…they get together for 4 part harmonies
The Doclopedia #1,077
Golden States: The Bear Flag Republic
The great state of California exists on many versions of Earth, but it’s not always the California we know. In some universes, California is a country, as we’ll see in the next few entries.
On Earth 42-E, California became the Bear Flag Republic in 1830. This happened when, in 1828, gold was discovered in several different places by both poor Mexicans and poor white guys from the United States. All of them wanted to keep things secret until they could establish claims, but they managed to find out about each other pretty early on. They didn’t much like each other, but fortunately they had two men among them who were more willing to negotiate and much smarter than the average poor Joe.
On the Mexican side, there was Alberto Loveless, a half Mexican, half English genius who had fallen upon hard times. He was university educated and wanted his fellow miners to get a fair shake. He also wanted to get some revenge on the Mexican Government. And yes, he wouldn’t mind a bit of wealth and power.
On the other side, the Anglos decided that they’d be represented by Samson York, a young fellow from Boston who was smart, shrewd and looking to make a name for himself. Of course, wealth and power would be nice, too.
Putting their heads together, Loveless and York had the miners “mine like hell”, stashing the gold away in a well guarded location high in the sierra Nevada mountains. At the same time, they took turns going to other countries (including the US & Mexico) and arranging loans of everything from money to guns to manpower. This was surprisingly easy to do when you had 5-6 pounds of gold nuggets to show off.
Eventually, allied with at least 9 countries, 11 banks and an untold number of plain old greedy bastards, they set about the last phase of their plan: recruiting people to come live in a new country. Considering how badly poor folks are treated in most places, they had an easy time of it. They also got many native peoples on their side.
When the war broke out, Mexico lost quickly, mostly due to it still being in recovery after the War of Independence it had fought not too many years earlier. Not being stupid, York & Loveless quickly signed a mutually beneficial pact with Mexico, just to show no hard feelings.
As soon as the war ended, people started to flood into the Bear Flag Republic. LOTS of people, including runaway slaves from the US and Chinese that the new country had brought over by the boatload. In just a couple of years, the population reached a million people. The Constitution gave the ruling Council of Five great power, but also gave the people all kinds of freedom. Things were looking good.
Then, in 1832, York, Loveless and their cronies announced that the BFR was just full of gold. In a year, the population doubled. Many people got very wealthy and many others got to settle down in a nice new country that pretty much didn’t care what you looked like as long as you paid your taxes.
By the time the USA started getting up in the BFR’s face, the genius of Doctor Alberto Loveless had produced several amazing weapons that could easily hold off any aggression. The USA had to swallow the bitter pill that what in our world would be California, half each of Nevada & Arizona and a good chunk of Oregon was indeed a new independent country.
Now (current year 1980) the Bear Flag Republic is the third richest nation on Earth and a leader in most things. Except gold production. That pretty much dried up by 1890.