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In 1822, Mexico declared her independence of Spain, and California imitated her example on the ninth day of April of the same year. We have but to append the names of the different Governors that had been appointed to the California province during the fifty-five years it had been subject to that empire, and drop' the mother country from our history :—
Caspar de Portal* 1769 1771
Felipe Barri < 1771 1774
Felipe de Neve 1774 1782
•d , u 1782 1790
Pedro V ages
Jose Antonio Romeri 1790 1792
Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga 1792 1794
Diego deBorcica 1794 1800
Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga 1800 1814
JoaeArgttello ^4 1815
Pablo Vincent* de Sola 1815 1 s -
Fourteen of the Twenty-four Years that California was a Mexican Territory.
California's First Revolution—The Indians, in Attempting to Imitate their Superiors, Burn their Chief—California' Second Revolution and what she Became—A Proposition to Change her Name—Colonization I AMY Indicates a Change of Policy—Colonization and Secularization Ordered Four years Later—Pious Fund—Furs as a Source of Revenue—Foreigners Settling in the Country—The Government is Suspicious of them—Jedediah S. Smith's Forlorn Hope—Serious Troubles Begin—The First Insurrection in California—Secularization Attempted—The Brave Victoria and the Third California Revolution—The First Revolutionary Blood—Tale of Victoria—Anarchy Keigns—Figueroa Takes the Reins of Government—His Difficult Position—His Colony under Hijar—The Second Insurrection Occurs at Los Angeles--Death of Figueroa—Population of California in 1835.
On the ninth day of April, 1822, ten of the principal officials of California, including the governor, and, by proxy, the father president, signed at Monterey a declaration of independence from Spain, transferring their allegiance to Mexico. The document was a primitive affair; the struggle was without the shedding of blood; and with hardly a ripple upon the political sea, this province was transferred to a new master.
When the Indians came to know that the whites had deposed their king, it had a corresponding effect upon them. They also had a chief that was unpopular among them, and, in imitation of their superiors, proceeded to remove him from power in a summary way, and in a manner that indicated a lack in those converts of a complete knowledge of the principles of the Christian religion. They called a general meeting, and, after a day of festivity, closed the carnival by making a bonfire of their chief. The priests gave them a severe verbal reprimand for the barbarous act, when it came to their knowledge, and the Indians' reply was :—" Have you not done the same in Mexico f You say your king was not good, and you killed him. Well, our captain was not good, and we burned him; if the new one should be bad, we will burn him too."
In 1824, Mexico became a republic, similar in form to that of the United States. California, without change of pulse, simply accepted the situation; but not having sufficient population for a state. she became a territory under the new regime. As a territory, she was entitled to have a delegate in congress, who could speak but not vote; to have a governor whose title was to be " Political Chief of the Territory," and to have a legislature, to be called the "Territorial Deputation." That deputation, July 13, 1827, entertained the proposition of changing the name of California to "Mbctesuma," but it failed. In August of the first year of the republic, Mexico passed a colonization law, in many respects so liberal that it clearly demonstrated a change in the policy heretofore practiced, of considering California only in the light of a monastic province. Four years later, congress adopted rules for the enforcement of the colonization laws, and ordered the secularization of the missions. This was an unequivocal step, that indicated an intention to have the civil outgrow the church power in the territory. The year previous, in 1827, the government had seized seventy-eight thousand dollars of the pious fund, and from that time forward what remained of it became a strong motive power in the final struggle between church and state.
In the meantime, the governor of California had learned that in the waters of the interior there existed a wealth of furs, that was important as a source of revenue. These furs were valued abroad— the Russian occupation had taught them that—and they sold licenses to trap. In time the trappers became better informed in regard to the country than were the Spaniards; and gradually its value became wider known, and a trapper here, a sailor there, settled along the coast, until finally a formidable foreign element had fastened itself in the country. Yet this foreign element was viewed with mistrust, both by the civil Government and the church. An instance of this kind was strongly exhibited in 1827, by the act of Father Duran, who was in charge of the San Jose mission. A company of American trappers, commanded by the first American that ever passed into California from over the mountains, was encamped near that mission, when the father sent an Indian to ascertain why they were there. The following letter, taken back by the priest's envoy, speaks for itself:—
Reverend Father :—I understand, through the medium of one of your Christian Indians, that you are anxious to know who we are, as some of the Indians have been at the mission and informed you that there were certain white people in the country. We are Americans on our journey to the River Columbia; we were in at the Mission San Gabriel in January last. I went to San Diego and saw the General, and got a passport from him to pass on to that place. I have made several efforts to cross the mountains, but the snow being so deep, I could not succeed in getting over. I returned to this place (it being the only point to kill meat), to wait a few weeks until the snow melts, so that I can go on ; the Indians here also being friendly, I consider it the most safe point for me to remain, until such time as I can cross the mountains with my horses, having lost a great many in attempting to cross ten or fifteen days since. I am a long ways from home, and am anxious to get there as soon as the nature of the case vyill admit. Our situation is quite unpleasant, being destitute of clothing and most of the necessaries of life, wild meat being our principal subsistence. I am, Reverend Father, your strange but real friend and Christian brother,
May 19th, 1827. J. S. Smith.
For further information in regard to Mr. Smith and his overland trip, the reader is referred to the account of the trapper occupation of California in another chapter,
Serious trouble began in California in 1830, when, one night, a hundred armed men under Soliz surprised the territorial capital, Monterey, and captured it without any one being hurt, gaining a bloodless victory. In a few weeks, his party was defeated by that of the governor, and the only thing worthy of further note regarding this insurrection was the clause in the Solis manifesto, declaring his intention •
to not interfere with foreigners in .the country. This showed that the foreign element had become sufficiently strong on the coast at that time to make it policy not to incur its ill-will.
Escheandia, the governor who had defeated Soliz, was a man of poor health and narrow views. He attempted to enforce the mission law of 1813, but was removed from office by the arrival of a new governor, the fiery Manuel Victoria, who put a stop to Escheandia's schemes of secularization. Victoria introduced his plan of governing to the Californians by ordering a couple of convicted cattle-thieves shot on the plaza. This stopped cattle-stealing, but the shooting, not being authorized by law, furnished his enemies with an excuse for setting on foot another little rebellion, led by Portala, the friend whom he had trusted most. The hostile forces met, northerly from and near Los Angeles. Portala was at the head of two hundred vagabonds, Victoria being followed by about thirty soldiers and friends. The governor called upon the rebel leader to surrender, and thus learned, for the first time, that the friend he had trusted was before him in arms. A frenzy of "sacred fury" seemed to seize the heroic Victoria, at this exhibition of base treachery, and drawing his saber he hurled himself upon the enemy like an avenging Nemesis, driving them, almost single-handed, from the field. The first revolutionary blood was shed in California that day. The governor moved on victorious to the mission of San Gabriel, where he was forced to halt, because of the numerous wounds he had received. At his side had fallen in the recent conflict one of his bravest supporters, the grandfather of our late governor Pacheco; and, no longer being able to flash that death-dealing saber in the face of his foes, with his staunchest defender slain as brave men die, he was left with no alternative but to give his word to resign as governor, and leave forever the territory, when called on to do so by the jackals that had rallied from the recent defeat, when they learned that the lion was no longer able to defend himself. He kept his word, as the truly brave always do, though urged not to do so; and returning to Mexico, entered a cloister, devoting the remaining years of his life to religious pursuits.
When Victoria left, anarchy came, and California was given up to misrule, confusion, robbery and murder. The mission Indian was informed that he was free, and what was freedom without it included a right to do wrong, a right to steal, and a right to rob t It was a happy day for the distracted land that saw Jose Figueroa pick up the reins of government in January, 1833. In August of that year, the Mexican congress passed the colonization and secularization laws, and the dismemberment of the missions commenced. It was when the dissolution was taking place of the old church plan of government, with ignorance and bigotry to contend with, accumulated at the last as a result of her misguided policy, that Figueroa was placed between it and the vigorous young growth of the new policy, that looked more to the prosperity of a race superior to the Indian. He was expected to deal justly, as between these two contending elements, and to render justice to either was to gain the ill-will of the other. To add to his perplexities, a colony of about three hundred persons was sent by the home government with a governor at their head, to take charge of affairs in California. The members of the colony were to receive fifty cents per day, until they arrived in the territory. But before they reached it, Santa Anna had overturned the home government and sent orders overland that put the new colony and its governor under the control of Figueroa, who sent them all to the mission of San Francisco Solano, north of San Francisco bay. They were discontented, and became a source of great trouble to the governor. A couple of them, assisted by some fifty others, inaugurated a revolt at Los Angeles on the seventh of March, 1835; but the affair ended with the day. Six months later the body of Figueroa lay dead at Monterey. He had been a true friend, an able statesman, a conscientious ruler, and, finally, heartsick and discouraged, he lay down to die. Peace to his ashes—he was the ablest governor Mexico gave to California, though her people gave him little peace while living, but loved and honored him when dead.
At this time, in 1835, according to Forbes, the free population of California numbered, not including
Los Angeles 1,500
San Jose 600
Santa Cruz or Branciforte 150
In other parts of the Territory 2,750
Total in 1*35 5,000
"» 1802 1,300
Increase in 33 years 3,700
Mission Indians in 1835 18,683
'i "<■ 1802 15,562
Increase in 33 years 3,121
The Last Ten Years That California was a Mexican Territory.
Wars from the Atlantic to the Pacific, 183(1—Alvarado, Assisted by the Graham Rifles, overturn, the Territorial Government—Conditional Declaration of Independence, November 7, 18H(,—The Graham Rifles Persuade the Southern Californians that Liberty is Desirable—Carlos Carillo Levies War and is Captured—Castro Describes the Action --Two Days' Battle and One Man Killed -Foreigners viewed with suspicion —Alvarado Appointed Governor by Mexico, and California Loses her Conditional Independence -Foreigners Imprisoned and Sent to San Bias in Irons—Mexican Authorities Set the Prisoners Free and Imprison the Guard—Graham Returns to California to Confront those who had Arrested him—French and Americans Enter Monterey Harbor to Demand an Apology, but find no one to make the Demand from—General Micheltorena Arrives, to Relieve both Alvarado and Vallejo—His Vagabond Soldiers—Startling News Interrupts his Triumphal March—Commodore Jones Captures Monterey—Alvarado Starts a Revolution by the Seizure of San Jose—Micheltorena Starts in Pursuit of the Rebels, Headed by Castro, and Captain 0. M. Weber Brings him to the Halt- Castro Returns and Forces Micheltorena to Surrender—Why Captain Weber Interfered—Micheltorena Asks Sutter for Help and he Immediately Respouds— Weber's Susceptibility to the Charms of the Fair Causes him to visit Sutter's Fort, where he is Suspected of being a Spy, and Put in Irons -Sutter's Expedition—What it Consisted of—It Moves South—The Embryo Stockton Depopulated—Fate of Poor Lindsay—Dr. Marsh—His Views of what the Policy of the Foreigners should be Sutter First Learns from Forbes that the Same Class of Men are Helping Castro, that he is taking with him to Aid Micheltorena—Sutter Received with Military Honors—Castro Captures the Advance Guard of the Governor The Battle of San Fernando—Foreigners Fraternize—Sutter Withdraws from the Field and Micheltorena Surrenders—Articles of Capitulation--Micheltorena Sails for Mexico—Sutter Returns to his Fort in the North—Pio Pico Appointed as the Last of the Mexican Governors of California—List of Mexican Governors of California.
The year 1836 was charged with events that were important in their final results, in molding the destiny of California. In the United States, Arkansas was admitted into the Union as an equal, and Wisconsin was organized as a territory. The Creeks in Georgia, and'the Seminoles, under Osceola, in Florida, were waging a fierce war against the whites; while on the border between the United States and Mexico, the Texans had hoisted the Lone Star flag, and forced a recognition of their indel>endence from Mexico. Contention seemed to impregnate the air in North America, and California did not escape.