The First Capital of California: Monterey
American elementary school students learn each of the fifty State Capitals within the United States. Many are shocked to learn that Albany is the State Capital of New York. Many more are shocked to learn that Sacramento is the State Capital of California. What is even more shocking that Sacramento was not the original State Capital of California. The original State Capital of California was the City of Monterey.
History Of The Founding Of Monterey
Monterey was originally inhabited by the Esalen Indians until they were displaced by the Ohlone Indians around 500 A.D. Native Americans were drawn to MontereyBay by the abundance of fish in the ocean and the abundance of wildlife in the nearby mountains.
The first recorded European sighting of Monterey was by Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo sighted what he called the “Bay of Pines” around 1542. However, due to high winds Cabrillo did not make landfall and only recorded his findings.
Around 1602, the Spanish Explorer Don Sebastian Viscaino made landfall in Monterey and officially named the Bay in honor of Spain’s Count of Monte Rey. In 1770, Father Junipero Serra came to Monterey and established one of the many Missions founded by Father Serra in what would later become California. A year later, the Mission was moved to Carmel. However, Monterey Bay remained an important Spanish Port and housed a presidio that gave protection to the surrounding areas.
Monterey Becomes the Capital
Because of its accessible Port, Monterey was named the Capital of Spanish California in 1776. That same year, Juan Bautista de Anza arrived in California with the first Spanish settlers that settled the surrounding area with the protection given by the Monterey Precidio.
In 1822, Mexico achieved its Independence from Spain and acquired California from the Spanish. Monterey became the Mexican capital and California pledged its allegiance to Mexico. While Spain did not allow foreign traders into California, Mexico freely opened up the ports of Monterey for trade. Soon the British and the Americans came to California and Monterey in search of goods.
California Becomes a Part of The United States
With the outbreak of hostilities between the United States and Mexico in the 1840s, land acquisition became an important part of the American war effort. In 1846, Commodore John Drake Sloat arrived in Monterey Bay and raised the American Flag over claiming it for California. Mexico gave it up without a fight. When the Mexican-American War ended in 1848 in the Treaty of Guadalupe was signed, all of California, Utah, Nevada and parts of Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado were annexed to the United States.
In 1849, delegates from all around California met in Monterey to create a State Constitution and California entered the Union in 1850. However, Monterey was not chosen as the Capital of the new State of California. Instead, San Jose was given the honor. Eventually, the State Capital moved from city to city until finally settling in Sacramento.
After not being chosen as the State Capital, Monterey still flourished in the economic world. For many years, Monterey was important in the whaling and fishery industries. Today, Monterey is known for its support of artists and its attractive tourism activities. Besides the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, Monterey offers fine dining, art galleries, shopping and a world class Aquarium.
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