[CALIFORNIA]. IDE, William Brown. Who Conquered California? Read William Brown Ide’s History of the Conquest of California, in June 1846, by the Bear Flag Party. Claremont, N.H: Printed and Published by Simeon Ide, . [1-3] 4-137 [1, blank] pp. 12mo (17.2 x 11.5 cm), original red cloth over grey printed boards. Fragile boards rubbed and somewhat soiled; rear hinge cracked. Sticker removed from upper board and bookplate removed from front pastedown. Two leaves loose, otherwise interior fine.
First edition thus. Howes I5. Rocq 14962.
Three variants of this title are known to exist. The genesis of the present work is in the author’s A Biographical Sketch of the Life of William B. Ide (Claremont, New Hampshire, 1880; Zamorano 80 45). In 1880, William Brown Ide’s brother, Simeon, printed the present publication, Who Conquered California?, which is a partially reset, abridged version of a section of A Biographical Sketch, with a new preface but without the Ide family history and the overland narratives. It also included some textual changes and new material covering Ide’s tour with Frémont. This text appears to have been written by William. All editions of both books were printed in limited numbers on a small press.
Ide argues that Frémont robbed his brother of his rightful place as the conqueror of California for the U.S. Kurutz remarks:
There has been much debate over the importance of the insurrection and “President” Ide. The revolt itself may simply be considered as symbolic, having been swept aside by Frémont and U.S. forces. Or, it may be characterized by some as an isolated incident carried out by an intoxicated rabble out to buck authority and raise Cain. Regardless, it is doubtful if Ide would have become the “father” of an “Independent Bear Flag Nation.” Historian Sharon A. Brown, in a careful review of primary sources including the testimony of Bear Flaggers, concluded that Ide’s authority was not taken seriously and they viewed him as an “idealist” and “policy maker” and not as a military leader. Bancroft stated that Ide was chosen as the “temporary” leader because of his zeal and his fellow insurgents simply indulged his “harmless eccentricities” paying but slight attention to him. While several of the “Bears” or “Osos” enjoyed Vallejo’s wine and brandy, the Sam Houston pretender penned articles of capitulation and issued a florid proclamation declaring the birth of a republican government in Alta California. When Commodore John Drake Sloat landed in Monterey and raised the stars and stripes on July 2, the situation immediately changed from a revolution to an invasion. With professional U.S. military forces on hand and Joseph Warren Revere raising the American flag over the Sonoma Plaza, the growling republic came to a whimpering end with the Bears joining Frémont’s California Battalion. Ide, the former “president,” deeply resented Frémont’s shoving him aside and giving him the rank of a lowly private in a volunteer army. His Texas-size dreams of glory had ended in humiliation. Because of his brother’s book, however, the memory of Ide as California’s only president has not been forgotten. On May 1, 1960, the State of California further enshrined this pioneer by dedicating the William B. Ide Adobe State Historical Monument in Red Bluff, Tehama County.
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