Phelipe de Neve
First Governor of the Californias, 1777-1782
In five years, 1777-1782, Neve transformed Alta California. He rewrote the fundamental law under which California was governed. He founded the pueblos of San José and Los Angeles, and brought experienced farmers from Mexico thereby relieving the dependence upon food ships from San Blas in Baja California. He reformed finances, introducing system and order in the commissaries, bringing down prices, and at the same time increasing real pay of the military. He walled in the presidios, built up the army both in numbers and efficiency. He personally directed the construction of a new presidio at Santa Bárbara, and projected a string of three additional missions along the channel coast. Projected missions were San Buenavetura, Santa Bárbara, and La Purísima Concepción.
His policy toward the Indians merits special notice. Neve prohibited mistreatment of the natives and punished soldiers who disobeyed his orders, bringing in the offended Indians to give them the satisfaction of witnessing punishment. At the time of his death in 1784 at the age of 57, Phelipe de Neve was a brigadier general and had been promoted to Captain General of the Interior Provinces, a position second only to the viceroy of Mexico1.
|1 Beilharz, Edwin A. Felipe de
Neve First Governor of California;
California Historical Society, San Francisco, 1971
|Michael Hardwick, shown above,
is a historical interpreter and a member of
Los Soldados. He maintains a Bibliography Web site (Presidios and Soldiers).