Pío Pico

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Pío de Jesús Pico
Pio Pico.jpg
California Lone Star Flag 1836.svg 26th Governor of Alta California
In office
22 February 1845 – 10 August 1846
Preceded by Manuel Micheltorena
Succeeded by John Drake Sloat (military governor)
Mexico 16th Governor of Alta California
In office
27 January 1832 – 16 February 1832
Preceded by Manuel Victoria
Succeeded by José María de Echeandía
Seal of Los Angeles.svg Los Angeles Common Councilman
In office
1853–1853
Personal details
Born(1801-05-05)May 5, 1801
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel
San Gabriel, California
DiedSeptember 11, 1894(1894-09-11) (aged 93)
Los Angeles, California
Spouse(s)María Ignacia Alvarado
Relations Andrés Pico
ProfessionEntrepreneur, politician

Pío de Jesús Pico (May 5, 1801 – September 11, 1894) was a Californio rancher and politician, the last governor of Alta California (now the State of California) under Mexican rule. He served from 1845 to 1846. He was also elected to one term (1853) on the Los Angeles Common Council.

Early years

Pico was a first-generation Californio, born in Alta California to parents who emigrated from the part of New Spain that is now Mexico. He was born at the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel to José María Pico and his wife María Eustaquia Gutiérrez, with the aid of midwife Eulalia Pérez de Guillén Mariné. His paternal grandmother, María Jacinta de la Bastida, was listed in the 1790 census as mulata, meaning mixed race with African ancestry. [1] His paternal grandfather, Santiago de la Cruz Pico, was described as a Mestizo (Native American-Spanish) in the same census. [1] Santiago de la Cruz Pico was one of the soldiers who accompanied Juan Bautista de Anza on the expedition that left Tubac, Arizona for California in 1775 to explore the region and colonize it. [2] Pio Pico and his siblings were thus of Spanish, African and Native American ancestry.

Marriage and family

After the death of his father in 1819, Pico settled in San Diego, California. He married María Ignacia Alvarado there on February 24, 1834. His younger brother was General Andrés Pico.

Business life

John Bidwell, an early California settler, mentioned Pico among the people he knew:

Los Angeles I first saw in March 1845. It then had probably 250 people, of whom I recall Don Abel Stearns, John Temple, Captain Alexander Bell, William Wolfskill, Lemuel Carpenter, David W. Alexander; also of Mexicans, Pio Pico (governor), Don Juan Bandini, and others. [3]

By the 1850s Pico was one of the richest men in Alta California. In 1850 he purchased the 8,894- acre (3,599  ha) Rancho Paso de Bartolo, which included half of present-day Whittier. Two years later, he built a home on the ranch and lived there until 1892. It is preserved today as Pio Pico State Historic Park. Pico also owned the former Mission San Fernando Rey de España, Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores (now part of Camp Pendleton), and several other ranchos for a total of over 500,000 acres (200,000 ha).

In 1868, he constructed the three-story, 33-room hotel, Pico House (Casa de Pico) on the old plaza of Los Angeles, opposite today's Olvera Street. At the time of its opening in 1869, it was the most lavish hotel in Southern California. Even before 1900, however, it, and the surrounding neighborhood declined, as the business center moved farther south. After decades as a shabby flophouse, the hotel was deeded to the State of California in 1953. It is now a part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Monument. It is used on occasion for exhibits and special events.

Politics

Pico twice served as Governor of Alta California, taking office the first time from Manuel Victoria in 1832, when Victoria was deposed for refusing to follow through with orders to secularize the mission properties. As governor pro tem and "Vocal" of the Departmental Assembly, Pico began secularization. After 20 days in office, he abdicated in favor of Zamorano and Echeandía, who governed the north and south, respectively, until José Figueroa reunified the governorship in 1833.

Pico ran for office in 1834 as the first alcalde (magistrate) of San Diego after secularization of the mission but was defeated. He challenged Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado (1836-1842) on political issues and was imprisoned on several occasions.

In 1844 he was chosen as a leader of the California Assembly. In 1845, he was again appointed governor, succeeding the unpopular Manuel Micheltorena. Pico made Los Angeles the province's capital. In the year leading up to the Mexican–American War, Governor Pico was outspoken in favor of California's becoming a British Protectorate rather than a U.S. territory.[ citation needed]

When U.S. troops occupied Los Angeles and San Diego in 1846 during the Mexican–American War, Pico fled to Baja California, Mexico, to argue before the Mexican Congress for sending troops to defend Alta California. Pico did not return to Los Angeles until after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and he reluctantly accepted the transfer of sovereignty.

Digital reproduction of the first official Bear Flag, credited to Pio Pico, affixed to the bottom of California's Declaration of Independence of 1846.

Automatically granted United States citizenship, he was elected to the Los Angeles Common Council in 1853, but he did not assume office.

Later life

Following the American annexation of California, Pico dedicated himself to his businesses.

He survived the American conquest of California, becoming one of the wealthiest California cattlemen, controlling more than a quarter million acres. He defended his position and fortune in over 100 legal cases, including 20 that were argued before the California Supreme Court.

However, gambling, losses to loan sharks, bad business practices, being a victim of fraud, and the flood of 1883 ruined him financially. For example, in 1893, Pico made an arrangement with Bernard Cohn in which Cohn paid Pico more than $60,000 in exchange for a deed to Pico's property in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the county. Pico sued Cohn, but lost on appeal. [4] The decision, Pico v. Cohn (1891) 91 Cal. 129, 133-134, is classically cited by California appellate courts in cases having to do with the setting aside of a judgment in case of fraud. [5]

Pico was forced to liquidate his real estate holdings and his final years were spent in near poverty. In 1893, a committee of local boosters and history enthusiasts asked him to appear at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition as "the last of the California "dons". [6] Pico refused, considering it an affront to his dignity. He died in 1894 at the home of his daughter, Joaquina Pico Moreno, in Los Angeles. He was buried in the old Calvary Cemetery on North Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, but his remains, as well as those of his wife, were relocated in 1921 to a modest tomb in El Campo Santo Cemetery, now in the Homestead Museum in the City of Industry. [7]

Pico held three different nationalities during his lifetime. He was born a Spaniard in New Spain, became a Mexican citizen as a young man, and finally a United States citizen. He was known for his extravagant lifestyle, with fine clothes, expensive furnishings, and heavy gambling.

Legacy

In 1927, Pío Pico State Historic Park was created from the ruins of his Rancho de Bartolo (El Ranchito) in Whittier, and Casa Pico mansion. Pico Boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare in Los Angeles, is named for him. An elementary and middle school in Los Angeles' Mid-City district is also named in his honor. Pico Rivera, a city located in southeastern Los Angeles County, is named for the last Mexican governor.

The actor Will Kuluva played Pico in the 1966 episode "The Firebrand" of the syndicated western television series, Death Valley Days. Robert Anderson (1920-1996) was cast as General Philip Kearny, with Gregg Barton as Commodore Robert F. Stockton. Gerald Mohr played Pico's brother, Andrés Pico. The episode is set in 1848 with the establishment of California Territory and the tensions between the outgoing Mexican government and the incoming American governor. [8]

In 2010, scientists published an article about Pio Pico asserting that he showed signs of acromegaly, a disease not characterized until later in the nineteenth century. [9]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Estrada, William (2016-10-27). "The Life and Times of Pío Pico, Last Governor of Mexican California". KCET. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  2. ^ "Soldiers of the 1775 Anza Expedition", 1912, California Spanish Genealogy. Retrieved on 2008-08-05
  3. ^ John Bidwell: "First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900", Library of Congress Historical Collections, "American Memory": John Bidwell (Pioneer of '41): Life in California Before the Gold Discovery, from the collection "California As I Saw It."
  4. ^ "The Law: Another Judgement Against Pio Pico Rendered, Los Angeles Times, February 8, 1890, page 2". ProQuest  163502681. Cite journal requires |journal= ( help)
  5. ^ For example, see Justia U.S. Law, "Kachig v. Boothe". Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  6. ^ Estrada, William David (2008). Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and contested space. Austin: University of Texas Press. p.  106. ISBN  9780292794627.
  7. ^ Meares, Hadley (September 27, 2013). "Family Plots: El Campo Santo Cemetery at the Workman-Temple Homestead". Departures Column. KCET. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  8. ^ ""The Firebrand" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. March 24, 1966. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  9. ^ Login IS, Login J (January 2010). "Governor Pio Pico, the monster of California ... no more: lessons in neuroendocrinology". Pituitary. 13 (1): 80–6. doi: 10.1007/s11102-008-0127-1. PMC  2807602. PMID  18597174. Open Access; https://doi.org/10.1007%2Fs11102-008-0127-1

Further reading

  • Salomon, Carlos Manuel (2010). Pio Pico: The Last Governor of Mexican California. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 256. ISBN  978-0-8061-4090-2.

External links