Treaty of Cahuenga

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Campo de Cahuenga, scene of the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga, January 13, 1847

The Treaty of Cahuenga, also called the "Capitulation of Cahuenga," ended the fighting of the Mexican-American War in Alta California in 1847. It was not a formal treaty between nations but an informal agreement between rival military forces in which the Californios gave up fighting. The treaty was drafted in English and Spanish by José Antonio Carrillo, approved by American Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Frémont and Mexican Governor Andrés Pico on January 13, 1847 at Campo de Cahuenga in what is now North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

The treaty called for the Californios to give up their artillery, and provided that all prisoners from both sides be immediately freed. Those Californios who promised not to again take up arms during the war, and to obey the laws and regulations of the United States, were allowed to peaceably return to their homes and ranchos. They were to be allowed the same rights and privileges as were allowed to citizens of the United States, and were not to be compelled to take an oath of allegiance until a treaty of peace was signed between the United States and Mexico, and were given the privilege of leaving the country if they wished to do so.

Under the later Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico formally ceded Alta California and other territories to the United States, and the disputed border of Texas was fixed at the Rio Grande. Pico, like nearly all the Californios, became an American citizen with full legal and voting rights. Pico later became a State Assemblyman and then a State Senator representing Los Angeles in the California State Legislature.

Events leading to the agreement[edit]

On December 27, 1846, Fremont and the California Battalion, in their march south to Los Angeles, reached a deserted Santa Barbara and raised the American flag.[1] He occupied a hotel close to the adobe of Bernarda Ruiz de Rodriguez, a wealthy educated woman of influence and Santa Barbara town matriarch, who had four sons on the Mexican side. She asked for and was granted ten minutes of Fremont's time, which stretched to two hours; she advised him that a generous peace would be to his political advantage -- one that included Pico's pardon, release of prisoners, equal rights for all Californians and respect of property rights.

Fremont later wrote, "I found that her object was to use her influence to put an end to the war, and to do so upon such just and friendly terms of compromise as would make the peace acceptable and enduring. ... She wished me to take into my mind this plan of settlement, to which she would influence her people; meantime, she urged me to hold my hand, so far as possible. ... I assured her I would bear her wishes in mind when the occasion came."[2][3] The next day, Bernarda accompanied Fremont as he continued the march south.

On January 8, 1847, Fremont arrived at San Fernando.[4] On January 10, the combined army of Commodore Robert Stockton and Brigadier General Stephen Kearny re-took Los Angeles with no resistance.[5] Fremont learned of the reoccupation the next day.[6] On January 12, Bernarda went alone to the camp of General Andres Pico and told him of the peace agreement she and Fremont had forged. Fremont and two of Pico's officers agreed to the terms for a surrender, and Articles of Capitulation were penned by Jose Antonio Carrillo in both English and Spanish .[7] The first seven articles in the treaty were nearly the verbatim suggestions offered by Bernarda Ruiz de Rodriguez.

On January 13, at a rancho at the north end of Cahuenga Pass, with Bernarda Ruiz de Rodriguez present, John Fremont, Andres Pico and six others signed the Articles of Capitulation, which became known as the Treaty of Cahuenga. This unofficial truce, which did not have the backing of the American government and had nothing to do with the Mexican government, was honored by both the Americans and Californios. Fighting ceased, thus ending the war in California.[8][9]

On January 14, the California Battalion entered Los Angeles in a rainstorm, and Fremont delivered the treaty to Commodore Robert Stockton.[10] Kearny and Stockton decided to accept the liberal terms offered by Frémont to terminate hostilities, despite Andres Pico having broken his earlier pledge that he would not fight U.S. forces. The next day Stockton approved the Treaty of Cahuenga in a message that he sent to the Secretary of the Navy.[11]

Text of Treaty of Cahuenga[edit]

The treaty was written as follows:[12]

  • To All Who These Presents Shall Come, Greeting: Know Ye, that in consequence of propositions of peace, or cessation of hostilities, being submitted to me, as Commandant of the California Battalion of the United States forces, which have so far been acceded to by me as to cause me to appoint a board of commissioners to confer with a similar board appointed by the Californians, and it requiring a little time to close the negotiations; it is agreed upon and ordered by me that an entire cessation of hostilities shall take place until to-morrow afternoon (January 13), and that the said Californians be permitted to bring in their wounded to the mission of San Fernando, where, also, if they choose, they can move their camp to facilitate said negotiations.

Given under my hand and seal this 12th day of January, 1847.

  • J.C. Fremont,
  • Lieutenant-Colonel U.S.A.,
  • and Military Commandant of California.
  • ARTICLES OF CAPITULATION made and entered into at the Rancho of Couenga, this thirteenth day of January, Anno Domini, eighteen hundred and forty-seven, between P.B. Reading, Major; Louis Mclane, Jr., Commanding Artillery; Wm. H. Russell, Ordnance Officer; commissioners appointed by J.C. Fremont, Lieutenant-Colonel United States Army and Military Commandant of the territory of California; and Jose Antonio Carrillo, Commandante de Esquadron, Agustin Olivera, Diputado, commissioners appointed by Don Andres Pico, Commander-in-Chief of the California forces under the Mexican flag.
  • ARTICLE I.--The Commissioners on the part of the Californians agree that their entire force shall, on presentation of themselves to Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, deliver up their artillery and public arms, and they shall return peaceably to their homes, conforming to the laws and regulations of the United States, and not again take up arms during the war between the United States and Mexico, but will assist in placing the country in a state of peace and tranquillity.
  • ART. II.--The Commissioners on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont agree to and bind themselves on the fulfillment of the first article by the Californians, that they shall be guaranteed protection of life and property, whether on parole or otherwise.
  • ART. III--That until a treaty of peace be made and signed between the United States of North American and the Republic of Mexico, no Californian or other Mexican citizen shall be bound to take the oath of allegiance.
  • ART. IV.--That any Californian or other citizen of Mexico desiring, is permitted by this capitulation to leave the country without let or hindrance.
  • ART. V--That in virtue of the aforesaid articles, equal rights and privileges are vouchsafed to every citizen of California as are enjoyed by the citizens of the United States of North America.
  • ART. VI--All officers, citizens, foreigners or others shall receive the protection guaranteed by the second article.
  • ART. VII.--This capitulation is intended to be no bar in effecting such arrangements as may in future be in justice required by both parties.
  • P.B. READING
  • Major California Battalion
  • WM. H. RUSSELL
  • Ordnance Officer California Battalion
  • LOUIS MCLANE, JR.
  • Commanding Artillery, California Battalion
  • JOSE ANTONIO CARRILLO
  • Commandante de Esquadron
  • AGUSTIN OLVERA
  • Diputado


  • Approved.
  • JOHN C. FREMONT
  • Lieutenant-Colonel U.S.A.
  • and Military Commandant of California
  • Approbado.
  • ANDRES PICO
  • Commandante de Esquadron
  • y en Gife de las Guerzas Nationales en California
  • ADDITIONAL ARTICLE.

That the paroles of all officers, citizens and others of the United States, and of naturalized citizens of Mexico, are by this foregoing capitulation cancelled; and every condition of said paroles from and after this date are of no further force and effect; and all prisoners of both parties are hereby released. (Signed as above.)

  • CIUDAD DE LOS ANGELES, January 16, 1847

Historical re-enactment[edit]

In celebration, on or around the date of the original signing, a historical ceremony is conducted at Campo de Cahuenga State Historic Park and site. From time to time, some of the descendants have appeared, along with actors to re-create this historical moment.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walker, Dale L. (1999). Bear Flag Rising: The Conquest of California, 1846. New York: Macmillan. p. 235. ISBN 0312866852. 
  2. ^ "Campo de Cahuenga, the Birthplace of California". Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "L.A. Then and Now: Woman Helped Bring a Peaceful End to Mexican-American War". Los Angeles Times. 5 May 2002. 
  4. ^ Walker p. 239
  5. ^ Walker p. 242
  6. ^ Walker p. 245
  7. ^ Walker p. 246
  8. ^ Walker p. 246
  9. ^ Meares, Hadley (11 July 2014). "In a State of Peace and Tranquility: Campo de Cahuenga and the Birth of American California". Retrieved 24 Aug 2014. 
  10. ^ Walker p. 249
  11. ^ Walker p. 249
  12. ^ Text of Treaty of Cahuenga

External links[edit]