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CALIFORNIA

was unnecessary; this was, indeed, much greater after 1822 under the high duties (in 1836-1840 generally about 100%) of the Mexican tariffs. In the early ’forties some three-fourths of the imports, even at Monterey itself, are said to have paid no duties, being landed by agreement with the officials. Wholesale and retail trade flourished all along the coast in defiance of prohibitory laws. American trade was by far most important. The Boston traders—whose direct trade began in 1822, but the indirect ventures long before that—were men of decided influence in California. The trade supplied almost all the clothing, merchandise and manufactures used in the province; hides and furs were given in exchange. If foreign trade was not to be received, still less were foreign travellers, under the Spanish laws. However, the Russians came in 1805, and in 1812 founded on Bodega Bay a post they held till 1841, whence they traded and hunted (even in San Francisco Bay) for furs. From the day of the earliest foreign commerce sailors and traders of divers nationalities began to settle in the province. In 1826 American hunters first crossed to the coast; in 1830 the Hudson’s Bay Company began operations in northern California. By this time the foreign element was considerable in number, and it doubled in the next six years, although the true overland immigration from the United States began only about 1840. As a class foreigners were respected, and they were influential beyond proportion to their numbers. They controlled commerce, and were more energetic, generally, than were the natives; many were naturalized, held generous grants of land, and had married into Californian families, not excluding the most select and influential. Most prominent of Americans in the interior was John A. Sutter (1803-1880), who held a grant of eleven square leagues around the present site of Sacramento, whereon he built a fort. His position as a Mexican official, and the location of his fortified post on the border, commanding the interior country and lying on the route of the overland immigrants, made him of great importance in the years preceding and immediately following American occupation; although he was a man of slight abilities and wasted his great opportunities. Other settlers in the coast towns were also of high standing and importance. In short, Americans were hospitably received and very well treated by the government and the people; despite some formalities and ostensible surveillance there was no oppression whatever. There was, however, some jealousy of the ease with which Americans secured land grants, and an entirely just dislike of “bad” Americans. The sources from which all the immigrants were recruited made inevitable an element of lawlessness and truculence. The Americans happened to predominate. Along with a full share of border individuality and restlessness they had the usual boisterous boastfulness and a racial contempt, which was arrogantly proclaimed, for Mexicans,—often too for Mexican legal formalities. The early comers were a conservative American and European intriques. force in politics, but many of the later comers wanted to make California a second Texas. As early as 1805 (at the time of James Monroe’s negotiations for Florida), there are traces of Spain’s fear of American ambitions even in this far-away province. It was a fear she felt for all her American possessions. Spain’s fears passed on to Mexico, the Russians being feared only less than Americans. An offer was made by President Jackson in 1835 to buy the northern part of California, including San Francisco Bay, but was refused. In 1836 and 1844 Americans were prominent in the incidents of revolution; divided in opinion in both years they were neutral in the actual “hostilities” of the latter, but some gave active support to the governor in 1836. From 1836 on, foreign interference was much talked about. Americans supposed that Great Britain wished to exchange Mexican bonds for California; France also was thought to be watching for an opening for gratifying supposed ambitions; and all parties saw that even without overt act by the United States the progress of American settlement seemed likely to gain them the province, whose connexion with Mexico had long been a notoriously loose one. A considerable literature written by travellers of all the countries named had before this discussed all interests. In 1840 for too active interest in politics some Americans and Englishmen were temporarily expelled.

In 1842 Commodore T.A.C. Jones (1789-1858) of the United States navy, believing that war had broken out between his country and Mexico and that a British force was about to seize California, raised the American flag over Monterey (October 21st), but finding that he had acted on misinformation he lowered the flag next day with due ceremony and warm apology. In California this incident served only to open up agreeable personal relations and social courtesies, but it did not tend to clarify the diplomatic atmosphere. It showed the ease of seizing the country, the indifference of the natives, and the resolution of the United States government. Mexico sought to prevent American immigration, but the local authorities would not enforce such orders, however positive. Between 1843 and 1845, Great Britain, the United States, and France opened consulates. By 1845 there was certainly an agreement in opinion among all American residents (then not 700 in number) as regards the future of the country. The policy of France and Great Britain in these years is unknown. That of the United States is fully known. In 1845 the American consul at Monterey, Thomas O. Larkin (1802-1858), was instructed to work for the secession of California from Mexico, without overt aid from the United States, but with their good-will and sympathy. He very soon gained from leading officers assurances of such a movement before 1848. At the same time American naval officers were instructed to occupy the ports in case of war with Mexico, but first and last to work for the good-will of the natives. In 1845 Captain J.C. Frémont,—whose doings in California in the next two years were among the main assets in a life-long reputation and an unsuccessful presidential campaign,—while engaged in a government surveying expedition, aroused the apprehensions of the Californian authorities by suspicious and very possibly intentionally provocative movements, and there was a show of military force by both parties. Frémont had information beyond that of ordinary men that made him believe early hostilities between the United States and Mexico to be inevitable; he was also officially informed of Larkin’s secret task and in no way authorized to hamper it. Resentment, however, incited him to personal revenge on the Californian government, and an ambition that clearly saw the gravity of the crisis prompted him to improve it The “Bear Flag.” unscrupulously for his own advancement, leaving his government to support or disavow him according as war should come or not. In violation therefore of international amities, and practically in disobedience of orders, he broke the peace, caused a band of Mexican cavalry mounts to be seized, and prompted some American settlers to occupy Sonoma (14th June 1846). This episode is known as the “Bear Flag War,” inasmuch as there was short-lived talk of making California an independent state, and a flag with a bear as an emblem (California is still popularly known as the Bear Flag State) flew for a few days at Sonoma. It was a very small, very disingenuous, inevitably an anomalous, and in the vanity of proclamations and other concomitant incidents rather a ridiculous affair; and fortunately for the dignity of history—and for Frémont—it was quickly merged in a larger question, when Commodore John Drake Sloat (1780-1867) on the 7th of July raised the flag of the United States over Monterey, proclaiming California a part of the United States. The opening hostilities of the Mexican War had occurred on the Rio Grande. The excuses and explanations later given by Frémont—military preparations by the Californian authorities, the imminence of their attack, ripening British schemes for the seizure of the province, etc.—made up the stock account of historians until the whole truth came out in 1886 (in Royce’s California). Californians had been very friendly to Americans, but Larkin’s intimates thought they had been tricked, and the people resented the stealthy and unprovoked breaking of peace, and unfortunately the Americans did not known how to treat them except inconsiderately and somewhat contemptuously. The result was a feeble rising in the south. The country was fully pacified by January 1847. The aftermath of Frémont’s filibustering acts, followed as they were