List of Governors of California before admission

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This is a list of the Governors of early California, 1769–1850, before its admission as the 31st U.S. state. Founded by Gaspar de Portolá at San Diego and Monterey, the vast country was a sparsely-settled Spanish province for 53 years, until the Mexican War of Independence ended in 1822.

Upon Mexico's independence from Spain, Alta California became a federal territory of Mexico. As time went on, Alta Californians began to resent Mexico's neglect and non-local appointed governors. These feelings led to a short-lived revolution in 1836, which achieved concessions and increased independence from the federal government in faraway Mexico City.[1]

The revolt in November 1836, led by California-born Juan Alvarado and other young Californio leaders in Monterey and other northern settlements, declared independence from Mexico. The Alta Californian Diputación (legislature), however, refused to go that far, leading to a brief and inconclusive civil war.[2] The conflict ended when the central government appointed Alvarado as governor the next year.

In 1846, the "Bear Flag Revolt" in Sonoma declared California an independent republic—the "Bear Flag Republic". No government was established, however, and the revolt didn't have time to spread far from Sonoma. Less than a month later, the Sonoma revolt was subsumed into the American occupation forces led by Capt. John C. Fremont, at the outset of the Mexican-American War. California became a U.S. territory under a military governor after the war, and was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. Peter Burnett, the last territorial governor, became the first state governor after admission.

For governors of the state after admission in September 1850, see List of Governors of California.

Gaspar de Portolá i Rovira, founder and first governor of California
Pedro Fages
José Castro
Juan Bautista Alvarado
Pío Pico
Peter Hardeman Burnett

Colony and Province, 1769–1822[edit]

Gaspar de Portolá founded the first Spanish settlements in Alta California at San Diego (July 16, 1769), and at Monterey, the first capital (June 3, 1770).

Flag of Spain.svg
  1. 1769–1770: Gaspar de Portolá
  2. 1770–1774: Pedro Fages
  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]

Luis Argüello became the first governor under indpendent Mexico (also the first Californio governor) in 1822

Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg
  1. 1822–1825: Luis Antonio Argüello
  2. 1825–1831: José María de Echeandía
  3. 1831–1832: Manuel Victoria
  4. 1832: Pío Pico
  5. 1832–1833 (north): Agustín V. Zamorano
  6. 1832–1833 (south): José María de Echeandía
  7. 1833–1835: José Figueroa
  8. 1835: José Castro (acting)
  9. 1836: Nicolás Gutiérrez (acting)
  10. 1836: Mariano Chico
  11. 1836: Nicolás Gutiérrez (acting)

Limited Sovereignty, 1836–1846[edit]

In 1836-37, the governorship was disputed between the northern coalition of Alvarado and Carlos Carrillo in Los Angeles. Alvarado's faction fashioned its own flag, known as the "California Lone Star".

California Lone Star Flag 1836.svg
Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg
  1. 1836–1842: Juan Bautista Alvarado
    1837–1838: Carlos Antonio Carrillo (rival)
  2. 1842–1845: Brigadier general Manuel Micheltorena
  3. 1845–1846: Pío Pico

U.S. territory, 1846–1850[edit]

Military governors were appointed during this time, until Burnett. On September 9, 1850, California was admitted into the U.S.

US Cav 35.svg
  1. 1846: Cdre. John Drake Sloat
  2. 1846–1847: Cdre. Robert F. Stockton
    1846–1847: Gen. José María Flores (rival)
  3. 1847: Gen. Stephen W. Kearny (appointed)
    1847: Col. John C. Fremont (pretended)
  4. 1847–1849: Gen. Richard Barnes Mason
  5. 1849: Gen. Persifor Frazer Smith
  6. 1849: Gen. Bennet C. Riley
  7. 1849–1851: Peter Hardeman Burnett (Burnett, a civilian, held office for a year before California was admitted into the U.S.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California. 978-1135657727
  2. ^ Robert R. Miller. Juan Alvarado, Governor of California, 1836–1842. University of Oklahoma Press. 1998