Early Sacramento and John Sutter

Early Sacramento was laid out on a Mexican land grant given to John Sutter by Governor Alvarado on June 18th, 1841. With the discovery of gold in January 1848 great crowds of miners converged at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers where John Sutter’s fort was located. The embarcadero along the Sacramento River became a lively place and a town was laid out and took the name of the river, Sacramento. At first it was a town of tents, travelers and merchandise on the way to the mines up the American River. As it was then planned, laid out in blocks, lots and streets, the city was about one square mile. In early 1849 many substantial buildings began to go up and by 1850 the town held ten thousand inhabitants. One building, known as the City Hotel, yielded rents at thirty thousand dollars per year.

Sacramento 1849

Sacramento 1849

By fall of 1849 several thousand immigrants settled on vacant lots around the town. These lots had been sold by Sutter and his grantees to other men in the town, but, asserting that the Spanish and Mexican land grants were frauds and that no man had a right to monopolize as much land as Sutter claimed, they announced their intention to keep their lots and resist any and all attempts to reclaim them. But, in one instance, the owners of the title had ordered a man off a lot and the city authorities sent a posse who forcibly evicted a squatter and destroyed his shanty. This would ultimately lead to one of the most violent of the squatters’ riots that plagued California.

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