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May 5, 1848 Letter of Commander John B. Montgomery, U.S.S. Portsmouth to Secretary of the Navy John Y. Mason [as quoted in John Adam Hussey’s New Light on the Original Bear Flag, p. 212, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1952).]

Sir,

      I have the honor to inform you that there remains in my possession three Mexican ensigns taken at the time of hoisting the flag of the U.States at San Francisco in upper California, and at San Jose & La Paz in lower California by the Portsmouths crew; and also the original revolutionary, or Bear flag (as it is called) of California, for which the flag of our country (furnished from the Portsmouth) was substituted at Sonoma on the 9t. Of July 1846; the latter falling into my possession in the manner explained in two notes copies of which are herewith enclosed. The revolutionary flag being much soiled, and composed of cotton cloth, flannel, and black berry juice, probably the only materials possessed by the manufactorers, I have caused another to be made of bunting to accompany it, on which I have taken the liberty to clothe the Bear in his appropriate color, instead of red, as unavoidably represented on the original flag.

                                                                                    U.S. Ship Portsmouth Boston, May 5t 1848

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May 10, 1848 Letter to Commander John B. Montgomery, U.S.S. Portsmouth from Secretary of the Navy John Y. Mason [as quoted in John Adam Hussey’s New Light on the Original Bear Flag, p. 212, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1952).]

                                                                                    Navy Department, May 10, 1848.
Commander John B. Montgomery
Comdg. U. S. S. Portsmouth, Boston.

            Sir: I have received your two letters of the 5th instant....
            You will be pleased to deposit with the Commandant of the Navy Yard, the Mexican Ensigns taken at the time of hoisting the flag of the United States at San Francisco, referred to in your letter....

                                                                        I am respectfully, your obt. Servt.
                                                                                                            J. Y. Mason

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May 15, 1848 Letter of Commander John B. Montgomery, U.S.S. Portsmouth to Secretary of the Navy John Y. Mason [as quoted in John Adam Hussey’s New Light on the Original Bear Flag, p. 212, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1952).]


                                                                                    U. S. Ship Portsmouth
                                                                                    Navy Yd   Boston May 15t. 1848

Sir,

            I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your three letters of the 9t. 10t & 11t Inst, and to inform you that the 24 Registers for the officers of the Portsmouth have been received and distributed as far as practicable, and the Four Flags, & Coal, transferred to the Commandant of the Navy Yard at this station as directed....

                                                                        I have the honor to be Sir Your Obt Servt
                                                                                    Jn" B Montgomery Commander

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January 24, 1854 Letter of Commandant F.H. Gregory, Boston Navy Yard to J.C. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy [as quoted in John Adam Hussey’s New Light on the Original Bear Flag, p. 213, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1952).]

 

                                                                        Comdts Office, Navy Yard Boston Jany 24th 1854

Sir,

            I have the Honor to forward to you the Original Bear Flagg, under which the Independence of California was first proclaimed – There are two of them, the one made of cotton cloth being the Original – These flaggs were brought to this Yard by the U.S. Ship Portsmouth, on her return from the Pacific, after the Mexican War – as I learn from an officer who was on that station at the time – and must have been mislaid and forgotten for a long time – They will be handed to you by Purser Bradford, who is about visiting Washington, on private business.

                                                I have the Honor to be Very Respectfully Your Mo. Obt. Sert.
                                                                                                F. H. Gregory Comdt

Hon. J. C. Dobbin Secretary of the Navy Washington
[Endorsed] Ans Jany 30th

 

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January 30, 1854 Letter to Commandant F.H. Gregory, Boston Navy Yard from J.C. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy [as quoted in John Adam Hussey’s New Light on the Original Bear Flag, p. 213, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1952).]

 

                                                                                    Navy Department January 30th 1854

Sir,
            By the hands of Purser Bradford I received your letter of the 14th. instant. 
            I am obliged to you for transmitting the California flags – they are connected with interesting events in the history of the country and will be preserved in the Navy Department until some other disposition shall be made of them by the Executive or Congress.

                                                                        Very Respectfully Y’r  obt. St.
                                                                                                J. C. Dobbin
Comm" F. H. Gregory Commandant Navy Yard Boston, Masstts

 

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February 17, 1855 Letter from California Senators John B. Weller and William M. Gwin to J.C. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy [as quoted in John Adam Hussey’s New Light on the Original Bear Flag, p. 214, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1952).]

                                                                                    Senate Chamber 17 Feb 1855

Sir –

            We understand that you have in your department two flags raised by the Americans in California early in 1846 which we have been requested by some of our citizens to obtain for the use of the “Pioneer association of California” – If consistent with your views of propriety you can deliver them to us we will take charge of them for the purpose aforesaid

                                                                                                                                                                                    Respectfully    Your ob Serts
                                                                                                            John B. Weller
                                                                                                            W. M. Gwin

Hon Jas C. Dobbin Sec Navy

 

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February 20, 1855 Letter to California Senators John B. Weller and William M. Gwin from J.C. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy [as quoted in John Adam Hussey’s New Light on the Original Bear Flag, p. 214, California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1952).]

                                                                                    Navy Department February 20th 1855

Honble John B. Weller and Wm M. Gwin
U.S. Senate

Gentlemen

            I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 17th instant, in which you state that, you have been requested by some of your citizens to obtain, for the use of the “Pioneer association of California,” two flags raised by the Americans in California early in 1846 and which you understand to be in this Department.

            The two flags allude[d] to were recently deposited at the Navy Department.  Not being strictly the property of this Department or connected particularly with U. S. Naval service, I see no objections to my parting with them under the circumstances to be deposited in the State of California, with whose early history they are so conspicuously associated.  They are therefore, at your service, Gentleman to be disposed of as suggested.

                                                                                    I am respectfully Your obt. Dervt.
                                                                                                                 J. C. Dobbin

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Senator Weller to Society of Cal Pioneers

                                                                                    San Francisco Cal
                                                                                    8 Sep 1855

To the “California Pioneers”

Gentlemen

            Previous to leaving Washington City in March last I obtained from the Navy Department two flags which were used in this state at an early date by the Americans.  One is the “grizzly bear flag” which was hoisted by our countrymen at Sonoma in July 1846 immediately after the defeat of De La Torre by Capt Ford and his gallant comrades.  These flags although they certainly do not exhibit much artistic skill they are so connected with the early history of American affairs in California that they must be of interest to your association.  They will at least serve to keep in remembrance the names of the brave and fearless pioneers who made the first movement towards expelling Mexican power from this territory

            I know of no better disposition I can make of them than to commit them to your charge.  As relics of the past I doubt not they will be carefully preserved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Very Respectfully       Your obd sevt
                                                                                                                        John B. Weller

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Excerpt from the "Donations" Book Society of California Pioneers

 

No. 169                  Letter and Bear Flags                      Procured from the military department at Washington

No. 170                 The “Fremont Flag” was presented at the same time

Donated Sept. 8, 1855, by Hon. J. B. Weller

 

 

 


September 17, 2007        

 

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