List of governors of California before 1850

Below is a list of the Governors of early California (1769–1850), before its admission as the 31st U.S. state. First explored by Gaspar de Portolá, with colonies established at San Diego and Monterey, California was a remote, sparsely-settled Spanish province of New Spain. In 1822, following Mexican independence, California became part of Mexico.

Don Pío Pico, last Governor of Alta California.

In 1836, a coup led by Californios Juan Bautista Alvarado and José Castro eventually resulted in Alvarado becoming governor.[1] That conflict ended in 1838, when the central government of Mexico recognized Alvarado as California Governor. The territorial diputación (legislature) approved the appointment.

Another disputed governorship occurred in 1844, settled when another Californio, Pio Pico, became the last Governor of Mexican California. In 1846, the "Bear Flag Revolt" in Sonoma declared California an independent republic—the "Bear Flag Republic". No government was formed, however, and the revolt did not have time to spread very far because, than a month later, California came under U.S. military protection at the outset of the Mexican–American War. California was ceded to the U.S. in 1848, and was admitted as the 31st U.S. state on September 9, 1850. Peter Burnett, the last governor of the post-war military territory, became its first state governor after admission.

Spanish rule (1769–1822)Edit

The Spanish Empire established its rule in the Californias in 1769. During this time, the Californias encompassed a massive territorial expanse, including both Alta California (present day U.S. state of California) and Baja California (present day Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur), which were governed under a military administration led by the Governor of the Californias. In 1804, the Californias were officially divided into two administrations: Alta California, based in Monterey, and Baja California, based in Loreto.

Spanish Governors of the Californias (1769-1804)Edit

From 1769 to 1804, the Californias were governed as one administrative unit within the Spanish Empire. Following 1804, Alta California and Baja California each had their own administration.

No. Portrait Governor Took office Left office Notes
1st   Gaspar de Portolá
(1716–1786)
1767 1770
2nd Felipe de Barri
(1700's–1784)
1770 1774
  • While Barri officially served as Governor of the Californias, Fages maintained effective military control over Alta California, taking advantage of Barri's government being based in Baja California.
Acting Pedro Fages
(1734–1794)
1770 1774
3rd   Fernando Rivera y Moncada
(1725–1781)
1774 1777
4th   Felipe de Neve
(1724–1784)
1777 1782
5th Pedro Fages
(1734–1794)
1782 1791
6th José Antonio Roméu
(1734–1794)
1791 1792
  • Roméu effectively stepped down as governor in 1791, at the request of Junípero Serra, but died soon after, prior to officially ending his tenure of office.
Interim José Joaquín de Arrillaga
(1750–1814)
1792 1794
  • Arrillaga was designated as interim governor following the death of Roméu in 1792, until the appointment of Borica in 1794.
7th Diego de Borica
(1742–1800)
1794 1800
Interim Pedro de Alberní y Teixidor
(1742–1800)
1800 1800
  • Alberní served as interim governor following Borica's resignation and prior to Arrillaga's appointment.
8th José Joaquín de Arrillaga
(1750–1814)
1800 1804
  • Arrillaga was served as Governor of the Californias until 1804, when the Californias were administratively divided into Alta California and Baja California.
  • Arrillaga subsequently served as Governor of Alta California until his death in 1814.

Spanish Governors of Alta California (1804-1822)Edit

Following the division of the Californias in 1804, Alta California came to have its own administration. José Joaquín de Arrillaga, who had served as Governor of the Californias until 1804 subsequently served as the first governor of Alta California.

No. Portrait Governor Took office Left office Notes
1st José Joaquín de Arrillaga
(1750–1814)
1804 1814
  • Arrillaga was served as Governor of the Californias until 1804, when the Californias were administratively divided into Alta California and Baja California.
  • Arrillaga subsequently served as Governor of Alta California until his death in 1814.
Interim José Darío Argüello
(1753–1828)
1814 1815
  • Argüello was served as interim governor following the death of Arrillaga and prior to the appointment of Solá.
2nd Pablo Vicente de Solá
(1753–1828)
1815 1822

Mexican rule (1822-1846)Edit

Following the Mexican War of Independence from the Spanish, both of the Californias became part of the newly-independent Mexico in 1822. Mexican rule was interrupted from 1836 to 1838 by the Californio independence movement led by Juan Bautista Alvarado, who was acclaimed President of Alta California. However, Alvarado entered into negotiations with the Mexican government in 1838, which resulted in the disbandment of the Californio independence movement in favor of greater autonomy and the appointment of Alvarado as governor, thus reestablishing Mexican rule in Alta California, which lasted until 1846.

Mexican Governors of Alta California (1822-1836)Edit

No. Portrait Governor Took office Left office Notes
3rd   Luis Antonio Argüello
(1784–1830)
1822 1825
  • First governor to be born in California
4th José María de Echeandía
(1800's–1871)
1825 1831
5th Manuel Victoria
(1700's–1833)
1831 1832
  • Victoria's tenure as governor was unpopular and short-lived, owing to his anti-democratic reforms. His governorship ended following his defeat at the Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1831, when Californios overthrew him.
Interim José María de Echeandía
(1800's–1871)
1832 1833
6th José Figueroa
(1792–1835)
1833 1835
Interim   José Castro
(1808–1860)
1835 1836
  • Castro was nominated as interim governor after Figuroa resigned due to his worsening health.
Interim Nicolás Gutiérrez
(1700's–1800's)
1836 1836
  • Gutiérrez served as interim governor until the arrival of Chico.
7th Mariano Chico
(1796–1850)
1836 1836
  • Chico was exiled after a popular uprising of Californios against his rule.
Interim Nicolás Gutiérrez
(1700's–1800's)
1836 1836
  • Gutiérrez resumed his role as interim governor after Chico's exile from California.
  • Gutiérrez was soon after deposed by a popular uprising of Californios led by Juan Bautista Alvarado, who declared independence from Mexico and launched a civil war in California.

President of Alta California (1836-1837)Edit

Following the appointments of unpopular governors Gutiérrez and Chico, Juan Bautista Alvarado successfully led a popular uprising of Californios in 1836 which deposed Gutiérrez, proclaimed the independence of Alta California from Mexico, and named Alvarado as its president. Alvarado maintained effective control over California until he entered into negotiations with the Mexican central government in 1837, which resulted in the disbandment of Alta Californian independence in favor of greater autonomy from the Mexican government and recognition of Alvarado as Governor of Alta California.

No. Portrait Governor Took office Left office Notes
1st   Juan Bautista Alvarado
(1809–1882)
1836 1837
  • Alvarado deposed interim governor Gutiérrez in an 1836 popular uprising of Californios against the Mexican central government and its appointed governors. Alvarado subsequently issued the declaración de la independencia de la Alta California (Declaration of Independence of Alta California), raised a new flag, and was acclaimed as President of Alta California.
  • Alvarado effectively ruled as President of Alta California from 1836 until he entered into negotiations with the Mexican central government in 1837, whereby he accepted to disband his independence movement in favor of recognition as Governor of Alta California by the Mexican central government and greater autonomy for the Californios.

Mexican Governors of Alta California (1837-46)Edit

While Juan Bautista Alvarado maintained effective control as President of Alta California from 1836 to 1837, the Mexican central government appointed noted Californio statesman Carlos Antonio Carrillo as Governor of Alta California to lead the nationalist offensive against Alvarado. As Carrillo was unsuccessful, Alvarado and the Mexican central government negotiated an end to the civil war in Alta California, resulting in Alvarado's abandonment of independence in favor of greater autonomy and the governorship, thus reestablishing the continuity of Mexican governance over Alta California.

No. Portrait Governor Took office Left office Notes
Nominated   Carlos Antonio Carrillo
(1783–1852)
1837 1837
  • Carrillo was nominated as governor by the Mexican central government in 1837 to lead nationalists forces to subdue Alvarado's government and reestablish Mexican control over Alta California.
  • As Carrillo was unable to establish effective control over Alta California, the Mexican central government entered into negotiations with Alvarado resulting in his Carrillo's dismissal.
8th   Juan Bautista Alvarado
(1809–1882)
1837 1842
  • Following negotiations with the Mexican central government in 1837, Alvarado disbanded his independence movement and was appointed as governor, in exchange for greater autonomy for Californios.
9th   Manuel Micheltorena
(1804–1853)
1842 1845
10th   Pío Pico
(1801–1894)
1845 1846
  • In the aftermath of the Battle of Providencia, Pico was acclaimed governor.
  • Following the American Conquest of California, the administration of Alta California came under control of the U.S. Military Governor of California.
Nominated José María Flores
(1818–1866)
1846 1847

American ruleEdit

Following the American Conquest of California, forces part of the Pacific Squadron and California Battalion established U.S. military rule in California, beginning in 1846. Military governors ruled California until 1849, when efforts led by Bennet C. Riley led to the creation of the Constitution of California at the Constitutional Convention of Monterey and the establishment of civilian rule with the election of Peter Hardeman Burnett as the first Governor of California. Soon after, California was admitted as a state.

U.S. Military Governors of California (1846-1849)Edit

No. Portrait Governor Took office Left office Notes
1st   John D. Sloat
(1781-1867)
1846 1846
  • Sloat was commander of the Pacific Squadron, which led the Conquest of California. Following his capture of Monterey, capital of Alta California, Sloat was served as the U.S. Military Governor of California for 22 days prior to the arrival of Stockton.
2nd   Robert F. Stockton
(1795-1866)
1846 1847
3rd   John C. Frémont
(1813–1890)
1847 1847
  • Frémont was appointed by Stockton as his successor in 1847.
  • Following Frémont's leadership in the mutiny of the California Battalion, he was court martialed and removed as military governor.
4th   Stephen W. Kearny
(1794-1848)
1847 1847
  • Kearny succeeded Frémont as military governor, following Frémont's conviction for mutiny.
5th   Richard Barnes Mason
(1797-1850)
1847 1849
6th   Persifor Frazer Smith
(1798-1858)
1849 1849
  • Smith's brief tenure as military governor was marked by his efforts to support settlers travelling across the Sierra Nevada.
6th   Bennet C. Riley
(1787-1853)
1849 1849

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Robert R. Miller (1998). Juan Alvarado, Governor of California, 1836–1842. University of Oklahoma Press.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit