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recognition of Texas. The answer returned to him in every in-
stance was that an army was now being gathered in Mexico for the
immediate reconquest of that province. Neither Bankhead nor
Aberdeen believed that Santa Anna really thouglit the reconquest of
Texas a possibility, and Aberdeen was angered at the refusal to fol-
low his advice and play Great Britain's game. In the summer
of 1844. Pakenham reported his conviction that the United States,
should it determine upon the annexation of Texas, would not be
deterred therefrom, even by a threat of war by England and
France." This report was decisive in its effect on Aberdeen's
policy, for he had no desire to carry opposition to annexation to
the point of war with the l'nited States. Xevertheless, he had
already gone so far in overtures to France and Mexico, that a
formal withdrawal of the plan was not at once possible. On De-
cember 2, Cowley reported from Paris that France was becoming
lukewarm in any project looking toward the guarantee of Texan
independence.18 In the same week, there came from Vexico, a final
report by Bankhead stating the utter impossibility of bringing the
Mexican government to recognize the independence of Texas. The
effect of all these changed conditions upon Aberdeen was an im-
mediate change of attitude. Instead of using at least a threat against
the American annexation of Texas, as had clearly been his intention
earlier in the year, he turned against Mexico, and for some four
weeks all his instructions to Bankhead indicate a determination to
have nothing further to do with the defense of Mexican interests.20
This was the situation, then, when Forbes's report reached London
on December 13. L'p to this moment, the honor of the British gov-
ernment had apparently been bound to a general support of Mexican
authority and unity. Now, however, Aberdeen could argue that
Mexico's obstinancy offered a sufficient excuse for taking advantage
of Mexico's weakness, in case that weakness should bring profit to

17 F. (., Mexico, 174, no. 44, Bankhead to Aberdeen, June 29, 1844 ; ibid., 175, nos. 65 and 62, Bankhead to Aberdeen, August 29, 1844.

15 F. (., Texas, 20, copy of despatch, Pakenham to Aberdeen, Washington, June 27, 1844.

18 Ibid., 20, copy of Cowley's no. 568, to Aberdeen, Paris.

** For the purpose of showing the causes of Aberdeen's action in relation to California, it is sufficiently exact to specify December as the turning-point in Aberdeen's general policy toward Mexico and Texas, but a more detailed explanation of all this correspondence will show that it was Pakenham's despatch of June 27 that caused the change. After receiving it, Aberdeen was fearful that his diplomatic manoeuvering might actually result in a war with the United States. The final refusal of France, in December, to act with England, was a distinct relief to him, while the obstinacy of Mexico gave him the chance to throw all the blame on that state.

England without specific British attack upon Mexican territory. Aberdeen's reply to Barron bears date of December 31, 1844, and deserves quotation at length, since, as before stated, it is the most definite instruction upon California emanating from the British Foreign Office throughout the entire period :21

The present position of California is evidently very critical; and it appears to be pretty clear that unless the Mexican Government bestir themselves, an outbreak will in no long time take place in that Province, which may end in its separation from Mexico. Her Majesty's Government can have nothing to do with any insurrectionary movement which may occur in California; nor do they desire that their agents in that part of the world should encourage such movement. They desire, on the contrary, that their agents should remain entirely passive.

While California continues subject to Mexico it would be obviously contrary to good faith on the part of England to encourage a spirit of resistance or disobedience in the inhabitants of the Province against their Mexican rulers. It is therefore entirely out of the question that Her Majesty's Government should give any countenance to the notion which seems to have been agitated of Great Britain being invited to take California under her protection.

Her Majesty's Government do not pretend to determine as to the propriety of any step which may be taken by the inhabitants of California towards establishing their independence. In such matters no foreign nation has any right to interfere, except it be bound to such interference by Treaty with the Mother country; which is not the case with Great Britain. It is, however, of importance to Great Britain, while declining to interfere herself, that California, if it should throw off the Mexican yoke, should not assume any other which might prove inimical to British interests. It will therefore be highly desirable that at the same time that it is intimated to the persons of authority in California that the relations which exist between Great Britain and Mexico prevent us from taking part in any proceedings of the Californians which may have for their object the separation of that province from Mexico, those persons should be clearly made to understand that Great Britain would view with much dissatisfaction the establishment of a protectoral power over California by any other foreign state.

I do not think it necessary to enter into any speculative discussion or opinions as to the possible future course of events with respect to California, but confine my observations and instructions to the aspect of affairs, and occurrences of the present moment.

Upon the same day Aberdeen wrote to Elliot in Texas notifying him of the failure of his plan for a diplomatic intervention,22 to Bankhead to the same effect, and upbraiding Mexico for her acts, 23 to Admiral Seymour on the Pacific Coast, 24 instructing him to be


21 F. O., Mexico, 179.
" F. O., Texas, 9, no. 13.
22 F. O., Mexico, 172, no. 53.

Admiralty Secretary, In-Letters, no. 5544, Addington to Barron, December 31, 1844.


come more active in counteracting French designs upon the Pacific Islands; and again, a second letter to Bankhead in comment upon the letter just addressed to Barron, of which he enclosed a copy. This second letter to Bankhead stated even more clearly than that addressed to Barron the attitude now assumed toward Mexico, and in regard to the situation in California. In it Aberdeen summarized the weakness of the Mexican government, and acknowledged that the separation of California from Vexico was probably inevitable.25 He then proceeded:

It is however for the Mexican Government alone to take measures for providing against such a contingency; nor have we any ground for interposing to preserve California to Mexico, or to prevent that Province from asserting its Independence. We have, undoubtedly, no right to excite or encourage the Inhabitants of California to separate themselves from Mexico; but if the Mexican Government chooses to be wilfully blind we should in vain attempt to enlighten them.

But it may be a matter of serious importance to Great Britain that California, if it shake off the rule of Mexico, should not place itself under the protection of any other Power whose supremacy might prove injurious to British Interests.

Although, therefore, national integrity forbids us to give encouragement to the spirit of insurrection against Mexico which has evidently struck such deep root in the minds of the Californians, and still less to countenance the suggestion submitted by some of the principal Residents to Mr. Forbes with respect to the contingent Protection of their Province by Great Britain, it is not any part of our duty to supply the want of energy exhibited by their Natural Rulers, or to dissuade their subjects from taking any course, which, under a sense of misgovernment, they may think proper.

You will therefore abstain from touching on this subject with the Mexican Govt. and if any observations respecting it should originate with the Heads of the Govt. or the Secretary of State, you will use great caution and treat the matter with as much reserve as courtesy will permit.

But on the other hand you will keep your attention vigilantly alive to every credible report which may reach you of occurrences in California, especially with respect to the proceedings of the United States Citizens settled in that Province, whose numbers are daily encreasing, and who are likely to play a prominent part in any proceeding which may take place there, having for its object to free the Province from the yoke of Mexico.

These many letters, all bearing the same date, indicate the importance of the shift in British policy, and that this was, so far as Mexico, California and Texas are concerned, a new policy from this moment. That it did not prove in the end to be a permanent policy was due to a rapid submission upon the part of Mexico and a resumption of former friendly relations with that state. Aberdeen was opposed as a man of honor, and as guarding the honor of the British government, to authorizing any British agent to perform an act that might tend to stir up a revolutionary movement in California. He was not, however, unwilling to accept the fruits of that revolution, if they should fortunately fall into British hands, and he was even willing to refrain from notifying the Mexican government that revolution in California was imminent. Such a passive policy was wholly inadequate to the situation. This was understood perfectly by British agents and by those close to affairs in that province. While awaiting the reply from Aberdeen, neither Forbes nor Barron ventured to take any decided step to secure British interests, though both became more and more fearful of the speedy acquisition of California by the United States. In spite of the expulsion of Micheltoreno by Castro, and of the incoming of numerous American emigrants, both men still thought a British protectorate could easily be secured, if Great Britain would but express her willingness to assume such a protectorate. But with the receipt of Aberdeen's instruction, May 26, their hopes of a British protectorate in the near future had to be abandoned. They were seriously discouraged and were now to turn all their efforts toward supporting the Mexican government rather than toward encouraging the establishment of an independent government in California as the only means of thwarting American designs and of offering a faint hope of securing British interests.27


* F. O., Mexico, 172, no. 53.

The British agents in California therefore remained inactive, even largely ceasing to report conditions there, and it was not until Fremont arrived in the winter of 1845-1846, nearly a year later, that Forbes was stirred to further action. The presence of Fremont was to him sufficient evidence that something was about to be undertaken by the United States to secure California. Upon January 28, 1846, therefore, he addressed to Oliveria a protest against Fremont's presence“ with Soldiers ” in California, stating thatos

In obedience to the commands of Her Majesty's Government, it is the duty of the Undersigned to state clearly and distinctly to this Departmental Government that while Great Britain does not pretend to inter

28 F. O., Mexico, 185, Barron to Bankhead, April 8, 1845 ; ibid., 189, no. 3, Barron to Aberdeen, February 18, 1845, enclosing a letter he had written to Admiral Seymour, January 28, 1845 ; and no. 5, Barron to Aberdeen, April 19, 1845, enclosing two letters received from Forbes, dated January 27 and March 10, 1845.

2- Ibid., 189, Forbes to Barron, October 24, 1845. % Ibid., 196, Forbes to Barron, January 30, 1846 (in Bankhead's no. 42).

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fere in the political affairs of California, she would view with much
dissatisfaction, the establishment of a protectorate power over this
country, by any other foreign nation.
In assuming this authority to protest, Forbes clearly exceeded any
authority given him from London, but he seems to have had no
doubt as to the wisdom of his act nor as to the approval of the home
government. In the meantime events were moving rapidly upon
the Pacific Coast, and before the Foreign Office's reply could reach
Forbes, Sloat had seized Monterey. Of this, the Foreign Office was,
of course, ignorant. A copy of this protest reached London in
May, and Forbes was immediately disavowed by Aberdeen. On
June 1, Aberdeen instructed Bankhead that while Her Majesty's
government would no doubt view with dissatisfaction the presence
of Fremont in California, 29
... they do not in any way approve of a British Vice Consul taking
upon himself, without instructions from his Superiors, to address the
Authorities of the Province in which he is residing a formal diplomatick
note like that under consideration. I have accordingly to desire that
you will signify to Mr. Forbes that Her Majesty's Government do not
approve of his late proceeding, and wish that he should in future be
more cautious in his conduct.
The reproof thus administered to Forbes came too late to have any
effect upon his acts in California during the summer of 1846. It
is, however, clearly evident that Great Britain had no specific design
or plan with regard to California, when her foreign minister could
promptly disavow so trifling an evidence of British activity as was
Forbes's protest.

While British official agents in Upper and Lower California were thus definitely prohibited from direct interference in the movements in the province, other and less authoritative suggestions were being made to the government of Great Britain looking toward its acquisition. Late in 1844, McNamara, an Irish priest, appeared at the city of Mexico and laid before Bankhead a scheme for the colonization of California by Irish emigrants.30 Bankhead expressed a mild interest in the plan and reported it to Aberdeen. No comment whatever, nor even an acknowledgment of its receipt, was made by that official. A more definite proposal, drawn up in specific detail, and following in its main outlines the plan earlier proposed by Pakenham, was submitted to Bankhead in July, 1845,

> F. ()., Mexico, 194, no. 16.

"Ibid., 185, no. 52, Bankhead to Aberdeen. May 30, 1845. Bankhead did not report McNamara's scheme until some six months after it was first broached.


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