The Mexican War and California
The Stockton Proclamation

This proclamation, issued on August 17, 1846 in Los Angeles, established American rule. It did not, however, mark the end of resistance. The American forces would suffer reverses at Chino Rancho and San Pasqual. Commodore Robert F. Stockton was forced to return to Southern California, where his forces defeated the Californio resistance at the Battle of San Gabriel. The Treaty or "Capitulation of Cahuenga" would not follow until January 13, 1847.


Commodore Robert F. Stockton, at Los Angeles, California.

A proclamation.

To the people of California.

On my approach to this place with the forces under my command, José Castro, the commandant general of California, buried his artillery and abandoned his fortified camp "of the Mesa", and fled, it is believed, towards Mexico.

With the sailors, the marines, and the California battalion of mounted riflemen, we entered the "City of the Angels", the capital of California, on the 13th of August, and hoisted the North American flag.

The flag of the United States is now flying from every commanding position in the Territory, and California is entirely free from Mexican domination.

The Territory of California now belongs to the United States, and will be governed, as soon as circumstances permit, by officers and laws similar to those by which other Territories of the United States are regulated and protected.

But, until the governor, the secretary, and council are appointed, and the various departments of the government are arranged, military law will prevail, and the commander-in-chief will be the governor and protector of the Territory.

In the mean time the people will be permitted, and are now requested, to meet in their several towns and departments, at such time and place as they may see fit, to elect civil officers to fill the places of those who decline to continue in office, and to administer the laws according to the former usages of the Territory. In all cases where the people fail to elect the commander-in-chief will make the appointments himself.

All persons, of whatever religion or nation, who faithfully adhere to the new government, will be considered as citizens of the Territory, and will be zealously and thoroughly protected in their liberty of conscience, their persons, and property.

No persons will be permitted to remain in the Territory who do not agree to support the existing government, and all military men who desire to remain are required to take an oath that they will not take up arms against it, or do or say anything to disturb the peace.

Nor will any person, come from where they may, be permitted to settle in the Territory who do not pledge themselves to be, in all respects, obedient to the laws which may be from time to time enacted by the proper authorities of the Territory.

All persons who, without special permission, are found with arms outside of their own houses, will be considered as enemies and will be shipped out of the country.

All thieves will be put to hard labor on the public works, and there kept until compensation is made for the property stolen.

The California battalion of mounted riflemen will be kept in the service of the Territory, and constantly on duty, to prevent and punish any aggressions by the Indians, or any other persons, upon the property of individuals, or the peace of the Territory; and California shall hereafter be so governed and defended as to give security to the inhabitants, and to defy the power of Mexico.

All persons are required, as long as the Territory is under martial law, to be within their houses from 10 o'clock at night until sunrise in the morning.


Commander in chief and Governor
of the Territory of California


    Ciudad de Los Angeles, August 17, 1846

Transcription and notes by WO1 Brett A. Landis, California Center for Military History


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Updated 8 February 2016