List of Governors of California before admission

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This is a list of the 31 Governors of California before her admission as the 31st U.S. state in 1850. From 1769 to 1822, the area was a Spanish colony. Upon Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821, California officially remained a colony of Spain for one year, although it was in effect independent. From 1822 until statehood in 1836, it was a nominal federal territory of the United Mexican States (UEM).

From 1836 to 1846, it achieved full self-rule as a free and sovereign State alongside the UEM, sending its elected and voting representation to Mexico City.[1][2] From 1846 to 1850, it was a nominally independent republic—the "Bear Flag Republic"—with the protection of the U.S. military. California was admitted as one of the United States on September 9, 1850.

From 1822 until 1848, the great foe of California was Mexico, which expressed its hatred toward California through neglect, through sending small bands of criminal colonists, and through numerous and failed attempts at tyrannical governance, all which Californians resisted through a series of revolutions that achieved political independence while at the same time benefitting from Mexican military protection.[3] These revolutions culminated in Mexico conceding that California was a "Free and sovereign state" during the tenure of Governor Alvarado in 1836, the year in which Texas also gained its independence.[4]

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.

For governors of the state after admission among the United States in 1850, see List of Governors of California. Las Californias Province within the Viceroyalty of New Spain included the Baja California Peninsula and mainland California from 1768 to 1804[original research?]. They became separate provinces within New Spain in 1804, establishing Alta California Province with its own governors from 1804 to 1822.[original research?]

Gaspar de Portolà, first Governor of California
José Castro
Juan Bautista Alvarado
Pío Pico
Andrés Pico

Colony of the Kingdom of Spain, 1768–1822[edit]

Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg
  1. 1769-1770: Gaspar de Portolà
  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

Federal territory, United Mexican States (EUM), 1822–1836[edit]

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  1. 1822-1825: Luis Antonio Argüello Born in Yerba Buena (San Francisco), son of José Darío, he was the first Californio (native-born Californian) 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)

Free and sovereign state, EUM, 1836–1846[edit]

California Lone Star Flag 1836.svg
  1. 1836-1837: Juan Bautista Alvarado
  2. 1837-1838: Carlos Antonio Carrillo
  3. 1838-1842: Juan Bautista Alvarado
  4. 1842-1845: Manuel Micheltorena
  5. 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: Bennett 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 29 Star Diamond Pattern Flag.svg
  1. 1846: Cdre. Sloat
  2. 1846-1847: Cdre. Stockton
  3. 1847: Gen. Kearney (appointed) / Capt. Frémont (pretended)
  4. 1847-1849: Col. Mason (acting)
  5. 1849: Gen. Smith
  6. 1849: Gen. Riley

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Note that California is recognized as a fully formed Department, with its own Assembly, Departments were the the equivalent of states and sent their representatives to Mexico City. Baja California borrow and maintains the title of "Free and sovereign state" to this day.
  2. ^ >
  3. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California. 978-1135657727
  4. ^ Robert R. Miller. Juan Alvarado, Governor of California, 1836-1842. University of Oklahoma Press. 1998