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Commodore Robert F. Stockton, 1795–1866: Protean Man for a Protean Nation By R. John ...

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Commodore Robert F. Stockton, 1795–1866:


On Wednesday, August 26, 1846, Commodore Robert F. Stockton, commander in chief of all U.S. forces in California and the first U.S. governor of the territory of California, reported his success to President James Polk:

My word is at present the law of the land. My person is more than regal. The haughty Mexican Cavalier shakes hands with me with pleasure, and the beautiful women look to me with joy and gladness as their friend and benefactor. In short all of power and luxury is spread before me, through the mysterious workings of a beneficent Providence.1

Yet at the same moment, an officer serving in Stockton's command, Second Lieutenant Henry Bulls Watson, recorded Stockton's station quite differently:

Commodore Stockton, is without exception the most overrated man…[he] is at times at least in conduct a crazy man. He is pompous, inflated, phlegmatic, morose, and not infrequently coarse and vulgar in his manners and conversation, wrapped up in his