Commodore John Sloat
At the outbreak of the U.S.-Mexican War, Commodore John D. Sloat was commander of the U.S. Pacific Squadron. Born in 1781 in Sloatsburg, New York, Sloat had been in the navy since 1800 and had served aboard the U.S.S. United States in the War of 1812.
With hostilities looming between the U.S. and Mexico, Sloat received orders to seize California as soon as it became clear that war had been declared. News traveled slowly to his command - he only swung into action in July 1846 to support the efforts of Captain John C. Frémont and the so-called Bear Flag Revolt. Starting at Monterey, California, Sloat’s naval forces systematically captured the towns around San Francisco Bay.
President James K. Polk declared him the military governor of the conquered province. After serving only a month in that capacity, Sloat turned the job over to the newly arrived Commodore Robert F. Stockton. Already in his early sixties, the rigors of active duty caused Sloat to fall ill and he went home to recuperate. He assumed command of the Norfolk Naval Yard in 1847, and served in a variety of administrative posts in the years before and during the Civil War, retiring as a rear admiral. Sloat died in New Brighton, New York, in 1867.