Mexican Colonization Law of August 18, 1824
A key piece of legislation that allowed for a much more liberal system of granting land in Mexican territories than had existed under Spanish rule. Provisions for granting land to foreigners allowed numerous Anglo-Americans, who became naturalized citizens of Mexico, to receive tracts of land.
Regulation for Colonization of Mexican Territories, November 21, 1828
In connection with the above law, this regulation laid out the process for granting land in California. The steps serve as something of an ideal process, since not all grantees or government officials followed every requirement.
Excerpts from the Diary of John A. Sutter, 1838-48
The diary of the failed Swiss entrepreneur, whose settlement at New Helvitia, in present-day Sacramento, served as a center for Anglo-American settlement in California. It is an excellent primary source on Sutter himself, chronicling his journey to California from Missouri, his later dealings with the Russians and Mexicans, and his description of the discovery of gold at Coloma. His accounts also touch on Mexican land grants, particularly in the Sacramento Valley. From the Museum of the City of San Francisco
Michaeltorena's General Land Title, December 22, 1844
Manuel Michaeltorena, one of California's last and least popular Mexican governors, here sets out a sweeping approval of all petitions for land favorably reviewed by John Sutter, one of the governor's closest allies. During the confirmation process, American officials would deem the highly irregular "general land title" invalid.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, July 4, 1848
The full document of the treaty that ended war between Mexico and the United States, including the original and amended versions of Articles IX and X, which provided for the protection and confirmation of Mexican land grants after American occupation of California.
Ranch and Mission Days in Alta California, by Guadalupe Vallejo, December 1890
In this often-times romanticized account, originally published by Century Magazine, Guadalupe Vallejo, nephew of the famous General Mariano Vallejo, reminisces about life in Mexican California. The lengthy article focuses considerable attention on the ranchos. From the Museum of the City of San Francisco
Life in California Before the Gold Discovery, by John Bidwell, December 1890
Similar in many respects to Vallejo's reminiscences listed above, here John Bidwell, owner of Rancho Arroyo Chico, describes life in California before the American invasion, although from a decidedly Anglo-American point of view. From the Museum of the City of San Francisco
California Before the Gold Rush, William T. Sherman Memoirs, 1891
Here General Sherman describes life in Upper California during the American conquest, including the last of the Mexican War fought in Lower California, from 1847 to 1848. His accounts also touch on his time in the gold fields after 1848. From the Museum of the City of San Francisco