Planning: Selecting Sacramento

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Colton Hall Monterey

The first State Constitutional Convention was held in 1849 at Colton Hall in Monterey. During the convention delegates discussed the need for a suitable location for the seat of California's government. Anticipating prestige and profit, communities from all over the state made attractive offers that included free land and buildings.

The journey of California's Capitol to its final location in Sacramento took five years.

  1. Monterey
    September 9, 1849 - October 13, 1849
  2. Pueblo de San Jose
    December 15, 1849 - May 1, 1851
  3. Vallejo
    January 5, 1852 - January 12, 1852
  4. Sacramento
    January 16, 1852 - November 2, 1853
  5. Vallejo
    January 3, 1853 - February 4, 1853
  6. Benicia
    February 11, 1853 - February 25, 1854
  7. Sacramento
    February 28, 1854 - present day

Even after Sacramento became the permanent seat of California's government in 1854, there were several unsuccessful efforts to relocate the Capitol to Oakland (1858-59), San Jose (1875-78, 1893, 1903), Berkeley (1907), and Monterey (1933-41).

September 9, 1849-October 13, 1849

The first State Constitutional Convention in 1849 was held at Colton Hall in Monterey . During the convention, 48 delegates worked diligently to write California's first constitution as well as to build a state infrastructure from scratch.

Pueblo de San Jose
December 15, 1849-May 1, 1851

San JoseWhile the delegates were still convened in Monterey, communities competed with one another to become the home of California's Capitol.

"During this session, two men from the booming little town of Pueblo de San Jose were sent galloping over the hills to Monterey to offer Washington Square in their town as a capitol site and to assure delegates that a suitable building would await them. After hours of debate the convention accepted the offer and named Pueblo de San Jose the capitol-with the qualification that, by law, it might be moved elsewhere."

However, the newly elected legislators quickly became disgruntled with the poorly lit and ventilated accommodations in San Jose. Several more proposals to provide land, buildings, and money for construction were presented to the Legislature. Among these was a generous offer from General Vallejo, whose proposal to remove the Capitol to the town of Vallejo was approved by the Legislature.

January 5, 1852-January 12, 1852
January 3, 1853-February 4, 1853

 Having promised land and accommodations, General Vallejo worked furiously to complete the Capitol before the commencement of the third legislative session. Unfortunately, when the legislators arrived, construction was still in progress. The noise and lack of furnishings made work impossible. A new battle to move the Capitol ensued, and charges were made that General Vallejo had broken his contract. In a spirit of compromise, the legislators agreed to keep the town of Vallejo as the permanent location of the Capitol, but the Legislature would be removed to Sacramento to finish the session. A steamer was chartered, and the legislators were ferried 110 miles upriver to the town of Sacramento.

February 11, 1853 - February 25, 1854

When the Legislature returned to Vallejo in 1854 the legislators were once again dissatisfied with the conditions. General Vallejo asked to be released from his contract because he felt he had been discredited by the repeated removal of the Capitol. The legislators were concerned that roving about the state would erode the people's confidence in state government. Despite their concerns, they moved to the town of Benicia, which had promised them the use of their City Hall. However, the facilities were inadequate, and a second proposal from Sacramento brought the Legislature back for good.Sacramento 1

January 16,1852-November 2,1853
February 28,1854-present day

The first time the Legislature convened in Sacramento it was on a temporary basis because the Capitol in Vallejo was still incomplete. An interesting twist resulted from General Vallejo's breach of contract. A restraining order was issued by J.D. Hoppe of San Jose to prevent the Governor from having the state's archives sent to Sacramento. It was stated that the archives were being held in the "true legal capitol" and that the Removal Act of 1851 was conditional on Vallejo fulfilling his contract.Sacramento 4

The Legislature was provided ample and comfortable accommodations in the courthouse in Sacramento. It would be another year and two more Removal Acts before Sacramento would successfully capture the prize and become California's final seat of government in 1854. At this time $500,000 was appropriated to build a new capitol. Construction on the present-day Capitol began in 1860, and the building has endured for more than 125 years after its completion in 1874.



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