California became a State as a result of the war between Mexico and the United States, 1846-1848. The pressure for settlement came from missionaries eager to convert Native Americans to Christianity, from the intrusion of Russian and British merchants, mainly in search of sea otter skins, and from the search for the northwest Passage through the North American continent. In 1769, the Spanish viceroy sent land and sea expeditions from Baja California, and the Franciscan friar Junipero Serra established the first mission in San Diego. Gaspar de Portolá established a military post in 1770 in Monterrey. Colonization began after 1773 with the opening of a land supply route through the southwestern deserts that intended to link other Spanish settlements in what are the current states of Arizona and New Mexico with the coast.
By then, the Spanish Empire was mired in the political aftermath of the Seven Years' War, and colonial priorities in distant California allowed only minimal effort. A California 1850 corrected census would increase from 92,597 (the official uncorrected number) to more than 120,000. Kennedy was fatally shot in Los Angeles after winning California Democratic Party presidential primary. By 1845, the province of Alta California had a non-native population of about 1,500 adult men born in Spain and Latin America, along with some 6,500 women and their native children (who became the Californians).
When Stockton's forces entered Los Angeles without resistance on August 13, 1846, the almost bloodless conquest of California seemed complete. California's missions were secularized after Mexico's independence, with the passage of the Mexican secularization law of 1833 and the division of the old mission's extensive lands into more ranches. In 1831, a small group consisting of the richest citizens of Alta California met and asked Governor Manuel Victoria to call for democratic reforms. The first permanent mission in Baja California, Mission of Our Lady of Loreto Conchó, was founded on October 15, 1697 by Jesuit priest Juan María Salvatierra (1648—171) accompanied by the crew of a small boat and six soldiers.
The new ranches and villages, which grew slowly, mostly only grew enough food to eat and trade with a commercial or whaling ship that came to a port in California to trade, get fresh water, replenish firewood and obtain fresh vegetables. The first American, English and Russian merchant ships first appeared in California a few years before 1820. When California decided that same year to honor the Bear Flag Revolt by replicating the banner of the rebels, Monarch served as a model for illustrators. Approximately half of the cost of settlement in Alta California was covered by donations and the other half by funds from the Spanish crown.
After the expedition to Portolá from 1769 to 1770, Spanish missionaries began to establish 21 missions in California on or near the coast of Alta California, starting with Mission San Diego de Alcalá, near the location of the current city of San Diego, California. In August 1812, the Russian-American Company established a fortified trading post at Fort Ross, near present-day Bodega Bay, on the coast of Sonoma, northern California, 60 miles (97 km) north of San Francisco, on land claimed, but not occupied, by the British Empire. Reacting to the interest of the Russians and, later, the British in animals with fur from the North Pacific coast, Spain further expanded the series of Catholic missions, accompanied by troops and establishing ranches, along the southern and central coast of California. .