The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, July 1914 - April, 1915 Page: 13
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Early Sentiment for Annexation of California
tions of commercial interests, made its first attempt to secure the
harbor of San Francisco.32
This early negotiation for the purchase of California was closely
interwoven with the contemporaneous negotiation for the acquisi-
tion of Texas, forming indeed, simply a minor part of the larger
project. Anthony Butler, a man eminently unqualified for any
position of trust, was sent to Mexico in 1829 to carry out a scheme
for the purchase of Texas which he himself had probably sug-
gested,3 succeeding Joel R. Poinsett, the American minister
who was recalled at the request of the Mexican government.
For six years Butler was left free to work his will, so far as he
was able, with the Mexican officials, and to discredit both him-
self and his government.
From the first, Butler's communications to the State Department
began to hint at bribery as the best means of accomplishing his
purpose, and soon were openly advocating it.34 Early in June,
"The statement is not infrequently made that the purchase of Cali-
fornia was attempted by Clay when Secretary of State under Adams. See,
for example, Niles' Register, LXVIII, 211; speech of Charles J. Ingersoll,
Jan. 19, 1847. Appendix to Congressional Globe, 29 Cong., 2 sess., 128;
Bancroft, XIII, 322-323. Whoever may have written this volume of Ban-
croft could scarcely have known the contents of volume XX, 399-400, of
the same series, or of H. Ex. Does., 25 Cong., 1 sess., No. 42, which he
cites as authority. The boundaries for which Poinsett was instructed to
negotiate included no territory west of the Colorado south of the 42d
parallel. Clay to Poinsett, March 25, 1825. H. Ex. Does., 25 Cong., 1
sess., No. 42, p. 6; same to same, March 15, 1827, Ibid., 9. See also
Memoirs of John Quincy Adams with portions of his diary from 1795 to
1848, edited by C. F. Adams (Philadelphia. Lippincott. 1877), XI, 349.
"The plan, dated August 12, 1829, is in the Van Buren MSS., Library
of Congress; see also Jackson to Van Buren, Aug. 12 (Ibid.), and Jack-
son's draft of Aug. 13. According to Reeves, the official instructions,
dated Aug. 25, were carried by Butler to Poinsett. Jesse S. Reeves,
American Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk (Baltimore. The Johns Hop-
kins Press. 1907), 65-67. For a complete estimate of Butler and his
career in Mexico, the reader is referred to George Lockhart Rives, the
United States and Mexico, 1821-1848 (New York. Charles Scribner's Sons.
1913), I, 235-261. It is perhaps well to add that the present article was
in manuscript before Rives's exhaustive work was issued from the press.
I have not been able, therefore, to avail myself of its contents as freely
as I could have wished.
"Butler has suggested to a Mexican official that the United States is
capable of "devising ways and means" of relieving the embarrassment of
the treasury (Butler to Jackson, Feb. 23, 1832, Jackson MSS., Library of
Congress); Jackson thinks Butler's suggestion "judicious" and one that
may "lead to happy results" (Jackson to Butler, April 19, Ibid.). But-
ler believes the use of half a million dollars to put certain personages in
the "right humor" will bring speedy conclusion of the treaty (Butler to
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, July 1914 - April, 1915, periodical, 1915; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101064/m1/19/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.