Chapter 3: Mexican San Diego

8. What was the importance of the Mexican era?

The Mexican era in San Diego lasted only some twenty five years but brought about some radical changes:

  • the destruction of the mission system and decommissioning of the presidio garrison,
  • the creation of a ranchero class, and
  • the development of local democracy and regional politics.

The smallness of the San Diego settlement, never numbering more than 500 individuals, made for a society where the details of everyone's life were common knowledge. San Diego's families were also joined by blood and marriage to other families throughout Alta and Baja California and this mitigated against provincialism.

Mexican San Diego developed a lively political life but lost the struggle to free themselves from the dominance of the provincial rulers in Monterey. Towards the end of the Mexican era San Diego's village settlement was depopulated and the outlying ranchos were slow to develop, victims of Indian depredations.

By the 1840s, the growing importance of foreign merchants and land holders in San Diego and California was a sign that revolutionary changes were about to take place.

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