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.
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
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.
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.