San Francisco History

The Beginnings of San Francisco


No history of California would be complete without some account of John C. Frémont, the man who Senator Nesmith of Oregon said had the credit with many people of "finding" everything west of the Rocky mountains.

John Charles Frémont was born in Savannah, Georgia, January 21, 1813; died in New York, July 13, 1890. His wife was Jessie, daughter of Senator Thomas H. Benton. In 1838 he was appointed second lieutenant of topographical engineers and was sent, in 1842, in charge of a party of surveyors to explore the regions of the great west and map out the routes followed by the trappers and emigrants. With a party of twenty-five men he came over the Oregon trail as far as the South pass which he explored, climbed the peak of the Wind River mountains which bears his name, and returned to the Missouri. He made a series of accurate observations of this portion of the overland route and his report was ordered printed by Congress. On the 29th of June 1843, he started with a similar party to complete his survey from South pass westward to connect with that made by Lieutenant Wilkes on the Columbia river. He reached South pass in August, made a brief survey of Great Salt lake and was at Fort Hall on September 19th, Fort Boisé October 8th, and the Dalles November 4th. He made a boat trip to Fort Vancouver and back and on the twenty-fifth of November started up the Fall river (now Des Chutes) to explore Klamath lake; thence southeast to find a lake called Mary's; thence still southeast to explore the San Buenaventura river, "flowing from the Rocky mountains to the bay of San Francisco"; thence to the head waters of the Arkansas, to Bent's fort, and home. On December 10th he reached Klamath marsh and turning to the east discovered and named Summer, Abert, and Christmas (now Warner) lakes. Continuing southward in search of Mary's lake, or the sink of the Humboldt, he reached and named Pyramid lake on January 10, 1844, and feasted on its supply of salmon trout. On the 16th he followed up Salmon Trout (Truckee) river to its bend, and then continued southward in search of the San Buenaventura. On the 18th of January Frémont determined to attempt the snow covered sierra and cross into California rather than venture the great basin with his worn and footsore animals. Seeking a pass he kept on southward, up the eastern branch of Walker river, and then turned northwest to regain the Truckee, but came, instead, to the Carson, being obliged to abandon a brass howitzer he had brought thus far, and which was found years later somewhere between Genoa and Aurora. From the second to the end of February the explorers fought their way through the deep snow and thirty-three out of sixty-seven horses and mules were lost or killed for food. At length they reached the south branch of the American river and six days' journey brought them to Sutter's fort where they arrived the 8th of March. The pass by which they crossed was that known by the immigration of 1849 as the Carson. Sutter supplied the travelers with what they required, taking Frémont's drafts on the topographical bureau at twenty per cent discount. After a brief rest Frémont started with fresh animals on his return. Passing up the San Joaquin he crossed the Tehachapi pass, Mojave desert, the great basin, and reached Utah lake May 24th, and the Missouri river at the end of July. Frémont was accompanied on both of these explorations by Kit Carson, as guide, and for gallant and highly meritorious service in the two expeditions was made brevet-captain of topographical engineers, dating from July 31, 1844.

Frémont's third expedition left Bent's fort in August 1845. He had sixty-two men, including six Delaware Indians, and some of the men of the former expedition. This time he made some explorations in Utah and on November 5th was on the head waters of the Humboldt. Sending the main body down the river he started with a small party to the southwest through what are now the counties of Eureka, Nye, and Esmeralda, Nevada, and met the main body at Walker lake November 27th. After arranging a rendezvous in California, Frémont with fifteen men left Walker lake on the 29th, reached Salmon Trout river December 1st, crossed the Sierra Nevada by the Truckee pass on the fifth and sixth, and arrived at Sutter's fort December 10th. Obtaining from Sutter mules, cattle, and other supplies, Frémont started, December 14th, up the San Joaquin valley and on the twenty-second reached Kings river, the River of the Lake, as he called it, the place of meeting. Meanwhile the main body remained at Walker lake to recruit their animals and resumed their march, December 8th, guided by Joseph R. Walker, one of the most skilful and famous of the guides and trappers of the far west. Walker was one of Captain Bonneville's trappers, and in 1833 had been sent by that officer in command of a brigade of forty men to explore the Great Salt Lake, but instead of doing so had carried his party down the Humboldt and over the sierra into California where they had spent the winter in riotous living. Returning in the spring of 1834, Walker had crossed the mountains by the pass that bears his name and regained Bonneville on Bear river, near Salt Lake. {Washington Irving's Captain Bonneville, page 404.} He had discovered on this trip Walker lake, river, and pass, all named for him.

Under Walker's guidance the main body of the expedition took up its march and proceeding southward passed to the west of the White mountains and up Owens river to Owens lake, both named for Richard Owens, a member of their  party. Following the line of the present Carson and Colorado railroad, thence passing on the west side of the lake, southward, they went through Walker pass and down the south branch of Kern river, named for another member of their party, E. M. Kern, topographer of the expedition. At the forks of the river, in Kern valley, they encamped December 28th to await their leader, mistaking the stream for that called by Frémont Tulares lake river, or River of the Lake. The two divisions of the expedition were thus encamped about eighty miles apart, each awaiting the arrival of the other. On January 7, 1846, Frémont returned with his party to Sutter's fort where he met Leidesdorff and Captain Hinckley, the three being entertained by Sutter who gave them a grand dinner. From Sutter's Frémont went to Yerba Buena, and thence with Hinckley to visit San José and the new quicksilver mines at Almaden. On January 24th he left Yerba Buena with Leidesdorff, United States sub-consul, for Monterey where they were received by Consul Thomas O. Larkin on the twenty-seventh. On the day of their departure from Yerba Buena Sub-prefect Guerrero notified Prefect Manuel Castro of the fact and the prefect addressed a note to Larkin asking to be informed respecting the purpose for which United States troops had entered the department and their leader had come to Monterey. Frémont explained through the consul that he had come by order of his government to survey a practicable route to the Pacific; that he had left his company of fifty hired men, not soldiers, on the frontier of the department to rest themselves and their animals; that he had come to Monterey to obtain clothing and funds for the purchase of animals and provisions; and that when his men were recruited, he intended to continue his journey to Oregon. This communication was supplemented by a personal interview with the prefect when the explanation was repeated in the presence of the alcalde of Monterey, of Colonel J. B. Alvarado, and of General José Castro, and was duly forwarded to Governor Pico and to the supreme government. The explanation was apparently satisfactory and no objection was made to Frémont' s plan.

Thus ended the famous interview. It does not appear in any of the documents that express permission was given Frémont to winter his men in the San Joaquin valley, but that consent was understood. This is the testimony of those present: Larkin and Castro. {Larkin's official correspondence MS. ii. 44-5; Castro—Doc. MS. i. 316. ii. 55; Doc. Hist. Cal. MS. ii. 86, 89.} A few days later Frémont left Monterey to look for his men.

The main body of the expedition remained on Kern river waiting for Frémont until January 18th, when they broke camp and started northward, and on February 6th camped on the Calaveras river near the present Stockton. Hearing that Frémont was at San José the command moved into the Santa Clara valley and joined him on February 15th at the Laguna Seco rancho, a little below San José. A week later Frémont started with his entire company, crossed the Santa Clara valley, passed into the Santa Cruz mountains, and descended to the coast southward by the route later followed by the railroad; thence into the Salinas valley and camped on March 3d at the Alisal rancho, about eighteen miles from Monterey.

The bringing of a body of armed men into their settlements was a piece of effrontery which expressed the contempt in which Frémont held the authorities of California. The insult was calculated to alarm and anger them, and their displeasure was increased by the insolent manner in which the strangers conducted themselves towards the people. While at the Laguna Saco Sebastian Peralta, a ranchero, owner of the Rinconada de los Gatos, visited the camp and pointed out some horses which he claimed had been stolen from his rancho some months before. A very extensive business had been carried on by Indian horse thieves in stealing horses from the ranchos and selling them to dealers who took them out of the country, and Frémont had been warned against buying horses from Indians and other irresponsible persons. He refused to give the horses up to Peralta and ordered him from the camp. Peralta complained to the alcalde of San José who sent Frémont an official communication on February 20th. In reply the captain stated that all of his animals with the exception of four obtained from the Tulares Indians, had been purchased and paid for; and that the one claimed had been brought from the states. "The insult of which he complains," Frémont continued, "and which was authorized by myself, consisted in his being ordered immediately to leave the camp. After having been detected in endeavoring to obtain animals by false pretences, he should have been well satisfied to escape without a severe horse-whipping. * * * Any further communications on this subject will not, therefore, receive attention. You will readily understand that my duties will not permit me to appear before the magistrates of your towns on the complaint of every straggling vagabond who may chance to visit my camp. You inform me that unless satisfaction be immediately made by the delivery of the animals in question, the complaint will be forwarded to the governor. I would beg you at the same time to enclose to his Excellency a copy of this note." The alcalde forwarded the correspondence to the governor with the statement that Peralta was an honest man.

While at the Alisal three of Frémont's men visited the rancho of Don Angel María Castro, an uncle of General Castro, and offered insult to one of his daughters. The father, an old man, who had in his younger days served the king, defended his daughter from outrage when one of the trappers drew a pistol and presented it at his breast. The old man, whose strength had not yet failed him, seized his assailant by the throat, wrested the pistol from his hand and rolled him over the floor. At this the men withdrew, threatening to return. {Osio: Hist. Cal. MS. p. 458. Bancroft Collection.}

On the 5th of March an officer arrived in Frémont's camp with the following order from General Castro: "This morning at seven information reached this office that you and your party have entered the settlements of this department; and this being prohibited by our laws, I find myself obliged to notify you that on receipt of this you must immediately retire beyond the limits of the department, such being the orders of the supreme government, which the undersigned is under the obligation of enforcing." At the same time the prefect sent Frémont similar orders, {"I have learned with surprise that you, against the laws and authorities of the Mexican republic, have entered the pueblos of the district under my charge, with an armed force, on a commission which the government of your nation must have given you to survey solely its own territory." etc. Manuel Castro to Frémont. Niles Register, Nov. 21, 1846.} saying that if he did not obey, the prefect would take measures to make him respect his determination. Both orders were communicated at once to Larkin and by him to the government of the United States.

To these orders Frémont sent back no written reply but merely a verbal refusal to obey. He then moved his camp to the summit of Gavilan peak, erected fortifications and over them raised the flag of the United States. On March 6th Castro reported to the minister of war that Frémont had presented himself at headquarters some days previous with request for permission to procure provisions for his men whom he had left in the mountains. This permission had been given him. "But two days ago I was much surprised at being informed that he was only two days' journey from this place. Consequently I at once sent him a communication, ordering him, on the instant of its receipt, to put himself on the march and leave the department. But I have received no answer, and in order to make him obey in case of resistance, I sent a force to observe his operations, and to-day I march in person to join it and to see that the object is attained."

Larkin, alarmed at the direction affairs had taken, sent a communication to the prefect and also to the general urging caution in proceeding against Frémont on account of causes arising, possibly, from false reports or false appearances, and recommending that any party, going to the camp of Captain Frémont be commanded by a trustworthy and experienced officer, lest affairs be brought to some unhappy conclusion. The prefect, in reply, stated that the orders to Frémont had not been founded on false reports or appearances, but on the laws and oft-repeated instructions from Mexico, and he complained that the consul, instead of ordering Frémont to depart, had to a certain extent defended his entry. He urged him to impress on the captain the necessity of submitting at once if he would avert the consequence of his illegal entry. Larkin enclosed this letter to Frémont with one of his own in which he warned that officer that Castro would soon have at least two hundred men in arms against him. Larkin did not know what instructions Frémont had received from the government, but could not comprehend his movements. "It is not for me to point out to you your line of conduct," he wrote, "you have your instructions from the government, and my knowledge of your character obliges me to believe you will follow them; you are of course taking every care and safeguard to protect your men, but not knowing your actual situation and the people who surround you, your care may prove insufficient. * * * Your encamping so near town has caused much excitement. The natives are firm in the belief that they will break you up and that you can be entirely destroyed by their power. In all probability they will attack you; the result either way may cause trouble hereafter to resident Americans. I myself have no fears on the subject, yet believe the present state of affairs may cause an interruption to business. Should it be impossible or inconvenient for you to leave California at present, I think in a proper representation to the general and prefecto, an arrangement could be made for your camp to be continued, but at some greater distance; which arrangement I would advise if you can offer it. I never make to this government an unreasonable request, therefore never expect a denial, and have for many years found them well disposed to me." This letter was forwarded on the ninth, one copy being entrusted to an American and another to a Californian. On the same day Larkin wrote to John Parrott, United States consul at Mazatlan, enclosing copies of the correspondence and requesting that a man-of-war be sent to California without delay. This brought the Portsmouth which arrived April 22d.

The American courier sent by Larkin to Frémont was captured and the dispatches fell into the hands of Castro. The Californian, provided with a pass by Alcalde Diaz of Monterey, reached the camp and returned at eight o'clock p. m. with Frémont' s reply which bore no date and was written in pencil. "I this moment received your letters," wrote the captain, "and without waiting to read them acknowledge the receipt, which the courier requires instantly. I am making myself as strong as possible, in the intention that if we are unjustly attacked we will fight to extremity and refuse quarter, trusting to our country to avenge our death. No one has reached my camp and from the heights we are able to see troops—with the glass—mustering at St. John's and preparing cannon. I thank you for your kindness and good wishes, and would write more at length as to my intentions did I not fear that my letter would be intercepted. We have in no wise done wrong to the people or the authorities of the country, and if we are hemmed in and assaulted we will die, every man of us under the flag of our country. P. S. I am encamped on the top of the sierra, at the head waters of a stream which strikes the road at the house of Don Joaquin Gomez."

In a letter to the president of the United States dated November 9, 1846, enclosing Frémont's letters, Thomas H. Benton says: "To my mind this entrenching on the mountain, and raising the national flag, was entirely justifiable under the circumstances, and the noble resolution which they took to die if attacked, under the flag of their country, four thousand miles distant from their homes, was an act of the highest heroism, worthy to be recorded by Xenophon and reflecting equal honor upon the brave young officer who commanded and the heroic sixty-two by whom he was supported." {Niles Nat. Reg. lxxi, 173-4.}

Notwithstanding his declaration to fight to extremity Frémont abandoned his camp that same night and moved off eastward, giving his men to understand that the United States consul so ordered it. {Martin, Narrative, 12. The writer was one of Frémont's men and was with him on Gavilan.} The California army was disbanded and returned to their homes on the thirteenth by an order in which the general announced to them that the highwaymen who had abused their hospitality and raised the United States flag on California soil had, at the sight of two hundred patriots arming for the defence of their country, abandoned their camp and fled, leaving behind some clothing and war material. Frémont had abandoned some worn out clothing and articles not worth removing.

So ended the famous affair of Gavilan Peak celebrated in the annals of San Benito and Monterey, and in honor of which an unsuccessful attempt has been made to change the name of the sierra from Picacho del Gavilan to Frémont Peak.

Frémont's statement before the court-martial concerning this incident is disingenuous and misleading, if not made with deliberate intent to deceive. He says:

"I explained to General Castro the object of my coming into California and my desire to obtain permission to winter in the valley of the San Joaquin for refreshment and repose, where there was plenty of game for the men and grass for the horses, and no inhabitants to be molested by our presence. Leave was granted, and also leave to continue my explorations south to the region of the Rio Colorado and of the Rio Gila.

"In the last days of February I commenced the march south, crossing into the valley of the Salinas or Buenaventura and soon received a notification to depart, with information that General Castro was assembling troops with a view to attack us, under the pretext that I had come to California to excite the American settlers to revolt.

"The information of this design was authentic, and with a view to be in a condition to repel a superior force, provided with cannon, I took a position on the Sierra, called Hawk's peak, entrenched, raised the flag of the United States and awaited the approach of the assailant. " {30th Cong. 1st. Ses. Senate Ex. Doc. 33. p. 372.}

There is nothing in this statement to explain to the court how the captain could march his men from the place of rest and refreshment into the Salinas valley on his way south to the Rios Colorado and Gila. In the absence of any clear idea of the geography of California, it was not to be expected of the members of the court to know that the place where Frémont was permitted to winter his men was more than two hundred and fifty miles southeast of the point where he "commenced the march south by crossing into the valley of the Salinas."

The only understanding the court could have, in the absence of explanations and a map of the country, is that after giving Frémont permission to winter in the valley Castro treacherously prepared to attack him. That it was so understood by the people generally is shown by the usually accepted statements regarding Castro's treachery. {See map; the camp of Frémont's men on Kern river is indicated.}

The absurdity of the contention appears to have occurred to General Frémont in his later years, for in an article in the Century in 1891, he says: "My purpose (in visiting Monterey) was to get leave to bring my party into the settlements in order to outfit and to obtain the supplies that had now become necessary. * * * The permission asked for was readily granted. {Century Mag. xix. 921. The difference between this and the previous statements will be noted. The italics are mine [Eldredge].}

The permission to extend his survey to the Colorado and Gila rivers does not seem to have attracted the attention of Larkin, who was present at the interview, for he wrote on March 4th, of Frémont, "He is now in this vicinity surveying. * * * He then proceeds for the Oregon, returns here in May, and expects to be in Washington about September." Nor was Pico better informed for he directs that a close watch be kept on Frémont with a view to learn if he had any other design than that of preparing for a trip to Oregon.

Crossing into San Joaquin valley by the Pacheco pass, Frémont proceeded to the Sacramento and on March 21st was at Sutter's fort, and on the 30th at Peter Lassen's rancho on Deer creek. While here he was called on by the settlers for aid against the Indians who, they claimed, were gathering to attack them. According to Martin, Frémont said he would discharge his men and they could do as they pleased. The result was a raid in which a large number of Indians were killed. {Martin, Narrative, 14. The writer says that 175 Indians were killed. Lancey says that the Indians were "defeated" with considerable loss. Cruise of the Dale, 44. There is not the slightest evidence of hostile intent on the part of the Indians. They were probably having one of their annual pow-wows or dances.} While at this camp Frémont sent out men to buy horses from the Indians. These animals he knew had been stolen from the ranchos, for he was warned of that fact by Sutter. Martin says that they bought one hundred and eighty-seven horses from the Indians of the Tulares, giving a knife and a string of beads for each horse. On April 14th .Frémont left Lassen's and proceeded northward to Oregon. Martin says: "We followed up the Sacramento killing plenty of game and an occasional Indian. Of the latter we made it a rule to spare none of the bucks."* On the 8th of May Frémont had reached the northern end of Klamath lake where his further progress was barred by lofty snow covered mountains and hostile Indians, and he determined to retrace his steps and return east by way of the Colorado river. Late on the evening of that day two horsemen rode into camp with the information that a United States officer was approaching—two days behind—with dispatches; that he had but a small escort and was in danger. The following morning Frémont with nine of his men started back and after a ride of twenty-five miles met Archibald H. Gillespie at nightfall. Gillespie, a lieutenant of marines, United States navy, had been sent in October 1845, by James Buchanan, secretary of state, as bearer of a duplicate of secret instructions to Larkin, with whom he was to co-operate, and he was ordered to communicate the contents of the dispatch to Frémont. Gillespie committed his dispatch to memory before reaching Vera Cruz and destroyed the written duplicate. Then crossing Mexico he reached Monterey in April 1846. He re-wrote the dispatch for Larkin and then proceeded to the Sacramento to find Frémont, to whom he also carried a letter of introduction from Buchanan and a package of letters from Benton. He presented his letter of introduction to Frémont, repeated to him the contents of the secret dispatch and delivered the package of family letters. No watch was kept in camp that night and about midnight there was an attack by Klamath Indians and three of Frémont's men were killed. The Indians were repulsed with the loss of a chief and in the morning the party  started north to join the main body. On the return march the party wrecked terrible vengeance on the Indians, and on May 24th reached Lassen's. A few days later they encamped at the Marysville Buttes, fifty miles below. {Benton says: "He found his further progress completely barred by the double obstacle of hostile Indians, which Castro had excited against him, and the lofty mountains covered with deep and fallen snows. Behind and on the north bank of the San Francisco bay, at the military post of Sonoma, was General Castro assembling troops with the avowed intention of attacking both Frémont's party and all the American settlers. Thus, his passage barred in front by impassable snows and mountains, hemmed in by savage Indians who were thinning the ranks of his little party, menaced by a general at the head of tenfold forces of all arms, the American settlers marked out for deestruction, his men and horses suffering from fatigue, cold, and famine, *** Captain Frémont determined to turn on his pursuers and fight them instantly, without regard to numbers, and seek safety for his party and the American settlers by overturning the Mexican government in California." (Benton to president. Niles Register. lxxi. 173-4). So is history made. Upper Klamath, where Frémont was, is over four hundred miles by the most direct route from Sonoma where General Castro at the head of "tenfold forces of all arms" was supposed to be menacing Frémont's rear. The hostility of the Klamaths was due to the treatment they had received from trappers and immigrants. The Spaniards had never been in that country, or near it.}

In the famous secret dispatch to Consul Larkin that official was informed that the future destiny of California was of anxious solicitude for the government and people of the United States; that the interests of our commerce and fisheries on the Pacific Ocean demanded of the consul that he should exercise the greatest vigilance in discovering and defeating any attempts which might be made by foreign governments to acquire control over that country. "In the contest between Mexico and California," wrote the secretary, "we can take no part, unless the former should commence hostilities against the United States; but should California assert and maintain her independence, we shall render her all the kind offices in our power as a sister republic. This government has no ambitious aspirations to gratify and no desire to extend our Federal system over more territory than we already possess, unless by the free and spontaneous wish of the independent people of adjoining territories. The exercise of compulsion or improper influence would be repugnant both to the policy and principles of this government. But whilst these are the sentiments of the president, he could not view with indifference the transfer of California to Great Britain or any other European power. The system of colonization by foreign monarchies on the North American continent must and will be resented by the United States.” The secretary enlarges on the evils of European colonization and acquisition, and states that his remarks are inspired by the act of Rae, agent for the Hudson's Bay company, in furnishing the Californians with arms and money to enable them to expel the Mexicans from the country during the previous fall, and that now the Mexican troops are about to invade the province, instigated thereto by the British government. "On all proper occasions," he says, "you should not fail to warn the government and people of California of the danger of such interference to their peace and prosperity—to inspire them with a jealousy of European dominion and to arouse in their bosoms that love of liberty and independence so natural to the American Continent. * * *

"Whilst the president will make no effort and use no influence to induce California to become one of the free and independent states of this union, yet if the people should desire to unite their destiny with ours, they would be received as brethren, whenever this can be done without affording Mexico just cause of complaint. Their true policy, for the present, in regard to this question, is to let events take their course, unless an attempt should be made to transfer them, without their consent, either to Great Britain or France. This they ought to resist by all the means in their power as ruinous to their best interests and destructive of their freedom and independence."

He assures Mr. Larkin that our countrymen in California have the cordial sympathy and friendship of the president and that their conduct is appreciated by him as it deserves.

Mr. Larkin is informed that he is appointed a confidential agent in California, in addition to his consular functions, but he must take care not to awaken the jealousy of the French and English agents there by assuming any other than a consular character. The state department would like to be informed of the progress of events and the disposition of the authorities and people towards the United States and other governments; also the aggregate population with the proportion of Mexican, American, British, and French citizens, the feelings of each class towards the United States, the names and character of the principal persons in the government and other distinguished and influential citizens, and other matters pertaining to trade, finance, and resources. Larkin's compensation was fixed at the rate of six dollars a day and necessary expenses. The letter was dated October 17, 1845, and received by Larkin April 17, 1846.

From the fact that Lieutenant Gillespie was instructed to show Frémont the secret dispatch, we must infer that the orders to Larkin were also the orders to Frémont. So particular were Gillespie's instructions regarding Frémont that two days after reaching Monterey he started to find the captain to communicate to him the wishes of the government of the United States; and this he did at no small risk to himself. He pretended to be an invalid merchant traveling for his health, but was suspected of being a secret agent of the United States government and was liable to be arrested as a spy. Sutter notified Castro of the arrival of Gillespie at New Helvetia and said that in spite of his pretence of being an invalid in search of health, with family letters for Frémont, he believed he was a United States officer with dispatches.

The government of the United States instructed its consular agent in California to whom Mexico had in good faith issued its exequatur, to intrigue with the officers and people of that province to persuade them to separate the department from Mexico and declare her independence, under the assurance that we would "render her all the kind offices in our power." We may have our opinion concerning the morality of this dispatch and may disapprove the secret instructions to Larkin, but they were the orders of the government to its agents and it is clear that the orders to Larkin were also orders to Frémont.

Let us see then how the young captain of engineers obeyed his orders. First however we will consider the orders in their relation to the Californians and see how far they are in harmony with orders issued to the naval and military commanders. On June 24, 1845, Bancroft, secretary of the navy, wrote to Commodore Sloat on the Pacific station as follows: "If you ascertain with certainty that Mexico has declared war against the United States, you will at once possess yourself of the port of San Francisco, and blockade or occupy such other ports as your force may permit. * * * You will be careful to preserve if possible the most friendly relations with the inhabitants, and * * * will encourage them to adopt a course of neutrality." To General Kearny, the secretary of war wrote June 3, 1846: "In your whole conduct you will act in such a manner as best to conciliate the inhabitants and render them friendly to the United States." In the secret dispatch Larkin (and Frémont) are instructed to assure the Californians that the government of the United States stands ready to render them all the kind offices in its power, and that "if the people should desire to unite their destiny with ours, they would be received as brethren." We see therefore, that in addition to instructions relative to the machinations of foreign powers, the United States agents, civil and military, were instructed to cultivate friendly relations with the Californians and prepare them for a peaceful change of flag, if, indeed, California could not be induced to apply for admission as "one of the free and independent states of this union." {29th Cong. 2d. Ses. House. Ex. Doc. 19; 31st Cong. 1st Ses. House Ex. Doc. 17; Buchanan's Instructions MS. Bancroft Coll.}

On the 30th of May Frémont was again encamped at the Buttes where, as he says in his Memoirs, his camp became the rendezvous for the settlers and whence he sent out agents to stir up the restless and the roving among them and incite them to violence by stories of what the blood-thirsty Spaniards were going to do to them. William B. Ide, who arrived in California in October 1845, and was living on Belden's rancho, Barranca Colorado (Red Bluff), says that a letter, without signature, was delivered to him by an Indian in which was stated that two hundred and fifty Spaniards were coming up the valley, destroying crops, burning houses, and driving off cattle. "Captain Frémont invites every freeman in the valley to come into his camp at the Buttes immediately and he hopes to stay the enemy and put a stop to his operations." Ide received this letter June 8th and hastened to the camp. To him Frémont unfolded his plan, which was: to select a dozen men who had nothing to lose and everything to gain and encourage them to commit depredations upon the Californians, run off their stock and take their horses; then make prisoners of some of their principal men and provoke Castro to strike the first blow and bring on hostilities, when the United States government would have to interfere. Meanwhile, the men who committed the outrages would be provided with fleet horses and make their escape into the territory of the United States. Ide says that he would not consent to commit depredations against Castro and then run away and was quite indignant against Frémont for making such a suggestion. {Ide: Biographical Sketch, 107-119.} Frémont argued with him and showed how badly the foreigners had been treated by the Californians and said they should retaliate. At the moment this conference was taking place, a party sent out by Frémont was actually engaged in a raid upon the Californians. Lieutenant Arce with a party of eight men was conducting a band of one hundred and seventy horses from Sonoma to Santa Clara, for the use of the government; information of this had been brought to Frémont's camp, and a party of twelve or fourteen men under Ezekiel Merritt was sent to cut them off. Merritt, Frémont says in his Memoirs, was his field lieutenant among the settlers. {John Bidwell says of Merritt: "He could neither read nor write. He was an old mountaineer and trapper; lived with an Indian squaw and went clad in buckskin. * * * He chewed tobacco to a disgusting excess and stammered badly. He boasted of his prowess in killing Indians and the handle of the tomahawk he carried had nearly a hundred notches to record the number of his Indian scalps. He drank deeply whenever he could get liquor. Cent. Mag. xix. 523.} John Bidwell says the party was made up of roving hunters and trappers. Merritt and his men came upon Arce at Martin Murphy's rancho on the Cosumnes, and captured the Californians, no resistance being made. The prisoners were released and sent back to Castro with the message that if he wanted his horses he could come and take them, and that they proposed to take Sonoma and continue the war. The horses were driven to Frémont's camp which had been removed to Bear river, and which the marauders reached June 11th. Merritt's force was increased to twenty men and they left Frémont's camp on the afternoon of the same day and crossed the hills into Napa Valley that night. They remained in Napa valley two days during which time their number was increased to thirty-two or thirty-three men. At dawn of June 14th they presented themselves at the house of General Vallejo at Sonoma, calling upon him to surrender. Hastily dressing himself Vallejo opened the door and inquired the object of this unceremonious visit. He was informed he was a prisoner and must surrender the frontier post and government property in his hands. Vallejo courteously invited them to enter and draw up articles of capitulation. Merritt and Semple entered, with William Knight as interpreter, and when Vallejo inquired by whose authority this was done, he was informed that they were acting under Frémont's orders. Relieved to find a United States officer in command of the war Vallejo set refreshments before the men while the terms of surrender were being discussed. Lieutenant-colonel Prudon and Captain Salvador Vallejo came over to the general's house and were arrested, and Jacob P. Leese was brought in to act as interpreter. The men outside, weary of waiting, elected John Grigsby captain and sent him in to see what was doing. Grigsby took a hand in the negotiations—and the drink, and after waiting a long time the men sent in Ide to investigate the cause of delay. Under the influence of the general's hospitality very favorable articles were drawn up and signed, guaranteeing the lives, property, and religion of the prisoners and others of that jurisdiction, so long as they made no opposition. Ide took the document out and read it to the men who, it appears, had also succeeded in getting something to drink. Some of the men were inclined to be insubordinate and it was decided by them to send the Californians prisoners to Sutters' fort, instead of taking their parole and releasing them.

Among the gallant band who thus disturbed the serenity of the peaceful little town was Doctor Robert Semple, a native of Kentucky, printer and dentist by trade, who reached California with a belated party on December 25, 1845, and had therefore been in the territory not quite six months. Dr. Semple, an honest, kindly man, ambitious to do great things, a ready speaker, with perfect confidence in himself and without the slightest sense of humor, has left for us in winged words the lofty story of the Sonoma revolution; for he became the historian of the Bear Flag war. "The world has not hitherto manifested so high a degree of civilization," he says, "for the party did no wrong, its watchword being 'equal rights and equal laws.' One single man, who in the innocence of his heart made a natural interpretation of the watchword, cried out, 'Let us make a fair and equal division of the spoils,' but one universal, dark, and indignant frown made him sink from the presence of honest men, and from that time forward no man dared to hint anything like violating the sanctity of a private house, or touching private property." Supplies for the troops were "borrowed" on the faith and credit of the Bear Flag government, but there is no doubt that the efforts of Semple, Grigsby, and a few others, prevented indiscriminate plunder. "Their children, in generations yet to come will look back with pleasure upon the commencement of a revolution carried on by their fathers upon principles high and holy as the laws of eternal justice.” {Bryant: What I Saw in California, 290. Dr. Semple with Walter Cotton started the Californian, the first paper published in California. He was also president of the constitutional convention.} Returning to his home from two month's imprisonment, General Vallejo found the filibusters and their successors had taken from his rancho all his live stock, all his crops, and many other things of value. He had lost one thousand head of cattle and over six hundred tame horses. The "dark, indignant frown" was evidently out of working order.

Before the prisoners set out for Sacramento, a meeting was held by the revolutionists to decide upon a plan of operation. The question asked by Vallejo: by whose authority had he been arrested, had caused some inquiry among the men. It was understood that the movement was by Frémont's order, but the fact was no one could produce the order. Confusion reigned. Grigsby, who had been elected captain, vice Merritt, deposed, exclaimed: "Gentlemen, I have been deceived; I cannot go with you; I resign and back out of the scrape." One said he would not stay to guard the prisoners; another swore that they would all have their throats cut; another called for fresh horses; all were on the move, each man for himself. The crisis had come, and with it the man. With that quick insight which is an attribute of genius, William B. Ide realized the peril of the moment. In trumpet tones he called to the receding men: "We need no horses; saddle no horse for me; I can go to the Spaniards and make freemen of them. I will lay my bones here before I will take upon myself the ignominy of commencing an honorable work and then flee like cowards, like thieves, when no enemy is in sight. In vain will you say you had honorable motives. Who will believe it? Flee this day, and the longest life cannot wear out your disgrace! Choose ye this day what you will be," he cried with impassioned eloquence. "We are robbers, or we must be conquerors." The day was won. With renewed hope the men gathered about him and made him commander-in-chief. {Ide: Biographical Sketch.}

A guard of ten or twelve men took the prisoners to Sacramento, the order being given to the guard to "shoot the damned greasers if they attempt to escape," an order in shocking contrast to the lofty spirit and aim of these patriots of six months' residence. Arriving at the American river whither Frémont had removed his camp the captives were brought to him, but he declined to receive them saying that he was not responsible for what had been done. They were, therefore, taken to Sutter's fort and locked in a room containing no furniture except some rude benches, without blankets, and with neither food nor water until eleven o'clock the next day, when an Indian was sent in with a pot of soup and meat which they might eat as best they could without spoons or dishes. Frémont also ordered the arrest of Leese as a "bad man," which made Leese very angry, and he was locked up with the rest.

Considering Vallejo's rank, his character, and his known friendly attitude towards the United States, his arrest and confinement in prison was a great outrage. He had, time and again, shown favor to American immigrants notwithstanding the strict orders of the supreme government, and probably some of these very men who had captured him had received his help during the proceeding winter. {The Grigsby-Ide party, members of which formed one half of the Bear Flag party, arrived in California on October 25, 1845, and most of them wintered in Sacramento and Sonoma.} To be treated like a convict, kept in close confinement, allowed no communication with friends or family, and insulted by coarse, vulgar fellows,  was very hard for the general and his health broke under it. Sutter endeavored to show the prisoners some kindness until warned that he would be himself arrested. {Leese says in his Bear Flag Revolt, p. 16, that Frémont threatened to hang Sutter.}

Thus did the young officer set about the execution of his orders. It would seem to be a peculiar way to cultivate "the most friendly relations” with the people of California and to "make them feel that we come as deliverers," by stealing their horses, insulting their magistrates, and imprisoning their chief citizens. We have seen that, instead of obeying the instructions he received through Gillespie, from the moment he pitched his camp at the Buttes after his return from the Oregon border, he began to stir up the "settlers." He tells us so himself. {Memoirs, p. 509.} Rumors of an impending attack from Castro, of rising of Indians, and the proposed burning of the wheat fields of the settlers were spread through the valley.

Let us see what authority there was for these rumors. John Bidwell, a man of standing, then and since, who was at the time Captain Sutter's business man at the fort, says: "There were not at that time over twenty-one persons who had located ranchos and were living on them or had others occupying the same for them. There were, however, a good many without homes or any intentions of making homes, staying, some at the places occupied by others and some, and by far the greater part, camped about the Sacramento valley hunting. This floating population would probably number three times as many as those permanently settled.

"The Americans in the Sacramento valley had no fear whatever about Castro coming to attack them; on the contrary they were able, as they knew, to cope with any force he could bring against them.

"This floating population had all to gain and nothing to lose. They wanted a war. I doubt whether any permanent settlers went to Frémont's camp. Frémont sent men—not of his own expedition—to capture the horses (of Arce). Captain Sutter denounced the act as an outrage. * * * The reason given for the (Bear Flag) movement was news to me, and I think to most others." {California in 1841-8 MS. 159-168. Ban. Coll. There is plenty of other testimony to the same effect.}

He says, that there were no permanent settlers in the party; that the war was not begun in defense of American
settlers, that Frémont began the war; that to him belongs all the credit; and upon him rests all the responsibility. {John Bidwell to Rev. Dr. Willey: Digest in Royce's California, 99-102.}

While at the Buttes, on May 30th, Frémont sent Lieutenant Gillespie to Captain Montgomery, commanding the Portsmouth, for supplies to enable him to proceed homeward, which he announced to be his immediate intention, by way of the Rio Colorado. Gillespie reached Yerba Buena June 7th and Montgomery immediately honored the requisition. Gillespie made no mention of Frémont's filibustering operations and a friend, whom he met in Yerba Buena, put in his hand a letter written to some person in the east to be taken "by the gallant Captain Frémont who is now encamped in the Sacramento and about to proceed directly to the United States.” Frémont also wrote to Larkin June 1st enclosing a letter to Benton, and to both he announced his intention of starting at once for the States. The Portsmouth's launch was loaded with the supplies to enable the surveying party to return home and reached Sutter's fort June 12th. By the returning boat Frémont wrote Montgomery (in part) as follows:

"New Helvetia, June 16, 1846.
* * * "This evening I was interrupted in a note to yourself by the arrival of General Vallejo and other officers who had been taken prisoners and insisted upon surrendering to me. The people and authorities of the country persist in connecting with me every movement of the foreigners and I am hourly in expectation of the approach of General Castro.

* * * "The nature of my instructions and the peaceful nature of my operations do not contemplate any active hostility on my part, even in the event of war between the two countries; and therefore, although I am resolved to take such active and precautionary measures as I shall judge necessary, I am not authorized to ask from you any other than such assistance as, without incurring yourself unusual responsibility, you would feel at liberty to afford me.” {Century Magazine. xix. 780.}

In a letter to Benton dated July 25, 1846, Frémont details the events following the meeting with Gillespie at Klamath lake and says that on June 6th he decided on the course he would pursue, "and immediately concerted my operations with the foreigners inhabiting the Sacramento valley." He gives Benton an account of the capture of Arce's horses, the surprise and capture on June 15th, of the military fort of Sonoma, with nine brass pieces of artillery; two hundred and fifty stands of muskets; other arms and a quantity of ammunition; also General Vallejo and other prisoners, who were placed at New Helvetia, "a fortified post under my command." Having accomplished this he proceeded to the American settlements on the Sacramento and the Rio de los Americanos to obtain reinforcements of men and rifles. He says that the information carried by Gillespie to Captain Montgomery of the Portsmouth concerning his position caused Montgomery to dispatch his launch to Frémont with aid. "I immediately wrote to him," says Frémont, "by return of the boat, describing to him fully my position and intentions, in order that he might not, by supposing me to be acting under orders from our government, unwittingly commit himself to affording me other than such assistance as his instructions would authorize him naturally to offer an officer charged with an important public duty." {Niles National Register, Nov. 21, 1846, 191. This letter, emphasized by Benton in most vigorous language, was sent to the president and by him repeated in public documents thus becoming the authorized version of historic events preceeding the conquest.}

We have seen this letter and have read how fully Frémont described to the naval officer his position and intentions.

Meanwhile Castro had written Captain Montgomery, under date of June 17th, demanding an explanation of Frémont's conduct. To this letter Montgomery replied on the eighteenth, in a tone of absolute sincerity, that Captain Frémont's mission was solely scientific in its aims and that it was in no manner whatever, either by the authority of the United States or otherwise, connected with the political movements of the residents of the country at Sonoma.

Captain Montgomery's awakening came later. In his diary {Century Magazine. xix. 780.} he writes on June 28th of the second visit of Lieutenant Gillespie who gave him the news that Frémont had openly joined the Bears and was at that moment in pursuit of Joaquin de la Torre in the San Rafael region. It appears that after the re-organization of the Bears and the election of Ide as commander-in-chief, that officer had sent an emissary to the naval commander to inform him of the breaking out of the war, and incidentally, to obtain a supply of powder. Captain Montgomery informed the agent of the Bear Flag republic that his position as a naval officer in a foreign port prevented his taking any part in internal disorders, and he would therefore have to refuse the request for powder. "The course of Captain Frémont," says Montgomery in his diary, "renders my position as a neutral particularly delicate and difficult. Having avowed not only my own but Captain Frémont's entire neutrality and non-interference in the existing difficulties in the country, it can scarcely be supposed, under the circumstances, that I shall be regarded as having spoken in good faith and sincerity."

After comparing Frémont's letter to Montgomery with that to Benton, what respect is it possible to retain for the veracity of the young hero? Not only in his letter to Benton does he assume the entire direction of the Bear Flag rising, but in his Memoirs he again states that everything was done by his orders.

After the election of Ide as commander-in-chief ("governor," he claimed) of the California republic, a flag was constructed of a piece of unbleached cotton cloth to the bottom of which was sewn a strip of red flannel. In the upper left hand corner of the white field was drawn a five pointed star, outlined in ink and filled in with red paint. To the right of the star and facing it was drawn in like manner what was intended for a grizzly bear, statant. Under the emblems was the legend, California Republic, in black ink. Next, it occurred to the commander-in-chief, a proclamation would be in order, that the world might know their true character and the circumstances which had compelled them to assume such an unusual position. Ide therefore shut himself up and by morning had his proclamation ready to read to his companions. In it the commander-in-chief assures all persons in California, not found under arms, protection to life, property, and religion. He declares that his purpose is to defend himself and his brave companions who had been invited to the country by promise of lands, by promise of a republican government, and who, having arrived in California, were denied even the privilege of buying or renting lands, and instead of being allowed to participate in or being protected by a republican government, were oppressed by a military despotism and were even threatened by proclamation with extermination if they would not depart out of the country, leaving their property, their arms, and their beasts of burden; and thus deprived of the means of flight or defence, they were to be driven through deserts inhabited by hostile savages to certain death. He declares their purpose to overthrow the government which has despoiled the missions and shamefully oppressed the people of California—and much more. The proclamation with its false and absurd statements having been read to the assembled "troops," Ide sent a messenger to notify Montgomery of the change in the government and then set about reorganizing the army, arranging for the payment of the public debt, the establishment of a land office, a survey of the public domain, and regulations concerning the tariff. The charge so frequently made by the American immigrants that they were invited to California by a promise of lands on which to settle is ridiculous. Their very entrance into California was in violation of law and so disturbed had the supreme government at Mexico become over the American immigration, that strict orders had been sent to the governor and comandante-general to prevent their coming into the department. But as the arrival of the overland immigrants was usually late in the fall neither Castro nor Vallejo could do such violence to their sentiments of hospitality and humanity as to force the immigrants, in their weakened condition with their wives and little children, to re-cross the sierra in winter to almost certain death. The officials contented themselves with taking bonds for good behavior and promises to depart in the spring, should citizenship and license to remain be denied. These bonds were signed by those who had come earlier and had become Mexican citizens and owners of ranchos. George Yount of Napa valley was very good to the immigrants and would sign bonds for them by the score. A number of the immigrants, chiefly hunters and trappers, did not come into the settlements, gave no bonds, and made no promises. The charge that the government had despoiled the missions was not true, but even if it had been so, it was no affair of the immigrants.

In the reorganization of the army Henry L. Ford was made first lieutenant; Granville P. Swift and Samuel Gibson, sergeants; the first two were immigrants of 1844, while Gibson came in 1845.

On the 19th of June two men, named Cowie and Fowler, who had been sent by Lieutenant Ford to a rancho on the Russian river to obtain powder, were captured by a small, roving band of Californians under Juan Padilla, and put to death. The killing was done after the men had surrendered and by a well known desperado in the band named Garcia, called by Americans "Four-Fingered Jack." The testimony concerning the murder is conflicting, but it is said that the men were tortured. Two other men were captured by this same band: W. L. Todd, and an Englishman. When the men sent by Ford did not return, he sent on the twentieth Sergeant Gibson with four men to the rancho. They obtained the powder but heard nothing of the two men. On the return Gibson was attacked by a small party of Californians which he beat off, wounding one and capturing one who was taken a prisoner to Sonoma. From the captive was learned the fact of the murder and of the two prisoners remaining in the hands of the Californians. On the twenty-third Ide sent Lieutenant Ford with seventeen or eighteen men to rescue the prisoners; and under guidance of Gibson's captive they came upon the Californians at the Olompali rancho, on San Antonio creek a little below Petaluma, on the morning of the twenty-fourth. Padilla's band had, without Ford's knowledge, been joined by a larger force under Joaquin de la Torre.

On learning of the outrage at Sonoma, Castro issued on June 17th, from his headquarters at Santa Clara, a proclamation calling upon the citizens to rise and protect the country from invasion, and had, with some difficulty, increased his army to about one hundred and sixty men. Dividing his force into three divisions he sent one under Joaquin de la Torre against the Bears at Sonoma. With fifty or sixty men De la Torre crossed from San Pablo to San Quintin on the evening of June 23d and proceeded to San Rafael. Leaving a few men at the mission he started northward and effecting a junction with Padilla encamped, early on the morning of the twenty-fourth, at Olompali. The Californians were at breakfast when the Americans came upon them. Seeing a larger force than he expected to meet Ford ordered his men to dismount and take cover behind the trees. The Californians charged and were received by a discharge of Bears' rifles and retired with the loss of one man killed and several wounded. The Bears released the prisoners, secured some horses from the corral, and returned to Sonoma. This was the first battle of the war.

Up to this time Frémont had taken no active part in affairs. Asked to head the uprising he had replied that he was a United States officer and could not take part in an insurrection. He may have waited to see if some real settlers joined the movement—men who had a stake in the country. He sent emissaries to Doctor Marsh and other land owners, and later Bidwell, Baldridge, Reading, and others came in, some of whom did not approve the filibustering plan, but joined, believing that Frémont was acting under secret orders from his government; a belief that was general among both Californians and foreigners. At last Frémont decided to come out into the open, or, as he says: "I decided that it was for me to govern events rather than to be governed by them. I represented the Army and the Flag of the United States." {Memoirs: 520.} Breaking camp on the American river June 23d, he appeared at Sonoma on the twenty-fifth with his entire force accompanied by some thirty settlers under Samuel J. Hensley, an immigrant of 1843. Frémont at once assumed command of the Bears, the combined force amounting now to about one hundred and sixty-five men. Leaving a garrison to hold Sonoma, Frémont at the head of one hundred and thirty men marched to San Rafael where he expected to find De la Torre. Now occurred a most lamentable incident; and affair that must leave an indelible stain upon the name of Frémont—the murder of Berreyesa and the De Haros. I will let Jasper O'Farrell tell the story. In a statement published in the Los Angeles Star September 27, 1856, O'Farrell says: "I was at San Rafael in June 1846 when the then Captain Frémont arrived at the mission with his troops. The second day after his arrival there was a boat landed three men at the mouth of the estero on Point San Pedro. As soon as they were discovered by Frémont there were three men (of whom Kit Carson was one) detailed to meet them. They mounted their horses and after advancing about one hundred yards halted and Carson returned to where Frémont was standing on the corridor of the mission in company with Gillespie, myself and others, and said 'Captain, shall I take those men prisoners?' In response Frémont waived his hand and said, 'I have got no room for prisoners.' They then advanced to within fifty yards of the three unfortunate and unarmed Californians, alighted from their horses and deliberately shot them. One of them was an old and respectable Californian, Don José R. Berreyesa, whose son was then alcalde of Sonoma. The other two were twin brothers and sons of Don Francisco de Haro, a citizen of the Pueblo of Yerba Buena. I saw Carson some two years ago and spoke to him of this act and he assured me that then and since he regretted to be compelled to shoot those men, but Frémont was blood-thirsty enough to order otherwise, and he further remarked that it was not the only brutal act he was compelled to commit while under his command." José de los Santos Berreyesa, the alcalde of Sonoma, who, with his two brothers had been imprisoned by the Bears, says that his mother had sent the father to Sonoma to ascertain their condition. The three men were unarmed and were non-combatants. They had left their saddles on the beach and were walking up to the mission to obtain horses to continue their journey. {For the full text of these communications, see Appendix D.} So far as is known, no one of them was connected with Castro's army. Kit Carson, G. P. Swift, and a French Canadian trapper of Frémont's company are named by contemporary writers as constituting the firing party. Frémont wrote Benton, in the letter already mentioned, that three of Castro's party having landed in advance were killed near the beach: adding; "beyond this there was no loss on either side." This implies an engagement. If so, it was Frémont's only battle during the conquest of California. In his Memoirs, Frémont says: "My scouts, mainly Delawares, influenced by feelings of retaliation (for murder of Cowie and Fowler) killed Berreyesa and de Haro who were the bearers of intercepted dispatches." {Memoir of My Life, 525. This does not agree with his statements to Benton, and both statements are false.} Captain Phelps of the barque Moscow makes the statement that on the body of one of the men was found an order from Castro to De la Torre to kill every foreigner he could find, man, woman, and child. This absurd story has been repeated by several writers. It is said that the De Haros were carrying dispatches from Castro to De la Torre, which was probably the fact. The testimony of Jasper O'Farrell has never been impeached. {Many writers of the time speak of this murder and a few attempt to justify it. Ide (Biog. Sketch, 190) says that the men fell on their knees and begged for quarter; "but the orders were to take no prisoners from this band of murderers, and the men were shot and never rose from the ground." Swasey (Cal. '45-6, MS. 10) says: "The firing was perfectly justifiable under the circumstances." Fowler (Bear Flag Revolt. 5), says: "The killing of old Berreyesa and two youths in the most wanton manner somewhat opened the eyes of the officers in command to the fact that they must assume a stricter control over the doings of their subordinates." He puts the blame on Kit Carson and a Canadian Frenchmen, both of whom, he says, were drunk. Charles Brown, an immigrant of 1828, married to a sister of the De Haros, says: "The murder of José Reyes Berreyesa and the De Haros was a most infamous act." (Early Events, 25-6). The bodies were stripped and lay unburied where they fell for several days.}

The position of De la Torre was not a pleasant one. He was greatly outnumbered and even if his men were equals in arms, courage, and skill of those who were pursuing him—which they were not—he stood no chance of success in an engagement. He therefore prepared a letter announcing his intention to attack Sonoma the next morning (June 29th), and sent it out by an Indian to be captured by Frémont's scouts. The ruse was successful. Frémont hurried back to Sonoma where he arrived before daylight of the twenty-ninth and De la Torre quietly embarked his men—some seventy-five or eighty—in a lighter at Sausalito, crossed to San Pablo, and joined Castro at Santa Clara. On July 1st Frémont crossed from Sausalito to the old fort at San Francisco, Castillo de San Joaquin, and spiked the guns lying on the ground, as has been told; and on the second, Doctor Semple landed at Yerba Buena with ten men, captured that valiant Mexican warrior, Robert Ridley, and sent him to join the other prisoners at Sutter's fort. Frémont announced to Benton that he had defeated De la Torre, driven him across the bay, spiked the guns of the fort, and had freed from all Mexican authority the territory north of the bay of San Francisco from the sea to Sutter' s fort. He writes as if this was an important military campaign in which he had swept a large section of the country clear of the enemy. The guns he spiked were large and handsome pieces, he says, but he does not say that they were dismounted and lying on the ground. {See Gillespie's testimony: Note 40. Gillespie was with the party. Bancroft says (Hist. of Cal. v. 177): "So far as can be known, not one of the ten cannon offered the slightest resistance."} Frémont's letter of July 25th gives to Benton the history of events as he wished them to appear, from the meeting with Gillespie at Klamath to the transfer of command to Stockton. He speaks of "Sonoma, in the department of Sonoma, commanded by General Vallejo," as if it were a real military department commanded by a general officer with, presumably, a military force. Again, he says: "At daybreak on the 15th, the military fort of Sonoma was taken by surprise," etc. The term "fort" implies to the general public, a fortified place defended by a garrison. There were no fortifications at Sonoma and there had been no troops there for two years. Vallejo's rank in the regular army was that of lieutenant-colonel, {He was also colonel of Second Regiment, Defensores de la Patria, a militia organization on paper.} and at this time he had no military command. None of these things are explained in the letter. The mission of Santa Clara was "a strong place" and San Juan Bautista was "a fortified post." There were no fortifications at either place, unless the mission churches may be so termed. The statements made in this letter were used by Benton and repeated by the secretary of war, and form the basis of Frémont's claim to glory as conqueror of California; for the letter is a summary of his active military service. He made two trips to the south with his battalion but engaged in no more battles.

After driving De la Torre from the field Frémont returned to Sonoma and addressed the people, July 5th, advising a course of operations which was unanimously adopted. California was declared independent; the country was put under martial law; the force, now amounting to two hundred and twenty-four men, was organized into three companies with Frémont in command, and all pledged to continue in service as long as necessary for the purpose of gaining and maintaining the independence of California.

These proceedings ended the political career of that administrator, William B. Ide, who strongly resented the unwarranted interference of Captain Frémont. He had accomplished a successful revolution and now came this captain of engineers, after all was done, to claim the glory of a conqueror and to present to the United States, with his compliments, the fair province of California.

Leaving fifty men to garrison Sonoma, Frémont marched with about one hundred and seventy men to the Sacramento and moved up to his old camp on the American river on the 9th of July. It was given out, and it was so understood, that he was in "pursuit of Castro," but on the tenth an express from Captain Montgomery arrived with the announcement that Commodore Sloat had raised the flag of the United States. The Bear Flag war was ended.

On raising the flag at Monterey Sloat sent a summons to Castro at Santa Clara to surrender his forces to the United States, and at the same time invited the general and also the governor to a conference at Monterey, assuring the governor that though he came with a powerful force, he came as the best friend of California. Sloat's summons reached Castro at San Juan Bautista July 8th and that officer started southward with what remained of his army—about one hundred men—to join forces with Pico for the national defence.

Leaving Sacramento July 12th Frémont marched with one hundred and sixty men and two guns in hot pursuit of Castro, then in the neighborhood of San Luis Obispo. {The distance between Sacramento and San Luis Obispo is about three hundred miles.} On the seventeenth he reached San Juan Bautista where he met a company of dragoons formed from the sailors of Sloat's squadron and commanded by Daingerfield Fauntleroy, purser of the Savannah. Assuming command of the combined forces of the army and navy Frémont resumed his march and entered Monterey July 19th, where his fame had preceded him, and where he and his men created no little interest. The following picture is by Lieutenant Walpole of Admiral Seymour's Collingwood: "During our stay Captain Frémont and his party arrived, preceded by another troop of American horse. It was a party of seamen mounted. * * * Frémont's party naturally excited curiosity. Here were true trappers. These men had passed years in the wilds, living on their own resources. They were a curious set. A vast cloud of dust appeared first, and thence in a long file emerged this wildest wild party. Frémont rode ahead, a spare, active-looking man, with such an eye! He was dressed in a blouse and leggings, and wore a felt hat. After him came five Delaware Indians, who were his bodyguard; they had charge of two baggage-horses. The rest, many of them blacker than the Indians, rode two and two, the rifle held by one hand across the pommel of the saddle. Thirty-nine of them are his regular men, the rest are loafers picked up lately. His original men are principally backwoodsmen from Tennessee and the banks of the Missouri. * * * The dress of these men was principally a long, loose coat of deer-skin, tied with thongs in front; trousers of the same, of their manufacture, which, when wet through they take off, scrape well inside with a knife, and put on as soon as dry. The saddles were of various fashions, though these and a large drove of horses, and a brass field gun, were things they had picked up in California. The rest of the gang were a rough set; and perhaps their private, public, and moral characters had better not be too closely examined. They are allowed no liquor * * * and the discipline is very strict. They were marched up to an open space on the hills near the town, under some large firs, and there took up their quarters in messes of six or seven, in the open air. The Indians lay beside their leader." {Walpole: Four Years in the Pacific, ii. 215-16.}

Walter Colton says: {Deck and Port: 390-1.} "Monday, July 20th. Capt. Frémont and his armed band, with Lieut. Gillespie of the marine corps, arrived last night from their pursuit of Gen. Castro. * * * They defiled, two abreast, through the principal street of the town. The citizens glanced at them through their grated windows. Their rifles, revolving pistols, and long knives glittered over the dusky buckskin which enveloped their sinewy limbs, while their untrimmed locks, flowing out from under their foraging caps, and their black beards, with white teeth glittering through, gave them a wild, savage aspect."

These men were not United States troops; they were Frémont's "hired men," and this spectacular entrance must have satisfied even the theatrical soul of that young conqueror.

Commodore Sloat had heard at Mazatlan on the 17th of May of trouble on the Rio Grande between General Taylor and the Mexicans and on the thirty-first he learned of the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. On the 7th of June he learned that the ships of the United States were blockading the gulf ports of Mexico. His instructions from the secretary of the navy required him to take possession of the port of San Francisco and other ports of California immediately on learning that war had been declared between United States and Mexico. {Later instructions from the secretary substituted the words "in the event of actual hostilities" for this sentence.} Uncertain how to act, not having specific information that war had been declared in terms, though hostilities had begun, he sailed June 8th for Monterey where he arrived July 2d. Still uncertain, he sent an officer ashore to tender the usual civilities by offering to salute the Mexican flag, which honor was declined for want of powder to return the salute. {"It was a matter of great surprise on the part of many officers that the commodore should have tendered these civilities, knowing, as we all did, that the Mexican government had already commenced offensive operations against our army on the Rio Grande, and that the squadron of the United States was blockading the gulf coast of Mexico." Midshipman J. K. Wilson before Cal. Claims Commission, 30th Cong. 1st Ses. Senate Rep. 75.} Larkin came on board and had a long interview with the commodore. On the third the commodore landed and called on the California authorities. On the fifth came a dispatch from Montgomery with an account of Frémont's doings. The sixth was spent by Sloat in consultation with Larkin and in preparation for landing. Larkin still hoping for a change of flag by consent of the California authorities, notwithstanding the acts of the filibusters, counseled delay, but the commodore, fearful of blame, would wait no longer and the next morning, Tuesday July 7th, after a demand for surrender, landed two hundred and fifty men under Captain Mervine and took possession.

On arrival at Monterey Frémont called on the commodore and in reply to a request for information told him that in what he had done he had acted on his own responsibility without any express authority from the government and that he knew nothing whatever about the breaking-out of war. Sloat was much put out by this piece of information and gave the captain distinctly to understand that in raising the flag at Monterey he had acted upon the faith of Frémont's operations in the north. Reports of the interview state that the commodore was violent in his denunciations of Frémont's conduct. He declined to adopt Frémont's plan of conquest or to accept the Bear Flag battalion as a part of the United States forces. In short, Sloat's decision left Frémont without any standing as a conqueror. Commodore Stockton, however, had arrived in the Congress a few days before and reported to Sloat for duty. Sloat who was in ill health and had asked to be sent home, had on July 23d made Stockton commander-in-chief of the land forces, and on the twenty-ninth sailed for home, leaving Stockton in command of the squadron. On receiving command of the forces operating on land Stockton immediately accepted Frémont's force of one hundred and sixty men, as a battalion of volunteers, giving Frémont the rank of major, Gillespie that of captain, and ordered the battalion to embark on the Cyane for San Diego for the conquest of the south.

Stockton was a conqueror after Frémont's own heart and on assuming command issued a proclamation {see note 37} as false in its premises and as full of buncombe as any bando ever issued by Mexican revolutionist. He sailed on the Congress for San Pedro where he landed three hundred and fifty men and marched to Los Angeles without opposition from an "exasperated and powerful enemy" as he terms Castro's force, meeting Major Frémont's battalion just outside the town, and the combined forces entered the pueblo and raised the United States' flag without opposition or disapproval on the part of the inhabitants, Castro's formidable army having melted away and the comandante-general being on his way to the City of Mexico.

Considering the conquest of California complete, Stockton and Frémont returned to the north leaving Los Angeles in charge of Gillespie with a garrison of fifty men, and Santa Barbara in charge of Lieutenant Talbot with a garrison of nine. Stockton appointed Frémont military commandant of the territory and instructed him to increase his battalion to three hundred men for garrison duty.

On September 29th came the news of the revolt of the Californians in the south and Stockton sent Mervine in the Savannah to Gillespie's assistance and sailed himself in the Congress, October 13th. Soon came the news of Mervine's defeat at San Pedro and Frémont, now made lieutenant-colonel, sent his officers to enlist the immigrants arriving in large numbers in the Sacramento valley. On the 29th of November, Colonel Frémont began his march from the rendezvous, San Juan Bautista, with four hundred and twenty-eight men in eight companies of mounted rifle-men and a company artillery. Before he got off there occurred a sharp engagement at Natividad, in the Salinas valley, between a detachment of the battalion under Captain Burroughs and a party of Californians under Manuel Castro, in which Burroughs and three or four of his men were killed and a number wounded. The loss to the Californians, who slightly outnumbered the Americans, was three killed and four wounded.

Frémont swept the country of horses—with or without the consent of the rancheros—and he promised his men twenty-five dollars a month pay. One company was composed of Walla Walla and California Indians. The artillery, six pieces, was commanded by Louis McLain, passed midshipman of the Savannah. This officer had served as lieutenant of Fauntleroy's dragoons and his rank in the battalion was that of captain. Later he had the rank of major and was one of Frémont's commissioners in the treaty of Cahuenga. He resigned from the navy in 1850 and returned to California. He was for many years manager of Wells Fargo and Company's express and was the first president of the Nevada Bank, serving from 1875 to 1882.

The heavy rains made the march of the battalion slow and difficult. The route was up the San Benito and into the Salinas valley, up which they marched, then over the Cuesta de Santa Lucia to San Luis Obispo where they arrived December 14th. In the Salinas they captured an Indian servant of Don Jesus Pico whom they shot as a spy—a concession to the "feelings of the undisciplined men." Another outrage was the plunder and destruction of Los Ojitos, whose owner had two sons with the California army. {Mariano Soberanes. He put in a claim before the commission for $19,930 and was allowed $423.} At San Luis Don Jesus Pico (called Totoi Pico) was arrested for breaking his parole, tried by court-martial, condemned, and sentenced to be shot. His wife with her fourteen children and a number of women of San Luis, threw themselves at the leader's feet and begged for the life of the husband and father. Unable to withstand their tears and pleadings, to which were added the solicitation of his officers, Frémont granted a pardon to Don Jesus and made a life-long and very useful friend.

Santa Barbara was reached December 27th and after a week's rest the march was resumed and on January 11th the battalion occupied the buildings of the mission of San Fernando. Frémont had proceeded cautiously, having received exaggerated accounts of the number of Californians engaged in the revolt, and his respect for them had been increased by the affairs of San Pedro, Natividad, and San Pascual.

Advised of the occupation of Los Angeles by the Americans Frémont sent Don Jesus Pico to the camp of the Californians at Los Verdugos, just north of the pueblo, and Don Andrés Pico, realizing that further resistance was useless with his command reduced to less than one hundred men, made terms with the conqueror that protected the lives and property of his men; and on January 13, 1847, the war in California was ended, somewhat to the annoyance of that other conqueror, Commodore Stockton, who was put out to find that his clever young protégé had stepped in between him and his final triumph.

The controversy that arose between Kearny and Frémont is told in the note on the military governors {see Note 35}.

On the 19th of January 1847, Stockton turned over to Frémont the civil command and on the twenty-second Frémont proclaimed order and peace restored, required the release of all prisoners, and ordered civil officers to return to their duties. In Los Angeles Frémont was recognized as governor and was able to borrow money and buy cattle for government use. Into his financial transactions I will not go. The government, after many years, paid some portion of the claims but the greater part, so far as I know, have never been settled.

On March 1, 1847, Kearny issued his proclamation assuming charge of California as civil governor and although Frémont continued for some weeks thereafter to issue orders as governor he was soon obliged to cease.

On March 23d Major William H. Russell, sometime "secretary of state" under "Governor" Frémont departed for Washington with dispatches and, it is said, a petition signed by Frémont's friends in the south for his appointment as governor. In May another petition was circulated in the north and received a number of signatures; but on June 14th a public meeting was held in San Francisco to protest against the appointment, his Bear Flag exploits and unpaid accounts of the California battalion being urged against him. The question of payment for property taken by the officers and men of the California battalion and by various irresponsible persons, as well as the pay of the volunteers, was a burning one, and Colonel Mason and Special Agent Larkin urged the payment of these claims as a means of reconciling the Californians to the change of flag; but it was not until 1853 that any part of these claims were paid, and a large number of them were never paid at all.

In his memoirs, in his letters to Benton, in his defence before the court-martial, in his testimony before the claims commission, and in the numerous statements of his admirers, Frémont's claim to fame as the hero of California is maintained on the following points: By his action in June 1846 he saved the lives and property of the American settlers in California; by his acts and those of his fellow filibusters of the Bear Flag he prevented the acquisition of California by England through the McNamara grant and plan of colonization, and also ended the disposal of public land, it being the evident intent of the Mexican governor to place all the land in private ownership so that when the Americans came in there would be no land obtainable and finally by forcing prompt action on the part of the United States by means of the settler's revolt he prevented the English admiral from anticipating Commodore Sloat's action and raising the English flag.

In regard to the first plea: that of protection to the settlers from annihilation at the hands of a blood-thirsty Mexican—the statements are false in every particular. Captain Frémont in his letter to Senator Benton, before referred to, says: "I had scarcely reached the lower Sacramento (on his return from Klamath) when General Castro, then in the north—at Sonoma, in the department of Sonoma, north of the bay of San Francisco, commanded by General Vallejo—declared his determination immediately to proceed against the foreigners settled in the country, for whose expulsion an order had just been issued by the governor of the Californias. For these purposes Castro immediately assembled a force at the Mission of Santa Clara, a strong place, on the northern shore of the Francisco bay. * * * Castro's first measure was an attempt to incite the Indian population of the Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, and the neighboring mountains, to burn the crops of the foreigners and otherwise proceed immediately against them." Semple says in Californian May 23, 1847: "In this state of things, General Castro issued one proclamation after another, ordering foreigners to leave the country." As a matter of fact, General Castro issued no such proclamation; he made no threats of driving the Americans from the country; he did not incite the Indians to burn the crops; he was not against the settlers with an army, and he had no force whatever north of the bay of San Francisco. The Americans of the Sacramento had nothing to fear from the Californians, and according to Bidwell this well known to the settlers as it was to Frémont; and plea that the rising was a matter of self-defence, as testified at the court-martial, had been abandoned and forgotten by General Frémont himself when he was consulted by Josiah Royce in 1884. {Royce: California, 122.}

In regard to the McNamara grant, Frémont testified: "The movement (Bear Flag) prevented the design of the Californians to place their country under British protection, and it also prevented the completion of the colonization grant of three thousand square leagues to McNamara, who was brought to California in the British sloop-of-war Juno in June 1846.”  {30th Cong. 1st. Ses. Senate Rep. 75. 12-13.}

The claims commission gave particular attention to this McNamara matter and all the witnesses were questioned concerning the effect of the Bear Flag rising on that scheme for bringing California under British influence. Hensley, Owens, and others testified that the settlers' rising put an end to it. The fact is that McNamara made his application to Pico, July 1, 1846, seventeen days after the capture of Sonoma; it was considered by the assembly on the sixth and sent back to the governor on the seventh of July with recommendation that the grant be made under certain conditions. It was undoubtedly the action of the Bear Flag party in June that caused the governor and departmental assembly to attempt to push the matter forward so rapidly. It was beyond the power of the departmental authorities to make any grant exceeding eleven square leagues, and the McNamara grant, after the action of the governor and assembly, would have to go to the supreme government at Mexico for approval. Sloat's occupation on July 7th, therefore, put an end to the scheme. This pretext on the part of Frémont and his fellow filibusters was an afterthought.

The legend concerning the rivalry between the American and the English naval commanders as to which should out-manoeuver the other and be first to raise the flag in California has ever been a great favorite with writers, and was brought before the claims commission to enhance the importance of Frémont and his Bear Flag allies. The inference of the various accounts is that Sloat, getting news of the outbreak of hostilities, outwitted his rival and reached Monterey first. Walter Colton in referring to the story says: "It has been often stated by American writers that the admiral intended to raise the English flag in California and would have done it had we not stolen the march on him. I believe nothing of the kind; the allegation is a mere assumption, unwarranted by a solitary fact. He had no such instructions from the British ministry." {Colton: Dick and Port, 393.} Josiah Royce, in an article in the Century, prints a letter from Lord Alcester, who, as Lieutenant Seymour, was flag lieutenant to his uncle, Sir George Seymour, on board the Collingwood, in which he says that the admiral had no intention of raising the flag in California. {Century Magazine, xviii, 779.} That the English in California were active in trying to interest the English government in the acquisition of California we know, but we also know that their appeals were unheeded; and if it was the design of the British ministry to intervene in California, Frémont's course was calculated to accomplish that very result by provoking the California authorities to ask for British protection. {See Prof. E. D. Adams in American Historical Review, xiv., No. 4, July, 1909.}

Realizing the weakness of Mexico's hold on California the foreigners settled in the country had for some time looked for a change in the government. Larkin, as United States consul, had kept the government fully advised. The British government had for some years been interested in the affairs of Alta California and it was thought that the leading men among the Californians would be glad to declare the independence of California and put the country under the protection of England. The administration of James K. Polk came in with the full determination to acquire possession of California, and in less than seven and a half months from the president's inauguration the secret dispatch to Larkin was sent. The active and efficient consul took immediate steps to carry out the wishes of his government which were in direct line with the work he was already doing and for which he was well qualified through his standing with the best people and his cautious and conservative nature.

Had there been no interference with Larkin's plans it is altogether probable that his influence and that of other prominent men, together with the general desire of those who had permanent interests in the country, would have prevailed, and California would have accepted a change of flag without protest. The special agent had secured the assurance of General Castro that he would favor independence from Mexico in 1847 or 1848, and from his knowledge, acquired in twelve years' dealing with Californians, he put implicit faith in their promises. But Larkin's intrigue, progressing as he thought to a successful issue, was rudely interrupted by the rising of foreigners, most of whom, he says, were unknown in the settlements.

That the Bear Flag rising was no part of the scheme of the United States government for the acquisition of California is clear. Why then, should this officer of the United States army, in disobedience of orders, secretly and by circulation of false rumors of impending massacre and destruction, instigate a revolt and incite those rough borderers to acts of violence against those with whom it was his duty to cultivate friendly relations? His course shows that he deeply resented the humiliation put on him by Castro in forcing a retreat from Gavilan peak, and he was also informed by Gillespie that the officers of the squadron made unfavorable comments on his conduct. Besides, he knew from Benton, who was in the confidence of the administration, the designs of the government regarding California and his ambition prompted him to improve the situation unscrupulously for his own advancement. His whole conduct after reaching California showed his desire to provoke a fight. {Benton, in the letter to the president before alluded to, says: "I hope the information I am able to give, though all of a private character, written solely for the information of friends and never expected to go before the public (!) may be sufficient to relieve present anxieties, to disprove the accusations of Governor Castro, and to justify the operations of Captain Frémont. I make this communication to you, sir, upon the responsibility of an American senator addressing the president of the United States, and with the sole view of vindicating the American government and its officer from the foul imputation of exciting insurrection in the provinces of a neighboring power with whom we were then at peace. I could add much more to prove that Captain Frémont's private views and feelings were in unison with his ostensible mission—that the passion of his soul was the pursuit of science and that he looked with dread and aversion upon every possible collision either with the Indians, Mexicans, or British, that could turn him aside from that cherished pursuit."} There was absolutely no excuse for the Bear Flag rising. "The valley," says John Bidwell, "was peace and quiet. No settler, the truth of history compels me to say it, had any apprehension of danger. " {Bidwell to Willey, in Royce's California, 99-101.}

Canada reveres the memory of the heroes of the Long Sault—the seventeen young Frenchmen who devoted themselves to death, stayed the Iroquois' invasion and saved their country from destruction. Our children are being taught to revere the memory of the heroes of the Bear Flag; the men who brought war into a peaceful community and to a people from whom they had received nothing but kindness and hospitality; a war, unjust and unnecessary, that left behind it a heritage of bitterness and hate that sixty years of peace have not entirely eradicated. And the young hero? He had a powerful protector in the person of his father-in-law, and the Mexican war came in time to save him from the consequences of his disobedience. His letter of July 25th showed clearly how grossly outraged and insulted he had been by Castro in March and how necessary had been the subsequent operations in the Sacramento and Sonoma valleys for the protection of the lives of his party and of the American settlers. The cabinet of Mr. Polk could not be expected to confess their intrigue for the peaceful possession of California and Frémont' s statement became history. He was raised to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the United States army and was made governor of California by Stockton. He established his headquarters in Los Angeles, in the house of Alexander Bell, the largest house in town, and kept an armed sentry at his door night and day. So set up was he with the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war that he defied the authority of his superior officer and got himself court-martialed. Here again did fortune stand by her favorite, for though condemned by the court, he was made a martyr and the president of the United States remitted the penalty on account of the previous services of the accused. Frémont was defended by his father-in-law,  who, being allowed free range by the court, insisted on trying Kearny for his alleged misdeeds in California and for his persecution of Frémont. "After the conspiracy of Cataline," said the venerable senator, "Cicero had a theme for his life; since this conspiracy against Frémont, and these rewards and honors lavished upon all that plotted against his life and character, I also have a theme for my life.” {30th Congress 1st Session: Congressional Globe, 1847-8. Appendix. Benton's speech in the United States Senate on promotion of General Kearny.}

Frémont's entire statement before the court-martial regarding the conquest of California rings false and is calculated to and did create an erroneous impression concerning that historic event. "The defile of San Fernando was also passed," says the lieutenant-colonel, "a corps which occupied it falling back as the rifles advanced. We entered the plain of Cowenga, (San Fernando valley) occupied by the enemy in considerable force, and I sent a summons to them to lay down their arms or fight at once. The chiefs desired a parley with me in person. I went alone to see them (Don Jesus Pico only being with me). They were willing to capitulate with me; the terms were agreed upon. Commissioners were sent out on both sides to put it into form. It received the sanction of the governor and commander-in-chief, Commodore Stockton. It was the capitulation of Cowenga. It put an end to the war and to the feelings of war.” {30th Congress 1st. Session, Senate Doc. 33, 379.}

Napoleonic sentences these; but what were the facts? The Californians had less than one hundred men under arms. The plain of Cowenga was "occupied by the enemy in considerable force." Impossible! the enemy had no force. The leaders were at the rancho of the Verdugos in consultation as to the best course to be pursued. There was no thought of further resistance. All that could now be done was to secure the best terms possible. Flores had turned over the command to Andrés Pico and was on his way to Mexico. Don Jesus Pico appeared with Frémont' s summons. Don Andrés thought they could obtain better terms from Frémont than from Stockton who had exhibited great arrogance towards them. He dictated the terms which were readily agreed to by Frémont. The statement that they received the sanction of Commodore Stockton is correct, but they were not submitted to him until the peace was signed and the Californians had departed for their homes. The taking upon himself of terms of surrender when his commanding officer was within an hour's ride was a remarkable exhibition of nerve on the part of the young Napoleon. {"The Californians met Colonel Frémont on the 12th instant on his way here, who, not knowing what had occured, entered into capitulation with them. * * * I have thought it best to approve it." Stockton to Bancroft. 30th Cong. 1st Ses. Doc. 1. Frémont was advised by Kearny that they were in possession of Los Angeles.}

Frémont declined the president's clemency and resigned his commission. He organized a fourth expedition in 1848 and lost a number of his men in the mountains. In 1850 the California legislature elected him United States senator for the short term, and in 1856 he became the candidate of the newly formed Republican party for the presidency. The managers of the party wanted a candidate who was not identified with the bitter war between the Whigs and Free-Soil men. Frémont had the peculiar advantage of having no political record to contend with, and it was thought that his nomination would insure at least the neutrality if not the active support of Thomas H. Benton and his friends in the west. The stories of his romantic conquest of California materially strengthened his candidacy and much was said concerning his immense wealth, for had he not refused two million dollars for the Mariposa rancho? At least that was one of the many fables concerning him that went uncontradicted. So men like Summer, Wilson, and Chase were passed by and the conqueror of California received the prize. Great things were expected of California, but the people did not grow enthusiastic over the nomination of Frémont. The years that had passed had dimmed the glory which, like an aureola, had surrounded the figure of the young explorer. No longer did the heroes of the Bear Flag stir their imaginations. They heard more about beef contracts, and unexplained financial transactions in which names of more or less unsavory repute figured, or bogus ore shipments from the Mariposa claim and all the disagreeable things that are raked up or invented for such occasions; and when the vote of California was counted it was found that Frémont had twenty thousand; Fillmore, thirty-six thousand; and Buchanan, fifty-three thousand.

In these latter days, however, the Frémont legend has acquired new life and is taking on the force and mystery of a northland myth. The unpleasant facts of history are pushed aside and forgotten. We see only the picturesque figure of the hero of romance and we hail him as pathfinder, explorer, conqueror. We give his name to our streets, and cities, and towns, and hold festivals in his honor. We dedicate schoolhouses to him and teach our children to look upon him with something of that reverence they feel for the founders of the republic. This is wrong. The people should be taught the truth. John C. Frémont is not the hero of California. The liberal quotations from original documents in this article will show how events have been misrepresented in order to build up an unmerited reputation.


Source: Eldredge, Zoeth Skinner. The Beginnings of San Francisco. 1912: San Francisco.

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