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ALCALDES. Under Mexican government, alcaldes were mayors of towns; they tried criminal and civil cases, presided over the town council, or ayuntamiento, and executed its decisions, kept order, issued licenses, and even inspected hides going to market. After the U.S. takeover of California in 1848, the military governors left the alcalde system intact. At that point, the alcaldes of the principal towns formed the only functioning civil structure. Well suited for a thinly populated frontier, the alcalde system collapsed in the flood of immigration in 1849, and the office was superseded by the new constitution when California became a state in 1850.


Beck, Warren A., and David A. Williams. California: A History of the Golden State. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1972.

Rolle, Andrew F. California: A History. Rev. 5th ed. Wheeling, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1998.


See alsoCalifornia .

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