been threatened with entire ruin, and I fear if these shocks continue some un-
fortunate accident -will happen to the troops at the presidio.
"God preserve the life of your excellency tnany years.
" SAN FRANCISCO, July 17, 1808."
It could not be said now, if such shocks as these were to come again, that the
damage was limited by the "want of material to destroy" I acknowledge a
preference for one- story houses, and built of wood.
About this time the Russians were first seen in California. " Von Resanoff,
chamberlain of the Emperor of Russia, returning from his embassy to Japan,
after having inspected, by order of the court of St. Petersburg, the ports, estab-
lishments, and trading-houses that the Imperial Russian-American Fur Com-
pany possessed, as well on the side of Asia, at Kamschatka, and in the
WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 293
Aleutian Islands, as on the continent and islands of the northwest coast of Amer-
ica, anchored at the port of San Francisco, in the month of May, 1807." So
says the French traveller De Mofras, who visited "California in the years 1841
and '42." An English traveller, Sir George Simson, governor-in-chief of the
Hudson Bay Company's territories, who was here in the same year with De
Mofras, thus makes us acquainted with one of the parties to a story of romantic
love, the first consequence of the advent of the Russians.
"After dinner, (at Captain John Wilson's, in Santa Barbara,) we were joined
by the remainder of our party, the Cowlitz having by this time come to an an-
chor ; and we again sallied forth to see a few more of the lions. Among the
persons whom we met this afternoon was a lady of some historical celebrity.
Von 'Resanoff, having failed, as elsewhere stated, in his attempt to enter the
Columbia in 1806, continued his voyage as far as San Francisco, when, besides
purchasing immediate supples for Sitka, he endeavored, in negotiation with the
commandante of the district and the governor of the province, to lay the founda-
tion of a regular intercourse between Russian America and the California settle-
ments. In order to cemenj the national union, he proposed uniting himself with
Dona Concepcion Arguello, one of the commandante's daughters, his patriotism
clearly being its own reward. If half of Langsdorff's description was correct,
'She was lively and animated, had sparkling, love inspiring eyes, beautiful teeth,
pleasing and expressive features, a fine form, and a thousand other charms, yet
her manners were perfectly simple and artless.'
"The chancellor, who was himself of the Greek church, regarded the differ-
ence of religion with the eyes of a lover and a politician ; but as his imperial
master might take a less liberal view of the matter, he posted away to St. Peters-
burg, with the intention, if he should there be successful, of subsequently visiting
Madrid for the requisite authority to carry his schemes into full effect. But the
fates, with a voice more powerful than that of emperors and kings, forbade the
bans ; and Von Resanoff died on his road to Europe, at Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia,
of a fall from his horse.
" Thus at once bereaved of her lover, and disappointed in the hope of being
the pledge of friendship between Russia and Spain, Dofia Concepcion assumed
the habit, but not, I believe, the formal vows of a nun, dedicating her life to the
instruction of the young and the consolation of the sick. This little romance
could not fail to interest us, and notwithstanding the ungracefulness of her con-
ventual costume, and the ravages of an interval of time, which had tripled her
years, we could still discover in her face and figure, in her manners and conver-
sation, the remains of those charms which had won for the youthful beauty, Von
Resanoff's enthusiastic love, and Langdorff's equally enthusiastic admiration.
Though Dona Concepcion apparently loved to dwell on the story of her blighted
affections, yet, strange to say, she knew not, till we mentioned it to her, the im-
mediate cause of the chancellor's sudden death. This circumstance might, in
some measure, be explained by the fact that Langsdorff 's work was not pub-
lished before 1814; but even then, in any other country than California, a lady
who was still young would surely have seen a book, which besides detailing the
grand incident of her life, presented so gratifying a portrait of her charms."
How strange, as he justly remarks, that Dona Concepcion had never seen that
book, though it had been printed more than twenty five years ! [General Val-
lejo, who was on the stand, here informed Mr. R. that this lady had died about
eight months ago.J
The Russians, in 1812, came down from the north and established themselves
at the port of Bodega, with one hundred Russians and one hundred Kodiak
Indians. It is said that they asked permission of the Spanish authorities before
doing so. The archives are full, however, of documents from 1812 up, showing the
jealousy and fear with which they were regarded by Spain, and afterwards, by
294 RESOURCES OF STATES AND TERRITORIES
Mexico. They occupied a strip along the coast from Bodega northwards, and
only a few leagues in depth, but without any precisely fixed limits.
In 1841 this establishment was at its best, consisting of eight hundred Rus-
sians, or Russo-Asiatics, with a great number of native Indian tribes around
them, working for wages. It was to circumscribe these intruders that the priests
crossed over and founded the mission of San Rafael in 1819, and of San Francisco
Solano at Sonoma in 1823, and commenced another at Santa Rosa in 1827.
The Russians raised some grain aud cattle, and trapped enormously. De Mo-
fras, whom I follow, says that the Kodiaks, in their sealskin boats, made
bloody warfare upon the seals, beavers, and especially the otters ; that they
hunted all the coasts, the adjacent islands, and even the marshes and in-
numerable inlets of the Bay of San Francisco ; and that there were weeks
when this bay alone produced seven or eight hundred otter skins, which may be
true, but seems to me to be a very large number. In 1842 the Russians all left
of their own accord, after having held their possessions, in the character of a
Russian colony, for thirty years, as completely as they now hold Sitka, and
without apparently paying the slightest attention to the priests or the soldiers
who crossed over to look after them. At their fort of Ross, situated amid a forest
of gigantic pines, a Greek chapel reared its cross and belfries, with a most
pleasing effect. The nearest Catholic mission was but a little way off. Rome
and Constantinople here met upon this coast, after a course of so many centuries,
in opposite directions around the globe.
While Europe was convulsed, and America shaken, the profoundest quiet
prevailed in California. After a long time they would hear of a great battle, or
of the rise or fall of an empire, to perturb the souls of priests and other men.
But the government had other duties to perform, patriarchal and simple. On
the llth of February, 1797, Felipe de Goycochea, captain of the presidio of
Santa Barbara, writes to Governor Borica, -as follows :
" I transmit to you a statement in relation to the schools of the presidio, to-
gether with six copy-books of the children, who are learning to write, for your
superior information. May our Lord preserve your life many years.
" Santa Barbara, February 11, 1797.
These copy-books are now in the archives for inspection. As they are the
property of the State, I will give samples, which being translated, read : "The
Ishmaelites having arrived;" "Jacob sent to see his brother;" "Abimelech
took her from Abraham " Good, pious texts, and written in an old-fashioned
round hand. Such was the employment of governors and captains in that
stormy time ; and so it continued through all the period of the mighty conflicts
of ISapoleon.' Even the more protracted commotions of Mexico herself wrought
no disturbance here. The dominion of Spain came to an end in California, after
.fifty-two years of such peacefulness, without a struggle. Mexico having estab-
lished her independence, California gave in her adherence in the following de-
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE IN CALIFORNIA.
* In the presidio of Monterey, on the 9th day of the month of April, 1822 :
The senor military and political governor of this province, Colonel Don Pablo
Vicente de Sola, the senors captains commandantes of the presidios of Santa
Barbara and San Francisco, Don Jose Antonio de la Guerra y Noriega, and
Don Luis Antonio de Arguello, the captains of the militia companies of the ba-
tallion of Tepic and Mazatlan, Don Jose Antonio Navarrete, and Don Pablo de
la Portilla, the lieutenant Don Jose Maria Estudillo for the presidial company
of San Diego,' the lieutenant Don Jose Mariano Estrada for the presidial com-
pany of Monterey, the lieutenant of artillery, Don Manuel Gomez, and the reve-
rend fathers, Friar Mariano Pay eras, and Friar Vicento Francisco de Sarria,
WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 295
the first as prelate of these missions, and the second as substitute of the rever-
end father president vicareo foraneo, Friar Jose Jenan ; having assembled in
obedience to previous citations (convocatorias) in the hall of the government
house, and being informed of the establishment of the kingdom of the empire,
and the installation of the sovereign provisional gubernative junta in the capital
of Mexico, by the official communication and other documents, which the said
governor caused to be read in full assembly, said : that, for themselves, and in
behalf of their subordinates, they were decided to render obedience to the or-
ders intimated by the new supreme government, recognizing, from this time, the
province as a dependent alone of the government of the Empire of Mexico, and
independent of the dominion of Spain, as well as of any other foreign power. In
consideration of which, the proper oaths will be taken, in the manner prescribed by
the provisional regency, to which end the superior military and political chief will
give the necessary orders, and the respective commandantes of presidios and the
ministers of the missions will cause the fulfilment of the same to appear by
means of certificates, which will be transmitted, with a copy of this act, to the
most excellent minister, to whom it corresponds, and they signed,
PABLO VICENTE DE SOLA,
JOSE DE LA GUERRA Y NORIEGA,
LUIS ANTONIO ARGUELLO,
JOSE M. ESTUDILLO,
PABLO DE LA PORTILLA,
JOSE MARIANO ESTRADA,
FR. MARIANO PAYERAS,
FR. VICENTE FRANCISCO DE SARRIA,
JOSE M. ESTUDILLO.
One of the signers of this instrument, Pablo Vicente de Sola, was at that time-
governor under Spain, and held over for a year as governor still under the king-s
dom of the empire, as expressed in the declaration, and two others are the chief
of the ecclesiastical authorities, viz. the prelate of the missions, and the sub
stitute of the reverend father president of the missions. The style does not
much resemble our immortal instrument; and, as another difference, we observe
that all the parties to it are either priests or soldiers.
The Spanish governors were in all ten. Their names and the time they were
respectively in office, as follows :
Caspar dePortala... 1767 to 1771
Felipe de Barri -, 1771 to 1774
Fehpede Neve 1774 to 1782
Pedro Fages } 1782 to 1790
Jose Antonio Komeu 1790 to 1792
Jose J. de Arrillaga, (ad interim) 1792 to 1794
Diego de Borica 1794 to 1800
Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga 1800 to 1814
Jose Arguello, (ad interim) , 1814 to 1815
Pablo Vicente de Sola 1815 to 1822 and 1823
Under Mexico the list continues :
Luis Arguello ^ 1823 to 1826
Jose Ma.de Echandia 1826 to 1831
Manuel Victoria 1831 to 1832
Pio Pico, (ad interim) 1832
Jose Figueroa 1832 to 1835
Jose Castro, (ad interim) 1835 to 1836
Nicholas Gutierrez 1836
Mariano Chico 1836
Nicholas Gutierrez, (again for a few months) 1836
Juan B. Alvarado 1836 to 1842
Manuel Micheltorena , 1842 to 1845
Pio Pico 1845 to 1846
296 RESOURCES OF STATES AND TERRITORIES
California, as a matter of course, accepted the republic as readily as the em-
pire. But it was difficult to throw off old habits, and the following document
discloses a temper towards strangers not creditable to a liberal government. It
is of greatly more value, however, as the recorded evidence of the arrival of the
first American who ever came to California by land. Let him tell his own story.
Letter from Captain Jedediah S. Smith to Father Duran.
REVEREND FATHER : I understand, through the medium of one of your
Christian Indians, that you are anxious to know who we are, as some of the
Indians have been at the mission and informed you that there were certain white
people in the country. We are Americans, on our journey to the river Colum-
bia; we were in at the mission San Gabriel in January la^t. I went to San
Diego and saw the general, and got a passport from him to pass on to that place.
I have made several efforts to cross the mountains, but the snows being so deep,
I could not succeed in getting over. I returned to this place (it being the only
point to kill meat) to wait a few weeks until the snow melts, so that I can go
on ; the Indians here also being friendly, I consider it the most safe point for
me to remain, until such time as I can cross the mountains with my horses,
having lost a great many in attempting to cross ten or fifteen days since. I am
a long ways from home, and am anxious to get ihere as soon as the nature of
the case will admit. Our situation is quite unpleasant, being destitute of cloth-
ing and most of the necessaries of life, wild meat being our principal subsist-
I am, reverend father, your strange, but real friend and Christian brother,
J. S. SMITH.
May 19, 1827.
His encampment must have been somewhere near the mission of San Jose' ,
as it was there that Father Duran resided. Who is there that does not sym-
pathise with Jedediah Smith ? "I am alog ways from borne, and am anxious
to get there as soon as the nature of the case will admit. Our situation is quite
unpleasant, being destitute of clothing and most of the necessaries of life, wild
meat being our principal subsistence. I am, reverend father, your strange, but
real friend and Christian brother."
Thus we came to this country the Browns and Smiths first, and in but an
As Jedediah Smith's letter shows, he had been here before. At that time he
had been required to give an account of himself, but had been able to find
vouchers, shipmasters, all of them doubtless from Boston, who had come to buy the
hides which under the new system were now within the reach of commerce :
" We, the undersigned, having been requested by Captain Jedediah S. Smith
to state our opinions regarding his entering the province of California, do not
hesitate to say that we have no doubt in our minds but that he was compelled to
for want of provisions and water, having entered so far into the barren country
that lies between the latitudes of forty -two and forty-three west that he found
it impossible to return by the route he came, as his horses had most of them
perished for want of food and water. He was., therefore, under the necessity of
pushing forward to California, it being the nearest place where he could procure
supplies to enable him to return.
" We further state as our opinions that the account given by him is circum-
stantially correct, and that his sole object was the hunting and trapping of beaver
and other furs.
" We have also examined the passports produced by him from the Superin-
tendent of Indian Affairs for the government of the United States of America,
and do riot hesitate to say we believe them to be perfectly correct.
WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 297
We also state, that in our opinion, his motive for wishing to pass by a differ-
ent route to the head of the Columbia river on his return, is solely because he
feels convinced that he and his companions run great risk of perishing if they
return by the route they came.
In testimony whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 20th day
of December, 1826.
WM. G. DANA, Captain of schooner Waverly.
WM. H. CUNNINGHAM, Capt. of ship Courier.
WM. HENDERSON, Capt. of brig Olive Branch.
THOS. M. ROBBINS, Mate oj schooner Waverly.
THOS. SHAW, Supercargo of ship Courier.
In extenuation, however, it maybe said that Anglo-Americans had long been
viewed with uneasiness in this quarter. It was prophesied as early as 1805
that they would become troublesome to California. So wrote a governor in an
official letter now in the archives.
In a recent number of a magazine, (Harper's for June, I860,) Sylvester
Pattie, his son, and six others, are said to have been the first who accomplished
the journey overland from the United States to California. The dates men-
tioned in that account show that they could not have reached Lower California,
where they first arrived, sooner than 1829 or 1830, as it is said they left the
Missouri river in 1824, and icmained more than five years in New Mexico. The
Patties, therefore, cannot dispute this honor with Jedediah Smith.
After the adoption of the federal Constitution of 1824, by which was estab-
lished the Mexican United States, the governor of California was called the
political chief of the Territory, and was aided by a council known as the territo-
rial deputation. The government of the Territory continued subject to the
sovereign congress at the city of Mexico, as formerly that of the province had
been to the viceroy. Thus much will be a sufficient introduction. for the next
paper. It is to be regretted that it was not known to the gentleman who de-
signed the coat of arms adopted for this State.
"In session of the 13th of July, 1827, of the territorial deputation, a propo-
sition was made to change the name of the Territory to Moctesuma, the arms of
the same to be an Indian with his bow and quiver, in the act of crossing a
strait, placed in an oval, with an olive and live oak on either side; the same
being symbolical of the arrival of the first inhabitant to America, which, accord-
ing to the generally received opinion, was by xway of the straits of Anian."
The conception is poetical and simple, and differs in this particular widely
from the confused medley of incongruous figures with which we have chosen to
illustrate our idea of California. The name Moctesuma is very significant. It
shows How the Mexican, since his independence, has preferred to draw his
opinions, as he derives his blood, from the conquered rather than the conquerors.
A late but signal triumph of race! California was near losing the name given
her by heroes who came across the Atlantic, for one suggestive of a descent from
an imaginary people who came across Behring's straits.
The Russians and the American trappers, estrays dropping in from the
mountains, seemed to have taught the Californians the value of furs. The
government of the Territory very naturally made this new business a source oi
revenue. They sold licenses to trap. To obtain this privilege was rather' a
formal matter. Here is an example :
Juan B. R. Cooper petitions the governor for a license to trap with ten boats,
for seven months, for otters. The governor refers the petition to the alcalde, to
know whether Mr. Cooper is matriculated in the marine, i. e., a seaman. The
alcalde reports that he belongs to the first class of seamen, and the governor
orders a license to be issued to Mr. Cooper to hunt otters from the parallel of
298 RESOURCES OF STATES AND TERRITORIES
San Luis Obispo to Bodega, two-thirds of the crews of his boats to be natives
of the country. ' There are many others who get licenses, whose names are
familiar to the oldest of the living pioneers. Edward Mclntosh got his on
January 9, 1834, William Wolfskill his September 21, 1833; and many of the
old Californians embarked in the same business, as Angel Castro, March 25,
1833, and Juan Bandini on the 9th of April, 1833.
Internal disturbances seem to have commenced in California about the year
1830. The liberal Spanish Cortez of 1813, in carrying out the constitution
which they had adopted for the Spanish monarchy the year before, decreed the
secularization of all the missions in the Spanish dominions. The design was to
make general what had always been done before by special authority to
liberate the Indians from the control of the missionary fathers, and divide
amongst them, as their separate property, the land, cattle, and whatever else
they had owned in common ; to establish secular priests in the place of regular
priests or monks of the religious orders among them, for their spiritual guidance,
and in every respect to convert the Indian villages of the missions into Spanish
pueblos the process by which, in so great a degree, society was constructed
in all Spanish-American countries, and the ultimate fulfilment of the purpose of
the King, everywhere so prominently put forth in colonizing California.
The decrees of the Cortez, not incompatible with the republican form of gov-
ernment, continued after the establishment of her independence to be the laws of
Mexico, but very few, if any, of them had been put into operation in California.
With the rest, that of secularization remained a dead letter. Enchandia, the
political chief, (as the governor was then entitled,) in 1830, very hurriedly, and
without consulting the supreme government, published, as the custom of the gov-
ernment was, a set of regulations for carrying this old law into effect. At that
moment he was superseded by Victoria, who suppressed the regulations, and put
a peremptory stop to the secularization of the missions. Victoria's conduct was
approved by the supreme government, but there was a party here warmly in favor
of the secularization, and disturbances which were considered serious and threat-
ening ensued, although I do not know that they resulted in bloodshed. The
chief promoter of the scheme was sent out of the country by Victoria ; and thus, I
think, civil strife commenced in California. The occasion was the disposition to be
made of the missions, which, we have seen, were once, and for so long a time, so
nearly all of California. It was the beginning of the downfall of those ancient
establishments, so difficult for us to comprehend, and now so entirely passed
away that to recall them is like recalling the images of a dream. What the
government of Mexico was opposed to was not the secularization of the missions,
but the manner in which it was attempted. The agitation which had been thus
commenced resulted in the passage, by the Mexican congress, of the law of the
17th of August, 1833, to secularize the missions of the Californias. Under it
the work was begun by Figueroa, the best and ablest of the Mexican gover-
nors. At the same time he had two other laws, most fundamentally subversive
of the old order of things, to carry into execution. They were the law for the
political organization of the Territory, being another of those decreed by the
Spanish Cortes in 1813, and the law of colonization, passed by the Mexican
congress, August 18, 1824, with the executive regulations, prescribing the man-
ner of its application, dated November 21, 1828. It is evident that this is the
true era of revolution in Mexican California. Observing the ancient limits of
the presidial jurisdictions, municipal governments were established for each
district. Authority was exercised, by elective bodies called ayuntamientos, ot
which the head was an alcalde or judge. This body regulated the economy of
the whole district, directly of the pueblo in which it resided, and of every other
pueblo in the district, through the intervention of local and subordinate ayun-
tamientos. This was the separation of the civil functions from the military
functions, both of which had been continued in the hands of the commanders
WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 299
of the presidios, as in the Spanish times. Here in San Francisco, and for all
the region north of San Mateo creek, east indefinitely, and west to the ocean,
the separation of powers took place in December, 1834, at which time th^
ayuntarniento was established for the civil government of this presidial district,
and General M. G. Vallejo, then in command of the presidio, was left with only
his military command. In the secularization of the missions, Figueroa advanced
so far as to put administrators in possession in place of the fathers, at which