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.[not verified in body] Its boundaries corresponded with those of the preceding Spanish colonial Alta California Province.[not verified in body] It included the territory of the present day U.S. states of California, Nevada and Utah and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.[not verified in body]


A map produced in 1920 shows the route of "El Camino Real" (not accurate in all segments), along with the 21 Alta California Franciscan missions.

Before Mexico independence[edit]

Between 1683 and 1834, Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries established a series of religious outposts from today's Baja California and Baja California Sur into present-day California.[1][2]

The Spanish missions in Alta California were a series of 21 religious and military outposts established by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1769 and 1833, to spread Christianity among the local Native Americans.[citation needed] The missions were part of the first major effort by Europeans to colonize the Pacific Coast region, the most northern and western of Spain's North American land claims.[citation needed] The El Camino Real road connected the missions from San Diego to Mission San Francisco Solano, in Sonoma, a length of 529 miles.[citation needed] Settlers to the region introduced European fruits, vegetables, cattle, horses, ranching and technology into Alta California.[citation needed]

Independent Mexico[edit]

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, 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".[citation needed]

After the Mexican secularization act of 1833 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.[1][2][3]

Alta California Territory, which comprised much 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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ryan, Mary Ellen & Breschini, Gary S. (2010). "Secularization and the Ranchos, 1826–1846". Salinas, CA: Monterey County Historical Society. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Robinson, William Wilcox (1979). Land in California: The Story of Mission Lands, Ranchos, Squatters, Mining Claims, Railroad Grants, Land Scrip, Homesteads. Chronicles of California, Volume 419: Management of public lands in the United States. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 29. ISBN 0520038754. Retrieved 30 May 2016.  The cortes (legislature) of New Spain issued a decree in 1813 for at least partial secularization that affected all missions in America and was to apply to all outposts that had operated for ten years or more; however, the decree was never enforced in California.
  3. ^ Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press. pp. 18f. ISBN 1592233198. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]