alvarado y Vallejo) had
been elected to the Alta California (State) Deputación (English: Legislature) in
1834 as a delegate and appointed Inspector de Aduanas (English: Customs
Monterey (then, part of Mexico. In 1836, the designation Las Californias (English: The Californias) was
revived, reuniting Alta and Baja California into a single Departamento
(English: Department) as part of the conservative government reforms codified
in the Siete Leyes (Seven Laws), formally becoming "Departamento de Las
Californias" (The Californias Department).
General José Figueroa was the Governor of Alta California from 1833, until his death in September 1835. The Mexican government had then appointed Lieutenant Colonel Nicolás Gutiérrez as interim Governor in January 1836, against the wishes of the Diputación. He was replaced by Colonel Mariano Chico in April, but Chico was very unpopular. His intelligence agents told him that yet another Californio revolt was brewing, and so he fled back to Mexico, claiming he planned to gather troops against the independent Californios. Instead, however, Mexico reprimanded him for abandoning his post. Gutiérrez, the military commandant, re-assumed the governorship, but like the Mexican governors before him, the Californios forced him, too, to flee. As senior members of the legislature, Alvarado and his brother-in-law José Antonio Castro, with political support from his uncle General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (some other sources mention he did not support the coup) and military support by U.S. Capt. Isaac Graham and his "Tennessee Rifles" (a military unit) went south and negotiated a compromise after three months, avoiding a civil war. However, the city council of San Diego then voiced its disagreement with Alvarado's revolt. This time, the Mexican government was involved and there were rumors that the Mexican Army was ready to step in. Alvarado was able to negotiate another compromise to keep the peace. However, a staged a revolt of 170 Californios commanded by Castro and 50 Americans (the so called "Tennessee Rifles") marched on Monterey. After the rebels fired a single cannon shot into the Presidio de Monterrey (English: Presidio de Monterrey) (a fort), Governor Gutiérrez surrendered on November 5, 1836. On November 7, Alvarado wrote to his uncle Mariano Vallejo, informing him that he had claimed to be acting under Vallejo's orders and asking him to come to Monterey to take part in the government. Vallejo came to Monterey as a hero, and on November 29, the Diputación promoted Vallejo from Alférez (English: Ensign, but more properly according to the time an Officer with the equivalent rank of Second Lieutenant) to Colonel and named him Comandante General (English: Commander General) of the "Free State of Alta California", while Alvarado was named Governor. Alvarado declared independence for California as the "Free (and Sovereign) State of Alta California", proclaiming a constitution and adopted a new flag, called the "Lone Star Flag of California". This flag was a horizontal white background with a red star in the middle. However, after negotiations with the territorial Diputación (Legislature), he (Alvarado) was persuaded to rejoin Mexico peacefully in exchange for more local autonomy and the Federal Government in Mexico City would later endorse Vallejo and Alvarado's actions and confirm their new positions. No further use of the flag is recorded.
Later on though, again the Federal Government in Mexico City reneged on the agreement, and appointed Carlos Antonio Carrillo, who was very popular among the southerners, as Governor, on December 6, 1837. This time, civil war broke out and after several battles, Carrillo was forced out. Mexico finally relented and recognized Alvarado as Governor, having a tenure from 1837 until 1842.
Before Alvarado's coup there were also other attempts for an independent California. Even after Alvarado, recurrent tensions would lead to further revolts and conflicts that finally led to the Mexican–American War (also called "Intervención estadounidense en México" (English: U.S. intervention in Mexico) and even the "Guerra México-Americana" (English: Mexican-American War)) which ended with the annexation of the present-day States of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming (partially), Colorado, New Mexico and Texas."
Sources: http://www.vom.com/bearflag/sobearfl.htm (currently down, available only through https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.vom.com/bearflag/sobearfl.htm),
It is important to notice that "in U.S. history the five-pointed star) appeared on flags allegedly to symbolize the heavens. It was chosen because the founding fathers believed no earthly king could control them. Vexillologically, it was later incorporated into the concept of Manifest Destiny and we see examples of the five-pointed star appearing in West Florida, Texas, and in California. The five-pointed star symbol migrated rather than evolving independently across U.S. history."
This picture is a photograph by Mark R. Harrington, courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center of the American West. P.13327 (official website: https://theautry.org/research-collections/library-and-archives). Here's another image of such flag: https://www.kcet.org/sites/kl/files/atoms/article_atoms/www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/CT_570.jpg (source: https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/where-to-find-californias-oldest-flag-other-objects-in-socals-archives).
Esteban Rivera, 7 August 2018