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Nearing The Goal

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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:20 pm    Post subject: Nearing The Goal Reply with quote

WITH THE PERSUASIVE Padres and his associate, Hijar, on the high seas, the Paisano Chiefs felt better. A close call! Figueroa had saved the day for them, if not for the Indians.

But the Mexican Congress, at this point, threw a monkey-wrench into the machinery by passing a decree on November 7th (1835), reading:

"Until the curates mentioned in Article II of the Law of August 17, 1833, shall have taken possession, the government [California] will suspend the execution of the other Articles, and will maintain things in the state in which they were when such law was made.”

By this edict, the comisionados would have to be removed, and the friars temporarily reinstated. The decree was clear. But who to enforce it?

Governor Figueroa was dead. The Mexican Capital was too far away to be appealed to. And there was no court of appeals in the country. The governor and his staff constituted the court of appeal.

Mexico at this point dispatched Don Mariano Chico to Monterey to serve as the new governor. No record is available of the reception accorded him. But it can be reconstructed from the fact that he was driven out in a few months. The same coterie that had expelled Victoria. Their plans must not be interfered with. They saw themselves lifted from poverty to affluence, if they could maintain a united front.

Then came Nicolas Gutierrez as provisional governor. He soon went the way of Chico and Victoria. He sailed away the first part of November (1836), apparently grateful to return to a more hospitable atmosphere. The Paisano Chiefs were growing bolder as they grew in years. Vallejo was now twenty-six, Alvarado a year younger. Expelling governors from Mexico was becoming their chief indoor sport.

With grandiloquent speeches about "God and Liberty," Juan Bautista Alvarado now took over the reins of government, an appointee of Presidente Bustamante, whose attention he had attracted by his felicitous letters. A Montereno by birth at last in the governor's seat—a paisano governor—though not the first one. Luis Arguello had preceded him by fifteen years, born at the Presidio of San Francisco, while his father, Don Jose, was comandante.

Of this, William Heath Davis, a high-type American, with extensive business in Monterey and other California ports, says of Alvarado's appointment in his Seventy-five Years in California:

"Alvarado had shown his ambitious spirit in 1836, and desire to rule by creating, for imaginary grievances, a revolution against Governor Chico, who had been sent here by the Supreme Government of Mexico, to take charge of department affairs, and administered the office of governor for a year or two. He [Alvarado] succeeded in his designs, and sent Chico out of the country. Strange to say, upon this success of Alvarado, in revolutionizing the government, instead of an army being sent from Mexico to take him there, as a rebel against his country, he received from President Bustamante an appointment as governor of California, upon his representing the matter in a letter of marked ability to that dignitary.”

Mexico had too many troubles at home to take on punitive expeditions. Glad enough to have things run along in California, with the least amount of trouble to itself, so long as the revenues from taxes, customs, etc., were sent regularly from Monterey and the Missions to piece out its revenue.
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