Weller, John B., 1812-1875

Alternative names
Birth 1812
Death 1875

Biographical notes:

United States Senator from California.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Washington, to President Pierce, 1854 Apr. 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588548

United States senator from California.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : San Francisco, to Jacob Thompson, 1860 Sept. 15. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588289

John B. Weller was born in Hamilton County, Ohio on February 22, 1812. Admitted to the bar, he was prosecuting attorney for Butler County, Ohio and subsequently served in three Congresses as a Democrat from Ohio. Weller served in the Mexican War, ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Ohio, and in 1849-50 was a member of the commission to establish the boundary line between California and Mexico. Removed after a scandal, Weller came to California, practiced law, and was elected to the United States Senate, serving on the Committee on Military Affairs. Weller then served as Governor of California from 1858 to 1860, intending to make California an independent republic if the North and South divided over slavery. Weller served as Ambassador to Mexico in 1860-61, moved to New Orleans to practice law in 1867, and died there on August 17, 1875.

The approximately 300,000 individuals making up the settler boom of the 1848 California Gold Rush often displaced or simply killed the Native Americans already present in the territory. These incidents were sometimes followed by retributive attacks on settlers, though rarely of a scale approaching the losses of the California Indians to disease, murder, malnutrition, or warfare. Settlers in and near Round Valley in Mendocino County reported vicious attacks by the Yuki Tribe in the mid to late 1850s, which extended into a series of raids that claimed the lives of hundreds of Native Americans and some dozens of settlers.

In 1859 CA Governor John B. Weller ordered the formation of a small volunteer military force of twenty men under the command of Walter S. Jarboe, a militia captain, providing rifles and offering the potential aid of Federal troops. While the precise number of Native Americans present in the area and the numbers killed and captured by the Eel River Rangers are unknown, the captain's estimate of 283 killed and 292 captured of the approximately 3,000 individuals in the area only denotes warriors. Jarboe's bloodthirst is described by enough contemporary sources to plausibly extrapolate hundreds more women and children killed during the course of the Mendocino War. The Rangers were disbanded in 1860, just five months after their creation by Gov. Weller, who also authorized over 9,000 dollars in payment for receipts written out by Jarboe for the completion of his mission despite the brouhaha over balancing the state budget gripping legislators at the time.

From the description of Documents of the Mendocino War, 1859-1860. (California State Library). WorldCat record id: 753709288


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  • Native Americans
  • Governor


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  • California (as recorded)
  • Mendocino County (Calif.) (as recorded)