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San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

 

Vallejo, California is the first permanent home of California's state government and is the 142-year home of Mare Island, the first and most famous naval ship building and repair facility on the west coast. A city whose rich history is intertwined deeply to both the state in which it was born and to the country it served through two world wars.

Prior to the 1830's, the countryside where the City of Vallejo now stands was inhabited by the Suisun and Karkin Indians. In 1835, a Mexican military officer, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, was sent to the northern California frontier where he established several land grants. One of these grants, the Rancho Suscol, included the area where the cities of Vallejo and Benicia are now located. Chief Solano, a leader of the Suisun Indians, allied himself with General Vallejo, an alliance which allowed the region to remain primarily inhabited by Native Americans until the 1840's.

General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was born in Monterey July 7, 1808; died in Sonoma January 18, 1890.

He married Francisca Benicia Carrillo on March 6, 1832.

General Vallejo was a frontier visionary who owned vast ranchos in northern California and wielded enormous political power throughout the province. While serving as military governor during Mexican rule, he established an open immigration policy that encouraged and facilitated the American entrada to northern California.

He entered the military as a cadet of the Monterey company in January 1824, was an ensign by 1827. After several campaigns against the Indians, in 1834 he was sent to secularize the mission of San Francisco Solano. In 1834 was granted the Petaluma rancho.

In 1835 Vallejo was instructed to lay out a pueblo at the Solano mission, was made director of colonization in the North and was authorized to issue grants of land to settlers; the plan being to prevent, by Spanish colonization, further extension of the Russian establishment of Ross. Vallejo laid out the pueblo and gave it the Indian name of Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon.

As a captain in 1838, he was appointed as comandante-general of California. Vallejo was aware that California excelled in natural advantages of climate, soil, and harbors, all of which could/would lead to the development of a prosperous state. Vallejo was considered by some to be one of the most intelligent and influential of the Californians.

Vallejo had sixteen children, ten of whom lived to maturity.

General Vallejo was careless when money was plenty, and while he realized large sums from the sale of lands and cattle, his later years were passed in comparative poverty.

Tuesday Morning, November 4, 1851, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Where shall the Legislature Meet?

One of the most stupendous follies of which the last Legislature was guilty was the removal of the capital from the city of San Jose to the Rancho of Vallejo; but that act of consummate stupidity and recklessness could not be achieved by that astute body without the use of such lame, indecisive and unsatisfactory language as makes it nearly or quite impossible to tell whether the capital is at Vallejo or in the South Sea Islands. The act under which the capital was removed was based upon certain obligations entered into by and between Don Mariano (i. Vallejo and John McDougal, Governor of the State. The law reads thus:

"1. That from and after the present session of the Legislature, the city of Vallejo, situated upon the bay of Napa and the Straits of Carquinez, shall be the the permanent seat of Government for the State of California;

Provided, that the said M. G. Vallejo shall provide for the space of three years a State House and other offices of State equal or better than those now occupied, without expense to the State, &c., &c."

Now, the import of the foregoing language would seem to be that the capital was removed to Vallejo immediately upon the adjournment of the Legislature. Yet such was not the fact, so far as the public offices and officers were concerned. Nor could the Legislature have so intended to be understood; and yet they say in a law, that Vallejo shall be the State capital from and after the close of their then session, knowing as they well did that there were no accommodations there for the public offices or officers! Nor did they make any provision for removing the archives, or give authority to any one to remove them. At least, we have been unable to learn of any law or resolution delegating such power.

In this state of things, the Governor, under such assurances, or upon such information, as he deemed satisfactory, assumed the responsibility of removing the Government effects and officers to Vallejo, in June last. In so far as we can perceive, although Vallejo was in reality the capital from the day of the Legislature's adjournment, yet this act of the Governor appears to have been one of entire individual responsibility; but it was, we presume, performed in good faith, and may, by a long stretch, be said to be sanctioned by the spirit of the law.

Well, the archives were removed, and Vallejo became in every respect the capital of the State. But in September it was found that the state house and public offices were not sufficiently complete to preserve the public records or accommodate the public business, and the Governor again took tbe responsibility of removing the valuables of the State back to the city of San Jose. Now, clearly the Governor had no power to do this; nor had he any authority to act in the first instance. We are, therefore, for all the purposes of an argument, bound to presume that he acted for the public good in both cases; and the measure of his praise or blame can only be ascertained by the results.

The case now presented is, therefore, the one one which the law actually calls for. It says that Vallejo shall be the capital from the day on which the session ends, but makes no provision for a removal of the public property consequently the law stands fulfilled in its letter, if not in its spirit. California, therefore, presents another novelty in political organization a capital without the elements of vitality, a capital only in name.

General Vallejo.

The question then arises as to how far General Vallejo has failed to comply with the obligations of his bond. We hardly know what to answer, as the matter is one of no little ambiguity. As near as we can understand it, the General obligated himself to donate to the State a certain amount of money and a certain quantity of land, both land and money to be appropriated to fixed purposes. To do this he was allowed two years time. Besides this, he was to "provide for the space of three years'' a State-house and public offices as good or better than those at San Jose. But, when was the State-house and offices to be provided? The law would seem to indicate that they were already completed on the day of the conclusion of the session; but it was notorious that such was not the fact. Therefore, it may not be improper to infer that the law contemplated a reasonable time within which those buildings were to be completed, and inasmuch as no power was delegated to say when these buildings would, could or should be done, we do not see that the General is to much out of the way in his reckonings.

And the question of greatest importance is, ''Where shall the next Legislature meet?" We confess, with the best disposition to give Vallejo the cold shoulder upon every convenient and fair opportunity, we think that it is still the capital. The action of the Governor, as far as we can understand it, is of no more weight in the premises than that of any private individual. There is no time stipulated for the completion of the buildings, and no one appears authorized to judge whether or not the contract have been fulfilled, except tbe Legislature. And where shall they decide the matter? Clearly, at the seat of Government. They must assemble at the State capital and organize, though they may adjourn to another point, undoubtedly, upon the same day. The capital, therefore, having been fixed at Vallejo, and the Legislature alone possessing the power to change tho seat of Government, we do not see how they can possibly avoid convening at Vallejo.

True, this will produce a most incongruous, inconvenient and unfortunate condition of affairs. However, the Legislature will have it fully in its power to remedy the difficulty by directing the removal of the government records to Vallejo, or adjourning their own session to San Jose. The State is in an unfortunate dilemma, and it is of some importance to extricate her from the difficulty honorably. To do this, the best course will undoubtedly be to meet at Vallejo and adjourn to San Jose, thus bringing, as speedily as possible, the two important branches of the government into direct communication.

Some solicitude has been expressed as to the meaning of the word "permanent," as used in the law.

It is contended that the whole Vallejo transaction is in the nature of a contract, and that the removal of the capital to any other point, provided Gen. Vallejo fulfill his obligation, will be an abrogation of a contract. We do not profess to understand or solve legal technicalities or the nice subtleties of the law, but it is quite plain to our mental vision that no Legislature possessed the power to fii the seat of government so permanen.iy that a succeeding one could not change it. No such power is delegated by the constitution, nor can anything be found therein which will warrant such a preposterous assumption. And we therefore believe that the next Legislature will be as fully competent to annul the acts of its predecessor in regard to the location of a State capital as in relation to any other legal enactment. Whether it be advisable to do so, is a question involving expediency, State honor and the public good, and to a solution of which the reader will have little difficulty in arriving.


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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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