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Alvarado And The Americanos

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:19 pm    Post subject: Alvarado And The Americanos Reply with quote

A BRISK trade had sprung up between the United States, spoken of generally as "Boston," and California, following visits of whalers and trading vessels from the Atlantic Coast. Rich returns were made on voyages to the coast in furs, hides and tallow. And many of the skippers, judges of the good things of life, settled in the country on vast grants of land obtained from the governors, Spanish and Mexican. Lands measured not by acres, but by leagues. Eleven leagues, incidentally, was the legal extent of a grant to one person. Quite a sizable farm.

So by 1840 (Alvarado's regime), a large number of Americanos were in the country, leading the alluring lives of the dons, growing rich in land and cattle, with comparatively little effort, aside from the exercise of their natural Yankee acumen. As we shall see, the break in the dike.

As Monterey was the only government port of call in the territory for a half-century, and contained the only Customs House in the territory until after the American occupation, the capital was for three-quarters of a century the home port of politicians, native or naturalized.

In some quarters, a feeling of resentment was growing against the Americanos, particularly as so many had carried off the beautiful dark-eyed daughters of the dons, right under the eyes of the paisanos. Admittedly unfair competition, as the advent of the blue-eyed, fair-skinned men from "Boston," with their adventures to draw upon for anecdote—and a bit of brag-afforded the senoritas a genuine thrill. Thus, the Americanos were winning not only many of the loveliest women in the country of lovely women, but at the same time acquiring a large part of the grants of the country, belonging to the families of the senoritas. Or, as in many cases, acquiring grants on their own.

Though it is true that the largest revenues from trade at the Monterey Customs House were derived from Americanos, who were the heaviest traders—from fifty to one hundred per cent of the business—and they were contributing broadly to the development of the country, Alvarado saw fit at this time to issue an order for the arrest of all Americans in the territory. A few were excepted—Don Juan Bautista Cooper, Monterey, Abel Stearns, Nathan Spear, and a few others living in the south.

Conspiring against the government was the general charge, enlarged by the explanation that the Americans were planning to organize to overthrow the government, to assassinate its officials, and to take over the territory on behalf of the United States. A bloodthirsty program. Alvarado had, by this time, acquired considerable skill in building up evidence to get rid of persons annoying to him. Up to the present, he had been amazingly successful. Had he underground instructions from Mexico?

The order was issued by command of the governor, though Jose Castro of Monterey and San Juan Bautista was a co-partner in the plan. Most students of history believe the scheme to have had its real origin in Mexico, or at least, that Alvarado had been warned by the government to keep an eye on the Americans. And, loving excitement, as he certainly did, it was an easy matter to conjure up a sanguinary uprising, with the paisano patriots shot down in highways and byways of their native land by these smart, aggressive Yankees.

The governor's orders reached the remote parts of the department through prefects and sub-prefects— "Arrest all Americans in your district," The civil officers gave out the instructions and the military was ordered to make the arrests.

About seventy persons were rounded up, a few of them Europeans, under the mistaken impression they were Yankees.

Don Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo—soon to call himself "General," though in the entire territory there were not five hundred soldiers—arrived in Monterey from his stronghold in Sonoma, with a guard of seventy soldiers—mostly from the Presidio at San Francisco.

Since his nephew, Alvarado, had bestowed upon him the military command of the north, it was to be expected that he would show his gratitude by coming to the assistance of the governor, in this ticklish business of deporting the annoying Gringos.

Monterey had been designated as the point of concentration.

Arriving, they were housed in the old jail until all the objectionables were assembled. By some it is claimed they were fairly well treated, by others very badly. All were under military guard, not only in the prison, but on their way, in chains, to Mexico. They sailed in the Mexican bark, Joven Gaipazcoana, Captain Joseph Snook. (An Englishman, naturalized by the Mexican Government.)

Jose Castro, also later "General," from having been named head of the military in the northern half of the territory, superseding General Vallejo, sailed with the prisoners—San Bias their destination. The ship was owned by Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, a wealthy resident of Santa Barbara, who may, or may not, have known at the time to what uses it was to be put.
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