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Aleutian Islands, as on the continent and islands of the northwest coast of America, anchored at the port of San Francisco, in the month of May, 1807.” So says the French traveller De Mofras, who visited “California in the years 1841 and '42." An English traveller, Sir George Simson, governor-in-chief of the Hudson Bay Company's territories, who was here in the same year with De Mofras, thus makes us acquainted with one of the parties to a story of romantic love, the first consequence of the advent of the Russians.
After dinner, (at Captain John Wilson's, in Santa Barbara,) we were joined by the remainder of our party, the Cowlitz having by this time come to an anchor; and we again sallied forth to see a few more of the lions. Among the persons whom we met this afternoon was a lady of some historical celebrity. Von Resanoff, having failed, as elsewhere stated, in his attempt to enter the Columbia in 1806, continued his voyage as far as San Francisco, when, besides purchasing immediate supples for Sitka, he endeavored, in negotiation with the commandante of the district and the governor of the province, to lay the foundation of a regular intercourse between Russian America and the California settlements. In order to cement the national union, he proposed uniting himself with Doña Concepcion Arguello, one of the commandante's daughters, his patriotism clearly being its own reward. If half of Langsdorff's description was correct, •She was lively and animated, had sparkling, love inspiring eyes, beautiful teeth, pleasing and expressive features, a fine form, and a thousand other charms, yet her manners were perfectly simple and artless.'
“The chancellor, who was himself of the Greek church, regarded the difference of religion with the eyes of a lover and a politician; but as his imperial master might take a less liberal view of the matter, he posted away to St. Petersburg, with the intention, if he should there be successful, of subsequently visiting Madrid for the requisite authority to carry his schemes into full effect. But the fates, with a voice more powerful than that of emperors and kings, forbade the bans; and Von Resanoff died on his road to Europe, at Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia, of a fall from his horse.
“ Thus at once bereaved of her lover, and disappointed in the hope of being the pledge of friendship between Russia and Spain, Doña Concepcion assumed the habit, but not, I believe, the formal vows of a nun, dedicating her life to the instruction of the young and the consolation of the sick. This little romance could not fail to interest us, and notwithstanding the ungracefulness of her conventual costume, and the ravages of an interval of time, which had tripled her years, we could still discover in her face and figure, in her manners and conversation, the remains of those charms which had won for the youthful beauty, Von Resanoff's enthusiastic love, and Langdorff's equally enthusiastic admiration. Though Doña Concepcion apparently loved to dwell on the story of her blighted affections, yet, strange to say, she knew not, till we mentioned it to her, the immediate cause of the chancellor's sudden death. This circumstance might, in some measure', be explained by the fact that Langsdorff's work was not published before 1814; but even then, in any other country than California, a lady who was still young would surely have seen a book, which besides detailing the grand incident of her life, presented so gratifying a portrait of her charms.'
How strange, as he justly remarks, that Doña Concepcion had never seen that book, though it had been printed more than twenty five years ! [General Vallejo, who was on the stand, here informed Mr. R. that this lady had died about eight months ago
The Russians, in 1812, came down from the north and established themselves at the port of Bodega, with one hundred Russians and one hundred Kodiak Indians. It is said that they asked permission of the Spanish authorities before doing so. The archives are full, however, of documents from 1812 up, showing the jealousy and fear with which they were regarded by Spain, and afterwards, by Mexico. They occupied a strip along the coast from Bodega northwards, and only a few leagues in depth, but without any precisely fixed limits.
In 1841 this establishment was at its best, consisting of eight hundred Russians, or Russo-Asiatics, with a great number of native Indian tribes around them, working for wages. It was to circumscribe these intruders that the priests crossed over and founded the mission of San Rafael in 1819, and of San Francisco Solano at Sonoma in 1823, and commenced another at Santa Rosa in 1827. The Russians raised some grain and cattle, and trapped enorm
mously. De Mofras, whom I follow, says that the Kodiaks, in their sealskin boats, made bloody warfare upon the seals, beavers, and especially the otters; that they hunted all the coasts, the adjacent islands, and even the marshes and innumerable inlets of the Bay of San Francisco; and that there were weeks when this bay alone produced seven or eight hundred otter skins, which may be true, but seems to me to be a very large number. In 1842 the Russians all left of their own accord, after having held their possessions, in the character of a Russian colony, for thirty years, as completely as they now hold Sitka, and without apparently paying the slightest attention to the priests or the soldiers who crossed over to look after them. · At their fort of Ross, situated amid a forest of gigantic pines, a Greek chapel reared its cross and belfries, with a most pleasing effect. The nearest Catholic mission was but a little way off. Rome and Constantinople here met upon this coast, after a course of so many centuries, in opposite directions around the globe.
While Europe was convulsed, and America shaken, the profoundest quiet prevailed in California. After a long time they would hear of a great battle, or of the rise or fall of an empire, to perturb the souls of priests and other men. But the government had other duties to perform, patriarchal and simple. On the 11th of February, 1797, Felipe de Goycochea, captain of the presidio of Santa Barbara, writes to Governor Borica, as follows:
“ I transmit to you a statement in relation to the schools of the presidio, together with six copy-books of the children, who are learning to write, for your superior information. May our Lord preserve your life many years. Santa Barbara, February 11, 1797.
“ FELIPE GOYCOCHEA."
These copy-books are now in the archives for inspection. As they are the property of the State, I will give samples, which being translated, read: “The Ishmaelites having arrived," "Jacob sent to see his brother;" "Abimelech took her from Abraham.” Good, pious texts, and written in an old-fashioned round hand. Such was the employment of governors and captains in that stormy time; and so it continued through all the period of the mighty conflicts of Napoleon. Even the more protracted commotions of Mexico herself wrought no disturbance here. The dominion of Spain came to an end in California, after fifty-two years of such peacefulness, without a struggle. Mexico having established her independence, California gave in her adherence in the following declaration :
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE IN CALIFORNIA.
In the presidio of Monterey, on the 9th day of the month of April, 1822: The señor military and political governor of this province, Colonel Don Pablo Vicente de Sola, the señors captains commandantes of the presidios of Santa Barbara and San Francisco, Don Jose Antonio de la Guerra y Noriega, and Don Luis Antonio de Arguello, the captains of the militia companies of the batallion of Tepic and Mazatlan, Don José Antonio Navarrete, and Don Pablo de la Portilla, tħe lieutenant Don José Maria Estudillo for the presidial company of San Diego, the lieutenant Don José Mariano Estrada for the presidial company of Monterey, the lieutenant of artillery, Don Manuel Gomez, and the reverend fathers, Friar Mariano Payeras, and Friar Vicento Francisco de Sarria,
the first as prelate of these missions, and the second as substitute of the reverend father president vicareo foraneo, Friar José Jenan; having assembled in obedience to previous citations (convocatorias) in the hall of the government house, and being informed of the establishment of the kingdom of the empire, and the installation of the sovereign provisional gubernative junta in the capital of Mexico, by the official communication and other documents, which the said governor caused to be read in full assembly, said: that, for themselves, and in behalf of their subordinates, they were decided to render obedience to the orders intimated by the new supreme government, recognizing, from this time, the province as a dependent alone of the government of the Empire of Mexico, and independent of the dominion of Spain,
as well as of any other foreign power. In consideration of which, the proper oaths will be taken, in the manner prescribed by the provisional regency, to which end the superior military and political chief will give the necessary orders, and the respective commandantes of presidios and the ministers of the missions will cause the fulfilment of the same to appear by means of certificates, which will be transmitted, with a copy of this act, to the most excellent minister, to whom it corresponds, and they signed,
PABLO VICENTE DE SOLA,
One of the signers of this instrument, Pablo Vicente de Sola, was at that time governor under Spain, and held over for a year as governor still under the kingdom of the empire, as expressed in the declaration, and two others are the chiefs of the ecclesiastical authorities, viz. the prelate of the missions, and the sub stitute of the reverend father president of the missions. The style does not much resemble our immortal instrument; and, as another difference, we observe that all the parties to it are either priests or soldiers.
The Spanish governors were in all ten. Their names and the time they were respectively in office, as follows : Gaspar de Portala..
1767 to 1771 Felipe de Barri.
1771 to 1774 Felipe de Neve.
1774 to 1782 Pedro Fages..
1782 to 1790 Jose Antonio Romeu..
1790 to 1792 Jose J. de Arrillaga, (ad interim).
1792 to 1794 Diego de Borica..
1794 to 1800 Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga.
1800 to 1814 Jose Arguello, (ad interim)
1814 to 1815 Pablo Vicente de Sola.....
1815 to 1822 and 1823 Under Mexico the list continues : Luis Arguello.
1823 to 1826 Jose Ma. de Echandia.
1826 to 1831 Manuel Victoria..
1831 to 1832 Pio Pico, (ad interim)...
1832 Jose Figueroa..
1832 to 1835 Jose Castro, (ad interim).
1835 to 1836 Nicholas Gutierrez....
1836 Mariano Chico...
1836 Nicholas Gutierrez, (again for a few months)...
1836 Juan B. Alvarado...
1836 to 1842 Manuel Micheltorena..
1842 to 1845 Pio Pico...
1845 to 1846
California, as a matter of course, accepted the republic as readily as the empire. But it was difficult to throw off old habits, and the following document discloses a temper towards strangers not creditable to a liberal government. It is of greatly more value, however, as the recorded evidence of the arrival of the first American who ever came to California by land. Let him tell his own story.
Letter from Captain Jedediah S. Smith to Father Duran. 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 snows 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
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 will admit. Our situation is quite unpleasant, being destitute of clothing and most of the necessaries of life, wild meat being our principal subsist
. I am, reverend father, your strange, but real friend and Christian brother,
J. S. SMITH. May 19, 1827.
His encampment must have been somewhere near the mission of San José, as it was there that Father Duran resided. Who is there that does not sympathise with Jedediah Smith ? “I am alog ways from home, and am anxious to get there as soon as the nature of the case will 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."
Thus we came to this country the Browns and Smiths first, and in but an unhappy plight.
As Jedediah Smith's letter shows, he had been here before. At that time he had been required to give an account of himself, but had been able to find vouchers, shipmasters, all of them doubtless from Boston, who had come to buy the hides which under the new system were now within the reach of commerce :
“We, the undersigned, having been requested by Captain Jedediah S. Smith to state our opinions regarding his entering the province of California, do not hesitate to say that we have no doubt in our minds but that he was compelled to for want of provisions and water, having entered so far into the barren country that lies between the latitudes of forty-two and forty-three west that he found it impossible to return by the route he came, as his horses had most of them perished for want of food and water. He was, therefore, under the necessity of pushing forward to California, it being the nearest place where he could procure supplies to enable him to return.
** We further state as our opinions that the account given by him is circumstantially correct, and that his sole object was the hunting and trapping of beaver and other furs.
“We have also examined the passports produced by him from the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the government of the United States of America, and do not hesitate to say we believe them to be perfectly correct.
We also state, that in our opinion, his motive for wishing to pass by a
different route to the head of the Columbia river on his return, is solely because he feels convinced that he and his companions run great risk of perishing if they return by the route they came.
In testimony whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 20th day of December, 1826.
WM. G. DANA, Captain of schooner Waverly. L. S.
THOS. SHAW, Supercargo of ship Courier. L. S.] In extenuation, however, it may be said that Anglo-Americans had long been viewed with uneasiness in this quarter. It was prophesied as early as 1805 that they would become troublesome to California. So wrote a governor in an official letter now in the archives.
In a recent number of a magazine, (Harper's for June, 1860,) Sylvester Pattie, his son, and six others, are said to have been the firgt who accomplished the journey overland from the United States to California. The dates mentioned in that account show that they could not have reached Lower California, where they first arrived, sooner than 1829 or 1830, as it is said they left the Missouri river in 1824, and remained more than five years in New Mexico. The Patties, therefore, cannot dispute this honor with Jedediah Smith.
After the adoption of the federal Constitution of 1824, by which was established the Mexican United States, the governor of California was called the political chief of the Territory, and was aided by a council known as the territorial deputation. The government of the Territory continued subject to the sovereign congress at the city of Mexico, as formerly that of the province had been to the viceroy. Thus much will be a sufficient introduction for the next paper. It is to be regretted that it was not known to the gentleman who designed the coat of arms adopted for this State.
“ In session of the 13th of July, 1827, of the territorial deputation, a proposition was made to change the name of the Territory to Moctesuma, the arms of the same to be an Indian with his bow and quiver, in the act of crossing a strait, placed in an oval, with an olive and live oak on either side; the same being symbolical of the arrival of the first inhabitant to America, which, according to the generally received opinion, was by way of the straits of Anian.”
The conception is poetical and simple, and differs in this particular widely from the confused medley of incongruous figures with which we have chosen to illustrate our idea of California. The name Moctesuma is very significant. It shows how the Mexican, since his independence, has preferred to draw his opinions, as he derives his blood, from the conquered rather than the conquerors. A late but signal triumph of race! California was near losing the name given her by heroes who came across the Atlantic, for one suggestive of a descent from an imaginary people who came across Behring's straits.
The Russians and the American trappers, estrays dropping in from the mountains, seemned to have taught the Californians the value of furs. The government of the Territory very naturally made this new business a source of
They sold licenses to trap. To obtain this privilege was rather a formal matter. Here is an example:
Juan B. R. Cooper petitions the governor for a license to trap with ten boats, for seven months, for otters. The governor refers the petition to the alcalde, to know whether Mr. Cooper is matriculated in the marine, i. e., a seaman. The alcalde reports that he belongs to the first class of seamen, and the governor orders a license to be issued to Mr. Cooper to hunt otters from the parallel of