Monterey (1774-1849)

Royal Presidio Chapel
500 Church Street, Monterey, CA 93940
The San Carlos Cathedral is the last remaining structure from the Spanish Royal Presidio at Monterey, the Spanish and Mexican Capitals of California (1774-1846)


Sloat Memorial

Fort Mervine & Sloat Memorial
Corporal Ewing Road, Bldg. 113, Monterey, CA 93944
Military Capital (1846-1849)
Named for the Captain who raised the US flag over the Monterey Custom House, Fort Mervine was the military capitol from 1846 to 1849. During that time, the Territory of California was governed by seven Military Governors including John Drake Sloat, Robert Field Stockton, and John C. Fremont. While Stockton and Fremont both had California cities named in their honor, Sloat is memorialized by the Sloat Memorial, located just down the hill from remains of Fort Mervine. When completed, the fort measured 650 feet long and 400 feet wide. As of our visit in mid-2006, all that remains of the Fort Mervine site is a triangular earthen mound with five cannons pointing out onto Monterey Bay.


Colton Hall
500 Church Street, Monterey, CA 93940
Site of California’s First Constitutional Convention (1849)

Colton Hall

Although Monterey was never an actual capital of the State of California, it served as the political and religious capital of Mexican California from 1781 to 1846 and remained the political center of California during the military occupation. In 1846, the first U.S. flag raised in California was raised in Monterey, and California’s Military Governors called Fort Mervine home during years prior to statehood (1846-1849). Finally, when the first Constitutional Convention was held in 1849, it was Colton Hall in Monterey that was selected to host the 48 delegates for their six weeks of drafting. Even after the 1849 Constitution selected San Jose as the first capital of the new state, it was made clear that if the new capital was insufficient, Colton Hall would be available to host legislative sessions.

In 1849, as California prepared for statehood, a Convention was held at Monterey to write the Constitution for the new state. Delegates were chosen at elections around the state, and met for about six weeks starting in September 1849. A major debate at the convention was whether it was appropriate for the Constitutional Convention to prohibit slavery or whether that was a decision that would be better left to the first legislature. In the end, the Convention voted to settle the matter immediately, with Section 18 of Article I reading “Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State.”

The 1849 Constitution guaranteed the right to vote to “every white male citizen of the United States, and every white male citizen of Mexico, who shall have elected to become a citizen of the United States” and who was at least twenty-one years old. It also set San Jose as the first state capitol, and required assembly-members to be elected annually (State Senators were elected every two years). The Constitution established both English and Spanish as the official languages for the state and prohibited both dueling and the establishment of a state lottery. The prohibition on dueling was eventually lost to time (and formally repealed in the 1990s) and the state lottery was authorized by initiative in 1984.

While in Monterey, also visit:
Monterey Custom House
Custom House Plaza, Monterey, CA 93940
The Monterey Custom House was the location where the American Flag was first raised over California. The building is now a state park, and is marked by several plaques. At that site, in 1846, John Drake Sloat sent Captain William Mervine ashore to raise the US flag at Monterey.