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Biographies Unit Biographies

Pío Pico 1801-1894
Last Mexican Governor of Alta California

Pío Pico was born at the Mission San Gabriel. He was one of ten children of Mexican parents. As a young man, Pico moved to San Diego and then to Los Angeles. His first rancho was a 9,000-acre land grant. In 1841, he and his brother Andrés received a very large grant of about 133,000 acres. A few years later, he bought a third rancho.

Pío Pico became governor of Alta California in 1845. A year later, the United States declared war on Mexico. This war is known as the Mexican-American War. U.S. troops invaded California and Pico fled to present-day Mexico to avoid being captured.

After the war ended, he returned to Los Angeles. He became a business owner and served on the city council. In 1870, he built an elegant hotel called the Pico House. It was the city's first three-story building. People can visit it today. People can also visit his last home at Pío Pico State Historic Park in Whittier.

Comprehension Check

What did Pico do after the Mexican-American War ended?

Critical Thinking

Why do you think Pío Pico returned to California after the war?