Captain Isaac Graham

by Michael F. Kinsella

Captain Isaac Graham - Time line biography of his life that was written by Mr. Kinsella. The pages use to be available on the internet at another location and are no longer there. I have created these pages because Isaac was a true California hero worth knowing. I once played Isaac at the Everygreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz on May 1st, 1999. - Floyd D. P. Øydegaard

Part 13 - More Trials

From 1840, to 1841, the Mexican government initiated a full investigation into the arrest of the foreigners. Apparently early on, deciding to tread softly and even went so far as to place Captain Jose Castro and the guards that accompanied the accused men south, under arrest. He was taken later to Mexico City where he was put on trial for cruelty; some Mexican officials accused him of being part of the real conspiracy against the Mexican government, since he had participated in the 1836 insurrection. When Isaac Graham and the other prisoners heard about Castro's arrest, they were overjoyed. However, he was only in custody for two weeks before being released to continue on to Mexico City and report as to Alverado's original orders for the foreigner's arrests.

Upon Castro arriving in the Mexican capital, he was taken into custody once again and informed that he was to face a court marshal on charges of extreme cruelty brought about by English and American Ministers. From the end of 1840 until May of 1841, Castro's action regarding, 'The Graham Affair,' was under scrutiny. For representation, Castro had Micheltorena, who would later become governor of California. Micheltorena said that Castro was innocent, because he was only following orders from higher ups in the government. However, the trial of Castro was just a scam put on by the Mexican government, to give an appearance of even handiness and Castro was released with no blight to his military record and returned to Alta California.

September 23, 1840

Twenty of the arrested foreigners remained in jail. The rest had been released due to lack of evidence and information, obtained that the men were either naturalized Mexican citizens, or married to Mexican women. The trial of Isaac Graham and the other men lasted until June of 1841. There is evidence that Thomas Larkin traveled to Tepic to discuss what he knew regarding the men and the charges made against them by Governor Alverado. A letter from Lawrence Carmichael, one of the British prisoners, written, January 18, 1841, sheds some interesting light on what the experience was like for the detained men:

"It is the general opinion of the foreigners of this place that you have gone on to Mexico on secret business, business against us that were of late prisoners in this place. As for my part, I believe nothing of the kind; at all events, if you should be able to do nothing of the kind; At all events, if you should be able to do nothing for us, please try and do nothing against us. It would be made known in the course of time, and as you are doing business in Monterey, it would cause you to be very unpopular. . . .Try and effect all you can with his excellency, Powhaton Ellis, in behalf of your countrymen. Mr. Graham had a rehearing on Friday last; he was asked by the judge some of the most frivolous questions, such as what was his mother's name before marriage, etc. So far as I can see into Graham's business, this govt is making nothing but a perfect humbug with his case, with a view of detaining him a great length of time in the country. I heard yesterday by one of the clerks that overhauled the documents that came on of late from Cal. That you had sworn against us, though I think there is nothing more of it than you informed me here. . . . As you are now at headquarters, please try and find out if possible the result of this business, whether we are going to be paid, and how much. . . . P.S. I have just heard that Graham's business will be brought to a close soon."

By the time the trial finally occurred, it was before the highest tribunal in the land. Mexican authorities by that time had become convinced, either by paranoia about what the governments of the United States, or England might do in response to the arrest of the foreigners, or just wanting to wash their hands of the matter, for whatever reason? , It was probably that they didn't want to give the United States any reason to increase its gathering force of attention on the far away province of Alta California more than it had to.

The men at the trial, Mexican authorities included, openly talked about the prisoner's unfair treatment and arrest by Governor Alverado and Captain Jose Castro. The inhuman treatment on the prison ship, the inhumane treatments in the numerous jails were now condemned by most present at the tribunal. For Alverado's part in the trial, the only proof he put forth as evidence to the men's treasonous activities was an informal statement from Graham's enemy, Garner, and the letter the padre had sent regarding the confession by Tom the Trapper.

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