Andrés Pico

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Andrés Pico
California Adjutant General
In office
ca 1861 – ca 1864
California State Assemblyman
In office
California State Senator
In office
Personal details
Born(1810-11-18)November 18, 1810
San Diego, Alta California, New Spain
DiedFebruary 14, 1876(1876-02-14) (aged 65)
Los Ángeles, California, United States
CitizenshipUnited States
Political partyChivalry Democrat
RelationsPío Pico
ProfessionRancher, soldier, politician
AwardsRancho Ex-Mission San Fernando
Pico Canyon Oilfield named for him
Rancho Pico Junior High School named after him
Military service
Allegiance Mexico
Alta California
 United States
Branch/service Mexican Cavalry
California Cavalry
Rank General
(Mexico – until 1847)
Brigadier General (California State Militia – after 1858)
CommandsCalifornia Lancers
Battles/warsMexican–American War
Battle of San Pascual

Andrés Pico (November 18, 1810 – February 14, 1876) was a Californio who became a successful rancher, fought in the contested Battle of San Pascual during the Mexican–American War, and negotiated promises of post-war protections for Californios in the 1847 Treaty of Cahuenga. After California became one of the United States, Pico was elected to the state Assembly and Senate. He was appointed as the commanding brigadier general of the state militia during the U.S. Civil War.

Early life[edit]

Andrés Pico was born in San Diego in 1810 as a member of the Pico family of California, a prominent Californio family. He was one of several sons of José María Pico and María Eustaquia López. An older brother was Pío Pico, who twice served as governor of Alta California.[1]


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 Ángeles. He ran cattle on the ranch and used the mission complex as his hacienda. He gave Rómulo Pico Adobe 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.[2]

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 fierce but inconclusive Battle of San Pasqual. He is sometimes confused with his older brother Pío Pico, who in 1847, was elected as the last Governor of Alta California.[3]

On January 13, 1847, as the acting governor of Mexican Alta California (while his brother was in Mexico raising additional money for the fight against the United States), Andrés Pico approached the U.S. commander Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Frémont, man to man and alone. Without firing a shot, Don Andrés and Frémont agreed to the terms of the Ceasefire of Cahuenga, an informal agreement that ended the war in California, in exchange for promises of protection of California from abuses by Frémont's forces. Frémont agreed to stop burning Californio ranches and stop stealing horses and cattle; he and Andrés Pico became friends.[4] The Ceasefire was confirmed by the Treaty of San Fernando, formalized at the mission.[5]

Post-statehood activity[edit]

In 1853, Don Andrés acquired a half interest in Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando from Eulogio F. de Celis; it was split along present-day Roscoe Boulevard, with his brother Pio Pico's land being the southern half of the San Fernando Valley to the Santa Monica Mountains.[2]

After statehood, in 1851, Don Andrés was elected to the California State Assembly from Los Ángeles.[2] Because of perceived anti-Californio sentiments in San Francisco, Don Andrés authored what was known as the Pico Bill in February 1859, to partition California into two states—north and south. 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 U.S. Congress never voted on the bill because of the outbreak of the Civil War.[6] U.S. Congress approval was required before the proposed partition could be put to a vote of the people.

In 1858, Pico was commissioned as a brigadier general in the California Militia.[7] In 1860, he was elected by the state legislature as a California State Senator from Los Ángeles.

On May 7, 1861, Pico, former assemblyman James R. Vineyard, and a partner won permission to make a deep slot-like road cut in the pass between the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Susana Mountains ranges, making what would become known as the Beale's Cut Stagecoach Pass or San Fernando Pass. The State of California awarded them a twenty-year contract to maintain the turnpike and collect tolls. Vineyard was elected to the California State Senate from Los Ángeles County (Pico's old seat) four months later,[8] but would die in office. A landowner and surveyor named Edward Beale was appointed by newly elected President Abraham Lincoln as the federal Surveyor General of California and Nevada. Beale challenged the general's loyalty to the new president and in 1863, Beale was awarded the right to collect the toll in the pass.[9][10]

Andrés Pico's Rancho ex-Mission San Fernando was confiscated by a federal decree in 1864, which said that he "did not own and never did own" it. Reduced to a pauper, he retired as a Californio ranchero in Los Ángeles.[2] Ex-Mission San Fernando fell into ruins until the mid-20th century, when the Roman Catholic Church conserved about one fourth of the old mission quadrangle.

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' ranch and hacienda, have been lost under development of the modern urban community of Mission Hills.

Pico married Catarina Moreno, granddaughter of Los Ángeles pobladore Jose Cesario Moreno, in San Diego. They had one son, Rómulo, and adopted a daughter, also named Catarina.



  1. ^ "Soldiers of the 1775 Anza Expedition" Archived 2017-05-25 at the Wayback Machine, 1912, California Spanish Genealogy. Retrieved on 2008-08-05
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Andreas Pico Adobe" Archived 2010-07-01 at the Wayback Machine, The Branding Iron, December 1976, Number 124; reprinted by the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, 1977; accessed 11 October 2011
  3. ^ Andrés Pico was never governor of the state.
  4. ^ "Andres Pico". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ William Henry Ellison, "The Movement for State Division in California, 1849-1860," The Southwestern Historical Quarterly XVII, no. 2 (October, 1913), 139.
  7. ^ Lynch, Daniel (Fall 2014). "Southern California Chivalry: Southerners, Californios, and the Forging of an Unlikely Alliance". California History. 91 (3): 60–62. doi:10.1525/ch.2014.91.3.60. JSTOR 10.1525/ch.2014.91.3.60. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  8. ^ "September 4, 1861 General Election". JoinCalifornia: Election History for the State of California. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  9. ^ "Daily Alta California, 4 March 1862". California Digital Newspaper Collection. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  10. ^ "Ripley: The San Fernando Pass". Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  11. ^ Kielbasa, John R. (1998), "Andres Pico Adobe", Historic Adobes of Los Angeles County, Pittsburg: Dorrance Publishing Co., ISBN 0-8059-4172-X.
  12. ^ "Andres Pico Adobe" Archived May 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Los Angeles Parks