Andrés Pico

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Andrés Pico
Andres Pico c1850.jpg
Mexico  Governor of Alta California
In office
January 10, 1847 – January 13, 1847
Preceded by José María Flores
Succeeded by Pío Pico
Member of California State Assembly for Los Angeles
In office
Member of California State Senate for Los Angeles
In office
Personal details
Born (1810-11-18)November 18, 1810
San Diego, Alta California
Died February 14, 1876(1876-02-14) (aged 65)
Los Angeles, California
Profession Politician, soldier, rancher, member of California State Assembly
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Allegiance Mexico Mexico
 United States
Service/branch Mexico Mexican Army
California California State Militia (US Army)
Rank General (Mexico - until 1847)
Brigadier General (California State Militia - after 1858)

Andrés Pico (November 18, 1810 – February 14, 1876) was a Californio who became a successful rancher, served as a military commander during the Mexican-American War; and was elected to the state assembly and senate after California became a state, when he was also commissioned as a brigadier general in the state militia.

Early life[edit]

Andrés Pico was born in San Diego in 1810. He was one of several sons of José María Pico and María Eustaquia López, who together were of Native American, Spanish and African mixed-race ancestry. Andrés Pico was the younger brother of Pío Pico, who served briefly as governor of the Mexican Alta California Province.


In 1845 under the law for secularization of former Church properties, his older brother Governor Pío Pico granted Andrés Pico and his associate Juan Manso a nine-year lease for the Mission San Fernando Rey de España lands, which encompassed nearly the entire San Fernando Valley. At that time a 35-year-old rancher, Andrés Pico lived in Pueblo de Los Angeles. He ran cattle on the ranch and the mission complex became his hacienda, while the Rómulo Pico Adobe was given to his son.

In 1846, to raise funds for the Mexican-American War, the Pío Pico government sold secularized mission lands. The Mission San Fernando was sold to Eulogio de Celis, who established Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando. Celis returned to Spain, but his descendants stayed in California. Under the terms of secularization, the sale excluded the Mission compound and its immediate surroundings, which were reserved for Don Andrés.[1]

In the Mexican-American War[edit]

During the Mexican-American War, Andrés Pico commanded the native forces, the California Lancers, in Alta California. In 1846 Pico led an attack on forces commanded by U.S. General Stephen Watts Kearny at the Battle of San Pasqual, where Kearny conceded defeat to California. In 1847, Andrés Pico was appointed as the acting Governor of Alta California, serving for his term in the civilian government while the U.S. military protectorate was being established since 1846.

On January 13, 1847, fresh from his humiliation of Kearny at the Battle of San Pasqual, Andrés Pico approached the U.S. commander Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Frémont man to man and alone. Without firing a shot, Don Andrés frightened Frémont into signing the Capitulation of Cahuenga. This formal agreement granted full U.S. citizenship to all Californians, instantly ending all hostilities in California.[2] Frémont agreed to stop burning Californian ranches, stop stealing horses and cattle and to obey the positive laws of the country. When Kearny, in Los Angeles, heard of the Capitulation, he aquiesced. Peace reigned.

Andrés' brother, Pío Pico was the last pre-U.S. Governor of the state. General Andrés Pico was one of the signatories of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848 formally federating all the sovereign and free state of Alta California with the United States.

Pico and his band of cavalry left Cahuenga victorious with all their weapons, horses, and canon, and with the spoils of war won at San Pasqual from Kearny. Kearny and his remaining command were allowed to leave and continue fighting the war against Mexico. The Californians were free as ever and now American citizens, too, with all rights pertaining thereto.

Post-statehood activity[edit]

Four years before California became an American state in 1850, Andrés Pico and other residents became United States citizens with full legal and voting rights. In 1853, Don Andrés acquired a half interest in Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando from Eulogio de Celis; it was split along present-day Roscoe Boulevard, with Pio Pico's land being the southern half of the San Fernando Valley to the Santa Monica Mountains.[1]

Don Andrés was elected to the California State Assembly from Los Angeles in 1851.[1] In the wake of the Yankee insurrection in San Francisco, Don Andrés authored what was known as the Pico Bill in February 1859, to let southern California secede from the north. The bill proposed to create the "Territory of Colorado" from the southern counties of the state. The bill passed both houses of the state legislature and was signed by the Governor John B. Weller on April 18, 1859. But, the secession was never put into effect because the U.S. Congress would not vote on the bill in the wake of the Civil War.[3]

In 1858 Pico was commissioned as a Brigadier General in the California Militia. He was elected by the state legislature as a California State Senator from Los Angeles in 1860. Andrés Pico's Rancho ex-Mission San Fernando was confiscated by federal decree in 1864, which said that he "did not own and never did own" it. He retired as a Californio ranchero, a pauper, in Los Angeles.[1] Ex-Mission San Fernando fell into ruins until the Roman Catholic Church conserved about one fourth of the old mission quadrangle in the middle of the twentieth century.

Since Don Andrés' death, the bulk of the old mission has never been restored. The site of the main mission buildings are now occupied by a parochial high school, including the old, monumental front facing east toward the former Fort Tejon Road. The sites of the Butterfield stagecoach stables, and the outbuildings and storage buildings of Don Andrés's ranch and hacienda have been lost under the modern urban district of Mission Hills.

Pico never married, but adopted several children. Don Andrés Pico died in Los Angeles in 1876.


  • Pico Boulevard, running from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, is named for his brother Pío Pico, the former governor, but also honors the Pico family.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Andreas Pico Adobe", The Branding Iron, December 1976, Number 124; reprinted by the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, 1977; accessed 11 October 2011
  2. ^ Pitt, Leonard; Pitt, Dale (1997). Los Angeles A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the City and County. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 392. ISBN 0-520-20274-0. 
  3. ^ William Henry Ellison, "The Movement for State Division in California, 1849-1860," The Southwestern Historical Quarterly XVII, no. 2 (October, 1913), 139.
  4. ^ Kielbasa, John R. (1998), "Andres Pico Adobe", Historic Adobes of Los Angeles County, Pittsburg: Dorrance Publishing Co., ISBN 0-8059-4172-X .
  5. ^ "Andres Pico Adobe", Los Angeles Parks
  6. ^ ""The Firebrand" on Death Valley Days". March 24, 1966. Retrieved September 10, 2015.