Lt. Gov. Romualdo Pacheco becomes the first – and so far only – Latino or Hispanic to hold the office since statehood in 1850. He is elevated to the governship when Gov. Newton Booth, elected to the U.S. Senate 18 months earlier, is finally sworn in.
Born in Santa Barbara, Pacheco is also the state’s first native governor. Pacheco serves as governor from February 27 to December 9, 1875, the inauguration day of William Irwin, a Democrat, who wins the 1875 general election held on September 1. Pacheco’s own party doesn’t nominate him for re-election. Four years later, Pacheco wins election to the House of Representatives. While in Congress, he chairs the Committee on Private Land Claims, making him the first Hispanic to chair a standing congressional committee. He is also the only governor to claim to have lassoed a grizzly bear. During his more than 30-year political career, Pacheco holds a variety of state, local and federal posts, including treasurer from 1863 to 1867 and lieutenant governor under Booth. Says Theodore Henry Hittell in Volume 4 of his 1897 History of California:
“Pacheco as governor did not have much opportunity to distinguish himself or make an exhibition as to what kind of metal (sic) he was composed of. No legislature sat during the nine or 10 months he held office, except the day or two previous to Irwin’s inauguration. No public disturbance or political climax occurred to call him out. Almost all his official occupation was confined to holding matters, as far as possible, in the condition of peace and prosperity in which he found them.”