The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, July 1914 - April, 1915 Page: 22
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
American residents in California, who were without passports,
were suddenly arrested for engaging in a plot to overthrow the
government and declare the country -independent of Mexican con-
trol.'" Chief of these so-called conspirators was Isaac Graham,
whose name has already been mentioned in connection with the
revolt of the Californians four years before.
Graham and some fifty of his companions, after undergoing
a farcical trial at Santa Barbara and some pretty severe treatment
at the hands of the California officials, were shipped down the
coast and thence to Tepic. Here the English consul, Barron, and
Alexander Forbes secured the release of most of the prisoners and
a speedy trial for the remainder, which resulted in their acquittal.
Some received immediate indemnity for their losses and ill-treat-
ment; others returned to California to secure legal evidence against
the government, being aided in this by a vessel of the United
The illegal arrest of such a large number of American citizens
naturally excited some comment in the United States. P'owhatan
Ellis, who had returned as Minister to Mexico in 1839, was in-
structed to demand satisfaction for the treatment accorded his
countrymen and their immediate release if still in captivity.20
18Commandancia General de California al E. S. Ministro de Guerra y
Marina (Mexico'), April 25, 1840. In this communication the chief ob-
ject of the conspirators was said to, be control of the whole stretch of ter-
ritory around San Francisco Bay. M. G. Vallejo, Documentos pa'ra la his-
toria de California, IX, No. 124. MSS., Bancroft Collection. See also
Nos. 108, 110-111, Ibid.; Bancroft, XXI, 11-14, and authorities cited;
Alfred Robinson, Life in California (New York. Wiley & Putnam. 1846),
"Albert J. Morris, Diary of a Crazy Man, or An Account of the Graham
Affair of 1840 (MS., Bancroft Collection). Morris was one of the Eng-
lish prisoners, employed in a distillery at the time of his arrest, by
Graham. His picture of the sufferings endured at the hands of the Cali-
fornia officials is very vivid and probably 'but little exaggerated. Most
of those arrested, however, were insolent, overbearing, and an altogether
undesirable class of citizens. See, also, Bancroft, XXI, 1-41; Thomas
Jefferson Farnham, Life and Adventures in California and Scenes in the
Pacific Ocean (New York. W. H-I. Graham. 1846), 70 et seq. Farnham
followed the prisoners from Monterey to Santa Barbara and later to
Tepic. I-Is account, however, is too biased to be relied upon. Tuthill,
History of California, 145-147.
"Forsyth to Ellis, Aug. 21, 1840; same to same, July 1, 1841. MSS.,
It should also be noted that this event first called the official atten-
tion of the British government to California. See Ephraim Douglass
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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/m1/28/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.