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Mexican Period

Mexican Period: 1821 - 1846

The Mexican Revolution

From 1810 to 1821, war in Mexico slowly displaced Spanish rule from North America. In California, almost nothing was known of the fighting. What few government supply ships that did come brought only news approved of by the regime, hence Californians thought the revolution was a minor issue on the verge of defeat at any moment. It was with surprise that the Californios learned in 1822 that they had been, in fact, Mexicans for most of the previous year.

The change to Mexican rule had little immediate impact since Californios had been self sufficient for some time, but it left the power structure uncertain. California was declared a territory, rather than a state, and was low on the list of priorities for Mexico. Governors were declared and sent out from Mexico City starting in 1825, but the Californios themselves had little to fear from Mexican force and none of the respect they had formerly held for Spanish Royalty. As a result, the Mexican government of California was soon in confusion. Between 1831 and 1836, California had 11 different government administrations and ignored an additional three governors sent from Mexico City.

The real power base in California transferred to a small number of families descended from the Spanish soldiers who now became owners of permanent and large ranchero grants. The number of "respectable" Spanish still being very small, these families were of necessity interlinked by marriage. Blood ties did not mean there weren't conflicts, especially between the northern and southern half of the state, but it did mean the conflicts were tempered. In fact, I would propose that the Indian model of warfare had infused the Californio culture. Battles were fought with few or no casualties, after which the contestants agreed upon a victor who governed without ill will until the next dispute arose. Bean calls these conflicts "the comic-opera 'revolution,' a political device characterized by bombastic 'pronouncements,' chesslike marches and countermarches, and noisy but bloodless artillery duels, just out of range, in which both sides retrieved each other's cannonballs and fired them back." [Bean 45] In one of these revolutions in 1836, led by Juan Bautista Alvarado, California was declared a "free and sovereign State" for a year [Bean, 50], before Alvarado was declared legal governor by Mexico. Hence the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846 may not have been recognized at the time as anything more than the resident Yankees taking their turn at revolution. (This is not to say that the resident Yankees weren't involved in earlier revolutions -- Alvarado had 30 riflemen commanded by Isaac Graham of Tennessee.) Up north, the San Francisco presidio was visited in 1825 by the British ship Blossom. The Captain described the fort as "little better than a heap of rubbish and bones." He went on to say, "The neglect of the government of its establishments could not be more thoroughly evinced than in the dilapidated condition of the buildings in question; and such was the dissatisfaction of the people that there was no inclination to improve their condition, or even to remedy many of the evils which they appeared to have the power to remove." [Lewis, 18] When Duflot de Mofras visited in 1841, he found the roofs and adobe walls fallen to ruin. At this time in 1841, the garrison consisted of only six soldiers and their families [Lewis, 17]. The Welcoming of the Yankees In 1821, the new Mexican nation viewed the United States as both an ally in revolution and a model for success. The 1824 Mexican constitution was modeled after the American one. Unfortunately, while the American revolution was the culmination of many decades of free thought and independent development, the Mexican revolution was the overthrow of an authoritarian regime by a population with no experience at self government. In fact, though the idealistic Mexican leaders promised equality and freedom (even granting the right to vote to Indians), the government rapidly became, in the political observation of the cartoon character Krazy Kat, "a run down constitution." Nevertheless, the early effects of this liberal beginning was to open the borders of Mexican territories like Texas and California to any foreigner willing to be naturalized and adopt Catholicism [Bean 44]. Yankees had long been involved in California trade, albeit illegally. Fur trading had started with the Otter in 1796 and continued to about 1820, when the seal population was greatly reduced. The other great products of California were the hides and quantities of tallow collected from the vast California cattle ranches (transportation of beef or other food products was, of course, impractical due to cost and spoilage.) Hence the news of Mexican independence was followed immediately in the spring of 1822 by the establishment of the Boston firm of Bryant and Sturgis (agent William Gale) at Monterey for the purpose of buying hides and tallow (Bean incorrectly believes this is the origin of the Californio's tendency to refer to all of the United States as "Boston;" Chapman shows that the term pre-dates this time). [Bean 57] As mentioned, the American Chapman was living at Monterey since 1818. Now with Gale and a British hide trader, William Hartnell, the number of foreigners began to rise. William Richardson deserted from the British whaler Orion in 1822. He would later build a trading post that would grow into the city of San Francisco. William Dana came in 1826 (uncle to the famous author Richard Henry Dana), married a wealthy Californio daughter, and had 21 children! Abel Stearn, a familiar hide and liquor smuggler, also settled in California in 1829 and married a wealthy Californio's daughter. Through land accumulation and cattle ranching, he became the wealthiest man in southern California [Bean 62].

Yankees also found a new industry in California -- beaver fur. Jedediah Strong Smith led a small party from the Great Salt Lake overland to Mission San Gabriel in 1826. On his return to Utah in July, he became the first documented person to cross the Sierra Nevadas. He brought both news of the existence of a trail, and news of a virtual beaver trapper's paradise. Another trapper, James Pattie, entered California in the Fall of 1826. A book of his experiences that Bean states is full of "tall tales", The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, was published in 1831 was contributed greatly to the young American fascination with adventure in the far west. Trappers continued to come to California from the East after this time, developing what would become the most important immigration route some twenty years later. The Mexican government was much less accepting of these transitory, non-oath taking Americans, and jailed them when they could catch them. [Bean 60]

The Weakening of the Missions

The loss of Spanish nationality in 1821 (1822 in effect) meant the loss of Royal support for the missions, and the jealousy of the starving soldiers for the apparent wealth of the missions became more blatant. At the same time, the worsening treatment of Indians lead to a condition where Costo's quote about the preference of death to mission life was probably true. Most of the oral tradition of Indian hatred of the missions documented in Costo may date from this time. Certainly it is no longer necessary to try to reconcile injustice to Indians with apparent Indian docility, since the Indians could no longer be described as docile. Instead, in 1824 the Chumash Indians revolted and temporarily controlled three missions (Santa Barbara, Santa Ines, and La Purisima). In 1829, an Indian named Estanislao organized Miwok tribes into a band that successfully fought off the Californios for the rest of the Mexican period (the Stanislaus River is named for him) [Bean 46]. Other Indians led similar successful guerrilla bands. It is interesting to ponder how much of a contribution to this successful organization might have been due to the existence for the first time of a common language, that is, Spanish. Certainly a large factor was the Indian's mastery of horse riding and fire arms.

The dependence of the missions on military protection and the change of government led very quickly to calls for secularization. The primary factor delaying secularization, and the primary political question in California for some time, was how to divide up this prime land. Spanish mission law declared that it belonged to the Indians, but in Mexico it was uncertain if the law still applied. The result was a final decade of mission rule to 1834, during which the continued existence of the missions was constantly in question.

Governor Figueroa (summer 1833 to fall 1835) provided a brief period of stability during which secularization was declared in August 1834. Half the mission lands were to go to the Indians, the other half to Californios (the threat of the lands going to unknown Mexican colonists being successfully resisted). The result, though, was that very few Indians even attempted to farm their land, and none retained it more than a few years. All the land quickly went into the hands of the powerful Californio families. The mission buildings continued in several cases to be occupied by the Franciscans and a few of the Indians who had no other place to go to. The majority of the Indian population dispersed, to be ranch hands for the Californios, to seek out tribes that would accept them, or to become laborers in the pueblos. The last head of the missions, Father Duran, wrote that the Los Angeles pueblo Indians were "far more wretched and oppressed than those in the missions." [Bean 49]

When Richard Henry Dana (described below) visited the San Diego Mission in 1835, he found "a number of irregular buildings, connected with one another, and disposed in the form of a hollow square, with a church at one end ... Just outside of the buildings, and under the walls, stood twenty or thirty small huts, built of straw and of the branches of trees grouped together, in which a few Indians lived....Entering a gateway, we drove into the open square, in which the stillness of death reigned. We rode twice round the square, in the hope of waking up someone." The Mission was on the verge of abandonment, but still housed at least one monk. This man provided Dana and his companion with "the most scrumptious meal we had eaten since we left Boston," accepting ten or twelve reals as donation for his charity. [Dana, 82]

When Duflot de Mofras of France visited the Mission Dolores in San Francisco, 1841, he found less than fifty Indians still tending the crops. There was no priest living there, but services were held from time to time by a visiting priest from Santa Clara. [Lewis, 16]

The Ranchos

The 1830s and 1840s can quite properly be labeled the age of the ranchos in California. The opening of the Mission lands resulted in many more land grants and the construction of several (relatively) lavish ranch houses. This was also the period that introduced California to Yankees, hence the image of Spanish California in later years is really an image of this period. These are the days of fiestas, rodeos, bull fights, and, for the Californio families, freedom. This is the source of the great Californio myth of indolence, wealth and ease.

The typical rancho mansion was a long, one story adobe with shaded verandah, often with a surrounded courtyard. An excellent example remains in San Diego's old town; another is the Vallejo "fort" in Sonoma. In Orinda, an original 1840's adobe is still occupied as a private residence.

It was a requirement of many land grants that a structure be built onsite, hence the rancho buildings were necessarily separated from their neighbors by a large distance. Thus a neighborly visit was a marked occasion for festivities. The great Californio families -- Matinez, Vallejo, Moraga, Castro, and Peralta, for example -- excelled in providing entertainment and comfort for visitors, who it turn, provided excitement in a normally rather dull existence. "There was prodigal hospitality in the entertainment of strangers, and singing and dancing were passions with Californians." [Bean, 53]

Cattle was the primary, and almost sole, business. Meals were beef for breakfast, beef for lunch, and beef for dinner. The cultivation performed by the missions was lost, as well as the mission industries -- blanket making, tanning, wine making, soap, candles, etc. Instead everything had to be imported. This lack of industry was both a consequence of and continuing cause for the low population density. With very few non-Indians and an abundance of grazing land, there was no need for Californios to seek new industry -- they made their comfortable living without unpleasant labor (Indians did what physical work was required). With the land locked up by the Californio families, new immigrants had little opportunity to generate a living. The only empty economic niche was trading between the ranchers and foreign ships, and this was where the Yankees would excel.

At the end of the Mexican period in 1845, Bean estimates that there were about 7000 non- full blooded Indians. Of these, less than 1000 were adult males, and of these, less than 100 could read and write. [Bean, 54] These startlingly small numbers (a state-wide population growth of less than 100 per year for the over 70 years of Spanish/Mexican rule) were the real reason that California did not remain a Mexican territory.

Snapshot of California in 1835

Just as Vancover and La Perouse provided useful descriptions of California from an outsider's perspective, so too did Richard Henry Dana in his popular book, Two Years Before the Mast. Dana wrote of a 1835 visit in the Boston trading vessel, the Pilgrim (it was published in 1840). Dana's primary subject was the life of a sailor, but he includes much useful information on the sites he visited.

Dana's described Santa Barbara: "The mission stands a little back of the town, and is a large building, or rather a collection of buildings, in the center of which is a high tower with a belfry of five bells. The whole being plastered, makes quite a show at a distance, and is the mark by which vessels come to anchor. The town lies a little nearer to the beach - about half a mile from it - and is composed of one-story houses built of sun baked clay, or adobe, some of them whitewashed, with red tiles on the roofs. I should judge that there was about a hundred of them; and in the midst of them stands the presidio."

The Pilgrim next visited Monterey, a requirement of Mexican law since Monterey had the only customs house and was the only place the government could collect its tariffs. Less honest captains than Dana's were said to disembark their goods at an uninhabited spot, visit Monterey, and then reload. Dana describes a lively (and lucrative) trade, where thanks to his instruction in French and Latin at Harvard, he picks up enough Spanish to make himself the boat's primary translator.

Dana has both praise and disdain for the Californios. He says of Monterey that it makes "a very pretty appearance, its houses being of whitewashed adobe, which gives a much better effect than those of Santa Barbara, which are mostly left of a mud color. The red tiles on the roofs contrasted well with the white sides and with the extreme greenness of the lawn... The Mexican flag was flying from the little square presidio, and the drums and trumpets of the soldiers, who were out on parade, sounded over the water." He also describes the residents as joyfully coming aboard to trade -- men, women and children. "Everything must dress itself and come aboard and see the new vessel, were it only to buy a paper of pins."

At the same time, the hardworking sailors are offended at the easy life of the Californios. Dana writes, "The Californians are an idle, thriftless people, and can make nothing for themselves. The country abounds in grapes, yet they buy, at a great price, bad wine from Boston. [The Boston shoes we sell them are] as like as not made of their own hides, which have been carried twice round Cape Horn...The Indians do all the hard work, two or three being attached to the better house, and the poorest persons are able to keep one at least." This disdain is in large part due to the Protestant work ethic of the Yankees. Dana earlier had commented that the ship's mate job was to see to it that the sailors were continuously occupied with working, and if no work was available, the crew was put to almost useless tasks like scraping the anchor chain.

The comparison between cultural attitudes towards work made Yankees very successful in Mexican California. Dana wrote "In Monterey, there are a number of English and Americans ... Having more industry, frugality, and enterprise than the natives, they soon get nearly all the trade into their hands. They usually keep shops, in which they retail the goods purchased in larger quantities from our vessels."

This is an interesting cultural difference of critical importance to 19th century authorities, but discretely glossed over by polite modern historians. I suspect it has its roots not only in economics -- the Californios were making an economic facsimile of the landed aristocracy in Spain -- but also in religion. Californios believed they need only obey the church and prosper for eternity in heaven, whereas the Yankee beliefs are well summed up by the sailor's observation that Dana quotes, "To work hard, live hard, die hard, and go to hell after all, would be hard indeed." In other words, the Yankees felt that hard work was good for the soul and "would be passed to their credit in the books of the Great Captain hereafter." [Dana, 31]

The dress of the Californios is described in detail, and is consistent throughout Californio for both Mexican and Yankee residents. Men wore a "broad brimmed hat, usually of a black or dark brown color, with a gilt or figured band round the crown and lined under the rim with silk; a short jacket of silk or figured calico; the shirt open in the neck; rich waistcoat, if any; pantaloons, open at the sides below the knees, laced with gilt, usually of velveteen or broadcloth; or else short breeches and white stockings ... deerskin shoes ... made by Indians [and] usually a good deal ornamented. They have no suspenders, but always wear a sash round the waist, which is generally red, and varying in quality with the means of the wearer. Add to this the never-failing poncho, or serape, ... with as much velvet and trimmings as may be ... and you have the dress of the Californians."

"The women wore gowns of various texture -- silks, crepe, calicoes, etc. -- made after the European style, except that the sleeves were short, leaving the arm bare, and that they were loose about the waist, corsets not being in use. They wore shoes of kid or satin, sashes or belts of bright colors, and almost always a necklace and earrings. Bonnets they had none ... they wear their hair long in their necks, sometimes loose and sometimes in long braids; although the married women often do it up on a high comb." Dana notes that the Califonio's appearance was all important to him, such that even those "without a real in his pockets and absolutely suffering for something to eat" might still find a way to be finely dressed.

As mentioned, the Indians formed a servant class while Yankees made up the merchant class. Within the Californios, the respectability of each family was dependent "upon the amount of Spanish blood they can lay claim to. Those who are of pure Spanish blood have clear brunette complexions, There are but few of these families in California, being mostly those in official stations ... and others who have been banished for state offenses. These form the upper class, intermarrying and keeping up an exclusive system in every respect. From this upper class they go down by regular shades, growing more and more dark and muddy, until you come to the pure Indian ... The least drop of Spanish blood, if it be only of quadroon or octoroon, is sufficient to raise one from the position of a serf, and entitle him to wear a suit of clothes ... and to call himself Espanol, and to hold property, if he can get it."

(Incidentally, among the sailors there was a great respect for Hawaiians, who manned many of the vessels in the California trade. Dana calls them "well formed and active, with ... intelligent countenances ... very good in boating ... ready and active in the rigging. ... In their dress they are precisely like our sailors." The mutual respect of Yankee and Hawaiian sailors, and their frequent interaction in whaling and the California trade, may have had much to do with the eventual siding of Hawaii with the United States, at a time when England and France also coveted a Hawaiian alliance.)

Dana noted that the Californios enjoyed riding above all else, from age four onwards, and were probably the finest horsemen in the world. Horses (and cattle) were everywhere remarkably plentiful. They were let to graze with lassos dragging from their necks, so that riders could grab one whenever convenient, and let it go when at their destination (branding marks being used to track ownership). The vast amounts of cattle, which formed the almost sole economic enterprise of hide and tallow, made beef "cheaper here than the salt." [Dana, 46] Other entertainment included horse racing, bull-baiting, bull fighting, bull and bear fights (in which the animals were tied together and left until one was killed), cock-fighting, gambling of all sorts, and the fabled fandangos.

In San Diego's "ruinous presidio," Dana found only two guns, one spiked and the other without a carriage, a garrison of "twelve half-clothed and half-starved-looking fellows." Of the future San Diego, Dana wrote "the small settlement lay directly before the fort, composed of about forty dark brown-looking huts and three or four larger ones, whitewashed." Today the restored old San Diego is a major tourist attraction.

Increasing Numbers of Yankees

Several Yankees important to the eventual statehood arrived in California in the 1830s. Thomas Larkin came in 1832 to join his half-brother John Cooper at Monterey, and became very successful as a go between for ranchers and traders. His wife, nee Rachel Holmes, is said to be the first Yankee woman in California.

William Richardson, as mentioned above, deserted from a British whaler in 1822. He is technically an Englishman rather than a Yankee, but Americans at this time, and early American historians, tend to adopt all white non-Californios into "Yankee" culture. Richardson adopted Catholicism and married into one of the powerful Californio families (Martinez). Sometime in the late 1820s, the Spanish bought two schooners from the Russians for use on San Francisco Bay, but through neglect they both sank by their dock at Santa Clara. Richardson received permission to refloat and repair the vessels, and he began a brisk trading business, centered in Richardson's Bay near Sausalito. He built a shanty at Yerba Buena cove in 1835. Richard Henry Dana wrote while anchored here that year, "Over a region far beyond our sight, there were no human habitations, except that an enterprising Yankee [had] a shanty of rough boards, where he carried on a very small retail trade between the hide ships and the Indians." [Lewis 22] Two years later Richardson was appointed Captain of the Port by Governor Alvarado, and he built an adobe named Casa Grande to house his family and trade business.

Jacob P. Leese of Ohio lived for a time at Los Angeles. In 1836, hearing of the trade opportunities at San Francisco, he moved to Yerba Buena and became Richardson's first neighbor. Starting July 4th, 1836, he had a grand, three-day house warming party for all nearby Californios. Leese married the sister of Mariano Vallejo, the most important Californio in the Bay Area, who lived at Sonoma. In 1837, Leese's daughter became the first white child born in the new Pueblo of Yerba Buena. It is of note that Leese applied for his land from the alcalde at Mission Dolores. The texts I consulted weren't clear, but it appears that the alcaldes of the small Indian population by the mission eventually became the alcaldes of Yerba Buena, as Yerba Buena grew to eclipse the mission settlement.

John Marsh, fleeing arrest from the United States on the charge that he sold guns to the Sioux, came overland to Los Angeles as a penniless emigre in 1836. Marsh had a degree in arts from Harvard, and he had assisted an army surgeon in Minnesota for a time, so he told the Angelos that his degree was in medicine and he was a doctor. Few of the Angelos could read Spanish, much less Latin, so they believed him and Marsh became the local doctor. Charging his fee in cowhides, Marsh soon collected the equivalent of $500 in goods and, in 1837, bought the first successful rancho in the modern region of Martinez- Concord. He is recognized as the first Yankee in the East San Francisco Bay Area.

John Sutter had an even more checkered past and brighter future. He was born a German Swiss, but fled to America in 1834 when threatened with debtors prison at home. In doing so, he abandoned his wife and five children. By the time he arrived in California in 1839, he had tried several trades (including trapping) in the states and Hawaii. In California, he declared himself a captain of the Royal Swiss Guard of France. He arrived at an opportune time. Governor Alvarado (the same one who declared California a free state in 1836, and who was recognized by Mexico in 1837) was concerned that his supporter Mariano Vallejo was becoming too powerful in the north. Alvarado seized upon this "Swiss captain," and gave him both a

The number and independence of Yankee Texans alarmed the Mexican government. The famous assault on the Alamo occurred in 1836. Mexicans killed every defender at the Alamo in an attempt to break the spirit of the Yankees before they became too rebellious. The strategy backfired, and the Yankee Texans waged a successful though violent revolt. In 1836, the Lone Star Republic was declared. Mexico did not recognize its legality, but neither did it attempt to reassert its authority. The United States did not immediately absorb Texas because they did not want to provoke Mexico, and perhaps more importantly, because they did not want to upset the balance of slave and free states. For the next ten years the Texas Republic was disputed land.

The Texas experience had less impression on the Californios than might be expected. There was no immediate halt in authorizing foreigner settlers. The Californios seemed to see their Yankees as more willing to assimilate, at least the coastal, oath-taking Yankees like Dana and Stearn who married into their families and became leading members of the community, and "Doctor" Marsh and "Captain" Sutter who similarly raised the standard of settlers. The Californios never did like the inland trappers and considered their actions to be illegal. In fact, the purpose of Sutter's fort in 1840 was "to prevent the robberies committed by adventurers from the United States, to stop the invasion of savage Indians and the hunting and trapping by companies from the Columbia." [authorization quoted by Bean, 64]

This was not to say there wasn't friction. Alvarado, as noted, was concerned about his supporter Mariano Vallejo. He was even more concerned about his supporter Isaac Graham and his company of Tennessee riflemen. In 1840, Alvarado arrested Graham and 38 other Americans on charges of their fomenting a Texas-style revolution. The Americans were sent to Mexico, where the Mexican authorities simply let them go.

In point of fact the Yankee settlers were undermining Alvarado's authority, consciously or unconsciously. Marsh wrote to friends in Missouri, prompting a party of Missourrians to come out to his rancho in fall of 1841. Sutter gained a reputation as a great friend of Americans coming to California, even sending out rescue parties when emigrant groups became stranded in the Sierras. Bean, ever the cynic, points out that the American settlers provided "potential assets to [Sutter's] colonial establishment ... and ultimate buyers of some of the vast lands he had received for the asking." [65] In any event, the tide of Americans was slowly picking up.

Back at Yerba Buena, Leese sold out his trading post in 1841 to the Hudson Bay company, which installed William Glen Rae to run it. (Leese moved his family to Sonoma where Vallejo, his brother-in-law, lived). By 1841, Duflot de Mofras tells us there were about twenty structures here, all belonging to foreigners and all associated with trading with ships. By 1844, the population included William Leidesdorff of the Dutch West Indies (who was a descendant of African slaves), Yankees Spear and Hinckley who had been partners with Leese, and a sea captain turned grocer named Jean Jacques Vioget. There were enough homes and shops that the alcalde (Francisco de Haro) commissioned Vioget to map out streets for the growing town. The Vioget map remains in the Bancroft museum at UC Berkeley. It starts the grid pattern north of Market by mapping out the streets bounded by Montgomery, Sacramento, Grant and Pacific.[Lewis 26] The next year, 1845, a new map was required due to expansion beyond Vioget's borders. The new map, called by the locals the Alcalde's map, was kept beneath Robert Ridley's bar. As lots changed hands, the old owner's name was erased and a new one added. [Lewis 28]

American Attempts to Buy California

As for the American Government during the Mexican period, it had growing desires for California. The overriding impetus was first, to establish a port on the Pacific (and San Francisco was recognized as the best harbor available, especially after the publication of Dana's Two Years Before the Mast in 1840), and second, to avoid the founding of a new English colony. This second incentive seems far fetched in retrospect, but at the time, the War of 1812 was still in the common memory. Americans recognized the weakness of Mexican hold over the territory, and the possibilities California offered to any power that should claim it.

As early as 1835, Andrew Jackson was attempting to purchase Mexican land, but his foolish agent in Mexico City openly bragged about a plan to bribe Mexican officials and killed the negotiations. In 1837, after the declaration of the Lone Star Republic, Jackson offered to calm the situation by purchasing Mexican rights to Texas and parts of Arizona, New Mexico and California for $3.5 million. The Mexican government rejected this offer. Perhaps a higher offer would have been made, but the US suffered a periodic depression that year (just after Martin Van Buren's inauguration) that lasted until Tyler's presidency started in 1841. At that time, Daniel Webster as Secretary of State again moved the U.S. towards purchasing California. That effort ended by an unusual affair. Commodore Thomas Jones of the US Pacific Fleet, heard an incorrect rumor at Peru that the US had gone to war with Mexico. Jones rushed up to Monterey and "captured" California in a bloodless coup on October 20th, 1842. (Monterey had only "29 soldiers, 25 militia, with 11 cannon, nearly all useless and lacking ammunition, and 150 muskets." [Lewis 30]) As soon as Jones took command and examined the official communications from Mexico, he realized his mistake and gave back the command on the 21st. This incident soured negotiations. Polk would make the last attempt to buy California in 1846, this time offering $40 million, but this offer came after America had insulted Mexico by offering Texas statehood (by a vote of Congress in 1845).