Alta California Territory

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1846 map: Mexican Alta California (Upper California) in pink.

Alta California Territory (Upper California) was a 19th-century federal territory formed under the Mexican Constitution of 1824. Its boundaries corresponded with those of the preceding Spanish colonial Alta California Province. It included territory in the present day U.S. states of California and Arizona, and in parts of Nevada and Utah.


Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1822, upon conclusion of the decade-long Mexican War of Independence. Spain did not acknowledge its independence until 1836. With the establishment of a republican government in 1823, Alta California, like many northern territories, was not recognized as one of the constituent States of Mexico because of its small population. The 1824 Constitution of Mexico refers to Alta California as a "territory".

The capital of Alta California Territory was Monterey. After a revolt led by Juan Bautista Alvarado in 1836, the territory was transformed into a Department, which granted it more autonomy.

Alta California, and much more of the present Southwestern United States, was ceded to the United States by Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, the peace treaty that concluded the Mexican–American War.

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