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12th Governor of
California, February 27 - December 9, 1875

Born:  October 31, 1831, in Santa Barbara, California

Died:  January 23, 1899, in Oakland, California

Marriage:  Mary McIntire (1863), 2 children


Romualdo Pacheco is the only Californian of Mexican ancestry to serve as governor of the state. He is also said to be the only California governor who ever lassoed a grizzly bear.


Early Life

Romualdo was born in Santa Barbara when California was a part of Mexico. His father, a Mexican army captain, died the year Romualdo was born. His mother, Ramona Carrillo, then married John Wilson, a Scotsman who had been a ship captain. They became the owners of Los Osos Rancho near San Luis Obispo. When Romualdo was seven years old, he and his older brother were sent to Hawaii to be educated at the Oahu Charity School in Honolulu. In his five years there, Romualdo learned to speak English and French.



At age 15 Romualdo became an officer on ships owned by his stepfather. When the Mexican War began, Pacheco’s ship was captured in San Diego by a U.S. warship. Pacheco was freed when he claimed loyalty to the U.S. Leaving the shipping trade, he began raising cattle on his parents’ rancho lands. He gained a reputation as a skilled horseman.

Pacheco served two terms as State senator, one as a Democrat and one as a member of the Union party. In 1863 he became State treasurer, but returned to the Senate in 1869 as a Republican. In 1871 he was elected as lieutenant governor on the ticket with Newton Booth as governor. When Booth resigned to take a U.S. Senate seat, Pacheco became governor.



Pacheco’s term as governor lasted just nine months. It was described by the Daily Alta California newspaper as a “brief and quiet” time in office. Pacheco was then successful in a highly contested 1876 election for a U.S. Senate seat. His opponent, Peter D. Wigginton, continued to protest Pacheco’s victory and managed to have him removed from the Senate in February 1878. Pacheco, however, was re-elected in 1879 and served until 1883 in the U.S. Senate.


Later Years

After eight years in retirement, Pacheco was appointed by President Harrison as Envoy Extraordinary to Central America. Later he worked in a San Francisco brokerage firm. The last years of his life were spent in Oakland.


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