Stockton Story — California Campaign 1846

November 13, 2009 by  
Filed under California History, Kids and Teens

The story of how Commodore Stockton turns his ship of sailors into soldiers during the California Campaign in 1846 is told through the eyes of twelve-year-old Sven Johnsson.

Sven does not remember his father; he died at sea before Sven was born. Sven’s Mexican mother takes Sven to live on her family’s land next to Rio Nueces. Though she tries to help him fit in, Sven, with his mother’s brown eyes and father’s fair skin and blonde hair, suffers in the small village.

In 1846, with the dream of finding a home where he truly belongs, Sven boards the USS Congress as scribe to Commodore Stockton.

He quickly learns that the American commander is sailing under secret presidential orders to Alta California to capture the territory from the Mexicans. Fearful of being outcast as the enemy, Sven keeps his full identity a secret. He despairs that he will never find a place he fits in.

The treacherous Cape Horn crossing leaves Sven’s dreams of a life at sea in tatters. He plans to escape when they finally reach their destination. Once there, Sven is swept up in the dramatic events involving the leaders of both sides of the Mexican War.

Sailing with Commodore Stockton is a coming of age story about a young boy in search of his place in the world and what he ultimately finds in Alta California.

As a fifth-generation Californian and descendent of Commodore Robert Stockton I have been granted access to stories about the man who came from a long-line of patriots in New Jersey and later went on to conquer California in 1846-47.

This book meets the California Content Standards requirement that every student study the economic, social, and political life in California from the establishment of the Bear Flag Republic through the Mexican-American War.

I currently give lectures about Stockton in classrooms all over California along with plot workshops for children and their teachers. Staff and the administration from the most recent public school district I visited – Stockton Unified – encouraged me to finish this project.

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