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1853-1854 William Walker invasion of Baja California and Sonora

Last modified: 2017-07-07 by juan manuel gabino villascán
Keywords: mexico | baja california | sonora | filibustering | republic of lower california | sonora (republic of) | walker (william) | us invasion |
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Historical background

Once the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 8, 1848) was signed, new expeditions started in order to take off more Mexican territory in favor of the United States. All people who were not satisfied with the treaty and wished taking possession of more lands, organized and financed groups of adventurers (filibusters) disposed to get them.

William Walker, physician and advocate, arrived to California in the ends of 1850. He was assistant editor of newspaper San Francisco Daily Herarld, and after a draw lived by a time in Auburn, California. There, he met people interested to establish military colonies along Mexco-Us border, alleging as reason to establish civil settlement according the Mexican laws.

In June 1853, Walker and a guy named Watkins reached Guaymas, Sonora, where they tried to get permission for establishing a US-people colony. According to them (Walker and Watkins), people asked for their help to fight Indians. Díaz Bonilla, Minister of Relaciones Exteriores (Fereign Affairs), handed Walker over to Gandsen, saying he was found selling shares for an enterprise that would take and separate Sonora from Mexico. Gandsen, at the moment negotiated, the purchase of the Mesilla Valley (currently in the state of Arizona United States of America); then, Gandsen sent Hitchcock to confiscate Walker's ship against the popular rejection.

On October 17, 1853, William Walker fled from California toward La Paz, Baja California (present-day Baja California Sur), on the Caroline. He reached Cabo San Lucas on October 28, then he went to La Paz where his 45-tripulation landed on November 3. Walker ordered to capture the city and its governor Colonel Espinosa. It is important to say that to take the ciyt by surprise, Walker arrived La Paz flying the Mexican flag. After about half hour the filibusters took their victims and rose the flag of the self-proclaimed Republic of Lower California. "Colonel" Walker appointed himself as President of the new republic with the follwing speech:

"The Republic of Lower California is declared free, sovereign, and independent quitting since now on of its alliance with Mexico" .

William Walker adopted as a constitution one similar to that in effect in Louisiana, USA, then an pro-slavery constitution.

Three days later, Walker moved to Cabo San Lucas, for he wished to establish there the headquarters of his new government, other historians say, he did because he knew Mexican troops went to La Paz to catch him. Anyway, he took prisoners Colonel Juan Clímaco Rebolledo and Espinosa. Once in Cabo San Lucas (November 8), Walker moved again to Ensenada, (in the present-day State of Baja California Sur) (November 29).

Walker appointed Frederick Emory as his "Secretary of the Interior", and send him to San Diego, California, to get provisions and people to support the cause. In San Diego, Frederick lift a recruitment office under the new flag of the "Republic of Lower California". On December 4, Lieutenant Castillo Negrete and Antonio Melendres with 58 men came from Santo Tomás fighting Walker during eight days, however, both Melendres and Negrete retreated after suffering many deaths.

On January 21, 1854, Walker promulgated a decree, published in the San Diego Herald, on which the republic name was changed to Republic of Sonora with two constituent states: Sonora and Baja California.

Due desertions and lack of provisions, Walker decide moving to San Vicente, where summoned the people and exhorted them to secede from Mexico in order to protect region's actual interests under the US government support. William Walker and his men fled Baja California toward Sonora on March 20, 1854, but were assaulted by Indians. In return to San Vicente, Walker was attacked by Melendres, being defeated. Walker fled from there (May 7) and crossed the border giving himself up to General Henry S. Burton on May 8. Walker and his followers were taken to San Francisco.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 29 January 2002

Flag of Walker's republic

[Flag used by William Walker proclaiming the failed Republic of Sonora] [Alternate version of the flag] [Flag no longer in use]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, May 30, 2001.

The flag firs hoisted in La Paz, Baja California, on November 3, 1854, when William Walker proclaimed the "Republic of Lower California". The flag was also hoisted on the Recruitment office in San Diego, established by Frederick Emory, Walker's "Secretary of the Interior". When the republic name changed on January 21, 1854, by Walker's decree, the flag did not suffer any change.
Such a flag consisted on three horizontal bands of red, white and red, with two red stars (one for Lower California and other for Sonora). According to several drawings and engravings, the stars were six-pointed, but other sources say they were five-pointed. The flag is depicted in several proportions.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, Jan. 29, 2002

Variants of the Walker's flag

Variant Flag of the Republic of 
Lower California, then the Republic of Sonora [Alternate version of the flag] [Flag no longer in use]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, May 30, 2001.

Variant Flag of the Republic of Lower 
California, then Republic of Sonora [Alternate version of the flag] [Flag no longer in use]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, May 30, 2001.

Variant Flag of the Republic of Lower California, then Republic of Sonora [Alternate version of the flag] [Flag no longer in use]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, May 30, 2001,
as described by George and David.

According the following this page: Baja.Com, the flag is described as follows:

"Mexican states do not have flags, only shields. The 'historic'flag of the Republic of Lower California and Sonora, was a white field with two red horrizontal stripes across the lower half and two 6 pointed stars in the upper half. Email me for a link to the website for the republic's president, William Walker".
George on October 07, 2000 and David K on October 08, 2000.

Quoted by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán Jan. 30, 2002.

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