home | 18-19th centuries index


previous | next

Changes for California, 1822-34

News of Mexico's independence reached California's capital, Monterey, in April 1822, eight months after the treaty of independence. Spain's governor in California, Pablo Solá, swore allegiance to the new government in Mexico City and became a delegate from California to Mexico's Congress in Mexico City.

Mexico's break with Spain freed trade between Californians and non-Spaniards. More ships would now arrive on California's coast – Spanish ships having come infrequently to the remote outpost of California due to the long, costly and hazardous out-of-the-way journey. Since 1810 no Spanish supply ships had arrived. In 1820 California experienced a rise in trade and the number of people traveling up and down its main inland trade route, El Camino Real. Ships owned by the Boston firm of Bryant, Sturgis and Company were sailing between Boston and California – a three-month journey around Cape Horn, and from California to Hawaii and China. In California they were selling tobacco, silk stockings and other goods, and from California they were hauling hides for New England's shoe-making industry.

The Russians were still in California, hunting sea otters in San Francisco Bay and as far south as San Pedro, with Mexico's approval. Mexico was eager to develop trade, and in 1824 Mexico's congress passed a law that the persons and property of foreigners would be secure for those who settled in California and obeyed Mexico's laws. Foreigners who were Catholic or who converted to Catholicism could after becoming naturalized hold land. Upon hearing of Mexico's welcome to immigration, a few people from the eastern United States began making the three-month sail to California, mainly to its capital, Monterey, and they soon started families there. And trappers came overland to California to take part in the fur industry.

In 1824, Chumash Indians in California revolted following an outrage by soldiers at Santa Ynez, twenty miles northwest of Santa Barbara. The Chumash were well armed, to the surprise of authorities. The rebellion was crushed after reinforcements made the long trek from Santa Barbara, but periodic revolts by Indians would continue.

With independence from Spain, the arrival of missionaries from Spain was cut, and feelings against Spaniards, including Spanish monks, started to put California's missions into decline. In 1826 the governor of California, José Maria Echeandia, moved to convert the missions to secular townships (pueblos). Conflict over the issue delayed the move for a few years. In 1834 the conversion of the missions began in earnest. Whites began buying mission property. Indians who had been living and working in the missions were forced to seek an alternative, which lowered their morale.

Copyright © 1998-2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.