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Sir: On the point of despatching an officer to Sonoma to confer with you respecting the state of alarm and apprehension into which our sudden movement seems to have thrown the helpless people of Sonoma and the country around, your messenger, Mr. Todd, arrived and handed me your communication of yesterday, addressed to Commodore Stockton, but designed, as Mr. Todd said, for me. The circumstances therein stated, which has led to the hasty organization of the foreign population of this part of California in opposition to the constituted authorities, had in part previously reached me through irregular channels not entirely to be relied on ; and in respect to which I would only observe as a general rule without direct application or reference to the position in which you stand, that I hold it to be the privilege of all men everywhere, by such proper means as they possess, to counteract the sinister designs of treachery, and resist oppression in whatever form or manner they may be assailed by them, and that a right motive and a just cause will be always characterized by a miid, tender, and humane regard for the security of the happiness, proper interests, and privileges of others.
I am most happy, sir, to understand from Mr. Todd, that these (by proclamation) have been guaranteed to your prisoners and the defenceless people within your reach, and I sincerely hope that whatever may be the future course of the popular movement in which you are engaged that this policy may distinguish the conduct of your party as well as that of your opposers.
Permit me, sir, in response to your call for powder for the use of your party, to say that I am here as a representative of a government at peace (as far as I know) with Mexico and her province of California, having in charge the interests and the security of the commerce and citizens of the United States lawfully engaged in their pursuits, and have no right or authority to furnish munitions of war, or in any manner to take sides with any political party, or even indirectly to identify myself, or official name, with any popular movement (whether of foreign or native residents) of the country, and thus, sir, must decline giving the required aid.
Lieutenant Missroom, the executive officer of the U. S. Ship Portsmouth, under my command, who will hand you this, will explain more fully than the few moments allowed me to answer your letter will permit me to do.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
(Signed) Jno. B. Montgomery,
To Win. B. Ide, Esq.,
Commanding the Fortress of Sonoma, Upper California.
- John Montgomery
- Memoirs of My Life, by John Charles Fremont. 1887, Chicago, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company