ON THE EVE
OF AMERICAN RULE
CHAPTER 11

Governor Figueroa had managed to win the allegiance of the province more by personal charm than by authority. After his death, Californians grew ever more restless. Aggravating local tensions were the many changes of governments in Mexico City. Succeeding Figueroa was Nicolás Gutiérrez, who served as ad interim governor for four months until the next appointee arrived.

This was the Mexican-born Mariano Chico, a political reactionary unpopular from day one with the majority of Californians. As public resentment toward him burst, Chico was expelled from office—after only three months. Because his ouster was clandestinely accomplished, the insurgent Californians managing to avoid open conflict with the national government. Although Chico declared he would return with troops to take vengeance, his was an empty threat.

Mexican governors were no longer welcome in California; one after another found the place hostile. Indeed, most provincials no longer referred to themselves as Mexicanos but as Californios. Upon the expulsion of Chico, the civil and military commands fell temporarily back to Gutiérrez. Though easygoing and inoffensive, Governor Gutiérrez was a Spaniard by birth and regarded as a foreigner. A petty quarrel between him and Juan Bautista Alvarado provided the excuse for his overthrow. The Californians were determined to secure home rule for the territory. Why should a Vallejo, an Alvarado, a Carrillo, or any other local leader be inferior to an outsider?

Contact with foreigners further highlighted the backwardness of Mexico and awakened local ambitions. The ease with which the Californians had expelled Governors Victoria and Chico emboldened several provincial leaders to act independently. They became determined to secure home rule for their province.

-83-

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