Agustín Vicente Zamorano (1798 – 1842), was a printer, soldier,
and provisional Mexican Governor of Alta California.
Agustín Zamorano was born in Spanish Florida to
Spanish parents within the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain. He
entered the newly independent Mexican army May 1,
1821 as a cadet, where he served in Mexico.
He then came north in 1825 to the Mexican territory of Alta California, as
Secretary of State to Governor José María Echeandía. He served
until 1831, during which he would create and print official letterhead, using
woodblocks and type, without a printing press.
In February 1827 Zamorano married María Luisa Argüello, daughter of
Santiago Argüello, in a noted double wedding in San
Diego. His children were Dolores, Luis, Gonzalo, Guadalupe, Josefa,
Agustín, and Eulalia.
Zamorano participated in the 1831 Mexican Revolution, heading a
group of rebels in Monterey, including a number of foreign residents,
as Captain of the Monterey Company.
When Governor Manuel Victoria was exiled from California in January 1832, in
the face of revolution from stopping the Mexican government's secularization the Alta
California missions and redistribution of the land holdings as land grant
ranchos Echeandía remained acting governor until an assembly met in Pueblo de
Los Angeles. Pío Pico was chosen governor according to the Plan of San Diego, but officials in
Los Angeles refused to recognize him.
Zamorano proceeded to lead a rebellion in northern Alta California, and acting as governor
there, with Encheadía acting as governor in southern Alta California.
During January 31, 1832 – January 15, 1833, Zamorano served as provisional Governor of Alta
California at Monterey in the north, with José María de Echeandía serving at Pueblo de
Los Angeles in the south. When Governor José Figueroa arrived in 1833, Zamorano returned to his
former duties as commandant.
Zamorano is most noted for being the first person to bring a printing press to California, a wood-
frame Ramage press purchased in Boston. He set up a print shop in Monterey in the summer of 1834
and published the first books in California. As secretary to the Mexican Governor, he printed
early proclamations of Mexican governors.
The first items issued were a sixteen-page Reglamento (1834) and about a
half-dozen broadsides and sheets.
The first book printed was Manifiesto a la Republica Mejicana in 1835. The
Manifesto granted amnesty to the people of Alta California after the recent rebellion.
He also offered to provide "equitable prices with gentlemen who may wish to
establish any periodical," but nobody took up his offer. In total, he printed eleven
broadsides, six books, six miscellaneous works, and numerous letterheads.
The first newspaper wasn't printed until U.S. Commodore Robert F. Stockton
found Zamorano's old press and Walter Colton, chaplain of the U.S. frigate Congress
and former editor of the Philadelphia North American started the Monterey Californian.
Capt. Zamorano was the last appointed Commandant of the Presidio of San Diego during
1835-1840, but never assumed command. He was in San Diego in that period only during 1837-1838.
Agustín Zamorano left Alta California in 1838, later returning to San Diego in 1842, and died that year.
The Zamorano Club was formed in 1928 by a group of California book collectors,
printers and librarians in honor of Agustín Zamorano.
In 1986, Zamorano Fine Arts Academy, an Elementary School in Southeastern
San Diego was named in his honor.
In 2012, Agustin Vicente Zamorano descendant, Celeste Montalvo created a
Facebook page for descendants to post family pictures and share their history.