Slike strani
PDF
ePub

THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR. LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATION:

R 1922 L

: *

*

The government was overturned here that year by Juan B. Alvarado, a native Californian, who for several years had been clerk of the territorial deputation. The dispute grew out of a point of military etiquette between him and the governor, as to the posting of a guard, and waxed so fierce that Alvarado was forced to flee from the capital to avoid arrest. He sought the home of a Tennessee trapper in the Santa Cruz mountains, named Isaac Graham. He entered the log cabin a fugitive; he passed out of it a conspirator. A few days later, at the head of fifty foreigners, led by that trapper, and one hundred native Californians under José Castro, he entered Monterey at night, and forced a greatly superior force to surrender The governor, his officers and soldiers, were sent out of the country, and the fourth revolution in California had been accomplished; this time, the foreign element, led by an American, being used as the motive power, with success as a result.

On the seventh of November, a few days after the successful termination of the revolt, the territorial deputation met at Monterey and passed six resolutions, of which we give three:

1st. — Upper California is declared to be independent of Mexico during the non-re-establishment of the federal system which was adopted in the year 1824.

2d.—The said California shall be erected into a free and governing state, establishing a congress, which shall dictate all the particular laws of the country and elect the other supreme powers necessary, declaring the actual “ Most Excellent Deputation" constituent.

3d.—The religion shall be the Roman Catholic Apostolic, without admitting the exercise of any other ; but the Government will not molest any person for their particular religious opinions. *

Santa Anna had nullified, that year, the constitution of 1824; and they wanted it back again, and proposed to be a free people until their wishes were complied with; but they failed to get what they desired. The home government fulminated some fierce proclamations, and then subsided. Alvarado was placed at the head of the new government, and Mariano G. Vallejo was made general of the army. The northern part of the state readily accepted the new government, but south they viewed it with reserve, and General Castro was consequently sent there with Graham and his fifty riflemen, when, as Tuthill. aptly says; “ All that portion of the country was readily persuaded that independence was desirable.”

The uncle of Alvarado, Carlos Carrillo, was sent a commission as governor, by the home government, and he immediately levied war upon his nephew, but was, with the assistance of the Graham Rifles, as proniptly captured as he had been prompt to commence hostilities. In the report by General Castro to Governor Alvarado, made March 28, 1838, he thus mentions the battle that resulted in Carrillo's capture :- “I have the honor to announce to your excellency that after two days' continued fighting without having lost but one man, the enemy took flight, under cover of night, numbering one hundred and ten men; and I have determined to dispatch one company of mounted infantry, under command of Captain Villa, and another of cavalry lancers, under command of Captain Cota, in their pursuit, remaining myself with the rest of the division and the artillery, to guard this point.

A two days' conflict, with constant firing, covers the battlefield with one dead enemy! “There were giants in the earth in those days."

Alvarado had begun to look with suspicion upon his allies, the foreigners, who had transformed him from a clerk to a governor. Time sufficient had elapsed to learn the result of foreign influence in Texas. It had overshadowed the descendants of the Spanish race there, and the Americans had become their rulers. To aggravate matters, Graham and some of his men, not being famed for their modesty, openly declared that, but for them, Alvarado would not have succeeded in the first instance, and that his continuance in office was due to the same cause. Certainly, Alvarado was justified in being alarmed at the outlook, and especially so because of the ever-present obtrusive reminder by the Graham Rifles of their importance to him as a political or military power in the territory. To maintain independence

*

*

a

a

were

from Mexico necessitated a dependence upon those foreigners, and to be dependent upon them was to foster an element that would eventually become their masters. Circumstances seemed to force a choice as between Mexican and foreign dependence, and the instincts as well as sympathies of race drew the Californians back, to harmonize with that from which they had declared themselves conditionally free.

In pursuance of this policy, Alvarado, immediately after the suppression of the armed attempt by his uncle to reinstate Mexican rule in California, opened conciliatory negotiations, that resulted in his being appointed provincial governor in 1838. In return for this he acknowledged the authority that he had formerly rebelled against, and was then, in 1839, appointed governor. The necessity for the Graham Rifles was passing away.

California was divided into two districts, the line of division running east from San Luis Obispo. Castro was made prefect in the north, and Peña in the south-Governor Alvarado having his headquarters, as before, at Monterey.

Graham and his followers had finally become so obnoxious to the authorities that it was determined to seize and send them out of the country. This captain of the formidable Rifles unwittingly furnished them with the necessary excuse. Having a fast horse, he challenged California to produce a faster one, and a Yankee accepted the challenge. To make all secure, writings were drawn, setting forth the conditions of the horse-race. A government spy chanced to see the document, and as it was written in English it was unintelligible to him. This was sufficient; what he lacked in knowledge was made up in imagination, and Alvarado was promptly informed of a deep-laid conspiracy to overthrow the government. Immediately General Castro was ordered to seize Graham and all his coadjutors, the order being executed on the night of April 7, 1810. Simultaneously through California that night the foreigners-except Sutter, his men, those connected with the Hudson Bay Company, and the Russians in Sonomaarrested and taken, about one hundred of them, to Monterey. Some twenty of the most dangerous were put in irons and shipped to San Blas, on the Mexican barque Guifroscana. From there they were conducted overland on foot to Tepic, by General Castro, where he and the guard were placed under arrest and the prisoners set free. This cool reception of Castro by the Mexican authorities was due to the influence of the American and British consuls, who entered their protest against the treatment their countrymen had received at the hands of the Californians. Graham and his men were quartered at the best hotel, clothed, armed, equipped, and in July, 1841, were sent, at government expense, back to confront the astonished Alvarado and amazed inhabitants of California, who had celebrated the day of their banishment by a public mass and general thanksgiving. After this, Graham and all over whom he had influence could be counted on as certain to oppose whatever Alvarado, Castro or Vallejo favored.

In the meantime matters had moved with unusual quiet in the country, except the ripple caused by two war vessels, one French and the other American, that had sailed one day into the harbor at Monterey, soon after the seizure of the foreigners, to demand an apology for that act; but finding no one to whom to address the demand, they had sailed away again, and no apology was made. The governor,

, learning of the intention of the commanders of those vessels, had immediately set out to quell an imaginary insurrection in the interior, and thus avoided the disagreeable consequences of his acts. A misunderstanding had arisen, during this term of quietude, between Vallejo and the governor, each being anxious to get rid of the other, and both had written to the home government asking for the other's removal.

Both of these requests were complied with. General Micheltorena was appointed to fill the offices of general and governor, and arriving at San Diego in August, 1842, immediately assumed control, backed by a formidable number (four hundred) of veteran convicts that had come with him as soldiers, to become the standing army of California. Mexico had sent them from her prisons to insure the maintainance of her authority in the territory.

[ocr errors]

He was received like a prince, because he was sustained by an army, and was making a kind of triumphal tour of the state. About thirty miles out from Los Angeles, when on his way to San Diego, his progress was arrested by the receipt of news to the effect that Commodore T. A. C. Jones had, on the nineteenth of October, seized Monterey, the capital, and hoisted the American flag, declaring that Upper California was the property of the United States.

The news was received by him about 11 P. M., on the twenty-fourth of October, and the next day he issued from the mission of San Fernando that extraordinary proclamation to the Californians which reads :

“Drive all your horses and cattle from the sea-board to the mountains, and starve out the enemy."

Some one, probably Josh Billings, has said that an absence of body is better than presence of mind, in case of danger; and although Micheltorena had not consulted with Billings, he was evidently of the same opinion.

The day succeeding the capture, Jones became satisfied that he had made a mistake in supposing that the United States had declared war against Mexico, and consequently took down the American flag, apologized, fired a salute as the Mexican colors were run up in its place, and sailed on the twenty-first for Mazatlan, from whence he forwarded dispatches to his government, laying before it the details of the transaction.

On the seventeenth of January, 1843, he sailed into the port of San Pedro, landed, and, accompanied by his staff, visited Los Angeles, where Micheltorena gave a ball in honor of the visit. This visit was made by Jones that he might, as far as possible, eradicate the injurious effects of his premature seizure of Monterey.

He looked over the bill of damages presented by the California government, among which were an item of $3,000 for damages to the Mexican troops, because of their rapid march to the interior, on receipt of the news of his seizure of Monterey.

The appointment of Micheltorena had reduced the rank and importance of all three of the native California officials, Alvarado, Vallejo and Castro; and it resulted in bringing those parties together again, causing them to unite in an effort to expel the governor that Mexico had sent them, with the vagabond soldiery he had brought into the country with him.

Hostilities were inaugurated in November, 1844, by the capture of the mission of San Juan by Vallejo and Castro, where the surplus ammunition had been stored by the governor. After the capture of the magazine stores, the insurrectionary forces fell back up the country, taking San José in their march, passed up the east side of Sar: Francisco bay, towards the present site of Oakland. The retreating force was under the command of General José Castro, and was a couple of days' march in advance of Micheltorena, with whom he was afraid to risk a battle.

Up to this time the foreigners had not openly appeared in the contest, although W. G. Ray, who, with J. A. Forbes, was in charge of the Hudson Bay Company's business in California, had become heavily involved, in secretely aiding the forces under Castro to arm themselves. But about twelve miles north of San José there suddenly appeared in front of Micheltorena's advancing columns a little band of brave men, the irrepressible foreigner, that caused them to halt in their march. The circumstances that led to this obstruction of the governor's line of progress, and the results that were caused by it, were related to us by Capt. C. M. Weber, who commanded that little company of brave men, who, with arms, demanded that the advancing army pass around and not through San José. Those circumstances were embodied in the history of San Joaquin county, written by us in 1878, and from that work we copy the following:

“ The captain (Weber) was in business at the pueblo of San José when the war broke out, and was acquainted with, and personally friendly with Micheltorena and Castro. He had a very large stock of

a

goods in the place, and was anxious on account of it. He knew that the soldiers under Micheltorena were mostly convicts, turned loose from the prisons in Mexico, and were dependent upon the meagre revenue derived from forced loans and plunder for their

pay.

His goods would be a rich prize, and if they once entered San José they would be sure to help themselves to what he had; consequently all his interests were opposed to the occupation of the town by such a body of men. As Micheltorena advanced, José Castro became alarmed, and, leaving the village to its fate, retreated up the valley towards Oakland with his forces; thereupon Captain Weber addressed a communication to the commander of the advancing forces, stating that Castro had left there, and asking him if he would not pass to one side of the pueblo, and not enter it with his troops. Micheltorena replied that he found it necessary to pass through San José in pursuit of Castro. In the meantine, the captain received prompt information to the effect that the governor had lost control of his soldiers, who insisted on entering the village for plunder, whereupon he caused the tocsin of war to be sounded through the streets. The people assembled and the captain presented the position of affairs, and told them that he believed with a force composed of citizens and foreigners in the place the advancing army could be checked, and forced to take a different route in their line of march after Castro. A company was immediately formed, placed under his command, and moved out to meet the enemy—a handful against a host. He sent a courier in advance to Micheltorena, advising him of what he was doing, and that it was done, not in a spirit of opposition to him personally or the cause he represented, but with a determination to protect their homes from plunder. The forces met some twelve miles out from the village, and for several days the entire army, numbering several hundred, was held in check by this little band of daring men under Captain Weber. Castro, hearing of the fact, became ashamed of himself, turned back from his retreat, joined the captain with his forces, took command of the army, and forced Micheltorena to surrender, and, finally, to agree to leave California and return to Mexico.

Micheltorena immediately withdrew with his forces to Monterey, as Castro supposed, to embark for Mexico, according to the armistice. This was not, however, a part of the governor's plan. He had sent post to Sutter, at the fort on the northern frontier, offering him, as an inducement to come with a force to his assistance, to confirm all the grants of land that Sutter, as a justice, had recommended. Immediately the captain set on foot active operations to raise a battalion to march to the governor's relief, not knowing at the time that many of the foreign population were in active co-operation with Castro and the native Californians.

Capt. C. M. Weber, supposing that the war had ended, made a visit to Yerba Buena (now San Francisco), and while there learned that some families had come from over the plains to Sutter's Fort, among whom were young ladies; and said the Captain, “ I became possessed of a desire to look upon the face of a lady fresh from civilization." Accordingly, accompanied by a friend, he visited the fort, and there saw for the first time the woman who became his wife, She was a sister of the Murfys of San José. He found a very unexpected state of things existing on the frontier. Everybody was in active preparation for a renewal of hostilities; and instead of being received as a friend, he found himself viewed with mistrust that culminated in his being placed under arrest.

A council of war was called, and supposing that he had come among them as a spy in the interest of Castro, they signed the following document as the result of their deliberations:

[ocr errors]

We the subscribers, chosen as a council of war, have unanimously resolved the following:

1st. That Mr. Weber be put in irons, and detained in the fort (New Helvetia) until such time as we may receive orders from his excellency the governor (Micheltorena) as regards his disposal.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »