As a means of improving political and military administration, and thereby, defense of the northern frontier against potential English and French incursions, Visitor General Jose de Gálvez planned the creation of two entities similar to captaincy generalities, beginning with the Comandancy General of the Provincias Internas of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, to extend from Texas westward to the Californias. By Royal Order of Carlos III in the fateful year of 1776, the new political entity was officially created and Teodoro de Croix was appointed as commandant general. Following extensive visitation, Croix recognized the immensity of territory included and divided the entity into an eastern and western division. The Provincias Internas del Occidente were to comprise the provinces of Alta and Baja California, Sonora, and Pimería Alta, the latter finally communicating with Alta California by a land route established through the Colorado Desert by Juan Bautista de Anza between 1774 and 1776. Thus, the seat of government for the western Provincias Internas was established at Arizpe in Sonora by Croix.
Reorganization on the northern frontier also affected Alta California more directly. Felipe de Neve, appointed provincial governor in 1775, had, as had his predecessors, maintained his seat of government at the traditional capital of Loreto. In 1776, Neve was ordered to transfer his governorship to Monterey, with Loreto reduced to the seat of the lieutenant governor, Fernando de Rivera y Moncada; this was the first political division of the Californias. As governor-resident of the growing province of Alta California with eight missions and three presidios, Neve, an Enlightenment secularist, sought to establish closer political control and halt jurisdictional conflict between the military and ecclesiastical authorities by establishing the unquestioned authority of the governor. Thus, enmity developed between Franciscan mission president Fray Junípero Serra and Neve, who responded by promotion of the establishment of civil settlements, pueblos, in San Jose de Guadalupe in 1777 and, later, Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de la Porciúncula in 1781.
As a means of clarifying and establishing the authority of the governor of Alta California, in 1779 Neve issued a detailed and extensive regulation in fifteen sections for the presidios, missions, and towns of the province. These ordinances, the first established exclusively for the Californias, promoted reform in the presidios; recognized the need for improved defense with a presidio at Santa Bárbara and detachments for the defense of towns; and sought to reduce corruption in supplying presidial soldiers. Most importantly, the regulations detailed the requisites for civil settlement, local government, agriculture and livestock raising, and land holding, and, much to the concern of Serra, reduced the future number of missionaries to one per mission, promoting the increased role of self-government among mission neophytes. These regulations were placed into effect by order of Commandant General Teodoro de Croix and, decisively so by a royal order of October 24, 1781, retroactive to June 1, 1779. The published Reglamento remained in force as one of the Spanish laws recognized by the Mexican Republic in 1828 until the transfer of Alta California to the United States in February 1848, and it was employed in determining land claims following California statehood in 1850. Tragically, the Reglamento became an even more important local legal document with the effective terrestrial isolation of the Californias from the viceroyalty as a result of the massacre of Rivera y Moncada, his party of settlers, and the Franciscan missionaries on the Colorado River at Yuma in 1780.
As in the case of many decrees, proclamations, and other legal documents, few printed copies of the Reglamento have survived use and handling by administrators. Reprinted in the great Mexican compilation of laws, Recopilación de leyes, decretos, bandos.. published by Basilio Jose Arrillaga in Mexico, 1833-1842, the Reglamento appeared in a limited Spanish edition in Santa Clara in 1874, in a bilingual edition in San Francisco in 1929, and again in Spanish in Aranjuez in 1994. ——W. Michael Mathes
Edwin Grabhorn had been heard to remark that he printed this book in lieu of another edition of Gray's Elegy. [GB 119. See Zamorano 80 #62].