Bear Flag Monument
Backstory and Context
The sculpture depicts a man holding a flag on top of a rock, which serves as base for the bronze sculpture.The rock weighs approximately 40 tons. The man holds a flagpole in his left hand. In his right hand he holds a hat. He stands up straight and is wearing a neckerchief and a long sleeve shirt that is rolled up to his elbows. Four bronze plaques are located on the rock base, two on the front and one on the back. The lower right front plaque serves as the artist signature and is inscribed with: McQuarrie. The lower left plaque states who the foundry was: L. DE ROME FOUNDERS. The main plaque shows a grizzly standing on all fours on top of a shield with flags of the United States and California. The flags are crossed over each other. On the front of the base is inscribed:
THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY THE NATIVE SONS OF THE GOLDEN WEST
AND THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO COMMEMORATE THE RAISING OF THE BEAR FLAG
ON THIS SPOT ON JUNE 14 1846 BY THE BEAR FLAG PARTY AND THEIR DECLARATION
OF THE FREEDOM OF CALIFORNIA FROM MEXICAN RULE. ON JULY 9 1846 THE
BEAR FLAG WAS HAULED DOWN AND THE AMERICAN FLAG HERE RAISED IN ITS
PLACE BY LIEUTENANT JOSEPH W. REVERE U.S.A. WHO WAS SENT TO SONOMA
FROM SAN FRANCISCO BY COMMANDER JOHN B. MONTGOMERY OF THE U.S. SLOOP
OF WAR "PORTSMOUTH FOLLOWING THE RAISING OF THE AMERICAN FLAG AT MONTEREY
JULY 7 1846 BY COMMODORE JOHN DRAKE SLOAT.
A founder's mark can also be seen on the plaque. The plaque on the rear depicts the actual revolt, with men on horseback and on foot raising the bear flag. It is inscribed:
OF THE BEAR FLAG
JUNE 14, 1846
The monument is located on the northeastern corner of the Sonoma Plaza. This is the presumed spot where the Bear Flag Revolt took place. Nearby the monument is another monument, a large boulder with a bronze plaque placed on it, that states that it is the location where the bear flag was raised.
The piece was acquired by the state of California and the Native Sons of the Golden West as a tribute to the 68th anniversary of the bear flag being raised during the Bear Flag Revolt. Groundbreaking for the site took place on October 30, 1913. It was estimated that 500 members of the Native Sons of the Golden West were in attendance. After the groundbreaking, dinner was served by the Native Daughters of the Golden West. The casting of the monument cost $5,000. The rock base and sculpture were installed onsite days before the dedication. The monument was dedicated on June 14, 1914. Then California Governor Hiram Johnson spoke at the dedication. An estimated "1,000 automobiles," and "at least 5,000 visitors" attended the event. At the time, it was stated to be the "greatest crowd Sonoma had ever seen," by the Sonoma Index-Tribune.