The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1975, Volume 21, Number 3
James E. Moss, Editor

The Case of San Diego, 1846-1856

By Charles Hughes

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In his widely read Decline of the Californios, historian Leonard Pitt sought to explain the rapid political and economic demise of the Spanish-speaking families who occupied and controlled California before the United States take-over in 1846. Pitt says the political demise of the Californios took longer in southern California compared with the rest of the state. Following statehood in 1849, Californios ran successfully for public offices in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Along with their political successes, Pitt argues that these Californios also reaped windfall profits from cattle sales during the early 1850s. They hastened their own economic demise, however, by propagating these profits, and by the 1860s their ranchos were either heavily mortgaged or in the hands of Anglo-Americans.

This case study suggests that San Diego does not fit the pattern for southern California as described by Pitt. Californios in San Diego had very little “declining” left to do by 1846. Far from enjoying an “Arcadian” era, the Californios were beleaguered and penniless landholders at the time of American occupation. The San Diego rancheros did not “decline.” Their economic status was already nil in the Mexican period, and circumstances largely beyond their control prevented them from prospering in the 1850s, as Pitt says other rancheros did in the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara areas. Political affairs in San Diego reveals that Anglo-Americans controlled the city government much earlier than local historians have supposed, or that Pitt suggests was the pattern for southern California.

This study is based on contemporary newspapers and public documents. Few of the personal papers of the Californios in San Diego have been preserved. The memoirs and writings of Anglo-American residents of the community were used circumspectly, because their observations and recollections were strongly influenced by their racial and ethnic biases toward the Californios. Most of the research was done in San Diego and Sacramento, and only the first ten years following the American conquest is considered. Pitt has labeled the years 1850 to 1856 as the formative years of state government. Since the policies of the new state government caused the Californios many hardships, it is appropriate to study the community from the end of the American conquest through the formative years of state government.

Lack of sources prevented a systematic study of justice for the Californios under the new Anglo system. Government officials and local librarians believe that local court records from this period have been destroyed or lost. Available evidence, however, suggests that Pitt’s arguments concerning a dual standard of justice, one for Anglos and one for Californios, seem applicable to San Diego during this era.

The terms “Anglo-American” (sometimes shortened to Anglo) and “Californio” are used to differentiate between two general groups. It is occasionally necessary to consider a Californio as any non-Indian with a Spanish surname, and born in California, Spain, or Latin America. Strictly speaking, however, Californios were those Mexicans who inhabited California prior to the American conquest, and the term also refers to their descendants. Anyone who had other than a Spanish surname and was Caucasian is considered to be Anglo-American for purposes of this study. These broad criteria are applied because of the difficulty in determining which individuals were citizens of the United States. Citizenship was automatically confirmed on the former citizens of Mexico who remained in California one year after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Both the national census of 1850 and the California State Census of 1852 fail to indicate clearly whether a person was a citizen of the United States. The high degree of social mobility among early residents of San Diego constantly changed the makeup of both the Anglo and Californio communities. It is impractical to research more than seven hundred people to establish their citizenship and thus their status within San Diego. This study concentrates on those Californios who owned land grants, the same group whose decline Pitt studied.

Not included in this study are local Indians, who numbered several hundred more than both Anglos and Californios. During these years, Indians were confronted with a different set of problems from those which faced the Californios. Indians had to contend with hostilities from both Anglos and Californios. The new Anglo government extended in writing certain rights to the Californios which it denied to Indians. Rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution did not apply to Indians. They could not vote or own property. This study deals only with the two groups included in the new system of government, Anglos and Californios.


Following the War of 1846, and up until the Civil War, Californios, or Spanish-speaking inhabitants of California, experienced a decline in economic status, political power, and social influence. With the coming of Americans, especially after the discovery of gold, Californios lost their dominance over the affairs of the state and the vast tracts of land they originally possessed. In part, this decline resulted from events occurring prior to American rule, during California’s “Pastoral Era.” This was especially true in San Diego. The secularization of the missions, indian hostilities, and civil strife had all impaired the ability of the Californios to adjust to the changes initiated by the American government.

In describing the “Pastoral Era,” most historians have emphasized the affluence of the Californios. Between 1826 and 1846, the Californios received approval for several hundred land grants from the Mexican government. After the secularization of the missions in 1833, these land grants included former mission lands. The Californios also acquired the large cattle herds that once belonged to the missions. These herds allowed the Californios to carry on a lucrative business with trading ships visiting the coast. In exchange for hides and tallow, Californios received manufactured goods and other luxury items. Along with the former mission lands and herds. Californios also inherited the labor force of the missions. After 1833 Christian Indians were relegated to positions of servitude by the Californios.

Because of these circumstances, one historian has argued that the Californios enjoyed a life similar to that of southern plantation owners in the antebellum South or feudal lords in the Middle Ages.1 Although most historians find this description a bit exaggerated, they have accepted the arguments of Robert Glass Cleland, a prominent California historian. Cleland stated that “free from the pressure of economic competition, ignorant of the wretchedness and poverty indigenous to other lands, amply supplied with the means of satisfying their simple wants, devoted to ‘the grand and primary business of the enjoyment of life,’ the Californios enjoyed a pastoral, patriarchal, almost Arcadian existence…”2

Contrary to what Cleland and other historians believed, Californios in San Diego never experienced an Arcadian existence. In their studies, Cleland and others neglected to analyze the disruptive influence that the secularization of the missions had on San Diego’s economy. They also failed to recognize the effect that the ouster of the Franciscans had on Indian and white relations.3

In 1830 San Diego consisted of about thirty houses located some three miles inland from the harbor, below the hill where the presidio was situated. The community’s 520 residents were mostly retired soldiers and their families. Those living in town cultivated small gardens and grazed their cattle on communal lands. Before 1833 only seven land grants had been approved in the area. In 1823 Francisco Ruiz received Rancho Santa María de Peñasquitos and in 1829 José Antonio Estudillo was given ranchos Janal and Otay. In the latter year Santiago Argüello was also granted Rancho Tijuana, and four years later Rancho Melyo. In 1831 Pío Pico accepted a grant for the Jamul Rancho and the Silva family received Rancho San Dieguito.4 Under Spanish law, and under the Mexican constitutions after 1821, all land in California belonged to the state. A person could receive usufructuary rights to as much as 48,818 acres, if he met certain requirements. Franciscan missionaries, however, vigorously opposed the granting of land to settlers, arguing that it belonged to the Indians. Until 1833 the missionaries continued to control the best farming and grazing land in San Diego, as they did throughout the rest of coastal California.5

The missions in San Diego dated back to the arrival of the first Mexican colonists in Alta California. In 1769. Franciscan missionaries, accompanied by soldiers, came to San Diego with plans to settle in the territory and Christianize the Indians. Spanish officials had grown increasingly alarmed over Russian encroachment into Spanish territory. By using Franciscans and soldiers, these officials hoped to utilize the Indians to maintain control of their territory. The Franciscans had learned from previous experiences, however, that Indians required close supervision to insure lasting Spanish influence.6

To solve this problem, the Franciscans created mission establishments that could support several hundred people. They built two missions in the San Diego Area, Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769 and Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in 1798. At these missions, Franciscans constructed blacksmith shops, tanneries, weaving rooms, and storerooms along with the churches. They planted crops, started vineyards, cultivated vegetable gardens, and raised livestock. Eventually both missions managed to provide for a large population. However, when the rainfall was slight and the crop yield minimal, the missionaries were forced to allow the Christian Indians to return to their villages to fend for themselves.7

In time the Franciscans acquired considerable wealth and land. Mission San Diego controlled land in the areas of E1 Cajon, Escondido, Santa Isabel, San Dieguito, and Rosarita Beach. The area south of San Diego was used by the presidio to graze government livestock. The lands belonging to Mission San Luis Rey stretched thirty-five miles from north to south and forty-five miles from east to west of the mission site. By 1800 the crop yield at Mission San Diego was from 2,500 to 10,000 bushels, and the livestock increased to more than 12,000. San Luis Rey Mission owned more than 16,000 animals and the crop yield exceeded 67,000 bushels in 1810.8

Despite these and other successes, the California missions came under increasing criticism after 1810. In theory, missionaries moved into a frontier region to convert and civilize the Indians. After being in an area for ten years, Hispanizing the Indians, missionaries were supposed to move on to a new region. The missions that were built, would be secularized — that is, a regular priest would take over the spiritual functions of the missionaries. The lands connected with the missions would be divided among the Indians, who would then farm on their own.9

In California this process was delayed. Franciscans argued that the Indians were not ready for secularization, even after forty years. The Franciscans believed that their wards, once freed, would return to their “pagan” ways. Franciscans also claimed that some Californios wanted the missions secularized to gain possession of the lands and to make slaves of the Indians. Both the Franciscans and the Californios who coveted Indian lands, charged one another with enslaving Indians. There is probably some truth to the allegations of each group.10

Throughout California, at this time, a strong anti-Spanish feeling existed among the Californios, creating attitudes which surely influenced the arguments of both groups. The Franciscans were probably correct when they stated that some Californios supported secularization to gain access to mission property.11 Many Californios had lived in the territory for years, and had served in the military protecting the Franciscans and the missions. They had suffered hardships, and because of their service they probably expected some favors from their government. Up to the 1830s most of the Californios continued to live in coastal towns, on small lots granted to them; the missionaries monopolized most of the land and wealth of the province.

Critics, among them some Californios, were skeptical about the arguments of the Franciscans and doubted the efficacy of the mission system. Their thinking was influenced by the new philosophy of liberalism and its emphasis on humanitarianism and equal rights. These critics argued that Indians were equal to other Mexicans and entitled to equal rights. They opposed the absolute authority Franciscans had over the Indians and advocated the secularization of the missions. They proposed that Indians be granted the same rights as other citizens and suggested that they also be given land. Because of the profits and benefits accrued from their land, Indians would integrate into society. Critics also believed that Indians would eventually upgrade themselves and achieve social as well as political equality.12

After 1824 leaders of the new republican government in Mexico generally concurred with these liberal ideas, especially since many of them had some indian ancestry. Their attitude, however, was also swayed by considerations of state. These new leaders were dissatisfied with the progress of the Franciscans in “civilizing” California Indians. This seemed particularly important to them since they feared Russian and American designs on the territory. In 1812 the Russians built Fort Ross at Bodega Bay in northern California to help supply food for their colony farther north. Mexican officials had heard rumors concerning a secret treaty in which Spain was to have ceded California to Russia. Officials realized that if Mexico wanted to retain California, she would have to occupy it effectively.13

Officials further recognized the necessity of making California independent of the national government and its exhausted treasury. Following the outbreak of the war for independence in 1810, the Spanish government stopped sending an annual stipend to the soldiers and missionaries in California. With the ouster of Spanish officials from Mexico in 1812, the new government failed to provide continuous support. Thus, soldiers in the territory forced the missionaries to provide them with supplies, and Franciscans were allowed to sell cowhides and tallow to trading ships stopping on the California coast.14

To remedy these unfavorable economic conditions, Mexican officials planned further colonization of the territory. As early as 1825 they started the practice of sending convicts to help populate the territory, over the protest of those already living there. To attract potential colonists, officials had to offer land, and the missions controlled most of the farming and grazing land along the coast. In the interior, non-Christian Indians hindered further colonization by Mexican farmers. Secularization of the missions, then, provided the only immediate way to make land available for further colonization.15

When the newly appointed Mexican governor, Lieutenant Colonel José María Echeandía, reached California in 1826, he brought orders to secularize the missions. He had been advised, however, to proceed with caution. Accordingly, he devised a plan to partially secularize the missions in the south to see how the Indians got along without Franciscan supervision. He proposed to grant land to those Indians who had been Christians for fifteen years, married, and no longer considered minors. These Indians also had to have a trade or a way to support themselves, and needed a favorable report from a Franciscan. Despite these stringent qualifications, the plan failed. The Indians who left the missions lost their property and ended up working for Mexican settlers, or were taken back by the Franciscans within a few years. Again, in 1833, another Mexican governor, José Figueroa, formulated plans for partial secularization of the California missions, but the national government’s actions superseded his plans.16

In August 1833 the Mexican congress, cognizant of the complex problems involved, nevertheless approved legislation secularizing the California missions. The congress, however, failed to specify how this was to be done. Among other things, it neglected to establish regulations concerning the distribution of mission lands. Territorial officials did not know who was to have first priority, Indians, Californios, soldiers, or new settlers. The territorial assembly, consisting of Californios, and with the approval of the new government, finally devised a plan for secularizing the missions in June 1834. The missionaries were to be relieved of their temporal duties, but would remain at the missions until regular clergy were found to take over their spiritual functions. Civilian administrators were appointed to take over the economic affairs of the missions. They were required to take inventories of the property belonging to the missions. They were also to oversee the granting of land and other mission property to Christian Indians. The land remaining, after the Indians had received their allotments, was to be distributed among non-Indians. This plan was implemented tentatively until final approval came from the national government.17

In San Diego Mission San Luis Rey was secularized in 1834 and Mission San Diego the following year. With more land available for settlers, the national government expected the area to prosper. Within the next few years, new land grants were approved by government officials. Among them were Rancho Jolijol to José and Ignacio López, Rancho Jesús to M. J. López, and Rancho Temescal to Leandro Serrano; all granted in 1836. Secularization and the release of Christian Indians from the missions, however, brought disastrous consequences for the Californios in San Diego.18

After 1830 when secularization of the missions seemed assured, Indian hostilities increased throughout the San Diego area. In 1833 rumors spread that Christian as well as non-Christian Indians planned to unite and seize mission property. In the following year community officials reported numerous robberies committed by Indians. During 1835 citizens organized an expedition to put down a threatened Indian attack on Santa Isabel and San Luis Rey. That same year, authorities at San Luis Rey thwarted an Indian project to kidnap the governor when one of the planners revealed his intent. Throughout 1836 and 1837 Indian attacks reached new heights and forced the evacuation of ranchos, several times threatening San Diego itself. One of the more famous attacks occurred at the Jamul Rancho in April 1837. Indians killed several ranch hands and the foreman, and captured the foreman’s two daughters. Californios’ efforts to rescue the girls from their Indian captors failed. Shortly after the Jamul incident an Indian servant revealed a plan to attack San Diego and kill its residents. On the designated night, servants were to leave doors open to allow attackers to enter the houses and kill their occupants. After this project was uncovered, the residents apprehended its leaders and executed them.19

Indian violence continued through 1840 threatening the community and forcing the Californios to abandon their ranchos again and again. On several occasions Juan Bandini fled his rancho near Tijuana to seek safety in San Diego, and Silvestre de la Portilla and José Antonio Pico abandoned their grants, Rancho Valle de San José and Rancho San José del Valle, because of indian pressure. Bandini eventually gave up his rancho near Tijuana and received a grant farther north.20

After 1842 and until the American hostilities subsided, never again reaching the intensity they did in the late 1830s. During these last few years before the conquest San Diego enjoyed some prosperity, and many new land grants were approved. Prior to 1842 twenty land grants were affirmed, and from 1842 until 1846 twenty-five more grants were issued. Some of these grants were the larger and more famous ones in the area. In 1845 Pío Pico, governor of California, gave the El Cajon Rancho 48,799 acres, to María Antonia Estudillo de Pedrorena and the Cuyamaca Rancho, 35,501 acres, to Augustín Olvera. Pico also approved a grant for Rancho de la Nación, 26,631 acres, to his brother-in-law, Juan Forster. Despite these developments, Californios continued to worry about the threat of Indian violence in the San Diego area, and with some justification. During the American conquest, in December 1846, Indians surprised eleven Californios at a rancho, took them prisoners, and later killed all of them. The threat of violence continued to concern San Diegans after the Mexican War.21

The outbreak of Indian attacks occurred for a variety of reasons during the 1830s. In the San Diego area, the non-Christian Indian population exceeded the white and Christian Indian population by several hundred. Although no exact figure is known for this period, non-Christian Indian population in 1847 numbered several hundred more than the other two groups. Prior to this time, the white population never exceeded six hundred, and declined drastically after the outbreak of attacks. The numerical superiority of the Indians must have influenced Californios’ treatment of them. Franciscans reported that Indians received harsh punishments for minor infractions of the law. Evidently Californios tried to use the threat of severe punishment to teach the Indians to respect territorial laws. This kind of treatment must have created bitterness between the Californios and the Indians, which caused some of the violence.22

With the secularization of the missions, many of the Christian Indians joined other Indians in attacking the Californios. Christian Indians believed that the property of the missions belonged to them, and resented the Californios receiving any of it. They planned to kidnap Governor Figueroa to protest the approval of a land grant, which included land the Indians said belonged to them. Franciscans might have influenced this attitude of the Indians, since the missionaries used it in arguing against the breakup of the missions.23

Secularization also caused a significant decrease in military personnel in the San Diego area. The missions had been the main source of food and other supplies for the soldiers. Since neither the national nor the territorial government could afford to pay them, many soldiers left the army to avoid starvation. After their departure, the military force that remained failed to discourage Indian aggressions. Finally, Christian Indians cultivated crops to furnish their food supply, but in years of little rainfall they turned to taking cattle from the ranchos to avert starvation. Although rainfall amounts are not known for these years, this could have been an additional source of conflict. For example, in 1834 statistical reports for Mission San Diego and Mission San Luis Rey showed the lowest yield in crop production in recent years, while local authorities reported numerous robberies by Indians.24

The prevalence of indian resistance during this period resulted in severe political and economic consequences for the Californios in San Diego. In the beginning of the 1830s, an estimated 520 non-Indians lived throughout the area. Up to this time, San Diego was a military town, with the presidio commander supervising community affairs. In 1834 residents petitioned the governor for self-rule, arguing that they possessed the population required by law, and that military rule violated the spirit of the Mexican constitution. Officials approved the petition, and in 1835 citizens in San Diego held elections to choose electors that would select a mayor, two councilmen, and a city attorney. Self-rule continued until 1837 when the mayor received a notice rescinding the city charter and making San Diego part of the Los Angeles district. In part, self-rule was withdrawn because of the ascendancy of centralism in Mexico, but more specifically because of the decline in population caused by the Indians. By 1840 only an estimated 150 people lived in San Diego. By 1846 the population had increased to 350, but prior to the Mexican War the city was far from its former population of 520. After the American conquest, this decline in population weakened the Californios’ political strength significantly.25

The indian attacks on San Diego in the 1830s also impeded economic development in a community already experiencing straitened circumstances. The descriptions of contemporary travelers visiting San Diego before the outbreak of hostilities emphasized the backwardness of the area. French traveler Auguste Bernard du Haut-Cilly wrote in 1827:

Of all the places we have visited since our coming to California, excepting San Pedro, which is entirely deserted, the presidio at San Diego was the saddest. It is built upon the slope of a barren hill, and has no regular form: it is a collection of houses whose appearance is made still more gloomy by the dark color of the bricks, roughly made, of which they are built.26

Two years later, New Englander Alfred Robinson made a similar comparison when he wrote that “on the lawn beneath the hill on which the presidio is built stood about thirty houses of rude appearance, mostly occupied by retired veterans, not so well constructed in respect either to beauty or stability as the houses at Monterey….”27 If we assume that the way people lived reflected their economic well-being, Californios in San Diego apparently were not as prosperous as the rest of their countrymen in the 1820s. Then, in the 1830s their circumstances were further reduced when secularization of the missions and the subsequent outbreak of Indian hostilities forced the San Diegans to abandon their ranchos and disrupted agriculture.

Historian Hubert Howe Bancroft has evaluated the impact of these attacks on the Californios in the 1830s and after. He wrote that Indian depredations

. . . kept the country in a state of chronic disquietude in these and later years, being the most serious obstacle to progress and prosperity. Murders of the gente de razon [californios ] were of comparatively rare occurrence, but in other respects the scourge was similar to that of the Apache ravages in Sonora and Chihuaha. Over a large extent of country the Indians lived mainly on the flesh of stolen horses, and cattle were killed for their hides when money to buy liquor could not be less laboriously obtained by the sale of other stolen articles. The presence of the neophytes and their intimate relations with other inhabitants doubtless tended to prevent general attacks and bloody massacres, as any plot was sure to be revealed by somebody; but they also rendered it wellnigh impossible to break up the complicated and destructive system of robbery. Far be it from me to blame the Indians for their conduct; for there was little in their past training or present treatment by white men to encourage honest industry.28

Despite the prevalence of Indian hostilities and the abandonment of many ranchos, the hide and tallow trade seems not to have been significantly affected. Records left behind by American and English traders are, for the most part, silent about the break down in law and order. It appears that although the Californios had to leave their ranchos, they still managed to slaughter their cattle and sell the hides for manufactured goods. Conceivably, this trade might have sustained the Californios when they were unable to produce the food they needed. Juan Bandini, at one point, had to go north to sell his family jewels to provide for his family. Later, he had to write a friend in northern California to ask him to send food, so his family would not starve.29 This seems to have been a common situation for other residents in the community. Alfred Robinson revisited San Diego in 1840 and observed that “everything was prostrated the Presidio ruined, the Mission depopulated, the town almost deserted, and its few inhabitants miserably poor.”30 Under such circumstances, the Californios must have used the cattle they owned to provide for their families. The disruption of agriculture and the heavy reliance on the hide and tallow trade also explain the decline in the size of the cattle herds. When the missions were secularized, the herds exceeded 25,000, but by the beginning of the 1850s San Diego had less than 10,000. This meant that the Californios had fewer resources to meet the new demands placed on their ranchos after the Americans arrived.31

Al1 of San Diego’s economic woes, however, were not caused by the secularization of the missions and subsequent Indian hostilities. Some historians have emphasized the influence of civil strife in contributing to the economic problems of the territory. Others have argued that political upheaval in California during the 1830s and 1840s resulted in the disruption and decline of agriculture and trade throughout the territory. The main cause for confusion, and one which led to open revolt several times, was the failure of the national government to effectively govern its territories. After Mexico gained independence from Spain, the republic’s new Constitution of 1824 failed to provide for the internal administration of the territories. Because of this failure, Mexican and territorial officials continued to use Spanish laws not in apparent conflict with the constitution to govern the territories. The resulting confusion concerning the laws of the territory created many political disputes.32 Sectional rivalries, a struggle over the location of the capital and the custom house, and personal jealousies all added to the political divisions of the period. The controversy over a strong or a weak central government also increased the political divisions.33 In San Diego in 1836 the decline of agriculture and trade, secularization, Indian hostilities, and the lack of local courts provoked the Californios to rebel against the territorial government.34

Evaluating the impact of two decades of political turmoil in California before the Mexican War, historians have agreed that it added to the declining fortunes of Californios. Historian George Tays wrote that armed conflict in California “caused the decline of commerce, the spoliation of the missions, and finally plunged the country into chaos.”35 In San Diego, these revolts had two specific consequences for the Californios. Northern Californios won control of the territorial government and sought to regulate trade for the benefit of the North. Hence, San Diego failed to become a legal port of entry for foreign trade. Ships involved in this trade had to go to Monterey and pay the import duties due on their goods there before doing business along the coast. A share in the revenue from import duties could have improved San Diego’s commercial fortunes. More significant than the commercial impact, however, was the failure of the territorial government to aid San Diego with its Indian problem. Governors were more concerned with maintaining a sufficient military force in Monterey to insure their positions, rather than sending assistance to the South. With the American conquest in 1846 this proved to be a crucial matter.36

When the United States declared war with Mexico on May 12, 1846, American naval forces off the Pacific coast used the occasion to take possession of California. The initial occupation of San Diego and southern California occurred without any armed resistance by the Californios. On July 29 United States forces occupied San Diego, and on August 13 they seized control of Los Angeles. By the first part of October, however, some Californios forced the Americans to abandon Los Angeles and then, under the leadership of José Castro and Pío Pico, laid siege to American occupied San Diego. During this critical period, Americans enlisted the support of those Californios who opposed the actions of their countrymen. Efforts to maintain control of San Diego and retake Los Angeles included the participation of some Californios. Miguel de Pedrorena, a prominent San Diego resident, made a hazardous trip in an old whaling boat from San Diego to San Pedro, to get military assistance and supplies. In the reconquest of Los Angeles by an expedition under Commodore Robert Stockton, in January 1847, one military company was made up of thirty-one Californios.37

The loyalties of the Californios divided over the American conquest, partly because of the policy implemented by the conquering Americans. At first, the Californios appeared reluctant to resist the Americans, despite the urging by some who believed that as loyal Mexican citizens they had a duty to repel the American intruders. But the actions of Commodore Stockton and Lieutenant Archibald Gillespie in Monterey and Los Angeles also created angry resentments among the Californios. In Monterey, Stockton’s arbitrary actions toward José Castro led to open resistance. Strict regulations imposed by Gillespie provoked the citizens of Los Angeles to expel the Americans.38

While the actions of Americans angered some Californios, others chose to accept the change in governments. Many supported the change because the Americans promised military protection against Indians and a stable government. Juan Bandini and Santiago Argüello issued a statement following the American occupation of San Diego which urged the local citizens to support the change. With protection and stability, they said, prosperity would follow. In accepting American rule, Californios believed California would become a territory of the United States. In the new territorial government, they expected to receive appointments to public office and retain some control over territorial affairs. At the same time, they would receive military protection and become part of an expanding commercial empire.39

Like the Indian attacks and the civil disorders, the American conquest resulted in the destruction and loss of property by some Californios. Historian George Tays declared that in reprisal to Californios’ resistance, “Americans confiscated and robbed the peaceful population of its horses, cattle and other property.”40 In San Diego, some of the Californios who resisted the American aggressions incurred such losses. Lieutenant W. H. Emory recalled that when the United States military force he was with arrived at the Peñasquitos Rancho, they seized all the property they did not destroy because the owner opposed the Americans.”41

During the “Pastoral Era” in San Diego, then, Californios experienced frustrations and setbacks while trying to improve their economic condition. Their efforts only began to succeed late in the period. The promise of economic prosperity as a result of secularization of the missions came after additional years of hardships. Although more Californios received land grants, the breakdown in law and order caused a decline in the political and economic fortunes of the community. The Californios had little opportunity to develop the resources of their ranchos. The decline in San Diego’s population during Indian hostilities weakened the Californios politically after the arrival of the Americans, since political strength depended on numerical strength. Rather than being like feudal lords on princely estates, with vast herds and large retinues of Indian slaves, Californios in San Diego were impoverished rancheros struggling to survive in a hostile environment.



Following the outbreak of war between the United States and Mexico, Commodore John D. Sloat seized Monterey, claiming California for the Americans on July 7, 1846. In a proclamation to the inhabitants of the territory, Sloat urged them to accept the American conquest and guaranteed protection and recognition of their rights and property. He predicted that California and her inhabitants would benefit from this change. Real estate values would increase as the territory became a part of an expanding commercial empire. In San Diego some Californios, such as Santiago Argüello and Miguel de Pedrorena, accepted Sloat’s arguments and welcomed the American invaders. They pleaded with others to do likewise, stressing that with stability and protection the area would prosper. However, neither the Californios nor United States officials knew what the future held. No one could have predicted the great changes brought by the gold rush.42

By 1850 Californios consisted of less than 15 percent of the state’s population. In the North where the gold was, Anglo-Americans supplanted the Californios, taking over the political affairs and seizing ranchos through legal and illegal means. In the South, however, historians have discerned a different pattern of events.43

Although the gold rush attracted thousands of immigrants to California, relatively few settled in the South, leaving the Californios and their ranchos unmolested. Rather than facing a threat to their ranchos, Californios in the South experienced a bonanza from the cattle trade. The throngs of immigrants arriving in the territory increased the demand for beef, and cattle prices soared. Before the gold rush Californios had sold cattle hides and tallow for a few dollars. By 1850, however, the price of cattle exceeded fifty dollars a head. Nevertheless, the enormous profits from the cattle trade led to the downfall of the Californios, according to some historians of the era. They have suggested that quick and easy wealth made the Californios extravagant and improvident.44 Leonard Pitt put the matter squarely:

More than any other factor, the Californio’s spendthrift tendency, encouraged by windfall profits in the early cattle trade, put him in financial hot water and caused him to part with more land than he wished.

. . . Most rancheros simply spent cash prodigiously and mortgaged their future profits at usurious rates, in baseless expectation of a continuing boom in cattle. Recognition of deep economic trouble came in 1855, when out-of-state growers introduced new herds and toppled the established prices, but by then it was often too late for the rancheros to make amends, even if they cared to do so.45

Because of San Diego’s peculiar circumstances, the boom in cattle prices brought only a few Californios very limited profits; rancheros in San Diego County had little with which to be improvident.

Along with improvidence, economic backwardness has also been suggested by historians to explain the demise of the Californios. This collateral argument asserts that the pastoral economy of Mexican California left the rancheros unprepared to cope with the Anglo-American free enterprise system. Californios lacked the initiative and drive to succeed in a capitalistic economy. But rather than being bewildered by free enterprise, Californios in San Diego during this early period seemed eager to take advantage of opportunities in their community. They participated in ventures to develop economic resources in the back country and the city in attempts to improve their economic condition.46

In the back country, most of the forty or more ranchos were vacant in 1846 because of war with the Americans and renewed Indian unrest. Hostilities between the Indians and rancheros continued through May 1848, by which time many of the Californios had departed for the gold fields. In 1849, however, San Diego began to undergo startling changes. The arrival of the boundary commission to establish a new border between the United States and Mexico and the presence of an increasing number of immigrants contributed to these developments. The Daily Alta California reported that:

. . . this port has taken quite a start, and is now rapidly growing. Quite a number of Americans have gone down there recently and established themselves in business for the winter. A number of frame houses are in the process of erection and many others are being shipped from this port [San Francisco]. The town is represented to us as being quite a bustling, lively, little place.47

Encouraged by San Diego’s new prosperity, a group of men, Including both Anglo-Americans and Californios, initiated efforts to relocate the town closer to the harbor. They believed San Diego would become a major commercial center because she had the best harbor south of San Francisco. It was deep, had a good entrance, and provided ample protection for ships. Up to this time, ships landed on the northwest side of the harbor at La Playa, where several hide houses stood, then passengers traveled by wagons to town. On March 16, 1850, William Heath Davis, José Antonio Aguirre, Miguel de Pedrorena, William C. Ferrell, Andrew B. Grey, and Thomas D. Johns formed a partnership and bought 160 acres for $2,304 near Punto de los Muertos, the foot of Market Street in downtown San Diego. These men recognized the necessity of moving the town closer to the harbor so ships could load and unload more easily. Soon a second group of men purchased land from the city between the two town sites hoping to make their site the new location of the town. On May 27, 1850, Oliver S. Witherby, William H. Emory, Cave J. Couts, Thomas W. Sutherland, Agostin Haraszthy, Juan Bandini, José M. Estudillo, Charles P. Noell, and Henry Clayton purchased 687 acres for $3,187. San Diegans called the original townsite O1d Town, the site purchased by Davis and others New Town, and the site between the two Middletown.48

Along with efforts to relocate the town, Anglos and Californios also speculated in city lands, opened numerous businesses, and constructed new buildings. Many speculators believed the land around the harbor would be quite valuable once the community began to develop. They purchased lots from the common council for twenty dollars in 1850, but paid as much as five hundred dollars for lots owned by others. Many of these speculators also recognized the opportunity to earn a good profit by serving the needs of immigrants passing through the town. Immigrants coming by ship or overland along the Gila River, as well as miners from Mexico, paused in San Diego before going on to the gold fields. Between 1849-1851 some Anglos and Californios opened several new hotels, retail stores, and saloons to meet the needs of these travelers. In all, more than fifteen businesses operated in O1d Town, New Town, and La Playa; Middletown remained unoccupied.49

Business from these immigrants also caused a building boom in the community during these years. At New Town, William Heath Davis constructed a wharf to accommodate the ships arriving in the harbor. He also built a general store and the Pantoja House, where he opened a billiard room and saloon. Two lots south of Davis’s general store, Frank Ames and Eugene Pendleton built a structure to house their mercantile business. On the south side of New Town’s plaza, J. Van Ness, Levi Slack, and E. W. Morse erected the Boston House and opened a general store and restaurant. The United States Army built a corral and barracks at this townsite after receiving land from its promoters. In OId Town, Juan Bandini constructed the Gila House, a two story structure, where he operated an inn and general store. This also seems to be the period when three hotels were constructed at La Playa: the Ocean House, New Orleans. and Playa House.50

By February 1851 San Diego’s economy began to decline when gold was discovered 120 mites south in Baja California, and the flow of immigrants into the community subsided. In September George Hooper wrote to William Heath Davis that “with respect to the Pantoja House, everything goes on very quietly — indeed too quietly, for there is no business doing here or anywhere.”51 Efforts to relocate the city at New Town foundered because of this lack of business, opposition from Old Town residents, and the lack of water and fuel. By 1853 most of the community’s residents lived in Old Town or La Playa with New Town nearly abandoned.52

Despite the languishing economy, some Anglos continued to speculate in city lots, still paying as much as five hundred dollars for a lot. The federal government wanted to build a transcontinental railroad, and these Anglos hoped San Diego would be the West Coast terminus. Lieutenant George Derby, a noted humorist and author who resided in San Diego during this period, commented on this paradoxical situation. He said that:

…from present appearances one would be little disposed to imagine that the Playa in five or six years might become a city the size of Louisville, with brick buildings, paved streets, gas lights, theaters. gambling houses, and so forth. It is not at all improbable. however, should the great Pacific Railroad terminate at San Diego….53

With merchants continuing their dominance of business affairs in the community, several unsuccessful enterprises and schemes were tried in order to revive the economy. The most significant undertaking, between 1852-1856, was the organization of the San Diego Gila, Southern Pacific, and Atlantic Railroad Company. In 1854 San Diegans formed their own company to construct a railroad to Yuma and join the transcontinental railroad that they thought would be built on a southern route. These plans never succeeded because the United States Congress could not decide on a route. Eventually the Civil War ended San Diego’s chances for being the terminus of the transcontinental railroad. San Diegans formed another company in 1855 to mine coal deposits on Point Loma. These deposits, however, showed little profit. During this period some residents also contemplated building a road to San Bernardino, hoping to stimulate trade between San Diego and the Mormons in Utah. These plans never got beyond the discussion and planning stages. Trade with lower California also raised the hopes of the town merchants, but it lasted only a short time. In 1853 Louis Rose opened a tannery which employed about twenty workers. This venture proved profitable for Mr. Rose, but had a negligible effect on the community’s economy. By 1855 some whaling ships from the Pacific fleet began to stop and buy supplies in San Diego. The community’s economy, however, did not benefit substantially from whaling till about 1859.54

A1l these different enterprises, then, failed to revive the community’s economy. Many of San Diego’s Anglo and California businessmen experienced financial losses and hardships within a few years. Once the economy began to falter in 1851, William Heath Davis encountered one financial reversal after another, and at one point some of his property was sold for delinquent taxes. Juan Bandini needed the assistance of his son-in-law to pay loans he had contracted to finance his various enterprises. Delinquent tax lists for 1854 and 1855 indicate that other businessmen, such as William C. Ferrell, Andrew B. Grey, and Henry Clayton, also incurred financial difficulties. With the onset of this business slump, farmers and ranchers became the principal customers of Anglo and Californio merchants and the main support of the economy. During the decade 1846 to 1856, ranching showed meager profits and farming remained unprofitable.55

At the beginning of American rule forty-five Mexican land grants existed in the San Diego area; Californios possessed forty ranchos, Anglos four, and Indians two. These ranchos varied in size from a few acres to several thousand.56 In the early 1850s, after the Anglo population began to expand, most owners retained control of their ranchos or sold them through their own volition. Pedro Carrillo sold Peninsula de San Diego Rancho to Capt. Bezer Simmons for $1,000 in 1849. Abel Stearns purchased the Guajome Rancho for $550 from its Indian owners, and later gave it to his brother-in-law, Cave J. Couts, as a wedding gift.57

Only one incident has been recorded which a Californio’s rancho changed owners through other than legal means in San Diego in the 1850s. Sometime during 1850 or 1851 Juan Forster, agent in charge of Rancho Santa Clara de Jamacha, allowed Captain John Magruder to use the ranch for grazing horses belonging to the United States cavalry detachment stationed in the community. About nine years later Magruder visited Apolinaria Lorenzana, the owner of the rancho, in San Juan Capistrano, hoping to buy the property. According to her recollection, she refused to sell or rent it to Magruder since she had never received any remuneration from him for his previous use of the property. After an angry exchange Magruder returned to San Diego and seized the property. Miss Lorenzana claimed that she never received any payment for her property and after being intimidated by Magruder never pressed her claim.58

Since Californios did not own all the usable land in the San Diego area, the problem of squatters never reached as serious proportlons as it did in northern California. Anglo settlers moving into the community found land they could farm. Yet, contrary to what some historians have believed, squatting was widely practiced in the county. As early as September 1850 the common council found it necessary to pass an ordinance forbidding squatters from settling on city property. Indian agents in the county reported that Moses Manasse and others, sometime between 1847 and 1852, had moved into the San Pascual Valley and settled on Indian lands. Once the prosperity of the town declined after 1852 more settlers ventured into the surrounding country to take up ranching and farming. In 1853 Daniel Cline and William Moody settled in the Temecula Valley which was then a part of San Diego County. That same year the San Diego Herald reported that several individuals left town with plans to proceed to San Luis Rey to squat in that valley.59

By 1856 squatting had become quite common, especially on land belonging to Indians. Panto, “captain” of the San Pascual Indians, demanded that the government protect the Indians from squatters. One Indian agent published advertisements in newspapers warning squatters to stay off Indian lands. Explaining this action to his superiors, he wrote that:

. . . my reasons for advertising in English and Spanish was [sic] . . . at the date of my advertisement a great mania seized upon the people for acquiring lands . . . these squatting operations were creating great excitement.. . . The object of my publication was to show and maintain the rights of the Indians to their lands and as far as possible to prevent collision between them and the squatters.60

Although squatting was widely practiced in San Diego, squatters were few in number because of the county’s small population. Nevertheless, squatters did constitute a large percentage of the county’s farming and ranching community. A comparison of statistics found in the United States National Census for 1860 and the county tax records reveals how widespread this practice was. Aside from the Mexican land grants and city property, the National Census for 1860 lists seventy-six persons with property. Of this seventy-six, thirty-six appear on the tax assessor’s rolls for that same year, but only two paid taxes on the property that census records show they occupied. In other words, over half the ranchers and farmers in the community, including Anglos and Californios, resided on land they did not own.61

The large land holdings of the Californios and the boom in the cattle trade have caused many historians to believe that the Californios throughout southern California were quite wealthy. The flood of immigrants arriving in California after 1848 sent cattle prices skyrocketing as the demand for beef increased. Cattle that once brought only a few dollars, by early 1849 were worth fifty dollars a head and for awhile sold as high as five hundred dollars a head in some mining camps. For seven prosperous years, southern California ranchers drove their herds along the coast or through the San Joaquin Valley to the markets in northern California. During these years rancheros took between twenty-five and thirty thousand cattle annually out of Los Angeles alone to the northern markets. By 1855 the demand for southern California cattle began to decrease as a growing number of sheep from New Mexico and cattle from the Mississippi and Missouri valleys reached the California market. In 1848 California had only about twenty thousand sheep and three hundred thousand cattle, but by 1860 the state possessed one million sheep and three million cattle. As the market became more glutted, prices declined to about five or six dollars a head.62

Although some Californios reaped handsome profits from this cattle trade, in San Diego the decimation of the herds following the secularization of the missions in 1834 had left the Californios only a few thousand head of cattle. While rancheros in Los Angeles sold over 25,000 head of cattle a year during the boom, in San Diego cattle sales probably did not exceed 2,500 a year. The first assessment list for San Diego shows twenty-four persons owning 5,552 head of cattle in the county. Twenty of these twenty-four cattle owners were Californios, with 4,846 head of cattle. Four were Anglos with 697 head of cattle, or about 13 percent of the cattle in the county. Eight Californios out of twenty owned 3,870 head of cattle, about 79 percent of the cattle belonging to the Californios. In short, the small number of cattle in the county belonged to a few ranchers who derived profits from the cattle boom. Out of forty-five persons with land grants only fifteen rancheros, or less than 30 percent, owned cattle in 1850.63

Where twenty-four persons owned cattle in 1850, the California State Census of 1852 indicated only twenty individuals owning a total of 5,208 head of cattle in San Diego. The census showed that 252 head of cattle belonged to two Indians and seven Anglos possessed 458 head of cattle. or not quite 9 percent. Among the eleven California cattlemen. four of them owned about 87 percent of all cattle belonging to Californios. Out of all twenty cattlemen in 1852, only six owned land grants. The state census, then reveals the same type of trends that the first assessment list did. Within San Diego County a small group of persons owned the few thousand head of cattle in the area. Despite the high prices at the markets in San Francisco and Stockton, the Californios did not have the cattle to reap large profits that some historians believed they did.64

San Diego continued throughout this period to have only a few thousand head of cattle on its ranges. The Surveyor General’s Report for 1855 shows only 8,100 head of cattle in the county. His report of 1856, however, indicates a dramatic increase, to about 18,000 head. This was probably not local cattle entirely. Judson Ames, editor of the Herald, explained that rancheros from Los Angeles were bringing their cattle down the coast because of ample grazing land in the county. Obviously, the fact that there was available grazing land in the area would indicate San Diego rancheros did not need all the grazing land available.65

Before and after the cattle market declined, some early Anglo residents recalled that Californios in San Diego neglected the agricultural potential of their ranchos. E. W. Morse, a prominent Anglo in Community affairs, claimed that the county had “literally no agriculture” in 1850. He said that most people believed the area was unsuitable for farming.66 The San Diego correspondent to the Alta California noted in 1853 that a segment of the population opposed farming because it had never been done before and they were convinced it would never succeed. The county surveyor commented in 1856 that farming was neglected because of laziness among county residents.67

Contrary to what contemporaries stated, ample evidence exists which reveals that Californios and Anglos did pursue farming during this period. During the American conquest of San Diego John C. Frémont observed that “amomg the arid, brush-covered hills south of San Diego we found little valleys converted by a single spring into crowded gardens, where pears, peaches, quinces, pomegranates, grapes, olives and other fruits grew luxuriantly together….”68The agricultural statistics in the National Census of 1850 reveal that several individuals were actively engaged in farming. José Antonio Estudillo had 158 acres of improved land and 1,475 bushels of wheat, 165 bushels of Indian corn, and 1,650 bushels of barley. Santiago E. Argüello’s farm included 100 acres of improved land with 275 bushels of wheat, 180 bushels of Indian corn, 13 bushels of peas and beans, and $200 worth of garden produce. Finally, the California surveyor general’s report concerning agricultural statistics for 1856 indicated that over 17,000 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, beans, peas, and sweet potatoes were produced in San Diego during that year.69

What most of the early critics of San Diego farmers were probably lamenting, however, was not the absence of agriculture but the failure to produce enough to meet San Diego’s needs. For the most part, between 1846 and 1856 San Diego farmers failed to produce what the community required. Editor Ames declared in 1855 that it was “a disgrace to the people of this county that we are obliged to send to San Francisco for everything we eat except fresh beef and garlic.”70 Most of the Californios and Anglos who possessed land seem to have practiced subsistence farming or engaged in farming without the assistance of other workers. The small quantity of farm implements and the few acres under cultivation, as revealed by tax and census records, indicated that most Californios and Anglos with land carried on farming on a small scale.71 They continued to farm on a small scale because they encountered problems and circumstances which hampered their efforts to develop agriculture, as well as the livestock industry.

One problem San Diego settlers faced rose from the geographical location of the county in relation to major centers of population in the state. The thousands of immigrants settling in California after 1848 created a demand for both beef and farm products, but the demand existed in the northern part of the state, more than five hundred miles from San Diego. The only means that San Diegans had of getting their goods to these markets was to ship them or send them overland. In 1856 the county assessor, realizing the effect of this problem on farmers, commented that “the distance of the county from the principal markets, [has] had a tendency to retard agricultural pursuits, and much land that might be advantageously cultivated, is now left for the free use of stock.”72

Cattle owners drove their livestock overland to northern markets facing many hazards and dangers. Inclement weather, inefficient herdsmen, stampedes, great gelds of mustard seed where animals were lost, and the lack of grass were some of the problems encountered on trail drives north. On one such arduous trip in 1853, John Forster suffered severe losses, and many of his cattle perished. Thieves and cattle rustlers presented another problem for cattle owners taking their livestock north. In 1852 Cave J. Couts reported to his brother-in-law, Abel Stearns, that he outwitted the thieves in Santa Clara, but some other San Diegans were not as fortunate. Couts reported that “they got about 100 head of Forsters, 50 from José Antonio Argüello, 70 of Machados, all of Castros and others in proportion.”73

Besides their distance from the major markets, a gold rush inflated economy also hindered development of livestock and farming resources in the community. With thousands of immigrants arriving in California, prices soared as goods became more scarce. In May 1852 the Herald informed its readers that only a few members of the boundary commission were returning, “their salaries being absolutely too small to support them in the necessary expenses they are obliged to incur, at the exhorbitantly [sic] high prices of California, …”74 In San Diego prices exceeded those of San Francisco. the main commercial center, since merchants had to pay for shipping their merchandise down the coast. Editor Ames calculated that San Diegans paid between eight to ten thousand dollars a year in freight cost. These high prices made it impossible for farmers to produce their crops cheaply enough to earn a good profit. With labor, shipping, and other necessary expenses, commercial agriculture remained unprofitable during this period.75

High interest rates deterred many residents from securing a loan or mortgage to invest in agriculture. Throughout California during this era, a person had to pay usurious rates to borrow money. To finance some of his various ventures, Juan Bandini borrowed ten thousand dollars from a French gambler at 4 percent interest a month compounded. Bandini eventually needed the assistance of his son-in-law to pay this debt. Interest rates such as this “… proved an enormous handicap to the state’s prosperity and economic development; . . . In southern California, especially, a complete dearth of capital caused general economic stagnation.”76

Years of sparse rainfall constituted another serious problem confronting farmers and ranchers in San Diego between 1846 and 1856. Among the hills in the surrounding countryside, Californios and Anglos settled in valleys with streams passing through so they would have water to irrigate their crops. Over the rolling hills their cattle grazed on grass produced annually by the rains. Usually by the end of summer, these streams were dry and the grass supply exhausted. The ranchers and farmers depended each year on the rainfall to refurnish their water supply and produce more grass; several times during this period the rainfall was insufficient for their needs. Meteorologists who have studied rainfall patterns in southern California between 1850 and 1880 have noted that the facts “indicate a preponderance of dry years, with the result that the water supply of the period as a whole was undoubtedly considerably below normal.”77

Rainfall statistics available for seven years between 1846-1856 show San Diego received less than ten inches in four of these years. In 1851 the Alta California reported “that the scarcity of water and feed of the present season [in southern California] has not been equalled in the last twenty-two years.”78 The sparse rainfall during the winter of 1856-57 resulted in even greater hardships for county residents. In the spring of 1857 the Herald reported that:

Not one solitary blade of barley, wheat or other cereal is left. Every blade of grass this side of San Bernardino is parched up and withered, and our rancheros are selling off their cattle at any price that is offered. But for the money realized from the sale of stock. which will enable our farmers to purchase from abroad what, under other circumstances, they would produce at home, two-thirds of the rancheros in the county would be obliged to abandon their farms and seek a home in some more favored part of the State. What few cattle are left remaining here will have to be driven back into the mountains, where there is grass, and it will be a miracle if any escape the starving Indians,…79

Besides disadvantages created by their geographical location and problems caused by weather conditions and inflation, the lack of law and order throughout the entire region added further troubles to the precarious condition of county ranchers and farmers. During the American conquest of California, United States officials promised the inhabitants of the territory protection and security for their lives and property. Following the conquest in June 1847 citizens of San Diego petitioned the commander of the Southern Military District to have a force remain in the community. They informed the commander that renewed Indian attacks had forced the evacuation of local ranchos, and they expressed fear of an Indian attack on the town if the military was withdrawn.80 Although a military force remained in the community, it provided little assistance to the rancheros. In a letter recommending the organization of a local militia, an officer informed the military governor:

. . . that almost daily places of deposit for cattle heads and other evidences of indian depredations upon cattle are found by the people of the country between here [ Los Angeles ] and San Diego and for some 70 miles below and ’tis impossible to prevent it unless either the Alcaldes or myself are permitted to authorize the people of the country to unite for the protection of their property, a measure which in itself appears to me just especially as we cannot afford them the protection our government have [sic] promised.81

Further Indian resistance occurred in 1851 under the leadership of Antonio Garra, who planned to expel the Americans. The outbreak of violence started with an attack on the Warner Rancho in Agua Caliente and the killing of four persons. With renewed hostilities, most of the rancheros again evacuated their lands and sought safety in town until the uprising was quelled.82

Rancheros also had to contend constantly with attacks from Indians who poached on the ranch herds. The Los Angeles Star reported in March 1851 that Paiutes stole several hundred head of horses from area ranchos including Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores. Again in March and November of 1853 a group of Utah Indians raided several ranchos and stole several hundred head of livestock. At times circumstances beyond their control forced some Indians to steal livestock. In San Diego County Indians who did not work for whites supported themselves by growing their own food. During years of insufficient rainfall, however, Indians seized the rancheros’ cattle to keep from starving.83

Although ranchers and farmers suffered severely from Indian thefts and attacks, historian Robert Glass Cleland suggested that bandits and other outlaws posed an even more serious problem.84 Numerous accounts of thefts and robberies throughout this period exist and a few demonstrate the effect they had on agriculture and the livestock industry. In 1852, the Alta California reported that:

Several different communications from Los Angeles have been received at San Diego. warning the citizens against a band of robbers who have left that vicinity for Lower California, and now said to be at Temecula. It has caused no little solicitude among the rancheros. They have brought their families into town, run their horses etc., into some private and secluded gorge of the mountains not easily to be found by the robbers, and fear themselves to return to their ranches. Those of them disposed to plant have lost the season entirely. by such stampedes. It appears that the place cannot rest in peace and quietude for a month at a time. These fears, which are too true and well-founded, not to be heeded, have seriously injured the agricultural portion of the community this season.85

Through 1856 lawlessness in the county continued unabated. In that year Cave J. Couts wrote to his brother-in-law that “the like in stealing as goes on at present we hardly ever knew of.” Couts further stated that he was forced to kill his cattle to prevent thieves from getting them.86

Circumstances of their locality did not cause all the economic problems of the Californios. Laws affecting their property adopted by the new American government produced additional hardships for them. Concepts of land ownership and uncertainty concerning some land titles led to the passage of laws which brought distressing financial demands on their ranchos. Anglos settling in California after 1848 came with their own concept of land ownership, which collided with those of the Californios.87 These Anglos believed they had a right to settle on public land, build a farm, and, after making a number of improvements, buy the land for a moderate price. They thought that the individual’s right to own land was an essential ingredient for a democratic society. An article in the Alta California expressed this belief quite explicitly:

For trade to flourish, for wealth to increase, for the establishing of good morals, and a virtuous and solid population, it is essential that the lands should be owned in small parcels by their cultivators. The very essence of Republicanism lies in this fact. A population that would properly exercise the right of sufferage must be free, and it cannot be free so long as the lands are held by great landholders, who rent them to their tenants, over whom they exercise an undue influence. It is against the very genius of our institutions that the lands be thus monopolized.88

Between thirteen and fourteen million acres belonged to grantees of Mexican ranchos in California. Under the former Mexican government, a person could receive as much as 48,818 acres provided he occupy the land, build a house on it, and raise cattle. During the Mexican period, officials employed very informal procedures for granting land which led to confusion after the Americans took over. When granting land, officials sometimes used objects of the natural terrain to mark boundaries and after a few years the tree, stream, or rock might disappear. Along with uncertainty about boundaries, many of the grantees were not careful about preserving legal papers that proved their ownership. Also, officials neglected to follow procedures established by law for approving land grants.89

The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, ending the war between the United States and Mexico, guaranteed the inhabitants of California the right to their land. To clear up the confusion surrounding Mexican land grants, however, the Congress passed the Land Act of 1851, requiring the grantees to present evidence proving their ownership to a three member board of land commissioners. This act also allowed the federal government and the petitioners to appeal the Land Commission’s decisions to the District Court, and from there to the Supreme Court. Historians have generally condemned this act because it placed the responsibility on the landowners to prove their ownership at considerable cost to themselves. William Heath Davis asserted that José Joaquin Estudillo paid over two hundred thousand dollars in litigation fees for Rancho San Leandro.90

Between 1852 and 1856 more than forty-five claimants in San Diego and other claimants throughout California presented their cases to the Land Commission. Paul Gates, one of the few historians to defend the land act, admitted that this lengthy legal procedure proved expensive for the Californios. Gates stated that lawyers’ fees for presenting a claim before the Land Commission ranged from fifty dollars for small tracts to more than seventeen hundred dollars for larger grants.91 Gates, however, did not discuss other expenses incurred by claimants while presenting their case before the Land Commission. Since most of the hearings were held in San Francisco, claimants had to pay to send witnesses and documents to substantiate their claim. One group of landowners claimed:

. . . that if the Government of the United States required them to proceed to San Francisco to have their claims settled, it would diminish the value of their lands at least one-third, and it would necessarily result that many just but ancient claims would be lost, owing to the impossibility of carrying all the witnesses there, and the impracticability of supplying the defect by taking testimony by deposition.92

For one of the few sessions held in Los Angeles, the San Diego Board of Trustees paid $1032.47 in lawyer’s fees and for arrangements for a witness to appear. The latter expense exceeded the lawyer’s fees by more than 300 percent; the lawyer’s fees amounted to $250.00 and other necessary expenses totaled $782.47.93 If the rancheros experienced similar expenses, many of their ranchos would indeed depreciate by one-third.

Along with expenses arising out of land grant litigation, the state government initiated a property tax in 1850 which placed further financial demands on property owners. The law obligated property owners to pay state, county, poll, and other taxes for special purposes. In 1850 on every hundred dollars worth of property, San Diegans paid fifty cents to the state, twenty-five cents to the county, and twenty-five cents for a new county court house. They also had to pay eight dollars in poll taxes to the state and county. Between 1850 and 1856 these tax rates increased twice. In 1854 on every hundred dollars of property, county residents paid sixty cents to the state and fifty-five cents to the county. The following year they paid $1.50 for every hundred dollars of property: sixty cents to the state, fifty cents to the county, a five cent school tax, and thirty-five cents special funding tax.94

Since state laws exempted much of the northern mining industry, the brunt of the property tax fell on the large property owners of southern California who were primarily Californios. Most of the state’s population resided in the North and worked in the mines or in related occupations. Their representatives dominated state government and attempted to use taxation to break up the large land holdings.95 Southern representatives, being powerless to modify state tax laws, sought to have the state divided, making southern California the “Territory of the Colorado.” At a convention of delegates from southern California in Monterey in 1851, a resolution was approved stating that “the counties of the South do not feel able to support the expense of a State Government and are desirous of becoming a ‘Territory,’ to escape onerous taxation to which they are now subject.”96In 1853 a State Senate Committee investigating these grievances claimed that large landowners desired light taxation “to retain their enormous possession to the detriment of progress and improvement.”97

Not only did the large landowners and Californios suffer the brunt of the property tax, but maladministration appears to have been added to their plight. Judge Benjamin Hayes noted that:

. . . under the change of governments, the Californians have many cases of complaint. If the matter were examined into, it would doubtless be found that they could also make just and grievous accusations against their old system. Be this as it may, for half burthens they have borne and half the losses they have sustained from defective government of maladministration, since the year 1850.

He went on to cite the example of Juan Forster, owner of the San Felipe and Nación ranchos, as being taxed twice for the same property in 1856. Both Los Angeles and San Diego counties were taxing him for the cattle he owned because during the year the animals had been in both counties.98

Tax records indicate other areas of questionable action. There are reports of some city lots selling for as much as five hundred dollars during speculation booms, but tax records show most lots were valued below one hundred dollars. During the land boom of 1888, tax records reflect the inflated prices. On the other hand, while Californios did not have clear title to their land, they were required to pay taxes on the property. The assessments of their property seemed to fluctuate from one year to the next. In 1854 officials assessed the Agua Hedionda Rancho at $2,000 for 17,020 acres; the next year the ranch was worth $1,200 more when it had 3,820 acres less. Again, in 1854 José Aguirre’s rancho was assessed at $15,000 for 85,000 acres; the following year the ranch was worth $400 more when it had 23,400 acres less. Aguirre never received the patent to this ranch.99

While Californios were being assessed for their ranchos, most squatters were not being assessed for the land they used. Tax records of Moses Manasse, Daniel Cline, and William Moody show no assessment for real estate. In 1856, however, Lorenzo Soto, listed as squatting in San Pascual after 1848, was assessed three hundred dollars for improvements he made in the valley. Obviously, the manner of assessing property was less than equitable.100

Throughout the period 1846 to 1856 it was evident that San Diego residents continued to experience economic hardships and the Californios in the community met additional financial demands placed on them by the new government. Once the boom from the immigrants subsided, the town never recovered its prosperity as farmers and ranchers again constituted the main part of the economy. The small number of cattle, distance from the major markets, years of sparse rainfall, low prices for agricultural products, and inflationary economy, land litigation, and taxes combined to keep farmers and ranchers in straitened circumstances. Difficulties the Californios experienced stemmed from their situation and from policies initiated by the new government, not from improvidence or bewilderment with the new capitalistic system. Their adverse circumstances and government policies set the stage for the eventual loss of their ranchos. Finally, the promises and predictions of conquering Americans never came to pass. The guarantees of protection and security were never kept, and the prosperity predicted by American officials never occurred.



After the United States conquest of California in 1846 and the establishment of state government four years later, Anglo-Americans seized control of the state’s political affairs, leaving the Spanish-speaking Californians without political influence. Leonard Pitt wrote that the exclusion of Californios from public office and the loss of political influence was especially acute in northern California with the arrival of thousands of Anglos, after the discovery of gold in 1848. On the other hand, in southern California, Pitt argued that Californios continued to win elections to local offices and managed to receive some of the spoils of office. Since fewer Anglos settled in this part of the state, Californios remained a viable political force during the formative years of state and local government, 1850-1856. The evidence Pitt used to support his arguments about southern California came from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.101 Available records regarding San Diego County, however, show that Californios there experienced less success than in Santa Barbara or Los Angeles.

During the ten year period 1846 to 1856 San Diego underwent several changes in the organization of local government. Following the cessation of armed resistance to the American conquest, the United States Army governed California until the National Congress decided the territory’s status in 1850. Those laws which did not conflict with or were not specifically prohibited by United States’ laws remained in force. Californios in San Diego and throughout the territory were allowed to keep their alcalde form of local government. With the organization of state government in 1850, the boundaries of the county were established and the city received a charter. Included in the boundaries of San Diego County were the present-day counties of San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, and part of Inyo. The state legislature redrew boundary lines in 1851 giving a northern portion of the county to Los Angeles County. The Courts of Session looked after county business until the election of a Board of Supervisors in 1853. The new city charter called for the election of a mayor, city attorney, a five member city council, and several other officials to manage city affairs. Two years later, however. the exhaustion of city funds caused the state legislature to revoke the charter and set up a Board of Trustees to attend to city business.102

Following the conquest and during most of the military government period, Californios retained their political control of the community. With the arrival of the Americans in July 1846 most Californios refused to serve in public office; so Henry Delano Fitch, an American living in the community, was appointed alcalde. Because of pressing business matters, Fitch resigned in May 1847 and the military governor appointed Juan Bandini to take his place. In October 1848 bad health forced Bandini to resign and Juan Maria Marron, one of those who opposed the American conquest, won election as alcalde. By the end of 1849 the large number of immigrants in the community began to displace the Californios as the dominant political force. Poll lists show Anglo-Americans outnumbering the Californios by more than two to one.103

Once the new state government began to function after 1850, Anglo-Americans’ control of civic affairs was never threatened. Out of more than 154 political offices available during the next six years, Californios held only eight positions. On April 1, 1850, the first county elections took place with Californios winning two of the eleven offices. San Diegans chose José Antonio Estudillo as their assessor and Juan Bandini as their treasurer. Bandini, however, never served in office; why he did not remains uncertain. One historian wrote that Bandini failed to qualify for office and another historian said that he refused to accept the office. Bandini’s name appears on the poll list of the first precinct as having voted in the county elections of 1850. Under the new California Constitution, anyone who was eligible to vote was qualified to hold public office. In the city election held in June of that same year, Estudillo and Bandini again won election to once. With ten positions available, the citizenry elected Estudillo as treasurer and Bandini as assessor. Again Bandini failed to serve, but this time all the evidence indicated that he refused the job.104

The reason for Bandini’s refusal remains uncertain. His personal affairs might have prevented him from accepting added responsibilities. He owned a large rancho near present-day Tijuana which might have required his close supervision. Bandini might also have thought it futile to serve in city and county governments that Anglos completely dominated. Other Californios throughout the state reached this conclusion, since Anglos managed to control different issues and exclude the Californian from the decision-making process.105

Californios did not serve in public office in San Diego during 1851, but in the following year they won election to four offices. José A. Estudillo served as both city and county treasurer, Francisco Alvarado as coroner, and Santiago Argüello as county assessor. In the elections between 1853 and 1855 one of José A. Estudillo’s sons, either José Maria or José Guadalupe, tried twice to win election to office. In the 1853 election one of the Estudillo brothers sought to succeed his father in the county treasurer’s office, but received only five votes out of 163. During the 1855 political campaigns one of the Estudillos tried to become the new superintendent of the schools, but again finished last, receiving nineteen votes out of 123. Little evidence remains concerning office seekers in 1856, and no Californios won election to public Office.106

Thus, it appears that between 1850 and 1856 Californios did not seek political office, although ample opportunity appears to have been available since most of these elections suffered from a shortage of candidates. During this six-year period many candidates ran unopposed for office and some ran for more than one office at the same time. In the 1853 elections, for example, J. W. Robinson ran unopposed for district attorney and L. Stratiss won the post of coroner without opposition. Those running for sheriff, county judge, county surveyor, and coroner in 1854 all ran without opponents. P. H. Hoff campaigned for both justice of the peace and county judge in the 1853 elections, while G. P. Tebbets sought the offices of county judge and constable. In the following year William C. Ferrell sought election as the county’s assemblyman and as a school commissioner. During the same election in the San Luis Rey Township, Cave J. Couts and a man named Cline both campaigned for positions of justice of the peace and school commissioner. In 1856 James Nichols won election as justice of the peace and county supervisor.107

Anglos monopolized county and city offices while Californios, for reasons yet unclear, never exploited this shortage of candidates to their own advantage. Failure to serve in more public offices, however, probably did not stem from a spirit of apathy. During this period a number of public meetings were held in San Diego to deal with community problems and Californios took an active part in these events.

In the 1850s, for example, southern Californians tried to separate themselves from northern California and establish a territorial government. Southerners resented the political domination of the northerners in state affairs and the property tax, Which forced them to pay more taxes, since lands in the South still remained in large tracts. In seeking separation San Diegans held public meetings and formed several committees, which included some Californios as members. On August 28, 1851, the Herald cited the following Californios as being active in the territorial cause: José Estudillo, Joaquín Ortega, Juan Bandini, Juan Marron, and José Antonio Aguilla. Those who attended a public meeting on August 30 appointed a correspondence committee, with Joaquín Ortega and Pedro Carrillo as members, to petition Congress for territorial goverment.108

Besides being involved in efforts to divide the state, Californios also participated in attempts to build a road from San Diego to San Bernardino to develop trade with the Utah Territory. William C. Ferrell argued at a public meeting, held in April 1854, that San Diego possessed a fine harbor and with a good wagon road settlers in Utah would buy and trade their goods in this city rather than send their goods eastward by land. Most of the people attending this meeting agreed and a committee was established to study the feasibility of the proposal. The committee consisted of seven members: J. W. Robinson, E. W. Morse, 0. S. Witherby, Lewis Rose, M. Jacobs, M. A. Franklin, and Juan Bandini. When a company was created to build this road Bandini became its treasurer.109

Even though Californios did not hold public office, these examples show that they did participate actively in public affairs when it was in their interest. Had the state become divided and the property tax lowered, a tremendous financial burden would have been taken off the Californios and their ranchos. Juan Bandini must have realized the potential benefits for San Diego and retail merchants such as himself in his efforts to build a road to San Bernardino. Californios, then, were not apathetic about participation in community affairs, but their reluctance to run for public office between 1850 and 1856 is difficult to explain without examining it in a larger context.

The large number of Anglo immigrants who came to California after 1848 provides one explanation for the Californios’ loss of political power. When news of the 1848 gold discovery became known many people throughout the Americas and other foreign countries began to migrate to California. By 1850 California’s white population had reached one hundred thousand with the Californios making up only 8 percent.110

During this period the population of San Diego more than tripled, despite its remoteness from the gold felds. In 1847 the military governor of California, William B. Mason. ordered a census taken in San Diego County. Captain D. C. Davis of the Mormon Volunteers carried out this order and reported a total of 248 white men, women, and children within the county. He set the total population of the county at 2,287 including whites, “tame” Indians, “wild” Indians, Sandwich Islanders, and Negroes. When the federal government took the national census in 1850 the white population of the county had nearly tripled to 735.111

The 1847 census reveals very little information about the voting strength of Anglos and Californios. In the census Davis neglected to give a numerical breakdown of the two groups. From his figures there were possibly seventy eligible voters living in San Diego. With the national census a breakdown of eligible voters between Anglos and Californios can be determined. Out of a total population of 735, 311 were Californios and 424 were Anglos. In political terms the difference was more significant. The Californios had only seventy-eight eligible voters and the Anglos 266. Moreover, the figure for the number of Anglo voters is probably too low because the census fails to provide the ages of thirty-three soldiers stationed at San Diego. Out of the other fifty-eight soldiers listed on the census only one did not qualify to vote because of age. It would, therefore, seem reasonable to assume that most of these thirty-three men were over twenty-one and qualified to vote. Anglos, then, could marshal about 299 voters, four times as many as the Californios, even though they outnumbered the Californios by only 120.112

The explanation for this disparity lies, in part, in the nature of San Diego’s Anglo population, which contained many soldiers and government employees. The United States government stationed ninety-one soldiers at the San Diego Mission in 1850, and the Quartermaster Department employed forty-two individuals in the city. Available evidence indicated that these soldiers could and did participate in community affairs and vote in local elections. Even without counting the soldiers, Anglos possessed almost three times as many eligible voters as the Californios. According to the census of 1850, Californios consisted of 78 men, 52 women, and 181 children, while 299 men, 39 women, and 86 children made up the Anglo population. Obviously, many of the Anglos coming to San Diego in the 1850s came without their wives and families. The fact that almost 75 percent of the Anglo population consisted of men over twenty-one years of age also accounts for the difference in the number of residents and voters between the two groups in the city.113 This analysis clearly shows the voting superiority of Anglos in San Diego in 1850 and provides one of the reasons why the Californios lost political power.

The social attitudes of Anglos and Californios also played a significant part in the Californios loss of political power in San Diego in the early 1850s. Racist ideas appear to have influenced most San Diegans. Articles in the Herald make this quite apparent. When people discussed racial matters, they referred to individuals of different nationalities as belonging to separate races. Whenever an article in the paper discussed a social event in the city, for example, the writer usually mentioned the different racial groups present. In one article the writer compared the conduct of Californios and Anglo women:

Suffice it to say, that the senoritas looked their prettiest and with their dangerous eyes shot bright glances clean through many a masculine waistcoat, while the American ladies present, appeared with that quiet grace and ease which belongs to their social character, . . . 114

Articles about crimes committed in the city usually commented on the nationality of the individuals who committed these acts, informing the reader if the criminals were Mexicans, Indians, or Anglos. A typical article appeared in the Herald on August 6, 1853, and told the reader about a Mexican who had raped a little girl at Soledad. The listing of letters left in the post office, which appeared in the Herald periodically, also suggests the emphasis on racial characteristics. These lists always appeared with the different nationalities grouped under separate headings. In one list Anglos appeared in one group alphabetically, Californios in another, and Frenchmen in another.115 If people did not stress ethnic backgrounds so strongly, all of the letters would have been cited in one large list. They did, however, and their attitudes must have influenced their political behavior.

When Anglos considered the racial background of the Californios, they divided them in two distinct groups. They thought of the upper-class Californios as Spaniards who had maintained the purity of their race. John Russell Bartlett, head of the Second United States Boundary Commission, wrote from San Diego: “there remain many of the old Castillian families here, who have preserved their blood from all mixture with the indians.”116Even so, most Anglos considered Spaniards inferior, known for cruelty and deceit. This was made evident in 1851 in events surrounding an Indian revolt in San Diego County. When Anglos apprehended the leader of this rebellion he implicated two upper-class Californios as his advisors, José Antonio Estudillo and Juan Ortega. Most of the citizens of San Diego dismissed these accusations, but on March 13, 1851, a letter appeared in theHerald commenting on them. The writer declared that he could “hardly believe the imputation cast upon these men, nor would [he] entertain it, but that it is possible they are illustrations of the refined and subtil [sic] treachery that has so long characterized the race from which they are descended.”117 Another example of Anglos’ belief in Spanish cruelty appeared in an article in the Herald in May 1855. The writer described a recent execution in Havana, emphasizing the enjoyment Spaniards took in the event and calling it a brutal murder.118

Whereas Anglos believed upper-class Californios to be cruel and treacherous, they considered the lower-class Californios, whom they termed “greasers,” even more inferior because they were of mixed blood. One early Anglo traveler described a “greaser” as exhibiting “much of the Indian character; the dull suspicious countenance, the small twinkling piercing eye, the laziness and filth of a free brute, using freedom as the mere means of animal enjoyment.”119 Lt. Cave J. Couts, a prominent San Diego resident, declared that when you have met a “greaser,” you have met a thief and a robber. Upperclass Californios even made this fallacious distinction, separating their class racially from the lower-class Californios, whom they termed cholos. Modern scholarship demonstrates that both classes had mixed blood and suggests slight racial differences between upper- and lower-class Californios.120

The important point, however, is not the existence of this belief about upper-class racial purity, but its manifestations. One of the significant manifestations of class divisions among Californios occurred over the conflicts with the administration of justice. Many Californios believed that a dual system of justice existed, one for Anglos and a harsher one for Californios, Mexicans, and Indians. Yet, some upper-class Californios joined with Anglos and supported the Anglo system of justice. In San Diego, José M. Estudillo served as a member of the 1854 Grand Jury. The report of the jury talked about the problem of justice when the system had to deal with people of a lower order. The members of the jury, apparently including Estudillo, believed that the presence of Mexicans and Indians in San Diego made the enforcement of the law more difficult. One political repercussion of this division among Californios is the fact that Californios running for public office could not win a majority of even the Californios’ votes. In the 1855 election, for example, poll lists show that Californios cast forty-one votes. One of the Estudillo brothers, running for school superintendent, won only nineteen votes, less than half of the Californios’ votes.121

Besides racial attitudes, other feelings developed from a cultural conflict between Anglos and Californios which affected the political fortunes of the Californios. In 1854 and 1855 articles appeared in the Herald about the new American Party, popularly known as the Know-Nothings. Those who belonged to this party worried about the threat of the Catholic Church to the United States. They looked upon Catholic priests and bishops as instruments in a popish plot to gain control of the country. One article in the paper discussed this plot and suggested actions that could be taken to defend against it.

This Know-Nothing Movement will have one good effect, we think, in the Western States, where some denominations have attempted to interfere with, and get control of our public schools. By being prescribed and debarred from holding any office of honor, profit or trust, for a few years, they will learn to conduct themselves as republicans should, and keep Church and State as far asunder as possible.122

In the first half of the 1850s the Know-Nothing party gained little support at the polls in San Diego, but some Anglos agreed with their ideas about Catholicism. One writer believed that the growing Catholic population threatened America and declared that the Catholic world planned to gain control of the country. The author appealed to the patriotism of the readers to resist this threat.123 In another issue of the paper the editor condemned a Catholic priest for interfering in local affairs because the priest told Catholics of the community not to participate in the St. John celebration of the Free Masons. The writer criticized the priest for stirring up discord among the people “who have long been taught to consider the Romish Church as the most corrupt and wicked institution ever organized since the creation of the world.”124

Some contemporary observers in this period have revealed other explanations for Californios’ loss of political power. John H. Richardson, in an interview in the San Diego Union. on July 16, 1876, described the apparent lack of strict enforcement of residency requirements and election regulations. He recalled that when he arrived in San Diego in the summer of 1849, after traveling around Cape Horn, some men came out to the ship and asked the Anglo passengers if they would like to vote in the local elections. These men offered to take the passengers into town and if they did not want to do this, the men told them to write their choices down on paper and they would take their ballots to the polls.125

This incident demonstrates the importance of two points which allowed Anglos to dominate political affairs over the Californios. First, election regulations created by Anglos allowed other Anglos the privilege of voting and holding office after being in California for only a short period of time. In the election of 1849 the military governor of the state declared that every free male citizen of the United States and Upper California who was twenty-one years of age could vote, if they were residents of their electoral district.126 The lack of time qualifications with residency requirements enabled almost all Anglo adult males to vote. After the state constitution went into effect in 1850, these regulations changed making it necessary for voters to be residents of the state six months prior to any election and a resident in a voting district for thirty days before an election.

For the first city and county elections the state legislature declared that all persons eligible to vote were eligible to hold public office. Californios under these regulations became citizens and eligible to vote if they gave up their Mexican citizenship as required by the treaty signed by the United States and Mexico ending the war of 1846.127

A1l of these regulations enabled Anglos to quickly assert their dominance over California to the disadvantage of the Californios. Anglos coming to California in tremendous numbers during these years received the right to vote with little delay and also the right to hold public offices. On the other hand, Californios remained relatively fixed in the numerical size of their group after they became citizens of the United States, and the flood of Anglo immigrants eventually overwhelmed them. In time regulations governing voters and once seekers became stiffer, but only after a large number of Anglos had lived in the state for five or six years. In the first half of 1855 the state legislature modified some of the laws pertaining to qualifications for office holding. The assembly and senate both approved an amendment to the state constitution requiring candidates for the legislature to be citizens of the state for two years and of their district one year prior to their candidacy.128

The shipboard episode described by Richardson also suggested that the operation of elections functioned under Anglo control. Little evidence remains about early election procedures in San Diego, especially since the city did not have a newspaper to cover them until 1851. Because Richardson and his traveling companions cast ballots in the election of 1849, it seems reasonable to conclude that Anglos took charge of the local elections and controlled the different precincts.

After 1851 the Herald reported information about local elections which included the names of judges and inspectors appointed to watch over the elections. Through an examination of these appointments the extent of Anglo control over these affairs becomes evident. In the 1853 election for city trustees, Judge Benjamin Hayes appointed E. M. Morse as inspector and Julian Ames and Albert B. Smith as judges. In this election San Diegans elected Morse as a trustee; evidently no one thought he would have a conflict of interest acting as an inspector while running for office. During the 1853 electoral activity Judge Hayes appointed two Californios to serve as judges for the precinct at San Luis Rey, Ramón Osuna and Jesús Machado. Anglos filled the remaining positions of judges and inspectors throughout the county. Of the five elections during this period in which records do exist, this is the only time Californios were given appointments. One practice, however, did repeat itself in 1853. William H. Moon served as an inspector for the precinct at New San Diego while running for the office of public administrator.129

In the 1854, 1855, and 1856 elections, Anglos filled all the positions of inspectors and judges in the different precincts. Again, individuals served as inspectors and judges while running for office. In the first election Cave J. Couts, the county judge, appointed J. S. McIntire as one of the judges at the Township of Agua Caliente while McIntire sought election as justice of the peace. Couts also appointed John S. Barkers a candidate for justice of the peace, as a Judge for the precinct at New San Diego. While Couts was making all of these appointments, he was running for offices of justice of the peace and school commissioner in the San Luis Rey Township. This pattern repeated itself in the 1855 election with Anglos filling all the positions as inspectors and judges. Julian Ames served as a Judge in New San Diego and also ran for superintendent of public instruction. In 1856 James Nichols acted as an inspector at New San Diego, while winning election as justice of the peace and county supervisor.130

The way election judges and inspectors could influence an election is revealed in an editorial in the Herald by Judson Ames, calling for election reform.

The present slow-coach process of counting the votes, delays the knowledge of the result until the officers of the polls (who may be always honest, but are not invariably,) choose to declare it. In the meantime, as is the notorious practice in San Francisco, the wrong tickets may be stolen from the box, the right ones stuffed in, and any candidate made sure of his election.

The judges or inspectors of the election, who reads off the tickets, in the process of counting, may without detection, substitute in the reading, another name in the body of the tickets, for the one that is there, if he wishes to help out a friend of his, or a political candidate of his own faith.131

These charges leveled by Ames were not without some substance. After the new members of the Common Council took office in 1851, Charles Haraszthy, a member of the previous council, contested the election of Councilman J. Jordan. After prolonged debate, the council decided that Jordan should be removed from office because his election was invalid. The next year, some San Diegans sent formal protests to the state legislature contesting the election of their representative to that body. They charged that many people were allowed to vote who were not qualified.132

Besides voting procedures, contemporary observers also indicated language as a reason for the weakened political strength of Californios. George Derby, a lieutenant in the United States Army and a popular writer, described one of the elections and noted that an Anglo translator explained the ballot to the Californios who wished to vote. Judson Ames, editor of the Herald, commented on one occasion that the language barrier made it difficult for Californios and Anglos to understand each others’ ways. Significantly enough, election notices, appearing in the Herald, were printed in English, while tax notices were published in Spanish and English.133

Benjamin Hayes, a county judge during the 1850s and a sympathetic observer, noted that the Californios’ lack of political experience put them at a disadvantage. Prior to the coming of Anglos, Californios in San Diego had seldom participated in local elections. Only briefly, In the 1830s did the Mexican government grant San Diego civil rule and permit elections to be held. Otherwise, San Diego was under a military government. The populace did choose their representatives to territorial and national government occasionally in the Mexican period. Thus, although the system of government instituted by the Anglos was not entirely new to the Californios, they had little experience with it. Judge Hayes declared further that the Californios never took full advantage of the new Anglo system of government. The Californios, he thought, were too reserved in their manners and did not know how to use the system to their full advantage. He remarked that Anglos would seek political office or try and force those in office to do what they wanted. The Californios only voiced their grievances in private.134

The reluctance of Californios to run for public office in San Diego, and their subsequent loss of political power, between 1849 and 1856, occurred for a variety of reasons. Americans from the beginning dominated political affairs of the community through their numerical superiority and control of election laws. Racial biases and cultural conflicts created attitudes which also made it difficult politically for Californios. The lack of unity among the Californios added further to their political weakness. Language differences and cultural patterns made it difficult for Californios to compete successfully with Anglos at their own game, under their rules. This experience of Californios in San Diego contrasted sharply with the experiences of Californios in other parts of southern California. In the formative years of state and local government, from 1850-1856, Californios in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara apparently remained a viable political force while in San Diego Anglos took charge almost immediately.




1. Nellie Van de Grift Sanchez, Spanish Arcadia (Los Angeles; Powell Publishing Co., 1929), pp. 195-97.

2. Robert Glass Cleland, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills: Southern California. 1850-1880, 2d ed. (San Marino: Huntington Library. 1951), p. 31. Most historians have accepted Cleland’s arguments. For example, see Leonard Pitt, The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-speaking Californians, 1846-1890 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), p. 12; Cecil Robinson, With the Ears of Strangers: The Mexican in American Literature (Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 1963), pp. 29-30; Richard F. Pourade, The History of San Diego: The Silver Dons (San Diego: Union-Tribune Publishing Co., 1963), pp. 61, 68-69; John W. Caughey, California: A Remarkable State’s Life History (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1970), pp. 113-16: Andrew F. Rolle, California: A History (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1969), pp. 112-19; and Warren A. Beck and David A. Williams, California: A History of the Golden State (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1972), pp. 80-86.

3. Although most historians have agreed with Cleland, some have not. For example. see Jessie Davis Francis, “An Economic and Social History of Mexican California. 1828-1846,” 2 vols. (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1936), 2:755-61; and Raymond V. Padilla, “A Critique of Pittian History,” El Grito, 6 (Fall 1972): 8-15.

4. Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft: History of California, 7 vols. (San Francisco: History Co., 1884-90; reprint ed. Santa Barbara: Wallace Hebberd Publisher, 1970), 3:611-12.

5. Robert G. Cowan, Ranchos of California: A List of Spanish Concessions 1775-1822 and Mexican Grants 1822-1846 (Fresno: Academy Library Guild, 1956), p. 148; and Bancroft, Works: California. 3:309.

6. Herbert E. Bolton, “The Mission as a Frontier Institution in the Spanish-American Colonies,” in Wider Horizons of American History (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1967), p. 117.

7. Richard F. Pourade, The History of San Diego: The Time of the Bells (San Diego: Union-Tribune Publishing Co., 1961), pp. 108-9.

8. Zephyrin Engelhardt, San Diego Mission (San Francisco: James H. Barry Co., 1920). pp. 204, 221-23; and Idem, San Luis Rey Mission (San Francisco: James H. Barry Co., 1921), 41, 218-22.

9. Bolton, “The Mission,” p. 115.

10. C. Alan Hutchinson, Frontier Settlement in Mexican California: The Híjar-Padrés Colony, and Its Origins, 1769-1835 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1969), pp. 145-46, 228-29.

11. Ibid.. pp. 133-34.

12. C. Alan Hutchinson. “Mexican Government and the Mission Indians of Upper California 1821-1835,” The Americas, 21 (April 1965): 340-45.

13. Hutchinson. Frontier Settlement, p. 178.

14. Ibid., pp. 89-93.

15. Hutchinson. “Mission lndians” p. 343.

16. Hutchinson, Frontier Settlement, pp. 128. 224-29.

17. Bancroft, Works: California, 3: 336-37, 342-44.

18. Ibid. , pp. 611-12, 620-23.

19. Ibid., pp. 613-14; Raymond S. Brandes, trans., “Times Gone by in Alta California: Recollections of Señora Doña Juana Machado Alipaz de Ridington (Wrightington),” Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly, 41 (September 1951): 203-7; George Harwood Phillips, “Indian Resistance and Cooperation in Southern California: The Garra Uprising and Its Aftermath” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1973), pp. 62-63; Martin Cole and Henry Welcome, eds. Don Pío Pico’s Historical Narrative, trans. Arthur P. Botello (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1973), pp. 86-87; and William Ellison and Francis Price, eds. The Life and Adventures in California of Don Agustín Jassens, 1834-1856 (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1953), pp. 93-105.

20. Bancroft, Works: California, 3:611-15.

21. Ibid., 4:618; and Cowan, Ranchos of California, passim.

22. Bankroll, Works: California, 3:611-12, 4:617-18; Carl H. Heilbron, ed., History of San Diego County (San Diego: San Diego Press Club, 1936), p. 76; and Sherburne Friend Cook, The Conflict between the California Indians and White Civilization: I. The Indian versus the Spanish Mission(Berkeley; University of California Press, 1943), pp. 133-34.

23. Bancroft, Works: California, 3:361; and Ellison and Price, Life and Adventures, p. 103.

24. Bancroft, Works: California. 3:609, 619, 356-57; Daily Alta California. September 10, 1856; and San Diego Herald, April 11, 1857.

25. Lucy Lytle Killea, “The Political History of a Mexican Pueblo: San Diego from 1825 to 1845,” The Journal of San Diego History 12 (Ju1y and October 1966): July, 24-32.

26. Charles Franklin Carter, trans., “Duhaut-Cilly’s Account of California in the Years 1827-1828,” California Historical Society Quarterly 8 (June, September, and December 1929: 218-19.

27. Alfred Robinson, Life in California: During a Residence of Several Years in That Territory (San Francisco: Doxey, 1897: reprint ed., with an Introduction by Andrew F. Rolle, Santa Barbara: Peregrine Publishers, 1970), p. 12.

28. Bancroft, Works: California, 3:361-62.

29. Pourade, History: Silver Dons, pp. 24-25.

30. Robinson, Life in California, p. 128.

31. William E. Smythe. History of San Diego 1542-1908 (San Diego: History Co., 1908), p. 255. Bancroft (Works: California. 3:349) also revealed that missionaries at San Luis Rey, anticipating the secularization of the missions, ordered the killing of thousands of cattle. Christian Indians at San Luis Rey also destroyed some cattle (same vol., p.346).

32. Hutchinson, Frontier Settlement, pp. 122-23.

33. Killea, “Mexican Pueblo” October, 33-34.

34. Ibid.

35. George Tays, “Revolutionary California: The Political History of California from 1820 to 1848” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, rev. ed., 1934), p. iv.

36. As late as 1846, San Diego remained closed to foreign trade. Bancroft. Works: California, 3:548, 5:618.

37. Rolle, California, pp. 196, 201-2; Samuel Francis DuPont, Extracts from Private Journals-Letters of Captain S.F. DuPont while in Command of the Cyane during the War with Mexico, 1846-1848 (Wilmington, Del.: Ferris Bros., 1885), pp. 40-42; James Millar Guinn. Historical and Biographical Records of Southern California, Containing a History of Southern California from Its Earliest Settlement to the Openinq Year of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co., 1902), pp. 104-9; Muster Rolls of the Native California Co., December 22, 1846, Pierson B. Reading Collection, California State Library, Sacramento, Calif; and Bancroft, Works: California. 5:386.

38. Pitt, Decline of the Californios, pp. 28-34.

39. Pourade, History: Silver Dons, pp. 83-84; and U.S., President, California and New Mexico. H. Ex. Doc. 17, 31st Cong., 1st sess., 1850, p. 680.

40. Tays, “Revolutionary California,” p. xiii.

41. William H. Emory, Lieutenant Emory Reports: A Reprint of Lieutenant W. H. Emory’s Notes of a Military Reconnaissance (New York: H. Long and Bro., 1848; reprint ed., with an Introduction by Ross Calvin, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico. 1951 ; also in paperback edition by the same publisher, University of New Mexico, 1968), p. 174.

42. John Caughey and Laree Caughey, California Heritage: An Anthology of History and Literature (Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Press. 1966), pp. 160-62; and Pourade, History: Silver Dons, pp. 83-84.

43. Rolle, California: A History. p. 217; and David J. Weber, ed., Foreigners in Their Native Land: Historical Roots of the Mexican Americans, with a Foreword by Ramón Ruiz (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1973), p. 148.

44. Cleland, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills. p. 102.

45. Pitt, The Decline of the Californios. pp. 108-9.

46. Rodman W. Paul, “The Spanish Americans in the Southwest, 1848-1900,” in The Frontier Challenge: Response to the Trans-Mississippi West, ed. John G. Clark (Lawrence, Kan.: University of Kansas Press, 1971), pp. 41-42.

47. San Francisco Daily Alta California, December 22. 1849.

48. Andrew F. Rolle, “William Heath Davis and the Founding of American San Diego” California Historical Quarterly 31 (March 1952): 33-34; and San Francisco Daily Alta California, February 26, 1850. Clarence Alan McGrew, City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birth Place of California, 2 vols. (New York: American Historical Society, 1922), 1 :70-71.

49. San Francisco Daily Alta California, January 22, 1850; and Pourade, History: Silver Dons, p. 163; Pitt, Decline of the Californios, p. 111; and Pourade, History: Silver Dons, pp. 170-72.

50. Pitt, Decline of the Californios, p. 111 ; Pourade. History: Silver Dons, pp. 170-72; and San Diego Herald, September 25 and October 6, 1851.

51. San Francisco Daily Alta California. February 27, 1851; and Pourade, History: Silver Dons, p. 172.

52. Rolle, “William Heath Davis.” pp. 39-41.

53. Smythe, San Diego, p. 243; and San Francisco Daily Alta California. July 6, 1854. An account book of the county treasurer listed more Anglo and California merchants than newspaper records indicated were here. In 1855 eight Californios and twenty-four Anglos paid license fees to “vend goods and wares.” (All those with Spanish surnames were considered Californios, and the others listed were counted as Anglos.) Evidently, some of these merchants chose not to advertise in the local paper. San Diego County. Calif., Treasurer’s Office, Cash Book of the Treasurer of San Diego, 1854-1855, Ephraim W. Morse Collection. California State Library, Sacramento, Calif.

54. Marjorie Tisdale Wollcott. ed., Pioneer Notes from the Diaries of Judge Benjamin Hayes. 1849-1875 (Los Angeles: Privately printed, 1929), p. 128: William M. Kramer and Norton B. Stern, “The Rose of San Diego,” The Journal of San Diego History 19 (Fall 1973): 32; Pourade. History: Silver Dons, pp. 204-8, 234-37; and San Diego Herald, April 1, 1854, August 18. 1855, and September 15. 1855.

55. Pitt. Decline of the Californios, p. 112; Rolle, “William Heath Davis,” p. 42: and San Diego Herald, December 23, 1854 and December 1, 1855.

56. Cowan. Ranchos of California, passim. Cowan listed three other ranchos as being within the county, but they were either in Orange County or Baja California. Historical research on the number of ranchos in the San Diego area is incomplete. Most of the literature on the subject listed only those ranchos approved by the 1851 Land Commission. Bancroft, Cowan, and newspaper accounts revealed that other ranchos existed in San Diego but were either not presented to or rejected by the commission. Since Cowan examined all the land grant papers, I relied on his research for deciding how many ranchos were in the area.

57. Iris Wilson Engstrand and Thomas L. Scharf, “Rancho Guajome: A California Legacy Preserved,” Journal of San Diego History 20 (Winter 1974): 2-3; and Cecil C. Moyer, Historic Ranchos of San Diego, ed. Richard F. Pourade (San Diego: Union-Tribune Publishing Co., 1969), p. 95. Also Captain George W. Hamley probably acquired Rancho Guejito y Canada de Palomia sometime during this period.

58. Memorias de la Beata by Apolinaria Lorenzana. March 1878. Bancroft Library, Berkeley, Calif. Bancroft concluded that she lost the rancho “by some legal hocus-pocus” which she never understood (Bancroft, Works: California, 4:718). Most other historians have accepted Bancroft’s conclusions. A Federal Writers’ Project book about San Diego, however, has a third explanation for Miss Lorenzana’s loss of the rancho. They described how some men induced her to sign over the property, while she believed she was signing a statement about the census. Federal Writers’ Project, San Diego: A California City (San Diego: San Diego History Center, 1937), p. 56.

59. Kurt Van Horn, “Tempting Temecula: The Making and Un-Making of a Southern California Community,” Journal of San Diego History 20 (Winter 1974): 29: City of San Diego, Calif., Common Council, Minutes of the Common Council, Serra Museum and Library, San Diego, Calif., August 31, 1850; Marjorie McMorrow Rustvold, “San Pasqual Valley: Rancheria to Greenbelt” (Master’s thesis, San Diego State College, 1968), pp. 88-89; andSan Diego Herald, November 19. 1853.

60. Letter of H. S. Burton to E. D. Townsend, January 27. 1856 and letter of Adam Johnson to Thomas J. Henley, July 10, 1856. “Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824- 1881,” Microcopy No. 234, roll 35, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; and Rustvold, “San Pasqual.” p. 89.

61. U.S. Census Bureau, 8th Census, 1860, Population Schedules: San Diego, Calif.,Washington. D.C.. photostat copy; and San Diego County, Calif., Assessor’s Office, Assessor’s Rolls 1860, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, Calif.

62. Caughey, California, p. 198; and Cleland, Thousand Hills, pp. 103-10.

63. San Diego County, Calif., Auditor’s Office, Tax Book 1850, Tax Files, Serra Museum and Library, San Diego. Calif.

64. California, State Legislature. State Census of 1852, Agricultural Production Statistics for San Diego County, State Archives, Sacramento. Calif. This analysis is not an exhaustive review of all available statistics about this problem. Cursory examination of other statistics, such as the Assessor’s Appraisement List for 1852, revealed the same kind of trends. San Diego County. Calif., Assessor’s Office. Assessor’s Appraisement List 1852. Tax Files, Serra Museum and Library, San Diego. Calif.

65. California, State Legislature. Assembly, “Annual Report of the Surveyor General,” Doc. No. 5. Appendix to Assembly Journals. 6th sess., 1855. p. 78; California, State Legislature, Senate, “Annual Report of the Surveyor General,” Doc. No. 5. Appendix to Senate Journals’ 7th sess., 1856, pp. 296-97; Wollcott. Pioneer Notes, p. 114; and San Diego Herald, April 26. 1856.

66. Smythe. San Diego, p. 241.

67. California, State Legislature, Senate. “Surveyor General Report, 1856.” p. 297; and San Francisco Daily Alta California, September 8. 1853.

68. John Charles Frémont, Geographical Memoirs upon Upper California in Illustration of His Map of Oregon and California, with an Introduction by Allan Nevins and Dale Morgan (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1964), p. 315.

69. California. State Legislature. Senate, “Annual Report of the Surveyor General,” Appendix to Senate Journals, 8th sess., 1857, pull out page between page twenty-eight and twenty-nine; and U.S., Census Bureau, 7th Census 1850, Agricultural Production Statistics; San Diego County, Calif., California State Library, Sacramento, Calif.

70. San Diego Herald. January 13, 1855.

71. See tax records for the years 1850 through 1856, the United States Census for 1850, and the California State Census for 1852. They all show small amounts of improved land, as well as the value of farming implements.

72. California, State Legislature, Senate, “Surveyor General Report, 1856,” p. 296.

73. Cleland, Thousand Hills, pp. 104-5; and San Diego Herald, May 21, 1853.

74. San Diego Herald. May 15, 1852.

75. San Diego Herald. May 31, 1856.

76. Cleland. Thousand Hills, pp. 111, 115; and Pitt, Decline of the Californios, p. 111.

77. Henry Baker Lynch, Rainfall and Stream Run-Off in Southern California since 1769 (Los Angeles: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, 1931), p. 13.

78. Ford A. Carpenter, The Climate and Weather of San Diego California (San Diego: San Diego Chamber of Commerce, 1913), p. 36: and San Francisco Daily Alta California, October 28, 1851.

79. San Diego Herald, April 11, 1857.

80. Letter to Captain Jesse D. Hunter from Miguel de Pedrorena et al., July 2, 1847, Records of the Tenth Military Department, 1846-1851. 7 rolls, Microcopy No. 210, National Archives, Washington, D.C., roll 2.

81. Letter to Col. R. B. Mason from Col. J. D. Stevenson, May 16, 1848, Tenth Military Department, roll 3.

82. Pourade, History: Silver Dons, pp. 177-80.

83. Cleland, Thousand Hills, p. 67; and San Francisco Daily Alta California, March 31 and November 22, 1853. San Francisco Daily Alta California,September 10, 1856.

84. Cleland, Thousand Hills. p. 70.

85. San Francisco Daily Alta California, February 14, 1852.

86. Cleland, Thousand Hills. p. 302.

87. Paul W. Gates, “Adjudication of Spanish-Mexican Land Claims in California” Huntington Library Quarterly 21 (May 1958): 216.

88. San Francisco Daily Alta California, December 26, 1853.

89. Cleland, Thousand Hills, p. 23; and Gates, “Land Claims,” p. 217.

90. Cleland, Thousand Hills, p. 294; and Weber, Native Land, p. 159.

91. Gates, “Land Claims,” pp. 233-34.

92. San Francisco Daily Alta California, March 8, 1852.

93. Common Council, Minutes to the Common Council, August 2, 1854.

94. California, Statutes Passed at the First Session of the Legislature (1850), pp. 135-44. San Diego County, Calif., Clerk to the Board of Supervisors, Minutes to the Board of Supervisors, County Administration Building, San Diego, Calif., July 30, 1853 and July 10, 1855.

95. Cleland, Thousand Hills, pp. 122-23.

96. San Francisco Daily Alta California, September 8, 1851 and March 1, 1852.

97. San Francisco Daily Alta California, January 28, 1853.

98. Wollcott, Pioneer Notes, pp. 113-14.

99. San Diego County, Calif., Assessor’s Office, Assessor’s Rolls 1886, 1887, and 1888, County Administration Building, San Diego, Calif. San Diego County, Calif., Assessor’s Office, Assessor’s Records 1854, California State Library, Sacramento, calif.; and San Diego County. Calif., Assessor’s Office, Tax Book 1855, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, Calif.

100. San Diego County, Calif., Assessor’s Office, Tax Book 1856, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, Calif.

101. Pitt, Decline of the Californios, pp. 131-37.

102. Theodore Grivas, Military Governments in California, 1846-50: With a Chapter on Their Prior Use in Louisiana, Florida and New Mexico(Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1963), pp. 102-3; California, Statutes 1850, pp. 58-59, 121-24; Pourade, History: Silver Dons pp. 159, 174, and 198; and Heilbron, San Diego County, p. 407.

103. Letter to Stephen Kearny from Henry Fitch, May 2. 1847, Election Results for the Office of the Alcalde, October 1847, Tenth Military Department, rolls 2 and 6; and U.S., California Military Governor, San Diego Election Poll List, San Diego Election Files, State Archives, Sacramento, Calif.

104. Heilbron, San Diego County, p. 82. Smythe, San Diego, pp. 230, 427.

105. Pitt, Decline of the Californios. pp. 139-46.

106. Smythe, San Diego, pp. 427-35; San Diego Herald, September 27, 1853, September 15, 1855 and November 8. 1856.

107. San Diego Herald, September 27, 1853, September 9, 1854, and November 1, 1856.

108. San Diego Herald, August 28, 1851 and September 4, 1851.

109. San Diego Herald. April 1, 1854 and April 22, 1854.

110. Rolle, California: A History. pp. 213-18.

111. Heilbron, San Diego County. p. 76. This total remains uncertain because he listed thirty-one males between the ages of twenty and thirty, and there is no way of knowing how many were twenty and, therefore, below the minimum voting age of twenty-one.

112. U.S., Census Bureau, 7th Census, 1850, Population Schedules; San Diego, Calif.. National Archives, Washington, D.C., photostat copy.

113. Smythe, San Diego, pp. 230-31. Comparing the poll list in the 1850 county election with the 1850 census disclosed evidence that soldiers had cast ballots. U.S., Census Bureau, 7th Census, 1850. The California State Census of 1852 showed the same type of trends as the national census. California, Legislature, California State Census, 1852, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, Calif.

114. San Diego Herald, December 10, 1853.

115. San Diego Herald, August 6, 1853 and November 4. 1854.

116. John Russell Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Exploration and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua. Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission during the Years 1850, ’51, ’52 and ’53. 2 vols. (n.p.: Appleton, 1895; reprint ed., Chicago: Rio Grande Press, 1965), 2:104.

117. Robinson, With the Ears of Strangers,pp. 67-68, 190-95; and San Diego Herald, March 13, 1852.

118. San Diego Herald, May 19. 1855.

119. Thomas Jefferson Farnham, Travels in California (New York: n.p., 1844; reprint ed., with a Foreword by Joseph A. Sullivan, Oakland: Biobooks, 1947). p. 140.

120. Cave Johnson Couts, Unpublished Diary, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, California, p. 70. Manuel P. Servín, “California’s Hispanic Heritage: A View into the Spanish Myth” Journal of San Diego History 19 (Winter 1973): 2; and Jack D. Forbes, “Black Pioneers: The Spanish-speaking Afroamericans of the Southwest,” in Minorities in California History, ed. George E. Frakes and Curtis B. Solberg (New York: Random House. 1971), pp. 29-33.

121. San Diego Herald, June 24, 1854 and September 15, 1855; and San Luis Rey Election Poll List 1855, Election Files, Serra Museum and Library, San Diego, Calif.

122. San Diego Herald, December 2, 1854.

123. San Diego Herald, July 30, 1853.

124. San Diego Herald, June 28, 1852.

125. San Diego Union, July 16. 1876.

126. California, Constitutional Convention, Report of the Debates in the Convention of California, on the Formation of the State Constitution, in September and October, 1849, by J. Ross Browne (Washington. D.C.: J.T. Towers, 1850), p. 4.

127. Ibid., Appendix, p. iv; and California, Statutes 1850. p. 121.

128. San Diego Herald, June 30, 1855.

129. San Diego Herald. August 20, September 3, and September 27, 1853.

130. San Diego Herald. September 2 and September 9, 1854, August 25 and September 15. 1855, and November 1 and November 8, 1856.

131. San Diego Herald, September 8, 1855.

132. City of San Diego. Minutes to the Common Council, January 30, 1851; and San Francisco Daily Alta California, November 16 and November 30, 1852.

133. San Diego Herald. September 10 and October 15, 1853, and September 8 and November 17, 1855.

134. Killea, “Mexican Pueblo,” October, 33. Wollcott, Pioneer Notes, pp. 113-14.

Charles Hughes, a native San Diegan, received his B.A. degree in History from San Diego State University in 1971, and his Master’s degree in History from the same institution in 1974. For the past three years he has been doing research on the Californios in San Diego during the period between the Mexican War and the United States Civil War. An article entitled “A Military View of San Diego in 1847: Four Letters from Colonel Jonathan D. Stevenson to Governor Richard B. Mason,” edited by Mr. Hughes was published in this Journal in Vol. XX, No. 3, Summer, 1974. His article published here is an edited version of his Master’s thesis at San Diego State University. Illustrations are from the Historical Collections, Title Insurance and Trust Company, San Diego, and the San Diego Historical Society.