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Mexican Rule

This period was characterized by the granting of large tracts of land to favored settlers by the governors of California. Between 1822 and 1847, huge ranchos were created by these grants. Vaqueros herded the tough long-horned cattle into cactus corrals, and the powerful dons of the ranchos rode about on finely bred Spanish horses ornamented with silver and tooled leather.

Increased American immigration threatened this unique culture, as the arriving "Americanos" married into the wealthy families or simply squatted on the land of their choice with no regard for Mexican property rights.

Conflict escalated when John Fremont was sent by the American government with sixty armed men on a 'scientific' expedition. His covert purpose was to stir up the American settlers and to stand by for an open declaration of war with Mexico.

In 1846 a border incident in Texas gave President James Polk the excuse he needed to declare war.

Finally, under the guise of 'protecting' California from British aggression, President Polk sends the fleet. Commodore John Drake Sloat sailed into Monterey Bay with the American fleet in 1846. He went ashore with a party of fifty Marines and announced that California was henceforth part of the United States.

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