San Francisco History

The Beginnings of San Francisco


Nicolai Petrovich Rezánof, chamberlain of the tsar, appointed ambassador extraordinary to the court of Japan and imperial inspector of the Russian American Company, arrived in Sitka in September 1805 where he found the Russian colony in a pitiful state of starvation, sickness, and misery. In the hope of obtaining provisions from the Spanish settlements of California he loaded a small ship with a cargo of goods likely to be pleasing to the Californians and sailed for San Francisco where he arrived on the 4th of April 1806. The comandante, Don José Argüello, was absent at Monterey and had left his son, Don Luis, then an ensign, in command. Rezánof was hospitably received and entertained by the comandante and during the long negotiations with the provincial government which followed was received as a friend by the Argüello family. Among the lovely daughters of the comandante, Doña Concepcion had the name of being the beauty of California. She was just over sixteen and in a country where girls married at thirteen might be considered as being at the height of her loveliness. The advent of the distinguished and handsome courtier into her little uneventful world naturally impressed the girl. Rezánof, though no longer youthful, and a widower, was of fine presence and had a very attractive face. He fell desperately in love with the pretty Doña Concepcion and his passion being reciprocated he demanded of Don José the hand of his daughter. Finding his child's happiness at stake, Don José gave a reluctant consent, providing, of course, that Rezánof obtained the consent of his imperial master. The consent of the friars was more difficult, but with the combined effort of all it was finally obtained with the understanding that the betrothal should be kept secret until the decision of the pope should be known, Rezánof being of the Greek church. With the signing of the betrothal contract Rezánof found himself, as a member of the family, in much better condition for obtaining the supplies he needed, and in May sailed for Sitka with a full cargo of grain and other provisions for his starving colonists.

In September Rezánof set out from Okhotsk in Siberia for an overland trip to St. Petersburg, to report to the tsar and obtain his consent to a marriage with the fair Californian. Weakened by the hardship of the past year he was unable to endure the long journey. He was seized with a violent fever and died at Krasnoyarsk, in central Siberia.

In far California Doña Concepcion waited for her lover's return. The years passed and no word came. Constant to his memory she refused to listen to words of love from other suitors, but devoted her life to works of charity. After the death of her parents she lived with the De la Guerra family in Santa Barbara. Here Sir George Simpson met her in 1843 and from him she learned, it is said, the fate of her lover. Simpson says of her: "Notwithstanding the ravages of an interval of time which had tripled her years, we could still discover in her face and figure, in her manner and conversation, the remains of those charms which had won for the youthful beauty Von Rezánof's enthusiastic love.” {Simpson: Narrative, 377.} When the Dominicans founded their convent of St. Catherine at Benicia, Doña Concepcion entered that establishment, and there she died in 1858 at the age of sixty-seven [She actually died on 23 December 1857, and is buried in St. Dominic's Cemetery, Benicia.-RF]. She enjoyed the respect and veneration of all who knew her and there were few families who could not remember some act of kindness at her hands.



During the session of the first legislature of California, 1850, the tediousness of daily debate over appropriations, the dry-as-dust reports of highway commissions, and all the weary detail of law making, were relieved and illumined by a tale of romance which tinged with roseate hue the somber twilight of legislative halls. The innovation came in the unwonted form of a report of a committee on the derivation and definition of the names of the counties of California, by its chairman, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.

Said the distinguished senator: (in part) "The following circumstance which happened during the first months of the foundation of San Luis Obispo is insignificant in itself, but the writer cannot help but dwell upon it for a moment with the most tender feelings of the heart.

"As a matter of course at that period, few families had as yet immigrated to this country and the female sex was an oasis in the desert. The writer's father was one of the many who emigrated here in bachelorship, and while sojourning in San Luis Obispo he unexpectedly met with a lady who was in travail, and about to bring a new being into the world; and as there was no one, save her husband, to assist her, he acted as tenedor (holder). The lady was safely delivered of a girl, whereupon the tenedor, then a young man, solicited of the parents the hand of their child and a formal agreement ensued between the parties, conditional, that if at a mature age, the girl would willingly consent to the union the ceremony would be duly performed. * * * Time rolled by and year after year transpired until the muchacha (girl) had reached her fourteenth year, when the marriage took place and the offspring of that union has now the honor to present his readers with this short biographical sketch.” {Senate Journal. First Session, 1850, p. 526.}

Ignacio Vicente Ferrer Vallejo was born in La Hacienda de los Santos de las Cañadas in the bishopric of Guadalajara, Mexico, July 29, 1748. He was the son of Geronimo Vallejo and Antonia Gomez, his wife. He enlisted under Rivera in 1773 and came to California with Lieutenant Ortega in 1774, serving under that officer at San Diego. In 1789 he was made a corporal and in 1805 a sergeant; that being as high as he rose, though in 1806 he was named sargento distinguido. He was married in Santa Barbara February 18, 1791, to the young woman at whose birth he so fortunately assisted, María Antonia Isabel de Lugo, daughter of Francisco de Lugo and Juana Villanauel his wife. He died in Monterey in 1831. His children were:

i.María Isidora, born, 1791; married Mariano Soberanes.
ii. María Josefa, born 1793; married (i) José Francisco Alvarado and became the mother of Juan Bautista Alvarado, governor of California. After her husband's death she married José Raimundo Estrada.
iii. José Ignacio, born, 1795.
iv. José de Jesus, born, 1797; married Soledad Sanchez.
v. Juana Maria, born, 1799.
vi.María Magadelena, born, July 23, 1803.
vii. María Prudencia, born, May 20, 1805; married José Amesti.
viii. Mariano Guadalupe, born in Monterey July 7, 1808.
ix. María Encarnacion, born March 25, 1809; married Captain J. B. R. Cooper.

x. María Rosalia, born, 1811; married Jacob P. Leese.
xi. Salvador, born, 1813; married María de la Luz Carrillo.
xii. María de Jesus, born, 1815.
xiii. Juan Bautista, born, 1817.

Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, born in Monterey July 7, 1808; died in Sonoma January 18, 1890; married in San Diego March 6, 1832, Francisca Benicia Carrillo, one of the most beautiful of the handsome daughters of Don Joaquin Carrillo and María Ignacia Lopez his wife.

Vallejo entered the military service as cadet of the Monterey company January 8, 1824. He was made alférez (ensign) July 30, 1827; lieutenant June 22, 1835; captain July 9, 1838; lieutenant-colonel of calvary May 2, 1842. In 1838 he was made comandante-general of California; and previous to that had been made comandante militar del Frontera del Norte, with headquarters at Sonoma. A commission as colonel of cavalry was sent him September 9, 1846. {He also held a commission of colonel under the independency of 1836.}

The life of young Vallejo at Monterey was not different from other boys of his class. With young Castro, Alvarado, Estrada, and the rest, he went to school to the soldier schoolmasters and as he grew older his desire for knowledge craved other works than the lives of the saints and the doctrina Christiana. Governor Sola took much interest in the boys and helped them to obtain a few books of a more secular nature, and as they grew older they made use of their opportunities in procuring from visiting ship-masters such books as could be had which they carefully concealed from the vigilant eyes of the padres ever on guard to confiscate and destroy books of heretical tendency.

In 1830 Vallejo was assigned to the San Francisco company of which he was made comandante in 1831. He made several campaigns against the Indians and in 1834 was sent as comisionado to secularize the mission of San Francisco Solano. He was a member of the territorial diputacion in 1827, and for several years thereafter, and in 1834 was granted the Petaluma rancho. In 1835 Vallejo was instructed to lay out a pueblo at the Solano mission, was made director of colonization at the north, and was authorized to issue grants of land to settlers; the scheme being to prevent, by Spanish colonization, further extension of the Russian establishment of Ross. Vallejo laid out the pueblo and gave it the Indian name of the valley, Sonoma—Valley of the Moon. He labored very earnestly to establish his pueblo and succeeded in attracting a number of families to it. He transferred the San Francisco company to Sonoma and also organized a company of about fifty Indians whom he drilled in the manual of arms. After the neglect of the Mexican government to pay its soldiers had caused the presidial companies to disband, Vallejo supported his military establishment for several years at his own expense. In 1834 he took the preliminary steps for establishing a civil government at San Francisco and on January 1, 1835, turned over to the ayuntamiento the control of civil affairs of that pueblo. He was untiring in his efforts to settle and develop the northern frontier and through his wise management and influence with the Indian chiefs the peace of the frontier was rarely broken. In the rising of Alvarado and Castro against Gutierrez he took no active part, though his sympathies were with his nephew, Alvarado, and he accepted office under the government formed by him. He was now (1837) the foremost man in California as he was one of the richest. Over the hills of his princely estate of Petaluma roamed ten thousand cattle, four to six thousand horses, and many thousand sheep. He occupied a baronial castle on the plaza at Sonoma, where he entertained all who came with most royal hospitality and few travelers of note came to California without visiting him. At Petaluma he had a great ranch house called La Hacienda and on his home farm, Lachryma Montis (Tear of the Mountain), he built, about 1849, a modern frame house where he spent the later years of his life.

Vallejo's attitude towards the Russians at Fort Ross and Bodega was firm and dignified. He maintained that the Russians were on California soil and he notified the Russian manager, Rotchef, that while the use of the port of Bodega by the Russians was tolerated, if he permitted foreigners to land and enter the country in defiance of law he must not be surprised if he found Mexican troops stationed there.

Vallejo also objected to Sutter' s establishing an independent principality in the Sacramento valley and his assumption of authority to wage war upon the natives, to grant passports, and to exercise other prerogatives of sovereignty. This made Sutter very angry and he announced that if he were interfered with he would not only defend himself but would declare the independence of California from the Mexican rule.

We have seen (in chapter xi) the ineffectual attempts of Vallejo to revive the military establishment of California. He had cause to be dissatisfied with the administration of Alvarado, who, giving himself up to luxurious ease and dissipation had largely left the management of affairs to the politicians that surrounded him. Juan Bautista Alvarado was a young man of excellent ability, fairly well educated for his time, of handsome person and courteous manners, and of great popularity and influence with all classes. He was born in Monterey February 14, 1809, and was son of José Francisco Alvarado and María Josefa Vallejo, and his grandfather, Juan Bautista Alvarado, was a soldier of Portolá's expedition, 1769. Alvarado's marriage to Doña Martina Castro, daughter of Francisco María Castro, at the mission of Santa Clara August 24, 1839, was a notable event and was attended by all the great in social and political life. Alvarado, who was then governor, was ill at Monterey and was represented by his half-brother, José Antonio Estrada, who as his proxy, stood at the altar with the bride. The governor was at this time thirty years of age, and of most distinguished appearance; but already the habit of excessive drinking was upon him and it soon became so confirmed that he was frequently unable, through "illness," to perform his official duties.

Disappointed in his expectation of reform in the government and in the failure of what he considered necessary measures for the national defence, Vallejo wrote the supreme government in 1841 giving his opinion of Alvarado's rule, stating his belief that the country was going to ruin, and asking to be relieved of his command. He recommended that the offices of governor and comandante-general be united in one person. Later in December of that year he pointed out to the minister of war the illness of California and suggested the remedy that should be applied. California as a country was nowhere excelled in natural advantages of climate, soil, and harbors, and it had all the elements of a grand prosperity, needing only an energetic population and wise regulations. The land was capable of every product for the welfare of a happy and prosperous people yet they imported most of the articles they consumed. A man free from ties of relationship with the people should be placed at the head of affairs and invested with both civil and military authority; a force of at least two hundred men should be sent in charge of competent officers; the fort at San Francisco should be rebuilt and a custom house established there; a colony of Mexican artisans and farmers should be sent to the country to counterbalance the influx of foreigners; and many other recommendations were made.

The result of Vallejo's dispatches was the appointment of Micheltorena to the offices of governor and comandante-general. Having been instrumental in bringing Micheltorena into California Vallejo stood his friend and fed his army, and also loaned him several thousand dollars in money. For this assistance Micheltorena, having no funds with which to pay Vallejo, granted him, in June 1844, the Rancho Nacional Soscol, in what is now Solano county.

In the rising against Micheltorena Vallejo took no part, but he made an indignant protest against Sutter' s arming foreigners and Indians against his country. He advised Micheltorena that he was well esteemed by the Californians and would be still more highly thought of if he would send his cholos away. He would not take an active part against the governor, but to avoid sending him reinforcements and defend a band of convicts whose presence he deemed a curse to California, he disbanded his Sonoma forces November 28, 1844, and so notified the governor, saying he could no longer support them at his own expense as he had been doing.

Always friendly to the immigrants Vallejo exceeded his authority in protecting them, and in this and in openly advocating the cause of the United States, his great influence was always used for the American cause, notwithstanding the treatment he received. One can hardly conceive a more ungrateful return for the kindness to immigrants and help to Americans than to be seized and confined in a dismal prison by these same immigrants and kept there long after the United States authorities had taken possession and the United States flag was flying over his prison house. On September 15, 1846, he wrote Larkin: "I left the Sacramento half dead and arrived here (Sonoma) almost without life, but am now much better. * * * The political change has cost a great deal to my person and mind and likewise to my property. I have lost more than one thousand live horned cattle, six hundred tame horses, and many other things of value which were taken from my house here and at Petaluma. My wheat crops are entirely lost, for the cattle ate them up in the field and I assure you that two hundred fanegas of sowing {represents a crop of about 25,000 bushels}, in good condition as mine was, is a considerable loss. All is lost and the only hope for making it up is to work again.” {Larkin Doc. iv. 280.}

That Vallejo's services to the American cause were appreciated by some of the officers is shown by a letter from Captain Montgomery of the Portsmouth dated September 25, 1846. The Captain sends hearty thanks "for the service you have rendered as well as for the prompt and sincere manner in which you were pleased to tender your assistance to the government of the United States in the recent emergency, and to your associates whose ready obedience to your call has done much towards allaying natural prejudices and unfriendly suspicions among the various classes comprising the society of California, and for hastening arrangements for the establishment of peace, order, and good government in the country." {Vallejo Doc. xii. 242.}

I quote these letters because they represent the character of the man far better than any words of mine can, and how did the United States requite the services of this man? By passing laws which by their action deprived him of all his property and changed his condition from that of the richest man in California to one of comparative poverty. The land commission confirmed his grant of Rancho Nacional Soscol. The government carried it to the district court which confirmed the action of the land commission. The government appealed the case to the supreme court which rejected the claim on the ground that the Mexican government gave away its land in California but could not sell government land for food furnished its soldiers. A most astounding decision. In 1863 Congress by special act permitted the holders of Vallejo titles to buy their land at a dollar and a quarter an acre. His great rancho of Petaluma, ten leagues, to which he added five leagues more by purchase—sixty-six thousand acres—nothing remains but the little home farm and residence, Lachryma Montis. This is the possession and home of his two youngest daughters and the spring which gives it its name supplies the town of Sonoma with water, and the daughters with a small income. The claim to the Petaluma rancho was not confirmed until 1875, after General Vallejo, tired of fighting squatters and lawyers had given up his right to the land. {Vallejo: Historia de California, MS. iv. 386.}

On December 22, 1846, Vallejo deeded to Robert Semple an undivided half of a tract of five square miles of the Soscol rancho, on the straits of Carquines, for a new city to be built which was to be the great seaport and commercial city of the bay of San Francisco. The town was to be named Francisca, in honor of Vallejo's wife, Doña Francisca Benicia Carrillo. Thomas O. Larkin became interested in the venture and took over the greater part of Vallejo's interest. The attempt to appropriate the name, as well as the commercial supremacy of San Francisco was frustrated by an order of Alcalde Washington A. Bartlett requiring the name San Francisco substituted for Yerba Buena on all public documents. Doctor Semple was very indignant at this action and spluttered over it in the Californian which he had removed from Monterey to San Francisco. To prevent confusion the name of Francisca was changed to Benicia, the second name of Señora Vallejo. The site for the city was a beautiful one, but trade did not leave San Francisco, though General Persifer F. Smith removed the army headquarters to the city on the strait. The attempt was made to have Benicia named capital of California and General Vallejo made most generous offers to the legislature of land and money if they would move the capital thither.

Vallejo was a member of the constitutional convention and he applied himself to the work of creating a state with energy and diligence. In common with the other Californians in the convention he endeavored to protect the interests of the natives of the country. The seal of California caused much discussion. Major R. S. Garnett made a design which was accepted, but the members insisted upon the addition of various features. At last when all was agreed the bear emblem was brought forward. Some of the California members were very angry and protested against the bear being used. General Vallejo said that if the bear was put on the seal it should be represented as under the control of a vaquero with a lasso around its neck.

Bayard Taylor says, writing of the convention: "One of the most intelligent and influential of the Californians is General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, whom I had the  pleasure of meeting several times during my stay in Monterey. As military commandant during the governorship of Alvarado, he exercised almost supreme sway over the country. He is a man of forty-five years of age, tall and of a commanding presence; his head is large, forehead high and ample, and eyes dark, with a grave, dignified expression. He is better acquainted with our institutions and laws than any other native Californian." {El Dorado. 157. On Land and Sea. 214.} Thomes says: (1843) "The next morning, when all hands were called I was again dispatched to Señora Abarono's (Briones) rancho for milk, as General M. G. Vallejo was on board and it was necessary to give him a feast, he owning half a million acres of land, and fifty thousand head of cattle, so it was reported. * * * He was a very gentlemanly Mexican, and quite affable to us boys, often giving us a silver dollar for pulling him on board the ship and on shore." William Kelly says: "I waited on the general, (at his Sonoma house in 1850) who is an enormously rich man, and was received with the greatest courtesy and hospitality. He is a fine, handsome man, in the prime of life, of superior attainments and great natural talent: the only native Californian in the senate. His lady is also possessed of unusual personal attractions and of that easy dignity and cordiality of manner so peculiarly characteristic of Spanish ladies. His house is a fine one superbly furnished and wanting in nothing that comfort or luxury requires."  {A stroll through the Diggings of California. 54.}

In common with most Californians General Vallejo was most careless and improvident when money was plenty, and while he realized large sums from the sale of lands and cattle, his later years were passed in comparative poverty. The town of Vallejo was named for him and a street in San Francisco bears his name. He had sixteen children, of whom ten lived to maturity. One daughter married John B. Frisbie, captain of company H, Stevenson's regiment, and another married his brother Levi. One married Arpad Harasthy and the two younger daughters married Don Ricardo de Empáron and James H. Cutter.



Pio Pico, son of José María Pico and María Estaquia Gutierrez, su legitima esposa, was born at the mission of San Gabriel May 5, 1801. His grandfather, Santiago de la Cruz Pico, his father and his mother, all came with the expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776. His father and mother were married in San Diego May 10, 1789, and had:

i. José Antonio Bernardino; born, San Diego May 21, 1794.
ii. María Concepcion Nicanor; born, San Diego January 14, 1797; married Domingo Carrillo.
iii. María Tomasa; born, San Diego January 20, 1799; married Francisco Javier Alvarado, 3d. It was she whom Dana called upon in San Diego in 1859 and was the only person of the old upper class of those friends of 1835-6 whom he could find there.
iv. Pio; born, San Gabriel May 5, 1801.
v. María Casimira; married José Joaquin Gerónimo de Ortega. Doña Trinidad de Ortega, their daughter, born in 1832, was of such rare beauty that Don Antonio de Coronel, a friend of her father, called her La Primavera (the spring time) and named Spring street (La Primavera) in Los Angeles in her honor. She married Miguel Cárlos Francisco María de la Guerra.
vi. Andrés; born, San Diego November 30, 1810; died, Los Angeles, 1875.
vii. María Isidora; married John Forster.
viii. María Estéfana; married José Antonio Carrillo.
ix. María Jacinta; married José Antonio Carrillo (his second wife).
x. Feliciana. It was one of these sisters of Pio Pico that was so kind to the forlorn boy, James Ohio Pattie, in the prison at San Diego in 1828.

Pio Pico's boyhood was spent in San Diego where he grew up, went to school to José Antonio Carrillo, later his brother-in-law, and was acolyte for the padres. In 1821 he kept a little pulpería in San José. The first we hear of him in public life was in1826 when he was clerk of a court-martial in San Diego. In 1828 he was elected a member of the territorial diputacion and was thenceforth more or less prominently connected with the political affairs of the territory. He headed a revolt against Governor Victoria in 1831 and on the overthrow of that official was named by the diputacion jefe politico (governor) ad interim, January11, 1832. The ayuntamiento of Los Angeles refused to recognize Pico as governor and declared in favor of Echeandía, while Pico withdrew saying he declined to retain the office in opposition to the wish of the people. On the expulsion of Micheltorena the junta departmental declared Pico governor ad interim February 15, 1845. This was confirmed by the supreme government at Mexico and Pico took the oath as constitutional governor of California April 18, 1846. The period of Pico's political activity was one of revolution, of contest between the north and south and between the civil and military authorities. Through the influence of José Antonio Carrillo, diputado to the Mexican congress, that body decreed that "The Pueblo of Los Angeles in Alta California is erected into a city, and it will be in future the capital of that territory." This order was proclaimed May 23, 1835. The Monterey ayuntamiento protested against the proposed change as outrageously detrimental if not fatal to the best interests of the territory, while the diputacion concurred and decided to remain in Monterey. The governor, Figueroa, ignored the order as did Castro, Gutierrez, Chico, Alvarado, and Micheltorena; Los Angeles protesting all the time and fighting for her right to be the capital of the territory. The only interruption in this agitation was when Micheltorena remained for six months at Los Angeles, and after his cholos had stolen everything eatable in the south, Los Angeles relinquished her claim to the honor of being the governor's residence and congratulated Monterey on its acquisition. It was not until the appointment of Pico in February 1845 that Los Angeles came into her own. Pico made it his capital.

The controversy between José Castro, comandante-general, and Governor Pico immediately preceding the American occupation was the question of civil or military supremacy. Castro was alarmed by the aggressive attitude of the American adventurers in the north while Pico made light of the trouble and believed, with some cause, that Castro was making this a pretense for accumulating an army for the purpose of overthrowing him. The revenues, too, were largely in Castro's hands, Monterey being the chief port of entry, and Castro allowed the civil government one-third of the receipts claiming two-thirds for the military department as, under instructions from the supreme government, it was his duty to defend the country and he had that right. Castro convened a junta of military officers at Monterey to take measures for defense and Pico deeming this a usurpation of his prerogative prepared to march against Castro with an army of eighty men, and had reached Santa Barbara when he received the startling news of the capture of Sonoma and the raising of the bear flag.

Pico's course during the conquest was not heroic, but what could he do? On the landing of Sloat he issued a proclamation calling upon all Mexican citizens, native and naturalized, every man without exception, between the ages of fifteen and sixty, to present himself to the government, armed for the national defense.

To this order there was little or no response. Many Californians of influence were in sympathy with the invaders; others felt that a struggle was useless and all were more or less influenced by the advice of Larkin and other American friends whose efforts were directed to effecting a peaceful change of flag.

Castro joined Pico at Los Angeles with one hundred men; Pico had his original army of eighty, with a few additional men obtained at Santa Barbara. Meanwhile Stockton landed three hundred and fifty men at San Pedro and Castro sent commissioners to negotiate with him. Stockton demanded, as a preliminary to negotiations, that the Californians declare their independence of Mexico and raise the American flag. Castro considered this an insulting proposition to be made to the commander-in-chief of the Mexican forces and he determined to leave California rather than suffer the humiliation of capture. In a letter to Pico, August 9th, he says that notwithstanding the governor's efforts to assist him in preparing for the defence of the department, he can only count on one hundred men, badly armed, worse supplied, and discontented, and he has reason to fear that not even these few men will fight when the necessity arises. He will, therefore, leave the country and report to the supreme government and he invited the governor to go with him.

Pico submitted the letter to the junta August 10th, and announced the impossibility of a successful defence. He recommended that the assembly should dissolve in order that the enemy might find none of the departmental authorities acting. The assembly approved Pico's resolve and after appropriate expressions of patriotism by the members the last junta departmental of California adjourned sine die.

Pico and Castro left the capital on the night of August 10th. Castro after disbanding his military force took the road to the Colorado river, accompanied by a few friends. He returned to California in 1848 under a passport from Colonel Mason and lived for some years at Monterey as a private citizen. Pico retired to the Santa Margarita rancho where he was concealed by his brother-in-law, John Forster, for about a month while Frémont's men searched for him. He escaped into Lower California and in November crossed the gulf to Guaymas. He returned to California in July 1848, and announced that he came as Mexican governor of California to carry out the terms of the armistice agreed upon between the generals commanding the forces of Mexico and those of the United States, and requested the co-operation of his excellency, Governor Mason. Mason ordered Colonel Stevenson, commanding the southern department, to arrest Pico, hold him incommunicado, and send him by sea to Monterey, whence he intended to ship him to Oregon, fearing his absurd pretensions might incite some of his countrymen to seditious acts. Three days later Mason received the text of the treaty which provided for the release of all prisoners and he immediately instructed Colonel Stevenson to release him.

The period of Pio Pico's administration was one of unrest, of internal strife, and the constant warring of factions for privilege and for personal advantage. The land was being invaded by armed bands of rough adventurers who freely expressed their contempt for the owners of the soil and scarcely concealed their intention to appropriate the territory. Without vigor or determination or a force to compel obedience to his commands, Pico was utterly unable to oppose the manifest destiny of the weak to be ruled by the strong, and apparently made no effort to stem the current which was sweeping his country into the hands of a foreign power.

Don Pio has been severely criticised for his mission policy, somewhat unjustly perhaps, for there is no evidence that either he or his friends profited by the sale of the missions. In regard to land matters there is more reason to believe him blamable. Up to the 7th of July, when Sloat proclaimed the sovereignty of the United States, the grants made by him were apparently regular and in accord with the law. The belief that California was about to be absorbed by the United States caused an extraordinary demand for land, and if Pico gave it away with a free hand I cannot see that he should be censured for it. He was within his legal rights, and he was no friend of the United States. He favored English ascendancy and he undoubtedly signed the McNamara grant of three thousand square leagues with the idea of promoting English influence through the colonists to be brought into California by this concession; but in this his act was subject to the approval of the supreme government. There is little doubt, however, that some grants were signed by him after the 7th of July and antedated—grants through which certain prominent citizens of California hoped to obtain large tracts of valuable land.

Don Pio Pico was married in Los Angeles February 24, 1834, to María Ignacia Alvarado, daughter of Francisco Javier Alvarado and María Ignacia Amador his wife. The wedding was a great event in Los Angeles and General José Figueroa (the governor) was groomsman. María Ignacia died February 2, 1854, and Pico married, second, Concepcion Ávila. In person, Don Pio was about five feet, seven inches in height, corpulent, very dark, with pronounced African features. He was an amiable, kind-hearted man, of limited education and without sufficient ability or intelligence to prevent himself from being used by abler men. His own vast holdings of land, acquired before he became governor, gradually passed from his possession. He died in Los Angeles September 11, 1894, in his ninety-fourth year.


Source: Eldredge, Zoeth Skinner. The Beginnings of San Francisco. 1912: San Francisco.

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