Californians and the Military
José Dario Arguello
Presidio Comandante and Governor of Alta California, 1814-1815
by Michael R. Hardwick

José Dario Arguello was born in Querétaro about 1753 and enlisted in the Mexico regiment of dragoons. He served as a private for 6 years and then as a sergeant of the presidial company of Altar, Sonora for 2 and ½ years.

In 1781 he was promoted to Alférez (sub-lieutenant) of the company organized by Captain Fernando de Rivera y Moncada for the proposed presidio of Santa Barbara. Arguello accompanied Rivera on his march overland to the Colorado River where Rivera was subsequently killed in an uprising by Yuman Indians. Arguello continued on to San Gabriel Mission where he remained until the founding of the Santa Barbara Presidio in April of 1782.

In 1787 Arguello was appointed Lieutenant of the presidial company of San Francisco. Arguello served two terms as comandante of the San Francisco Presidio (1787-1791) and (1796-1806). He was comandante of the presidial company of Monterey (1791-1796).

Arguello was promoted to Captain in 1797 and was assigned as comandante of the Presidio of Santa Barbara from 1807 until 1815. José de la Guerra Y Noriega relieved Arguello as comandante of the Santa Barbara garrison in 1815.

After the death of Governor Arillaga in 1814, Dario Arguello became acting Governor of Alta California as the ranking officer in the province. He continued to live in Santa Barbara as governor.

Arguello served 34 years in the California Province. As one of the best known and most influential men in California, he was a good officer, a strict disciplinarian, and an excellent accountant.

Arguello and his family did not remain in California. In 1815 he assumed the governorship of Baja California and served there until 1822. José Dario Arguello died in Guadalajara in 1828 at the age of 75.

Point Arguello located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County is named in his honor.


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Updated 23 June 2017