Chapter 3: Mexican San Diego
2. Why did California's first rebellion against a Mexican governor originate in San Diego?
In 1830 the Mexican central government appointed Lt. Col. Manuel Victoria to succeed Governor Echeandía as the jefe político of Alta California. From the start Governor Victoria was not popular with many San Diegans. He removed the territorial government from the presidio and went to live in Monterey where his actions were influenced by the norteños. As feared, Victoria represented the Centralist anti-democratic, pro-church factions that were then resurgent in Mexico. For the next few years the Californios from San Diego secretly, then openly, led a movement to remove Governor Victoria from office. Juan Bandini, a Peruvian immigrant who had come to San Diego in the 1820's was perhaps the most active leader of the anti-Victoria movement. In San Diego Bandini wrote an eloquent protest against the governor's high- handedness on October 10, 1831. This was perhaps the first such piece of protest literature produced in California. Other prominent San Diegans shared Bandini's sentiments. José Antonio Carrillo who was in exile, traveled secretly to San Diego to help plan a rebellion. Pío Pico, who later became Governor of California, was also involved and later he wrote a history of the affair.
On November 29, 1831 Pico, Bandini and Carrillo with "about a dozen" companions took over the San Diego presidio and issued the pronunciamento. When former Governor Echeandía joined the revolt almost all the presidial officers and soldiers did too. The rebels called for the removal of Victoria as governor, the separation of military and civil commands, and for Echeandía to act as the interim governor.
The Pronunciamento de San Diego, was California's first pronunciamento. Probably written by Juan Bandini, in the florid literary style of the day, it set forth the reasons for people to join in rebellion against Victoria. They accused Victoria of "criminal abuse" and claimed that the signers were motivated by "
love to country, respect for the laws" and accused Victoria of breaking the laws. They listed as grievances the governor's suspension of the government of Santa Barbara, the execution of several people in violation of the procedures of law, and the banishment of several prominent Californios. Victoria was termed a despot.
The final resolution of the San Diego-led rebellion was that a force of Californios from San Diego and Los Angles met Victoria's army in December 1831. After a short skirmish two men were killed and Victoria wounded. His army retreated to Mission San Gabriel and he finally agreed to resign his governorship. He traveled to the port of San Diego and on January 17, 1832 left for Mexico. Thereafter the political struggles among Californios, between families, and between the norteños and sureños complicated things for many months until José Figueroa, the new governor appointed by Mexico City, arrived.
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