Page images
PDF
EPUB

icans were defeated, and the next day were followed up by Taylor's forces, who completely routed them, driving them in great confusion across the Rio Grande.

The war with Mexico continued with increasing success to the American arms, up to the 30th day of May, 1848, at which time a treaty of peace, friendship, limits, and settlement, between the United States and the Republic of Mexico was concluded; the ratifications of which were duly exchanged at the City of Queretaro, in Mexico.

By this treaty Mexico ceded to the United States New Mexico, with an area of 281,368 square miles (the Territory of Arizona, and a part of the Territory of Colorado have since been severed from it.) She also ceded the Territory of California (now State) with an area of 158,687 square miles. By the treaty the United States agreed to pay to Mexico twelve millions of dollars, and also agreed to assume the claims of citizens of the United States: "the claims already liquidated and decided against the Mexican Republic to an amount not exceeding three and one quarter million of dollars."

The termination of the war with Mexico, after two years duration, marked by spirited victories by the Americans, served to lend a new impulse of chivalry to the army of conquest, and tended to place its fighting qualities pretty high, at least, in the estimation of the Mexicans, who were quite willing to enter into the terms, by which, for fifteen millions, they relinquished a territory of such almost boundless proportions, embracing nearly ten degrees of latitude, reaching from Oregon to the Rio Grande; possessing climate, soil, and mineral wealth unequaled on the globe.

But not alone did the treaty above alluded to place the United States in the possession of California; for

as early as 1846, the American flag had been planted on the Pacific side, and the territory proclaimed to be the property of the United States. California at this period was a Mexican territory known as Alta California, in contradistinction from Raia California, which was then, and is stii, a Mexican Territory.

CHAPTER X

CONQUEST AND SETTLEMENT OF CALIFORNIA.-OCCUPATION OF BY AMERICANS. -RAISING THE BEAR FLAG.-ESTABLISHMENT OF GOVERNMENT.--、 ¿BATES IN CONGRESS ON.-ADMISSION OF.-PROTEST AGAINST.-SPEECHES OF CLAY, WEBSTER, JEFFERSON DAVIS, AND OTHERS.-CALHOUN WILL MAKE CALIFORNIA THE "TEST QUESTION.”

THE claims of the United States to the Territory of Oregon, had been at this time (1846), pretty well established. As early as 1842 and 1844, settlers from many of the Eastern and Western States had made their way into Oregon, and even some few into California. The American Government became anxious to know more of the nature of the soil, climate, and resources of their possessions on the Pacific, and had already sent exploring parties into the country.

John C. Fremont, a brevet Captain in the Corps of United States Topographical Engineers, had left Washington in the spring of 1845, on a tour of exploration across the plains, and over the Rocky Mountains, to the Pacific; and charged with endeavoring to find the best route from the Rocky Mountains to the mouth of the Columbia River. After a most hazardous journey, he arrived with his faithful guide and escort, Kit Carson, and his men (six of whom were Delaware Indians) the whole company consisting of sixty-two men, within a hundred miles of Monterey, where he halted, and proceeded in person to the head-quarters of General Castro, the Mexican General in charge of the Territory. His object was to obtain a pass for himself and company, to go to the San Joaquin Valley, where hunting and

pasture were abundant. He received a verbal promise from the General that it would be all right, to go where he desired, and that, on his word of honor, "as a soldier," he would not be molested. Fremont and his party were soon on their way to the valley.

Three days after this, the ungallant General Castro, had raised an army of three hundred native Californians, and sent a dispatch to Fremont, notifying him to quit the country at once, else he would march upon him, and put to death his whole company. This treachery did not much surprise Fremont and his party, who replied that he would leave when he was ready. He prepared for action, entrenched himself on "Hank's Peak," about thirty miles from Monterey, and overlooking that village, where he raised the American flag. The whole company were well armed, each with a knife, a tomahawk, two pistols and a rifle.

The warlike Castro, now came dashing on, with cavalry, infantry and artillery; but after making a few ineffectual attacks, always galloped off before coming within range of Fremont's bullets. of Fremont's bullets. Castro issued bulletins and proclamations daily, of the impending destruction of the little band, but always keeping out of rifle range of the entrenchments. After four days of this fighting, Fremont broke camp and started on his journey towards Oregon. Castro was not visible.

Fremont had proceeded into Oregon, and had reached Klamath Lake, when he was overtaken by Lieuteuant Gillespie, of the United States Army, who had left Washington the previous November, crossing the country from Vera Cruz to Mazatlan, and who arrived at Monterey in a United States sloop of war, and started up the valley in search of the explorers. Gillespie had letters to Fremont from the Secretary of

State, and it is supposed they, or other letters to him, from friends at Washington, caused him to retrace his steps, and return to the valley of the Sacramento. This move had been quickened by the fact, that on the very night after receiving his dispatches, and whilst all were asleep, the Indians broke into his camp, and assassinated three of his Delaware Indians, and might have slain the whole company, had it not been for the vigilance of Kit Carson, who sounded the alarm.

Fremont soon returned to the Sacramento Valley, and encamped near the mouth of the Feather River, where the settlers soon flocked around him. Great alarm was caused by reports that General Castro was on the march to attack them, with a strong force of cavalry. A company of twelve volunteers, headed by Mr. Mersite, started for the Mexican Fort at Sonoma, in Sonoma county, and on the 15th of June, 1846, entered and captured the post, where they found two hundred and fifty stand of arms, and nine cannon. Here they captured General Vallejo, and took him a prisoner to Sutter's Fort, at Sacramento.

William B. Ide, a New England man, was left to garrison the fort at Sonoma, with a force of eighteen men. General Castro having charge of the operations at Sonoma, issued his pronunciada, calling upon his countrymen to rise, and drive the marauders from the soil. On the 18th of June, Ide issued his proclamation, to the people of Sonoma, to defend themselves, and calling upon them to assemble at Sonoma, and assist in establishing a Republican Government. A flag was improvised, by painting in rude form, the figure of a grizzly bear on a piece of white cotton cloth; it followed Ide's proclamation, and was the first flag, after California was declared independent of Mexico. It is

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »