List of Governors of California before admission

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This is a list of the first 30 Governors of California, 1768—1850, before her admission as the 31st U.S. state. Founded by Gaspar de Portolá at San Diego and Monterey in 1768, the vast country was a sparsely-settled Spanish colony and Spanish missions in California for 54 years, until 1822.

After Mexico's independence from Spain and until California's revolution of 1836, California became a far-flung federal territory of the United Mexican States (UEM). California did not support Mexican independence. Moreover, as ill-will between her and Mexico grew, California charged Mexico with neglect, with sending north small bands of convict settlers, and with despotism. These feelings led to revolution, which achieved concessions and degrees of independence from Mexico. But at the same time, Mexico continued to offer military protection.[1][2]

In November of 1836, the Californian Diputación formed a Constitutional congress and eventually adopted her first national flag, the red lone star on a field of white, the same star which is retained on today's flag.[3] Under the leadership of Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado, Californians timed this chivalrous revolution to coincide with the violent one in Texas, and as a result, Mexico acknowledged California as a "free and sovereign state."[4][5][6] However, rivalry between Northern and Southern California led to a rival claiming the governorship and civil war. This was solved when Gov. Alvarado appealed to Mexico for California to return, not as a territory, but as a Department with all the rights under the Mexican Constitution of 1824, thus retaining its sovereignty. However, conflict with Mexico resumed as it was before independence.

By 1846, all ties with Mexico were cut and California became a nominally independent republic—the "Bear Flag Republic"—when Mexican military protection was replaced with American military protection. Californians won full U.S. citizenship in 1848, and California was admitted as the 31st united state on September 9, 1850.[7] Californian government continued without interruption, and Peter Burnett, the last governor before California's union with the U.S., became the first governor after.

For governors of the state after the union of 1850, see List of Governors of California.

Las Californias Province was a region with a single bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. It included the Baja California Peninsula and mainland California from 1768 to 1804[original research?]. The region became separate provinces in 1804, establishing Alta California Province with its own bishops from 1804 to 1822.[original research?]

Colony, 1768–1822[edit]

Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg
  1. 1769-1770: Gaspar de Portolá
  2. 1770-1774: Pedro Fages (military) with Felipe de Barri (civil)
  3. 1774-1777: Fernando Rivera y Moncada
  4. 1777-1782: Felipe de Neve
  5. 1782-1791: Pedro Fages
  6. 1791-1792: José Antonio Roméu
  7. 1792-1794: José Joaquín de Arrillaga (acting)
  8. 1794-1800: Diego de Borica
  9. 1800: Pedro de Alberni (acting)
  10. 1800-1814: José Joaquín de Arrillaga
  11. 1814-1815: José Darío Argüello (acting)
  12. 1815-1822: Pablo Vicente de Solá

Territory, 1822–1836[edit]

Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg
  1. 1822-1825: Luis Antonio Argüello Born in Yerba Buena (San Francisco), son of José Darío, he was the first Californio (California-born Castillian) to govern Alta California.
  2. 1825-1831: José María de Echeandía
  3. 1831-1832: Manuel Victoria
  4. 1832: Pío Pico
  5. 1832-1833: Agustín V. Zamorano (north) and José María de Echeandía (south)
  6. 1833-1835: José Figueroa
  7. 1835: José Castro (acting)
  8. 1836: Nicolás Gutiérrez (acting)
  9. 1836: Mariano Chico
  10. 1836: Nicolás Gutiérrez (acting)

Sovereignty, 1836–1846[edit]

California Lone Star Flag 1836.svg
  1. 1836-1842: Juan Bautista Alvarado (1837-1838, Carrillo claimed the governorship, provoking civil war.)[8][9]
  2. 1842-1845: Manuel Micheltorena
  3. 1845-1846: Pío Pico

Republic, 1846–1850[edit]

  1. 1846-1847: José María Flores (civil)
  2. 1847: Andrés Pico (civil)
  3. 1848: Pío Pico (civil)
  4. 1849: Bennet C. Riley (civil and military)
  5. 1849-1851: Peter Hardeman Burnett (remained after admission)

Addendum: U.S. military governors of California, 1846–1849[edit]

US Cav 35.svg
  1. 1846: Cdre. Sloat
  2. 1846-1847: Cdre. Stockton
  3. 1847: Gen. Kearney (appointed) / Col. Frémont (pretended)
  4. 1847-1849: Col. Mason (acting)
  5. 1849: Gen. Smith
  6. 1849: Gen. Riley

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California. 978-1135657727
  2. ^ Book explains California's Revolution of 1836 in more detail, including California's first Constitution.
  3. ^ Book explains California's Revolution of 1836 in more detail, including California's first Constitution.
  4. ^ Robert R. Miller. Juan Alvarado, Governor of California, 1836-1842. University of Oklahoma Press. 1998
  5. ^ [1] Note that independent California is recognized as a fully formed Department, with its own Assembly, Departments were the equivalent of states and sent their representatives to Mexico City. Baja California borrows and maintains the title of "Free and sovereign state" to this day.
  6. ^
  7. ^ At the start of the Bear Flag revolt against Mexico in 1846, land surveyor Capt. John C. Fremont on the frontier sent his companion William B. Ide over to Sonoma, California and jailed Spanish Californians who had advocated voluntary union with the USA. Fremont's attempts to conquer California for himself led to a conviction of mutiny in court-martial, Gen. Kearney of the US Army presiding. While this was going on, Californians sought union with the US and freely continued to elect their own civil officials.
  8. ^ Juan Bautista Alvarado, Historia de California, 1876. Vols. 3 & 4
  9. ^ California Military Museum, "Vallejo"