top of page
La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Mexican rule and ranchos


In 1821, Mexico seceded from the Spanish Empire and took California with it.

California was still very remote, with only a trickle of Mexican immigration by boat from Mexico, and it paid little or no tax to the Mexican state.

The Spanish had had a rule forbidding the colonies to trade with any other power.

When the Mexicans lifted that ban, English, Russian and American ships began flooding into California.

The number of ships rose from 2.5 to 25 ships per year.

Ships would come from as far out as Boston (navigating around 14,000 miles through Cape Horn).

They would dock in Monterey, where goods were taxed up to 100%.

You can still see the Custom House today, as well as the Larkin House, built for the first American consul to Mexico, whose style quickly spread throughout the state.

The Mexicans abolished the mission system.

Land and cattle were supposed to go to Native Californians who had worked in the missions and be granted through strict regulation.

But in effect, these were given to friends and family of the governors, at little or no cost.