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Larkin Takes A Hand

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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:19 pm    Post subject: Larkin Takes A Hand Reply with quote

THOMAS Oliver Larkin, one of the outstanding Americans in the territory, with valuable connections in the United States as well as in California, lost no time in communicating the news of the arrest of his compatriots to Washington.

Through the United States Minister at Mexico, orders were issued to Commodore Claxton in command of the Pacific Squadron, to ascertain the facts.

Soon the United States sloop St. Louis, Captain Forrest, was on its way to Monterey, for first hand information. Perhaps for peremptory service. The vessels passed each other; though, of course, Captain Forrest had no means of knowing that the ship he had sighted carried the captured Americans. If he had, what would he have done?

Arriving at San Bias, after a voyage characterized by Isaac Graham, Natividad, and other infuriated prisoners as indescribably horrible, they were transferred to the Tepic military headquarters, where they breathed clean air now and then and stretched their legs.

Following Washington's demand for their immediate release, the Mexican Government complied, with profuse apologies; and also ordered the arrest of Jose Castro. Saving the face of the Mexican Government? Provisions were made for the return of the Americans to their homes. And it was further provided that the individuals be indemnified for their imprisonment, personal inconveniences and financial losses. Thus the Supreme Government spoke, after having discovered that the affair had aroused the ire of the whole United States. It was not desirable, at that time, to force a conflict with the American Government. The situation was already too tense to add to the Yankees' irritation.

In due time, the prisoners returned to their homes, bursting with indignation at what had been a grueling experience, particularly resentful at Alvarado and Castro, whom they believed to have been the true instigators.

Much litigation followed, some individuals involved suing the Mexican Government for further indemnities.

It was largely Thomas Oliver Larkin's prompt and intelligent action in the matter that brought about his appointment in 1844 as American Consul to California, with headquarters at the capital.

Thus it was that the Larkin House became the American Consulate, its owner the only American Consul to hold office in the Mexican province. His influence in establishing good feeling between the Californians and the foreigners, particularly Americans, was invaluable. He kept Washington informed of conditions on the Pacific; and when the crisis finally came, he revealed himself further as a man of cool judgment and of human understanding. We shall see how he stood by, when the Great Moment came.

It was fortuitous that the young American had entered upon the California scene under the tutelage of his half-brother, Captain John B. R. Cooper, who had been trading up and down the California coast since 1822; and who had established himself securely in the country, not only through his Yankee acumen, but also through his marriage to Dona Encarnacion Vallejo of Monterey. Thus young Larkin was fairly well schooled in the habits and customs of the new country before he stepped upon its shores.
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