Capture of Monterey, California, by the United States Navy in 1842

[NOTE: This document can be found starting on page 15 of Taking Possession of Monterey. 27th Congress, 3d session, House Executive Document 166, 1—117]

October 22, 1842 Jones to Thompson

Commodore Jones to Mr. Thompson.

Flag Ship United States,

Monterey Bay, October 22, 1842.

Dear Sir : Early in September I received a letter, dated 22d of June, from John Parrott, Esq., our consul at Mazatlan, enclosing the Mexican gazette "El Cosmopolita” of the 4th of June, containing three highly belligerent official declarations against the United States.

These documents reached me at Callao, Peru, at the moment of the departure of the English squadron from that coast on secret service; which circumstance, connected with other information relating to the affairs of the United States, Mexico, and England, left no doubt on my mind that there would be war with Mexico immediately. In this opinion I was sustained by our charge at Lima, as well as by all others with whom I could confer— nothing doubting upon this subject myself, because the alternative of hostilities or a suppression of the press and public meetings in the United States was the sine qua non presented to the Executive of the United Slates, who are charged, in very indecorous terms, with conniving at and encouraging such meetings and publications. Under these impressions, it at once became my duty to secure some point on this coast, whereat the citizens of the United States in California, and our whale ships, and etc., in the Pacific, might rally for protection against Mexican privateers and enemies' cruisers.

This port was selected, as having some advantages, and which, by a quiet and rapid movement, I entered on the 19th instant, and immediately summoned the authorities of the place to surrender to the United States forces under my command, (present the frigate “ United States” and the sloop Cyane,) which was immediately complied with, without a moment’s hesitation, although I gave 18 hours for consideration; nor did the governor even ask for any reasons for my making the demand, appearing and in fact professing not to know of any difficulties existing between the two countries.

The day after the capitulation, I ascertained satisfactorily that, as late as the 25th of August, 1842, no act of hostility, had been committed against the United States by Mexico, from which I inferred that fhe crisis in our dispute with that country had terminated amicably; whereupon, I immediately restored the Mexican flag and authority over Monterey, in all due firm and ceremony, and interchanged friendly salutations and visits. It is a source of great satisfaction, that, notwithstanding what has happened, no angry word or unkind expressions have been used by either party; and that, although we had one hundred and fifty seamen and marines on shore for thirty hours, not one private house was entered, or the slightest disrespect shown to any individual; nor was any species of property, public or private, spoiled, if I except the powder burnt in the salutes, which I have returned two-fold. I might add much more in justification of my prompt action, were I certain this letter would reach you; but having said enough, I hope, to quiet the Government of Mexico until you hear from Washington, I must content myself by subscribing myself, with high esteem and great consideration, your obedient servant,


Com’g U. S. Naval Forces on the Pacific Station.

Hon. Waddy Thompson,

Minister of the United States to the Court of Mexico