From the book "Republic of California History: An Alternative View"
Altman-Rikman Publishers, © 1987

        ...in 1822, at the start of Iturbide the First's reign, California's Spanish/Mexican population was around 4,500. By late 1829, the Emperor has exiled over 10,000 people to California – most of them political dissidents – more than tripling the population [see sidebar]. The majority of these exiles ended up in the San Diego area, either in the shanties that sprang up around the old town, or in small "villages," squatting on the neighboring ranchos...

        ...the territory was in an ugly mood by May of 1831. By then, Governor Hernandez had effectively lost control of all but the Monterey area. And in Los Angeles, on May 21st, the major land owners elected José Figueroa as their Governor of California. The majority of the citizens, and over half of California's small resident army flocked to his banner. Up in Monterey, an increasingly nervous Hernandez was sending off urgent requests to Mexico City for reinforcements, while his remaining loyal troops tried to set up the capital to withstand an expected siege as best they could.

        On June 1st, 1831, a small group of local residents backed by a platoon of solders, met the latest incoming 'Exile Party' in an orange grove two miles east of San Diego. No one is quite sure who organized this expedition, or what their original plans were, but when they met the tired, footsore, and badly malnourished exiles (accompanied by their Mexican Army guards – who were hardly any better off) things seemed to crystalize.

        Locating the Lieutenant in charge of the party, they informed him that Mexico City no longer ruled here, and that he was now under the command of the "Republic of California."

        It would be three weeks before Governor Figueroa learned that he had been made head of a sovereign nation in a San Diego orange grove...


Sidebar

"In reality, Emperor Iturbide had exiled quite a few more than 10,000 to California. The actual number is closer to 25,000. However, nearly half of these were able to escape before being forced to join one of the 'Exile Parties' headed for California. Of those who did not escape, at least 3,500 died along the way on the dangerous overland route to our land, mostly from inadequate supplies. Since that time, the trail has been known as the 'Road of Graves.'"

Bertrand Covarrubias,
in a speech before an Independence Day
crowd at San Diego's Ché Stadium,
1972


Republic of California