« AnteriorContinuar »
completed its éxaminations, and the only accessible official information. on this subject is a report of a military reconnoissance of the coast of California, ordered by General Kearny in the winter of 1847. The most southern point in Upper California there recommended for occupation by permanent works of defence, is the entrance to the bay of San Diego. On the north side of this entrance, which is probably the most favorable position for works of military defence, are the remains of old “ Fort Guejarros,” built by the Spaniards some seventy years ago. This fort, though never of much value in itself, was occupied nearly up to the time the United States took possession of the country; and all the ground in the vicinity is still regarded as public property, no person, so far as is known, having any claim to it.
Monterey is the next point on the coast deemed of sufficient importance at the present time for permanent works. The old battery (San Carlos) at that place was built soon after the establishment of the mission of the same name, (1770,) and, though much dilapidated, was maintained up to about the time the Americans took possession of the country. Another battery in rear of, and auxiliary to this, was begun by the Mexicans previous to July 7, 1846, and afterwards .enlarged by the Americans and occupied by them, without intermission, to the present time. Copies of the several claims to the land on which these batteries are situated, or which lie so immediately in the vicinity as to be necessary for the public service, if the batteries themselves are retained, are given in appendix No. 27, papers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the accompanying letters of the alcalde, dated March 23, June 14, and August 10, 1848. It appears from these papers that titles Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 were given while Monterey was in possession of the American troops, and by an alcalde who was an officer in the United States navy; that Nos. 1 and 2 were given while the troops were occupying and holding the ground so deeded away, and after both seller and buyers had been informed that the land would be required for government purposes.-(Vide appendix No. 28.) With regard to the extension of the town limits, said by the alcalde to have been made by the territorial legislature some twelve years since, I would remark that no trace of it is found in the recorded proceedings of that body, nor in the archi es of this office, although these records of legislative proceedings seem to be quite perfect, from about the year 1823 to July 8,1846, nor can I find any verbal testimony to prove the existence of such decree of extension. The alcalde's right to sell or deed away the lands alluded to, will therefore rest most probably upon the “rule of Rob Roy,” as given at the close of his letter of June 14, and which he seems to think constitutes the only legal authority which has governed in these matters.
Unfortunately for the plea set up by the alcalde, the laws relating to the granting of lands in California are, as has already been shown, very minute and perfect, resting upon no such doubtful authority as that of Rob Roy, but upon positive and definite decrees of the Mexican Congress, and the subordinate but no less distinct enactments of the territorial legislature-laws which seem to have been perfectly understood and pretty generally obeyed here previous to the irregular proceedings springing out of the mania for land speculations following the conquest of the country by the Americans. By a review of these laws, it will be seen: that no municipal authority can dispose of lands beyond the limits of a town grant, (fundo legal, para pueblo,) nor can they sell any lands within
this grant which may be required for the erection of warehouses, arsenals, or structures of any kind for the defence or security of the nation. Moreover, the grant itself, even if signed by both the governor and territorial legislature, inasmuch as it lies within ten leagues of the coast, is utterly invalid until confirmed by the general government, which confirmation it is well known has never been given. Nor is the alcalde moreaccurate in his opinion, that the Mexican government has never designated any particular spot or site for forts or batteries. If he had examined the subject with care, he would have found that the ground which he sold has been occupied by works of military defence from about the year 1772 to the present moment; that when, in 1775, it was proposed by the authorities here to remove these works to a point on the bay further north, the viceroy positively forbid the removal; tliat there are in the government archives numerous orders, both from the viceroys of New Spain and the ministers of the Mexican republic, for the repair of these identical works, for the mounting of guns in them, &c.; that these are the very works which were captured by the insurgents under Alvarado and Graham in. 1836, by the naval forces under Commodore Jones in 1842, and, though greatly dilapidated, constituted the only defences for the harbor and town of Monterey on the 7th of July, 1846. Mr. Little's claim, a part of which lies between the ravines “A” and “B,” rests upon no other authority than that of a title given by the alcalde of Monterey some time in the winter of 1846—7. It may be proper to remark here, that previous to the capture of Monterey, the town limits were not supposed to extend beyond the ravine marked “A” in the plan; and the grant made to Mr. Green, in the summer of 1845, it is believed, was never intended to cross the ravine; if so, no legal possession has ever been given, and the grant was afterwards covered by No. 1 in the appendix. All the ground covered by these claims is still in the possession of the United States, and has never been occupied or built upon by either of the claimants; it is therefore important to have it determined without delay whether the land is wanted for government use, and if so, whether any or all these claims are to be recognised as valid.
The next point which it is proposed to occupy with permanent works is the bay of San Francisco. The position first in importance on this bay is at or near the old battery, (“Fort San Joaquin” of the Spaniards,) on the south side of the narrows. T'he nature of Mr. Larkin's claim to this land is set forth in his letter, and the accompanying copies of title papers, given in appendix No. 29. The character of this title is pretty fully discussed in the papers given in appendix Nos. 30 and 31; and it is only necessary to remark here, that “Fort San Joaquin,” (began in 1776,) the Presidio, (began in 1776,) and “Yerba Buerra battery" on Yerba Buena point, (a little west of the present town of San Francisco, and built in 1797,) as well as the intervening lands, have been occupied by the military forces of Spain and Mexico for nearly three-quarters of a century, and are now in possession of the troops of the United States; and it is believed to be susceptible of positive proof that Pio Pico was not in Los Angeles between the 17th of June and about the middle of July, 1846. There are to be found in the miscellaneous correspondence and the manuscript proceedings of the territorial legislature, (now in the archives of this office,) letters and orders from. Pio Pico, dated San Buenaventura June 19, and Santa Barbara June 21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, and 30, and
July 2, 3, and 4; in Santa Cruz July 7 and 8; in San Luis Obispo July 11; and again in Santa Barbara July 16 and 17; which renders it quite certain that he was not in Los Angeles the 25th of June, the day on which this title to Benita Diaz purports to have been given. But even supposing this title paper to have been given in good faith, and perfectly in accordance with the territorial laws, and that the land so granted did not include forts and barracks, recognised and occupied for more than half a century as the property of the general government; still, under the general laws of Mexico, the grant is not valid until approved by the general government, and is subject to the reservation contained in article 5 of the law of August, 1824.
The position next in importance is most probably Alcatrazas island, (sometimes called White or Bird island,) granted by Pio Pico to Don Francis Plinio Temple. This title is subject to the same suspicions and objections as that of Benita Diaz, and neither has ever been confirmed by the territorial legislature or the general government, nor are they recorded in any book of records in the government archives.
“Punto de los Canallos," on the north side of the narrows, is included in a claim of Guillermo Antonio Richardson, founded on a grant said to have been made to him by Governor Echeandia in the year 1828. This title is not recorded in the archives of the government, and it is not known that it has ever been confirmed by the territorial legislature or the general government; it is believed, however, to be subject to the reservation made in article 5 of the law of 1824. A fort was designed for this point by the Spaniards previous to the revolution in Mexico, and orders were issued by the viceroy for the construction and arming of a battery; but the order, it is believed, was never executed.
Angel island was granted by Governor Alvarado to José Maria Osio, first on the 19th of February, 1838, and again on the 11th of June, 1839.(Vide appendix Nos. 32 and 33.) It has never been confirmed by the territorial legislature, the clasmant not deeming such confirmation necessary, as the grant, in his opinion, comes within the order of the supreme executive relating to islands on the coast.—(Vide appendix No. 7.) The claim to Yerba Buena island has not been examined, but it is said to rest upon the same ground as that to Angel island.
What other points (if any) on the coast of California should be occupied by permanent works of defence, it is now difficult to determine; nor is it possible to say what points on the frontiers are most suitable for temporary military posts, in order, on the one hand, to check the depredations of the Indians, and, on the other, to protect the Indians themselves from the encroachments and abuse of the whites. As there are no barracks at San Diego, it will probably be necessary to station troops at San Luis Rey, where they will serve the double purpose of a garrison at San Diego and a lookout to guard the several passes from Lower California and So. noma by the Colorado and Gila rivers. It is said that Don Antonio José Cot has a claim to this mission under a grant of Pio Pico; but as titles of this kind have already been discussed, it is unnecessary to resume their examination here.
At Sonoma, on the north side of San Francisco bay, there are barracks, which, with little expense, could be made comfortable for a single company. It is not known that the right of the United States to these barracks has ever been disputed.
Military posts should be established somewhere in the great valleys of the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers; but further examinations are required before fixing definitively the positions of these posts. Most of the lands in these valleys belong to the public domain, and, it is believed, are generally unencumbered by private claims.
H. W. HALLECK,
Brevet Captain and Secretary of State. MONTEREY, California, March 1, 1849.
APPENDIX No. 1.
Extracts from “the instructions to be observed by the commandant ap
pointed to the new establishments of San Diego and Monterey,” given by El. Bailio Frior Don Antonio Bucareli y Urusu, dated Merico, 17th August, 1773.
ARTICLE 2. The confusion which has reigned in the accounts, and the want of order which I have observed in everything else, have compelled me to establish this new method, and to appoint Captain Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada commandant of San Diego and Monterey, because I am well informed of his good conduct or manner of proceeding, and of his knowledge of the new establishments, acquired in the employments and offices which he has therein obtained and in the presidios of California for many years.
ARTICLE 12. With the desire to establish population more speedily in the new establishments, I for the present grant the commandant the power to designate common lands, and also even to distribute lands in private to such Indians as may most dedicate themselves to agriculture and the breeding of cattle, for, having property of their own, the love of it will cause them to radicate themselves more firmly; but the commandant must bear in mind that it is very desirable not to allow them to live dispersted—each one on the lands given to them but that they must necessarily have their house and habitation in the town or mission where they have been established or settled.
ARTICLE 13. I grant the same faculty to the commandant with respect to distributing lands to the other founders (pobladores) according to their merit and means of labor—they also living in the town and not dispersed, declaring that in the practice of what is prescribed in this article and the preceding 12th, he must act in every respect in conformity with the provisions made in the collection of the laws respecting newly-acquired countries and towns, (reducciones y poblaciones,) granting them legal titles for the owner's protection without exacting any remuneration for it or for the act of possession.
ARTICLE 14. The commandant must be carefully attentive that the founders who go to the new establishments have the requisite arms for their defence and for assisting the garrisons of the presidios or missions in case of necessity, binding them to this obligation as a thing necessary for their own safety and that of all their neighbors.
ARTICLE 15. When it becomes expedient to change any mission into a pueblo, the commandant will proceed to reduce it to the civil and
econominal government which, according to the laws, is observed in the other pueblos of this kingdom, giving it a name, and declaring for its patron the saint under whose auspices and venerable protection the mission was founded.
APPENDIX No. 2.
Extracts from the regulations for the government of the province of Cali,
fornia, by Don Felipe De Neve, governor of the same, dated in the royal presidio of San Carlos de Monterey, 1st June, 1779, and approved by his Majesty in a royal order of the 24th October, 1781.
TITLE THE FOURTEENTH.-POLITICAL GOVERNMENT, AND INSTRUCTIONS
1st The object of the greatest importance towards the fulfilment of the pious intentions of the King, our master, and towards securing to his Majesty the dominion of the extensive country which occupies a space of more than two hundred leagues, comprehending the new establishment of the presidios, and the respective ports of San Diego, Monterey, and San Francisco, being to forward the reduction of, and as far as possible to make this vast country (which, with the exception of seventeen hundred and forty-nine Christians of both sexes in the eight missions on the road which leads from the first to the last named presidio, is inhabited by innumerable heathens) useful to the State, by erecting pueblos of which people, (gente de razon-literally, people of reason,) who, being united, may encourage agriculture, planting, the breeding of cattle, and successively the other branehes of industry; so that some years hence their produce may be sufficient to provide garrisons of the presidios with provisions and horses, thereby obviating the distance of transportation and the risks and losses which the royal government suffers thereby. With this just idea, the pueblo of San José has been founded and peopled; and the erection of another is determined upon, in which the colonists and their families, from the provinces of Sonora and Sinuloa, will establish themselves, the progressive augmentation of which, and of the families of the troops, will provide for the establishment of other towns, and furnish recruits for the presidio companies, thus freeing the royal revenue from the indispensable expenses at present required for these purposes; and, it being necessary to establish rules for carrying all this into effect, the following instructions will be observed:
2d. As an equivalent for the $120 and rations, which hitherto have been assigned yearly to each poblador (founder or colonist) for the first two years, and the rations alone for the following one, calculated at a rial and a half per diem, free, for the three following ones, they will hereafter receive for each of the first two years $116 and 3} rials, the rations to be understood as comprehended in this amount; and in lieu of rations for the next three years, they will receive $60 yearly, by which arrangement they will be placed on more favorable terms than formerly, taking into consideration the advance that was charged on what they were paid with, and the discount on the rations furnished, which article