1846 LIBERTY $10, NO MOTTO AU55
VERY SCARCE DATE. ONLY 20,095 STRUCK. JUST 5 HIGHER AT PCGS.
When America’s forefathers earned their independence from Britain they envisioned an expansive nation that spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Unfortunately several other countries had a stake in much of the land west of the Mississippi. As time progressed the U.S. purchased more western land which sometimes sparked border disputes. The biggest opposition to expansion was the relatively new country of Mexico, which owned much of the south west and west coast. The ultimate goal for the U.S. was to envelope the California territory because it gave open access to the Pacific Ocean. Even before its statehood, several Americans moved to the territory for new opportunities. By 1846 there had been several small battles between Texas, Mexico, and the United States which sparked rumors of an impending war. Former U.S. citizens in California knew this would not sit well with their Mexican leaders, many of whom they did not trust. These same leaders knew the Americans who moved to California were not interested in joining their country which spawned anxiety over the chance of state annexation. Both sides feared an attack from the other, which made the tension worse. Coincidentally in the spring of 1846 army officer, John C. Fremont, and a party of men were sent to California to conduct a scientific survey around modern day Sacramento. There is some debate surrounding his instruction for the mission in California, however, because while there he managed to begin the “Bear Flag Rebellion.” Fremont’s speeches against the Mexican government and encouragement for state annexation inspired a group of thirty-three men to invade the Sonoma outpost. This Mexican outpost, home to a retired general Mariano Vallejo, was “largely defenseless” and therefore easy to commandeer. A confused Vallejo invited the invaders, led by William Ide, into his home to discuss the future of California. Surprisingly Vallejo was a huge advocate for annexation and planned to help the rebels. This was spoiled when Ide’s partner, Ezekiel Merritt, broke up the conversation and arrested Vallejo and his family. After this “victory” Ide and Merritt’s men declared California an independent republic on June 10, 1846. To consecrate their republic they made a flag with a crudely drawn bear, a lone star (to support Texas), and “Republic of California” on it. The now dubbed “bear flaggers” continued their victorious streak in several small battles against Mexican forces for the next month. After they took a presidio in San Francisco, Fremont’s army and the Republic of California were both abandoned when they leaned Commodore John D. Sloat had already raised the American flag over Monterey earlier. Essentially their mission was accomplished and four years later California was accepted into the Union.