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 colony of Alta California. It included present day U.S. California and Arizona, and portions of Nevada and Utah.


Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 upon conclusion of the decade-long Mexican War of Independence. 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 was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, that concluded the Mexican–American War.

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