“hardy, enterprising and liberty-loving people” — California State Quarter Coin

Today, the California State Quarter Coin remembers the annexation of the area to the United States on February 8, 1847.

From The Achievements of Four Centuries by Benson John Lossing, published in 1890:


The revolution in Mexico in 1822 began working the decay of Spanish ecclesiastical power in California.

When it was utterly exterminated, twenty years later, the Californians, restive under the Mexican yoke, made efforts to achieve their independence.

Emigrants from the United States flocked into the territory. They were generally a hardy, enterprising and liberty-loving people.

A quarrel broke out between them and the Mexican authorities in 1846, and the Mexican commander attempted to expel the Americans from the province.

Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Fremont, who had just explored the Sierra Nevadas, with about sixty men, was then at Monterey.

He had been opposed by a Mexican force under General Castro.

He now armed all of the American settlers in the vicinity of San Francisco Bay.

At Sonoma Pass they captured a Mexican post and garrison (June 15), with nine cannons and 250 muskets, and then advanced upon Sonoma. There they defeated Castro and his troops.

The Mexican authorities were driven out of that region of the country; and on July 5, 1846, the American-Californians proclaimed themselves independent of Mexico, and placed Fremont at the head of public affairs.

At this juncture Commodore Sloat, in command of the Pacific squadron, bombarded and captured Monterey, and on the 9th Commodore Montgomery took possession of San Francisco.

Commodore Stockton arrived on the 15th with news of the declaration of war against Mexico by the United States.

In that war the command of the “Army of the West” was given to General Stephen W. Kearny, of New Jersey, with instructions to conquer New Mexico and California.

After a march of 900 miles over the Great Plains and among the mountain ranges, Kearny arrived at Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, without opposition.

Having taken possession of the country, he pushed on toward California.

He soon met an express from Stockton and Fremont, informing him that the conquest of California was already achieved.

Kearny then sent the main body of his troops back to Santa Fe, and with one hundred men pushed on to Los Angeles, near the Pacific coast, where he met Stockton and Fremont.

With these gentlemen he shared in the honors of the important events which finally completed the conquest and pacification of California.

Fremont, the real conqueror and liberator of California, claimed the right to be Governor. He was supported by Stockton and the people.

Kearny, his superior officer, denied his right, and at Monterey he assumed the office of Governor himself, and proclaimed (February 8, 1847) the annexation of California to the United States.

Fremont, who refused to obey General Kearny, was ordered to Washington to answer for his disobedience. He was deprived of his commission.

President Polk, who regarded him as one of the best officers in the army, offered to restore it, but Fremont refused to accept it ever afterwards, and went to the wilderness again and engaged in explorations.


The California State Quarter Coin shows with an artist’s portrayal of General Stephen W. Kearny, circa 1840s.

California State Quarter Coin