Manuel Requena

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Manuel Requena
Portrait of Judge Manuel Requena, ca.1830-1880 (CHS-870).jpg
Portrait photo of Manuel Requena
Acting Mayor of Los Angeles
In office
September 22, 1856 – October 4, 1856
Preceded byStephen Clark Foster
Succeeded byJohn G. Nichols
Personal details
Yucatán, Mexico
Political partyRepublican

Manuel Requena (1802–1876) was a Yucatán-born Californio politician who served multiple terms as Alcalde of Los Angeles (Mayor of Los Angeles). Requena became active in Los Angeles politics in the 1830s, during the Mexican era, and continued serving after the American Conquest of California until his death in the 1850s.

Early life[edit]

Requena was born in 1802 in the Mexican state of Yucatán, where he grew up and went on to become a successful merchant. In 1834 he moved to Los Angeles, where he quickly became an important business and political figure for the Mexican government.

Political career[edit]

Mexican California[edit]

At one point, Requena, who was accorded the honorific Don, was appointed an election judge, but he declined, citing ill health.

The ayuntamiento was about to accept it when some one reported that Don Manuel was engaged in pruning his vineyard, whereupon a committee of investigation was appointed, with Juan Temple, merchant, as medical expert. The committee and the improvised doctor examined Don Manuel, and reported that his indisposition did not prevent him from pruning, but would incapacitate him from serving as a judge of the election.[1]

Requena was first alcalde, which was equivalent to the position of mayor, during the last years of Los Angeles under Mexican rule.

In April 1836 a force of vigilantes demanded that he cooperate with them in turning over the key to a house where fugitive Maria del Rosario Villa, accused of murdering her husband, was staying.[1] He replied, in Spanish,

Maria del Rosario Villa is incarcerated at a private dwelling, whose owner has the key, with instructions not to deliver the same to any one. The prisoner is left there at the disposition of the law only. God and liberty.[1]

Nevertheless, the vigilantes, who had previously executed Rosario Villa's paramour, seized her and shot her. That was, wrote historian J.M. Guinn, " the only instance in the seventy-five years of Spanish and Mexican rule in California, of the people, by popular tribunal, taking the administration of justice out of the hands of the legally constituted authorities.[1]

American California[edit]

When the Los Angeles Common Council (which preceded the Los Angeles City Council) was formed in 1850 after Los Angeles was incorporated as an American town, Requena became one of its charter members. He served during the periods of 1850—1854, 1856 (when as council president, he also served briefly as acting mayor), and 1864—1868.[2][3]

Requena was elected to the first Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1852.[4] In 1854 he became a trustee in the city's first board of education.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e J.M. Guinn, Historical and Biographical Record of Los Angeles and Vicinity, Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company (1901)
  2. ^ Schmal, John P. "The Four Latino Mayors of Los Angeles Archived 2007-09-01 at the Wayback Machine," HispanicVista, May 23, 2005
  3. ^ Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials: 1850—1938, Compiled under Direction of Municipal Reference Library City Hall, Los Angeles March 1938 (Reprinted 1966)
  4. ^ Supervisor Manuel Requena Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
Preceded by
Manuel Dominguez and Antonio F. Coronel
(as Justices of the Peace)
First Alcalde of Los Angeles, Alta California
Succeeded by
Vicente Sánchez
Preceded by
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
4th district

Succeeded by