Lot 13 of 96:
Coup against Cal. Gov. Figueroa revealed, 1834 ltr.  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$31,250
Estimate:
$40,000 - $60,000

Title:
Manuscript letter signed by José Figueroa as Governor of California, to the Secretary of Justice in Mexico City, revealing details of an attempted coup against Figueroa, and requesting the President order the arrest and expulsion of the conspirators

Author:
Figueroa, José

Place:
Monterey, Alta California

Publisher:

Date:
June 20, 1834

Description:

4 pp., in ink, on single conjugate sheet with printed heading "Gobierno Super. Politco/ del Territorio de la/ Alta California." 29.7x20.8 cm (11x8¼").

Rare, uninstitutionalized document, clearly revealing the conspiratorial fear that pervaded the Figueroa administration, and the attempts by his rivals to unseat his government. Hubert Howe Bancroft documents the incident from other sources (Vol. 3 pages 257 and 258) unaware of Figueroa's letter to the President. The affair revolves around the move to secularize the missions and the disposition and proposed colonization of the land made available. In September of 1833 the acting Mexican President Valentin Gomez Farias, in an attempt to establish secular control of Alta California, dispatched Jose Maria de Hijar and D. Jose Maria Padres with 239 colonists. Hijar was to replace Figueroa as Governor. However, while the insurgents were in transit, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna replaced the acting president. Santa Anna was disposed to leaving Figueroa to carry on his duties.

Figueroa objected to the colonization plan called for in the legislation to secularize the Missions. He was ardently in favor turning at least 50% of the Mission lands over to the native population. This made him very unpopular in Mexico City and among members of his own deputacion. 
 
On June 19, 1834, news of an imminent revolution to overthrow his government is received by the governor. The following day a dispatch (carrying the letter here offered) is sent to the Secretary of Justice, Mexico City, requesting that the president order the arrest and expulsion from the department all conspirators under the leadership of Father Narciso Duran and Captain Jose de la Guerra y Noriega. Figueroa forwards the details of the conspiracy and the depths to which his administration has been infiltrated by Spanish sympathizers. 
 
On August 4,1834, the Governor issued his 180-page proclamation detailing his plan for secularizing the Missions, including an edict sharing the land with the native inhabitants. Contrary to his hopes, the proclamation was not well received. Rumors of rebellion, imaginary and confirmed, continued to plague his administration.
 
Figueroa has been widely regarded as the finest of the Mexican Governors. During his tenure no fewer than 47 land grants were issued. His Manifesto of 1835, the first book printed in California, clearly addresses his opposition to the Hijar colonization plan while defending his administration. He would die in office September 29,1835. Following his burial at Mission Santa Barbara rumors circulated accusing his detractors of poisoning him and that his body was not in his crypt! In 1912 his coffin was opened and forensic testing proved the skeletal remains were that of the governor. As for the accusation of being poisoned, contemporary accounts, from his doctor and close associates, confirm he died of apoplexy (cerebral hemorrhage or stroke).

Lot Amendments

Condition:
Marginal chip and short tear at lower fore-margin of second leaf, perhaps affecting a few letters of the text, very good or better.


 
Item number:
324464
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