California’s Secessionist Impulse
Independence Day in 1861 was a day which American citizens fervently showed their support for either the Union and Confederate cause. This Confederate flag, owned by a Major J.P. Gillis, was breifly waved through the streets of Sacramento until another citizen, Jack Biderman, wrestled Gillis to the ground and took the flag from him.
While this brief episode represents the only confirmed Confederate flag display in the Northern part of the state, a similar flag to this one was raised in the plaza of Los Angeles on the same day; it would remain there for over a month.
Following the Gold Rush California was settled primarily by Midwestern and Southern and farmers, miners and businessmen. Democrats dominated the state from its foundation. Southern Democrats sympathetic to secession, although a minority in the state, were a majority in Southern California and Tulare County and were in large numbers in San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Monterey California was home for powerful businessmen who played a significant role in Californian politics through their control of mines, shipping, finance, and the Republican party but were a minority party until the secession crisis.