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CHAPTER XII.

THE SEIZURE AND SURRENDER OF MONTEREY, IN CALIFOR-,

NIA, BY COMMODORE JONES.

On Mr. Thompson's appointment, an attempt was made in the House of Representatives, to defeat his mission by a motion to strike out from the supply bill the appropriation for a salary to the Minister to Mexico. In opposing this inotion, Mr. Wise, of Virginia, the administration leader in the House delivered, 14th April, 1842, a characteristic speech, of which the following is an extract:

“Texas had but a sparse population, and neither men nor money of her own to raise and equip an army for her own defence; but let her once raise the flag of foreign conquest—let her once proclaim a crusade against the rich states to the South of her, and in a moment volunteers would flock to her standard in crowds from all the States in the great valley of the Mississippi-men of enterprise and hardy valor before whom no Mexican troops could stand an hour. They would leave their own towns, arm themselves and travel at their own cost, and would come up in thousands to plant the lone star of the Texan banner on the Mexican capital. They would drive Santa Anna to the South, and the boundless wealth of captured towns, and rifled churches, and a lazy, vicious, and luxurious priesthood, would soon enable Texas to pay

her soldiers, and redeem her State debt, and push her victorious arms to the very shores of the Pacific.

“And would not all this extend slavery? Yes, the result would be, that, before another quarter of a century, the extension of slavery would not stop short of the Western Ocean.

“ To talk of restraining the people of the great valley from emigrating to join her armies, was all in vain. They had

gone once already. It was they that conquered Santa Anna at San Jacinto; and three-fourths of them after winning that glorious field, had peaceably returned to their homes. But once set before them the conquest of the rich Mexican provinces, and you might as well attempt to stop the wind. Let the work once begin, and he (Mr. Wise) did not know that this House would hold him very long.

“Give me five millions of dollars, and I would undertake to do it myself. Although I don't know how to set a single squadron in the field, I could find men to do it; and, with five millions of dollars to begin with, I would undertake to pay every American claimant the full amount of his demand with interest, yea, fourfold. I would place California where all the powers of Great Britain, would never be able to reach it. SLAVERY SHOULD POUR ITSELF ABROAD WITHOUT RESTRAINT, AND FIND NO LIMIT BUT THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. The Camanches should no longer hold the richest mines of Mexico; but every golden image which had received the profanation of a false worship should soon be melted down, not into Spanish milled dollars indeed, but into good American eagles. Yes, there should more hard money flow into the United States than any exchequer or sub-treasury could ever circulate. I would cause as much gold to cross the Rio del Norte as the mules of Mexico could carry; aye, and make a better use of it than any lazy, bigoted priesthood under Heaven. I am not quarrelling with the particular religion of these priests ; but I say, that any priesthood that has accumulated and sequestered such immense stores of wealth, ought to disgorge, and, it is a benefit to mankind, to scatter their wealth abroad where it can do good. Texas had proclaimed a blockade against all the coast of Mexico; and though she had no fleet to enforce it, she would be able to make it good by hewing her way to the Mexican capital. Nor could all the vaunted power of England stop the chivalry of the West, till they had planted the Texan star on the walls of the city of Montezuma. Nothing could keep these booted loafers from rushing on till they kicked the Spanish priests out of the temples they profaned. War was a curse; but it had its blessings too. He would vote for this mission as the means of preserving peace; but, if it must lead to war, he would vote it the more willingly."

The author of such a speech was, of course, admirably fitted for the Mexican mission ; but, as that was already filled, the President (Tyler) expressed his obligation to the Orator, by appointing bim Minister to France. A Whig Senate recoiled at the idea of sending Mr. Wise to represent American morality and refinement in Europe, but consented that he should discharge that function in Brazil. Amid the vulgarity and profligacy of this speech, there is much that merits attention as indicative of the views and anticipations of the slaveholders. what visions of plunder the idea of a war with Mexico raised before their excited imaginations; we see what boundless regions were in their hopes to be consecrated to human bondage, and with how little cost and danger, the chivalry expected to gather a golden harvest from both mines and churches. Mr. Wise was chairman of the naval committee, and high in the confidence of the administration ; and hence his reference to California was peculiarly significant, and shadowed forth coming events. The

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annexation of Texas was the immediate object of the slaveholders; but California was looming in the distance, and many wistful eyes were gazing upon it, as the means of carrying slavery to the “Western Ocean.”

Mr. Upshur, the Virginian who in 1829 wanted Texas to raise the price of slaves, and now Secretary of the Navy, in his report of December 4th, 1841, announced to Congress, that “In Upper California there were already considerable settlements of Americans, and others are daily resorting to that fertile and delightful country. Such, however, is the unsettled condition of that whole country, that they cannot be safe either in their persons or property, except under the protection of our naval power." He also declared that, “It is highly desirable that the Gulf of California should be fully explored, and that this duty alone will give employment a long time to one or two vessels of the smaller class." Here was a beautiful device for forcing Mexico into a war and wresting California from her. Our ships of war were to be continually hovering on the coast, and their officers surveying the harborg and interfering in every controversy between the Mexican authorities and American squatters and adventurers.

A few days after this report, Commodore Jones, also a Virginian, was dispatched with a squadron to the Pacific. He was specially instructed to keep one or more vessels occasionally or constantly cruising upon the coast, and within the GULF OF CALIFORNIA, and the officers were “to pay particular attention to the examination of the bays and harbors they may visit, and to lay down their positions correctly." The subsequent conquest of California bears testimony to the foresight of Messrs. Tyler and Upshur. It is not to be supposed that Commodore Jones was permitted to depart without being acquainted with the wishes and hopes of his employers. He undoubtedly well understood, although not formally instructed, that he was to avail himself of any good opportunity of getting a foothold in California.

In May, 1842, the Mexican Secretary of State sent a circular to the diplomatic corps, declaring that the Mexican Government protested against the aid afforded to the Texans by citizens of the United States with the toleration of their own Government. At the same time the Secre. tary addressed a letter to Mr. Webster, American Secretary of State, formally protesting against the allowance by the Federal Government of the violation, on the part of its citizens, of the obligations of neutrality in the open aid afforded to the insurgents of Texas. These two letters were published in a Mexican journal, and fell into the hands of Commodore Jones at Callao, together with a Boston newspaper, giving from a New Orleans paper one of those common lies about English interference, which had for years been plentifully manufactured by the partisans of annexation.

The lie which now caught the eye of the Commodore was, that Mexico had ceded California to Great Britain for $7,000,000! It so happened that three British armed vessels were at this time in the Pacific, and the watchful Commodore did not know their business, nor where they were going. The Mexican documents induced him to guess, that war had been declared between the United States and Mexico, and the rumor given from the New Orleans

paper, led him to guess, that Great Britain had purchased California ; and as he had not been informed where the three British vessels were going, he guessed they had gone to take possession of the newly purchased territory. He accordingly left Callao on the 7th September, 1842, “crowding all sail on the direct coast of Mexico" (California). The next day he summoned &

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