List of Governors of California before 1850

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For the Governors of California since 1850, see List of governors of California.
Gaspar de Portolá i Rovira, founder and first Governor of California
José Castro
Juan Bautista Alvarado
Pío Pico

Below is a list of the Governors of early California (1769–1850), before its admission as the 31st U.S. state. First explored by Gaspar de Portolá, with colonies established at San Diego and Monterey, California was a remote, sparsely-settled Spanish province of New Spain. In 1822, following Mexican independence, California became part of Mexico.

In 1836, a coup led by Californios Juan Bautista Alvarado and Jose Castro eventually resulted in Alvarado becoming governor.[1] That conflict ended in 1838, when the central government of Mexico recognized Alvarado as California Governor. The territorial diputación (legislature) approved the appointment.

Another disputed governorship occurred in 1844, settled when another Californio, Pio Pico, became the last Governor of Mexican California. In 1846, the "Bear Flag Revolt" in Sonoma declared California an independent republic—the "Bear Flag Republic". No government was formed, however, and the revolt did not have time to spread very far because, than a month later, California came under U.S. military protection at the outset of the Mexican–American War. California was ceded to the U.S. in 1848, and was admitted as the 31st U.S. state on September 9, 1850. Peter Burnett, the last governor of the post-war military territory, became its first state governor after admission.

Spanish colony, 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).

Escudo de Carlos III de España Toisón y su Orden variante leones de gules.svg
  1. 1769–1770: Capt. Gaspar de Portolá
  2. 1770–1774: Col. Pedro Fages
  3. 1774–1777: Capt. Fernando Rivera y Moncada
  4. 1777–1782: Capt-Gen. Felipe de Neve
  5. 1782–1791: Col. Pedro Fages
  6. 1791–1792: Capt. José Antonio Roméu
  7. 1792–1794: Capt. José Joaquín de Arrillaga (acting)
  8. 1794–1800: Col. Diego de Borica
  9. 1800: Lt. Col. Pedro de Alberni (acting)
  10. 1800–1814: Capt. José Joaquín de Arrillaga
  11. 1814–1815: Capt. José Darío Argüello (acting)
  12. 1815–1822: Pablo Vicente de Solá

Mexican territory, 1822–1846[edit]

After Mexican rule reached California in 1822, native son Luis Argüello became governor. California's first revolt against Mexico took place the same year as Mexico's first constitution, 1824. In 1832, Gov. Victoria was overthrown; Pio Pico claimed the office for but twenty days, following which the office was either vacant or held by Echeandia, whose authority was challenged by Zamorano, the Comandante General in the north.[2]

Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg
  1. 1822–1825: Capt. Luis Antonio Argüello
  2. 1825–1831: Lt. Col. José María de Echeandía
  3. 1831–1832: Gen. Manuel Victoria
  4. 1832: Pío Pico (legitimacy uncertain)
  5. 1832–1833: Lt. Col. José María de Echeandía
  6. 1833–1835: Brig. Gen. José Figueroa
  7. 1835: Lt. Col. José Castro (acting)
  8. 1836: Lt. Col. Nicolás Gutiérrez (acting)
  9. 1836: Col. Mariano Chico
  10. 1836: Lt. Col. Nicolás Gutiérrez (acting)
  11. 1836–1837: Gen. Juan Bautista Alvarado, self-declared "Presidente de Alta California" following coup
  12. 1837–1838: governorship disputed between Alvarado and Carlos Antonio Carrillo
  13. 1838–1842: Alvarado appointment re-confirmed by central government
  14. 1842–1845: Brig. Gen. Manuel Micheltorena
  15. 1845–1846: Pío Pico

U.S. occupied territory pre-statehood, 1846–1850[edit]

During the Mexican–American War, U.S. military forces under Sloat, Stockton, and Kearny assumed civilian control. General Mason was the first appointed military governor, in 1847. In 1849, a convention ratified a new state constitution and Peter Burnett was elected governor. On September 9, 1850, California was admitted into the U.S. as the 31st state.

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 (presidential appointee)
    1847: Maj. John C. Frémont (convicted of mutiny)
  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. ^ Robert R. Miller. Juan Alvarado, Governor of California, 1836–1842. University of Oklahoma Press. 1998
  2. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, vol. iii, pp. 231–232.
  • Irvine, Leigh H. (1905). "Vol. I, Chapter III". A History of The New California: Its Resources And People. New York: The Lewis Publishing Company. OCLC 35952214. Retrieved 2007-07-11.