Posts Tagged ‘Robert Field Stockton’

Hoisting the Flag in the Golden State

April 29, 2010

Read about the Bear Flag: Virtual Museum of San Francisco

[From The Californian of November 29th, 1846 — an early number of the American newspaper first published in California — we extract the following verses, written in commemoration of events which culminated in the acquisition of the Golden State.]
For “The Californian.”


Soft o’er the vale of Angeles
The gale of peace was wont to blow,
Till discord raised her direful horn
And filled the vale with sounds of woe.

The blood-stained earth, the warlike bands,
The trembling natives saw with dread;
Dejected labor left her toil,
And Summer’s blithe enjoyments fled.

But soon the avenging sword was sheathed,
And mercy’s voice by Stockton heard;
How pleasant were the days which saw
Security and peace restored.

Ah! think not yet your trials o’er;
From yonder mountain’s hollow side,
The fierce banditti issue forth
When darkness spreads her curtain wide.

With murderous arms and haggard eyes,
The social joys away they fright;
Sad expectation clouds the day,
And sleep forsakes the fearful night.

Now martial troops protect the robbed,
At distance prowl the ruffian band,
Oh, confidence! that dearer guard,
Why hast thou left this luckless land.

We droop and mourn o’er many a joy,
O’er some dear friend to dust consigned;
But every comfort is not fled:
Behold another friend we find.

Lo! Stockton comes to grace the plan,
And friendship claims the precious prize, —
He grants the claims, nor does his heart
The children of the vale despise.


The Golden Era – Jul 13, 1862

USS Levant (Image from


The New York Commercial gives the following extracts from a letter received here from an officer now on board the U.S. ship Levant, who was on board the U.S. frigate Savannah, Commodore Sloat, when that officer took formal possession of California. It affords the most particular account yet published of this conquest.

Commodore John Sloat (Image from wikimedia)

Off Mazatlan, Aug. 10, 1846.}

I wrote you from Monterey on the 6th of July, or shortly after, giving you a detailed account of the occurrences at that place. Fearing, however, that you may not have received it, I forward it to you by this opportunity, which will probably be the last communication you will receive from me, being now homeward bound.

On the 6th of July all was bustle in the cabin of the Savannah; some four or five men were busily employed writing letters, proclamations, &c., preparatory to taking possession of California. It was long after the witching hour of midnight ere I was enabled to catch a troubled repose, as all was to be prepared by six o’clock the following morning, which came as bright and beautiful as a July day of our own favored island. At 6 A.M. Capt. Mervine came on board to receive orders, and at 7 he left with a summons to the military commandant of Monterey to surrender the place forthwith to the arms of the United States, and also a similar summons to the military Governor for the surrender of all California.

At 9 A.M. of the 7th of July the expedition started from the Savannah, composed of the boats off the Savannah, Levant and Cyane, and landed without opposition at the m?le. The force was then marched up a short distance to the custom house, where a concourse of the inhabitants were assembled. Here the marines and men were halted, and the proclamation read to the multitude by Rodman M. Price, Esq., purser of the Cyane, in a loud and distinct manner, which was received with three hearty cheers by those present. The flag of the United States was then hoisted by acting Lieut. Edward Higgings, immediately after which a salute of 21 guns was fired by the Savannah and Cyane.

The custom house was then turned into a barrack for the United States forces, and every thing settled down quietly.

Communications were immediately dispatched to commander Montgomery, of the Portsmouth, at St. Francisco, at which place, and at Zanonia, the United States flag was hoisted on the morning of the 9th; and before ten days had elapsed, the whole of California, North of Monterey, was under the flag of the United States, much to the apparent satisfaction of the people, who hope it will last, knowing how much better they will be off under the Government of the United States.

On the 16 of July Captain Stockton arrived, too late, however, to participate directly in taking possession of California.

On the 29th Commodore Sloat gave up the command to Commodore Stockton, hoisted his flag on board the Levant, and sailed for the United States via Mazatlan and Panama, and we hope to reach the United States in all November.

Daily Sentinel And Gazette (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) Oct 2, 1846

In the above book (Google book LINK,) you can read correspondence from Robert F. Stockton. Here is an excerpt:

Page 18

The New-Orleans Piscayune of the 25th Aug. says:

“From information received at Alvorado, it would appear that the Californians were not taken by the Squadron under Commodore Sloat. But that American citizens located in these Provinces, combined with the disaffected Mexicans, declared themselves independent of the Central Government, and raised the flag of the United States, and declared obedience to their country.”

This version does not appear to be identical with the rumor brought here from Havanna by the Rev. Cutter M’Leon, and next by a vessel from Kingston, Jamaica, whither it was conveyed by the  During, more than a month ago.

This version of the correspondence is confirmed by a Spanish letter to the U.S., written in the city of Mexico on the 8th Aug. It is given as news.

Daily Sentinel And Gazette (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) Sep 10, 1846

Robert F. Stockton

Image from (Google book LINK):

More Colonial Homesteads and Their Stories
By Marion Harland
Publisher    G.P. Putnam’s sons, 1899


An American naval officer, grandson of Richard Stockton (q.v.). He was born at Princeton, N.J., studied for a time at Princeton, and in 1811 became a midshipman in the United States Navy. He joined Commodore Rodgers on the frigate President in 1812, was for a time an aide to the Secretary of the Navy, took part in the defense of Baltimore, and was promoted to be lieutenant in September, 1814.

In 1815 he distinguished himself in the Algerine War on board the Spitfire. He returned to the United States in command of the Erie in 1821, and in the fall of the same year sailed in the Alligator for the African coast, where he negotiated successfully for the land upon which the American Colonization Society founded Liberia (q.v.).

During the early part of the Mexican War he commanded the Pacific Squadron. To his energy, and that of General Fremont, with whom he cooperated, was largely due the success of the American operations on the coast. He captured Los Angeles and San Diego, fought several battles, organized a civil government for California, and installed Fremont as Governor, relinquishing the command to Shubrick in 1847.

He resigned from the navy in 1850, and was a United States Senator from New Jersey in 1851-53. Having resigned in 1853, he was for some time president of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company.

Consult Life and Speeches of Robert Field Stockton (1856).

The above biography is from the following book:

The New International Encyclopæeia, Volume 18
Editors: Daniel Coit Gilman, Harry Thurston Peck, Frank Moore Colby
Publisher:    Dodd, Mead and company, 1909