History of California
The character of patriotism and distinction among the people of California is as strong and positive as for those who have lived in the eastern United States who perhaps feel a special closeness due to the location of events during the American Revolution and events that have commemorated it since that time. Yet, it was in San Francisco, California that the first modern day patriotic society, the Society of Sons of Revolutionary Sires, was founded. Although not involved in the struggle for America's independence from England, California has a long and colorful history. Many people equate the beginnings of California with the Gold Rush of 1849, few realizing that California's history stretches to a time over three hundred years prior.
California was first seen by Europeans in 1540. Hernando de Alarcón, a Spanish-American navigator, employed by Don Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain, was the first European to touch California soil and, entering the Gulf of California, ascended the Colorado River for more than one hundred miles on an expedition of discovery, cooperating with Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. In 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese mariner in the Spanish service, proceeded under orders from Mendoza upon a voyage of discovery of the western coast. With two ships, San Salvador and Vittorio, he entered the harbor of San Diego on the eve of the feast of St. Michael, the Archangel, on Thursday evening, September 28, 1542. For this reason, most historians credit Cabrillo as the discoverer of California.
Over the years, the Sons of the Revolution in the State of California has published numerous historical accounts relating to both the American Revolution and California history. Many of these treatises appeared in the Society's Bulletin while others appeared in special publications. Because of the rarity of its publications, and inherent inaccessibility to much of the public, the following interesting compilation of some of that research is presented.
The following will establish in the mind of the reader something of the history, romance and patriotic intensity of the Golden State.
The Discovery of California
By Cassius Milton Jay(1)
When the history of the State of California is now related as a portion of the history of these United States, the modern state becomes but a part of the great whole. No history of the nation, regarding California as but an acquired portion and written from the viewpoint of a people of decidedly different temperament, can give to California that charm which was already hers at the time of the acquisition.
The romance of California's history lies in its intimate connection with those forces which originally led to the discovery of the western world, and with the history of the nation which continuously and persistently followed up the discovery by further exploration and colonization.
It was a little "old-world" that centered about the Mediterranean; on every side stretched out the great unknown, and, as everywhere, the "unknown" was populated by "barbarians". Out of the far east, however, came the Wise Men bringing riches. Centuries later, too, Marco Polo brought back first-hand reports which were not believed, though proved to some extent by "an incredible display of rubies, sapphires, carbuncles, emeralds and diamonds." (See National Geographic, Nov., 1928.) "And these travels were only the beginning of a very considerable intercourse."
By the middle of the fifteenth century much of the wealth and spices and silks and jewels which excited the cupidity of the European merchants was arriving by caravan from the far east. But in 1453 the Ottoman Turks captured the strategic city of Constantinople; their battles on the east with the Persians, and in the west with the Christians raised an effective barrier which cut off the profitable eastern trade.
At the western end of the Mediterranean on the Iberian peninsula, the Christian states of Aragón, Castile, León, and Navarre were completing a crusade six centuries long. They had wrested the soil, foot by foot, from the Moors, and Granada was yet to be taken. Isabella of Castile married Ferdinand in 1469, and in 1474 assumed the throne. She strengthened her authority in 1476 by defeat of the King of Portugal; in 1479 Ferdinand succeeded to the Kingdom of Aragón. The union of these kingdoms resulted in the establishment of the new court of Spain. Granada was captured in 1492. These rulers determined to unite all in a common religious faith. After 1480 the Spanish Inquisition sent hundreds to torture and thousands to a death in flames. In 1492, 800,000 Jews were expelled.
So Columbus came to Isabella at the propitious moment. He came from Genoa (see National Geographic, Sept., 1928) which for some reason was not able to deal through the Turks for the eastern trade as did Venice and other Mediterranean towns. Hence the necessity for a western route. He came to the rulers of a newly organized nation who could exert the strength necessary to the voyage of discovery. He came also to zealous rulers who, aside from any commercial advantage, could assign a positive religious duty to spread the religious faith throughout the world.
The discovery was perfected. That these purposes were pursued will not be denied. Balboa discovered the Pacific in 1513; Grijalva discovered Mexico in 1518 of which Hernando Cortés effected the conquest 1519-1521. In 1520 Magellan reached the strait, and discovered the Spice Islands (the Philippines).
We can readily imagine the avidity with which Cortés sought to locate the source of the wealth of the empire of Montezuma. In 1524 he wrote to the Spanish King: "They tell me that Ciguatan (the Indian name for the Californias) is an island inhabited by women. . . .They also tell me it is very rich in pearls and gold, respecting which I shall labor to obtain the truth, and give your majesty a full account of it."
In 1527 he sent Alvara de Saavedra from Tehauntepec, with instructions to discover a route to the recently discovered Spice Islands. Two additional expeditions were sent out without success.
In 1532 he sent Mendoza from Acapulco to search for the western island whence came much of the treasure of Montezuma, according to report. At that time a widely read romance entitled Las Sergus de Esplandian contained this phrase: "On the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California very near to the terrestrial paradise - an island peopled by Amazons." Mendoza did not return. The new land was long called Las Islas Californias, and California is shown as an island as late as 1719 in an atlas prepared in England for George II.
In 1533 Cortés sent another expedition from Tehauntepec. One ship under Diego Becerra had Fortun Ximines as pilot; another under Hernando Crijalvo had as pilot Martin de Cósta. They were instructed to search for Mendoza. Becerra was murdered by Ximines, who landed in a bay called Santa Cruz, now the Bay of La Paz, Baja California, became the discoverer of the Californias and was killed by the natives; his crew returned with pearls which they discovered.
In 1535 Cortés himself reached the Bay of Santa Cruz. The following year the story of the Seven Cities of Cibola reached New Spain, and in 1539 Cortés sent out his last expedition. Francisco de Ulloa, commander of three ships, sailed to the head of the Mar de Cortés (Gulf of California), to the Bay of Santa Cruz, around Cape San Lucas, and up the Pacific Coast as far as Cedros Island. But one of the ships returned, and without Ulloa.
Mendoza, a new Viceroy, and a bitter rival of Cortés, sent an expedition under Fernando de Alarcón which reached the head of the Gulf in 1541, where they "found a mighty river which ran with so great a fury of stream that we could hardly sail against it."
In 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese mariner in the Spanish service, proceeded under orders from Mendoza upon a voyage of discovery of the western coast. With two ships, San Salvador and Vittorio, he entered the harbor of San Diego on the eve of the feast of St. Michael, the Archangel, on Thursday evening, September 28, 1542. Thus Cabrillo is entitled to be called the discoverer of our California. He called the port San Miguel, where he remained until Tuesday, October 3rd; sailing up the coast he probably reached the port of Monterey, but did not land. Returning south, he stopped at Cuyler's Harbor on the Island of San Miguel, off Santa Barbara, where he died about the beginning of the year, having suffered a broken arm from which he could not recover. So, on California soil, in an unmarked grave, rests the body of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, California's discoverer. Would that a fitting monument could mark the approximate site upon that lonely island!
Under the command of Pilot Bartolomé Ferrelo the San Salvador returned to San Miguel (San Diego) on Sunday, March 11, 1543, and left for New Spain on Saturday the 17th.
Those who know the coast which Cabrillo discovered and explored, the kind of vessels in which he undertook the expedition, the rigorous season during which he pursued his voyage in those intemperate climes, and the state of the science of navigation at that period, cannot help admiring a courage and intrepidity which though common among sea-faring Spaniards of that time, cannot be appreciated in our day.
About 1560 Andreas Urdeneta, a sailor monk, steered a course from the Philippines with favorable winds, and arrived off California at Cape Mendocino, sailing southerly to Acapulco.
After 1570 Spanish treasure ships sailed twice a year from Acapulco to the Philippines by way of the Island of Guam and the Ladrones, returning by the course of Urdeneta, favored on both journeys by wind and current.
In 1587 Cavendish, an English privateer, sighted the galleon Santa Ana near Cape San Lucas and took a cargo of Chinese goods and three million dollars in jewels and bullion. An interesting side-light on such privateering, and the length of the period during which it was practiced, is offered in this item: "In the year 1709 Captain Woodes Rogers of England appeared off Cape San Lucas in search of the Manila galleon, having as pilot William Dampier, and as his second mate one Alexander Selkirk, whom he had picked up on San Fernandez Island; a few years later this Alexander Selkirk, in the hands of Defoe, became the wonderful Robinson Crusoe who has enthralled boyhood for nigh two centuries. Rogers put in with his vessels at the Bay of San Bernarbé. Shortly thereafter, though only by a sharp contest, he captured the Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación de Singano with a cargo of one or two million dollar's valuation." In the 1719 edition of Robinson Crusoe there is a map of the world, upon which California appears as an island. (See National Geographic, Sept., 1928.)
Sebastian Viscaino was sent out from Acapulco in 1602 to locate a place of settlement below Cape Mendocino, in order that a base might be had, from which to operate against the privateers. He landed at the Bay of Monterey; but the expedition came to naught. Procrastination led to a delay of 150 years and more before further exploration was made upon the western coast.
California During the Revolution
By Cassius Milton Jay(2)
All thoughtful Californians justly revere the memory of two outstanding figures of historical importance -- General George Washington, the father of our country, and Fray Junípero Serra, the foremost pioneer in the development of our state.
Rarely, if ever, have we seen the two names associated in any narrative; yet they were contemporaries, and the result of the efforts of the former, as reflected in the present status of these United States, possibly could not, and probably would not, have so gloriously reached that satisfactory condition, had it not been for the effectual ministrations of the latter.
We are familiar with the story of English colonization on this continent. We know of its progress to the Revolutionary period. And, having that knowledge, we sometimes suffer an illusion as to the colonial history of California. Because that too is colonial, we inadvertently and erroneously associate its beginning as to time with the original settlement of the east coast. We fail to comprehend the fact that during the whole of the so-called Colonial Period of the United States, California lay undeveloped and comparatively unknown upon the Pacific slopes.
It lay thus dormant, as it had ever lain dormant since the first discovery by Columbus, while, to the south, that discovery had been followed by immediate and zealous colonization by the Spanish. Again, our lack of any familiar knowledge of these activities, which were a century old before the landing at Plymouth, adds to our confusion.
Within a few years after the existence of a western world became evident, exploration had covered all of the islands of the West Indies, the shores of the Bay of Mexico, and of South America. The names of Amerigo Vespucci, Juan Ponce de León, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, Fernández de Córdoba, Hernando Cortés, Pizarro, Férnandez Magellan, Panphilo de Narvaez, Férdinand de Soto, and Melendéz, will bring to mind the vast expanse of territory explored and colonized during the sixteenth century in Mexico, in Peru, and in the Philippines.
And to Mexico City, the capital of this New Spain, already more than two centuries old, came a humble padre on New Year's Day of 1750. It was then the largest and finest city on the American continent, built from the great shore of wealth passing through its coffers, gathered from the provinces, forwarded to the court of Spain.
The humble padre was Fray Junípero Serra, a man of delicate features, with a slender figure of medium height. He eschewed every personal luxury, even to that of riding, and was almost exhausted at the conclusion of the self-imposed walk from Vera Cruz. Although then but thirty-seven years of age, he had for twenty years been a student and professor at Lullian University at Palma, in Mallorca, largest of the Balearic Islands. He was born of peasant heritage in the neighboring town of Petra on November 24, 1713, as Miguel Joseph, adopting the name of Junípero upon taking his first vows in the Franciscan order, September 14, 1730. He became an eloquent theologian and a distinguished scholar, occupying the chair of philosophy at the university, whence he, with his pupil Fray Rafael Palóu, and a professor, Fray Rafael Verger, volunteered for missionary work in New Spain. They sailed from Cádiz, where they were joined by Fray Guillermo Vicens and Fray Juan Crespi, the latter a school friend of Palóu. The cooperation of these close friends added much to the success of his California career.
From San Fernando College in Mexico he was assigned to the Sierra Gordo missions, where he served until 1759, during which period he was presidente for three years. He was then recalled in anticipation of taking charge of the missions of the Río San Saba in Texas, but was retained at the college for seven years.
(Baja) California was then occupied by the Jesuits who had entered upon missionary work there in 1697 by royal consent and at their own expense. This order exerted a powerful political influence in other provinces, and incurred the displeasure of Carlos III of Spain, who, on June 24, 1767, gave the drastic decree for their expulsion.
Don Gaspár de Portolá was made Governor of (Baja) California, and superintended the departure of Jesuit missionaries from that district. With his expedition came Fray Junípero, who had received a commission as presidente of the missions from San Fernando College upon the assumption of control of these missions by the Franciscan order. We can imagine his appreciation when Palóu and Crespi volunteered as members of the company of sixteen missionaries who were to accompany him.
The civil life of (Baja) California was entrusted to military comisarios, and proved a failure. Portolá had not sufficient authority to make a change. Fortunately a crisis arose.
Spanish argosies laden with the wealth of the Philippines were accustomed to follow the Japan current eastward to the Bay of Monterey, which Cabrillo had first seen in 1542, and where Viscaíno had first landed in 1602; then they proceeded down the coast to New Spain. Russian encroachment from the north caused a great fear that, if continues southerly, the security of Spanish shipping would be endangered.
José de Gálvez was appointed Visitadór Generál with almost regal powers; he entered upon a plan with Serra for the correction of the abuses of the comisarios, and for the great project of establishing missions and presidios at Monterey and at San Diego, in Alta California, in order to hold the coast for the Spanish crown, and to forestall the Russian possession.
Thus, in 1768, while storm clouds were rising in the east, and Massachusetts was frantically calling on the other colonies for assistance, Gálvez arranged for four expeditions, two by land and two by sea, which were successfully completed by the arrival of the second land expedition at San Diego on July 1, 1769. Here, on July 16, 1769, (shortly after Parliament had declared the people of Massachusetts rebels) the mission of San Diego de Alcalá was founded.
The grim recital of the weary months of Portolá's overland journey in a vain search for the Bay of Monterey is contained in the Diary of Fray Juan Crespi, who accompanied the expeditions -- fruitless, except for the discovery of San Francisco harbor, which had been hitherto unknown.
The disheartened Portolá returned to San Diego January 24, 1770, fully determined to abandon the colony. The scarcity of provisions, the failure of a supply boat, the sickness and death of the sailors on the ships, and the failure to find Monterey would certainly have caused the evacuation of San Diego, had it not been for the inflexible opposition of Fray Junípero Serra.
And therein lies the cause for the gratitude of Californians of today. Had it happened otherwise the early occupation of the Pacific shores would very probably have been made by Russia -- or by any other nation, and the possibility of its inclusion in the United States would have been a matter of pure conjecture. The fact that California was saved for Spain, and hence for our republic, rests, as upon a foundation rock, on Serra's determination to proceed, his confidence of accomplishment, his ability to succeed, and his kindness and love to maintain his successful organization.
Serra's will prevailed, and the colonization proceeded. June 3, 1770, (about three months after the Boston Massacre) the mission of San Carlos Borroméo, at Monterey, was founded -- the site of which was transferred about Christmas time to San Carlos Borroméo del Carmelo (Carmel), Fray Junípero's own church -- and his sepulchre.
By a satisfactory arrangement the management of the missions in Baja California were taken over by the Dominican order, leaving to the Franciscan order full control of the new missions in Alta California, and to Fray Junípero as presidente of those missions full responsibility for such control.
San Antonio de Pádua was founded July 14, 1771, and San Gabriel Arcángel September 8, 1771. On September 1, 1772, the mission of San Luis, Obispo de Tolosa was established.
Meanwhile the clouds were thickening in the east, and in 1773 occurred the Boston Tea Party.
The year 1775 was the frightful year. In California the peaceful occupation was torn asunder by an Indian uprising at San Diego, where Fray Luís Jayme was brutally murdered -- a noble martyr to the cause. Captain Rivera hastened from Monterey to retaliate, and was excommunicated for the seizure of an Indian from the sanctuary of the church. Fray Junípero's heart was thereafter torn by the dissensions of the military authorities. During this year the Revolution blazed forth at the Battle of Lexington, resulting in the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
San Francisco de Asis (Dolores) was founded October 9, 1776, by Palóu, and San Juan Capistrano by Serra November 1, 1776. It was an eventful year on both shores of the continent.
Flag Day on June 14, 1777, the arrival of Lafayette, the battles of Brandywine, of Germantown, and the name of Valley Forge, indicate the year's happenings in the east. Here, on January 12, 1777, was established the mission of Santa Clara de Asis.
During the years following, the weary war proceeded, and was practically brought to an end with the surrender of Corwallis at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.
So, too, the earthly work of Fray Junípero was drawing to a close. On March 31, 1782, he founded the mission of San Buenaventura, ninth to be established and the sixth in which he had taken a personal hand in founding, although one of the first contemplated as lying midway between Monterey and San Diego.
Worn with a lingering illness which he had borne uncomplainingly, he passed away August 28,1784. At his request he rests beside Fray Juan Crespi, his lifelong friend, who, too, deserves a special place in California history as diarist of all the expeditions of discovery.
The permanent treaty of peace at Paris had been consummated September 3, 1783; east and west were fitted to proceed in the enjoyment of the privileges so dearly won.
Other hands than Serra's performed the establishment of the following missions which completed the chain:
Santa Barbara December 4, 1786
La Purísima Concepción December 8, 1787
Santa Cruz September 25, 1791
Nuestra Señora de la Soledád October 9, 1791
San José de Guadalupe June 11, 1797
San Juan, Bautista June 24, 1797
San Miguel, Arcángel July 25, 1797
San Fernando, Rey de España September 8, 1797
San Luis, Rey de Francia June 13, 1798
Santa Inés September 17, 1804
San Rafael, Arcángel December 14, 1817
San Francisco Solano July 4, 1823
A Period of
Three Hundred Fifty Years
The name California is first used in a romance novel published in Spain 1510 and written by Garcia Ordoñez de Montalvo, the translator of the Amadis de Gaul, and called Las Sergas de Esplandián, or "Adventures of Esplandian". The Sergas is often referred to as the fifth book of the Amadis. In this book, which was an extremely popular piece of literature at the time of the conquest of Mexico, there is an island called California. By "California" there was implied insularity coupled with riches.
"Know," says the Sergas, "that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons. They were of strong and hardy bodies, of ardent courage, and great force. Their island was the strongest in the world, with its steep cliffs and rock shores. Their arms were of gold, and so was the harness of the wild beasts they tamed to ride, for in the whole island there was no metal but gold."
Sixteenth century cartography, at this date and later, particularly in the maps "Lenox Globe" and "Sylvanus Map", persists in the idea of North America as a group of islands. A continuous search for a passage through the archipelago, leading to Asia, was the goal of subsequent voyages of discovery. It was the result of this universal notion that California was discovered.
Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, a Spanish navigator, crosses the Isthmus of Panama and discovers the Pacific Ocean.
Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish adventurer, who had been associated with Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, when the latter discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513, visits the Pacific South American coasts and becomes the discoverer of Peru.
Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda is the first European to view the broadly flowing waters of the Mississippi River, but he is not generally credited as its discoverer, that honor being universally given to Hernando de Soto.
Hernando Cortés, at the head of a Spanish expedition, undertakes an exploration and conquest of Mexico.
Fernao de Magalhaes, whom we know as Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator, discovers and makes passage of the straits afterwards bearing his name, and is the first European navigator to cross the Pacific Ocean.
Spanish conquest of Mexico by Hernando Cortés is completed and the country is called Nueva España, or "New Spain".
Fernao de Magalhaes discovers the islands subsequently known as the Philippine Islands. Other voyages across the Pacific Ocean, with these islands as the objective point, had a direct bearing then, and an influence later, upon the history of California.
The circumnavigation of the globe by the sailing vessels, which had been commenced by Fernao de Magalhaes, who was killed in 1521 during the voyage, is accomplished by a return to the point of previous embarkation.
Previous to Magellan's voyage the belief had existed that North America was an archipelago and was traversed by an inter-oceanic strait, later called "Anian", connecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the North Pacific Ocean. After the discovery of the Straits of Magellan and the voyage across the Pacific, this belief becomes popularly current and accepted.
Gonzalo de Sandoval carries the following strange story to Mexico from Colima: "California is represented as an island, rich in pearls and gold. It was said to lie at a distance of ten days' journey from the province of Ciguatan, and to be inhabited by women only." This account is transmitted to the Emperor, Charles V of Spain, by Hernando Cortés, in the Carta Quarta de Relacion.
Francisco Pizarro, who had visited Peru in 1515, sets sail from Panama, with his partner, Diego de Almagro, an adventurer like himself, and joining to himself Hernando de Luque, a priest possessed of some money, ventures upon an expedition and conquest of this rich empire of Peru; and sailing southward from Panama, explores the southern Pacific Coast. The expedition proves an inspiration for a later conquest.
Francisco Pizarro, financed by Gaspar de Espinosa, mayor of Panama, undertakes a second expedition to Peru. Again he sails from the city of Panama, southward along the Peruvian coast.
1531 to 1535
Francisco Pizarro enters upon and completes the conquest of Peru. He defeats the Inca Atahualpa, and taking over the cities of Peru, with their immense treasures, governs the same under the title of Adelantado. He sent his brother, Hernando Pizarro, to Spain to obtain honors for the conquistadores. Returning in 1535, with various honors, Francisco Pizarro receives at the hands of Charles V of Spain, the title of Marquis and a grant of the Chilean region for Almagro. It is noteworthy that during this conquest and occupation, he was accompanied by Hernando de Soto, who later explores the Mississippi River.
Fortuñ Ximénez, a Spanish adventurer, and mutinous pilot of Cortés' Expedition, discovers the eastern coast of Baja California, or Lower California, at what was later known as Santa Cruz Bay. Here Ximénez is killed.
Hernando Cortés visits Baja California to found a colony, lands where Ximénez had been killed, and gives to what he thought was an island, the name of "Santa Cruz" (La Paz). Whether this Santa Cruz of Cortés was an island at the mouth of the bay, or the mainland of Baja California which he thought was a large island, is not known, although it would seem that it might be the latter, as he says: "I arrived at the land of Santa Cruz, I was in it and had complete knowledge of it," and he would not speak of so small a body as one of the islands at the mouth of the bay as "land".
Hernando Cortés crosses the Gulf of California and explores the lower portion of Baja California and the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, a Spanish adventurer in North America, and belonging to the expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez to Florida in 1528, crosses the Mississippi River. He is the second European to do this.
Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca appears in the City of Mexico with his wondrous tales of having traveled on foot three thousand miles from Florida, of his wanderings for many years in unknown lands, now Texas and Arkansas, and of the fabulous wealth, gold and precious stones, of the "Seven Cities of Cibola". These wonderful tales inspired Cortés and his military associates to the succeeding voyages and expeditions of discovery and exploration which resulted in the discovery of California.
The colony founded by Hernando Cortés on Lower California at Santa Cruz is a failure and abandoned.
Fra. Marcos de Niza, an Italian missionary and explorer, under the direction of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, Governor of "New Galicia", undertakes the exploration of northwestern Mexico and becomes the "Discoverer of Arizona". He is inspired by the wonderful tales told by Cabeza de Vaca of the rich cities of Cibola of which the latter had heard on his overland journey of three years previous.
Fray Marcos de Niza makes his wonderful journey into the unknown wilds alone except for the negro Estevanico, who has been with Cabeza de Vaca, and four Indians. He returns with even more wonderful tales than had Cabeza de Vaca, as he had seen the cities from a hill, being afraid to go nearer owing to an uprising in which Estevanico was killed. The cities which were the lure of so many adventurous souls were merely the terraced homes of the Pueblo Indians.
Francisco de Ulloa, a Spanish soldier and explorer, and a lieutenant of Cortés, having been with the latter in 1535, makes a Pacific coastwise voyage and explores the Gulf of California, proving that California is not an island. The first record of the name as applied to the peninsula appears in the map in Preciado's diary of Ulloa's expedition.
Francisco Preciado, a Franciscan padre and diarist of the expedition of Francisco de Ulloa, employed the name "California" many times in his account of Ulloa's expedition, which is the first time the name appears in print as applying to an actual body of land. He discriminates between "Isle of California" and "Land of Santa Cruz".
Hernando de Soto, Spanish gentleman, explorer and adventurer, effects a landing at Tampa Bay and leads a remarkable expedition for the next three years through Florida, Georgia, perhaps through Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, descending the Alabama River to Mobile Bay. He turns northward and crosses Mississippi and the river of the same name, and explores almost to the Missouri River.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, governor of New Galicia, incited by the wonderful tales of the "Seven Cities of Cibola", and of Quivira, as told by Fray Marcos on his return, sets out on an expedition accompanied by 300 Spaniards and 800 Indians. During the next two years the party explores from the Grand Cañon of the Colorado across Arizona and New Mexico, as far north as central Kansas and east to central Texas. He explores the country as far north as the Moqui villages of Tusayan, only to find that the wonderful cities of Cibola were the communal houses of the Pueblo Indians.
Hernando de Alarcón, a Spanish-American navigator, employed by Don Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain, is the first European to touch California soil and, entering the Gulf of California, ascends the Colorado River for more than one hundred miles on an expedition of discovery, cooperating with Coronado.
Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, one of the captains under Coronado, discovers the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.
Domingo del Castillo, one of Alarcón's pilots, re-explores the Gulf of California and charts its shores. He publishes a notable map of the Gulf of California and the Colorado River which is recognized as both accurate and authoritative. He describes California as a peninsula.
Francisco Pizarro is killed by a band of conspirators under Juan de Rada in vengeance for the previous execution of Almagro, his former associate.
Hernando de Soto rediscovers the Mississippi River, which has a direct bearing upon the subsequent Louisiana Purchase and the opening of the Great West to the Pacific Coast.
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator, is employed by Pedro de Alvarado, Governor of Guatemala, for a voyage under the flag of Spain, to the north. Alvarado dies before the voyage is commenced, but Cabrillo is confirmed by Mendoza. He sails from Navidad to the north and discovers the Bay of San Diego, thus becoming the true discoverer of California, although Alarcón in his voyage up the Colorado saw and probably landed on California soil. Cabrillo visits many of the islands along the coast, among them Santa Cruz, Catalina and San Clemente, and sails as far north as Point Conception. His important discoveries are cut short by his death.
Alonzo de Santa Cruz, the cosmographer royal of Charles V of Spain, publishes his map showing California as in the lower part insular and in the upper part peninsular.
Don Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain, sends six ships under Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, across the Pacific to "note the products of the Western Islands", and Villalobos reaching them, re-christens them Las Philippinas, the Philippine Islands, in honor of Phillip II of Spain.
A party of Spaniards visits the present site of Santa Fé, New Mexico, and finds there an abandoned Indian pueblo.
January 3rd, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the true discoverer of California and the first explorer of its coast, dies on the Island of San Miguel and is probably buried there.
Bartolomé Ferrelo, a native of the Levant, and Cabrillo's chief pilot, takes command of the expedition and voyages as far north as the forty-second degree of latitude, to within four degrees of the mouth of the Columbia River. He reports the new discoveries to Cortés.
Miguel Lopez de Lagazpi is commissioned by Luis de Velasco, Viceroy of New Spain, to subdue the Philippine Islands, which he accomplishes in the next seven years, founding the city of Manilla.
Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who had served as a common soldier with Hernando Cortés and had been in one hundred and nineteen battles, and who had been present at the siege of the City of Mexico in 1521, commences his notable history of Spanish conquest.
Sir Francis Drake(3), an English admiral and navigator, acquires immense treasures as a freebooter in the Spanish harbors on the Pacific Coast. He sails northward on a voyage of exploration and anchors in the bay receiving his name, most likely the bay in the embrasure of Point Reyes, also identical with Cermeño's Bay.
This expedition was a rude awakening to the calm possession of the Spaniards, not only because of the danger to the Philippine galleons, but also of the fate of the country over which Drake had raised the flag of England.
Sir Francis Drake orders religious services to be performed with the Indians as witnesses in order to convey to their minds the idea of everlasting God who created heaven and earth and reigned above. This is carried out on the shores of Drake's Bay, by the celebration of the English forms of service and is the first Christian rite ever held on the soil of California; being representative of the established church of England as under Queen Elizabeth, it was undeniably a Protestant service. The following is the quotation from the World Encompassed: "Our general, with his companie - fell to prayer -. In the time of which prayer, singing psalmes and reading of certaine Chapters in the Bible, they sate very attentively - ."
Sir Francis Drake returns to England, his ships laden with spoils and, having gained enduring glory by circumnavigating the globe (it being the second time this had been achieved), he enters Plymouth Harbor, England, having started therefrom in 1577 upon Magellan's earlier course, though not then contemplating a periplus of the world.
Bernal Diaz del Castillo has lodged in manuscript form as the result of continuous application and prodigious labor for many years his remarkable history entitled Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España. This covers the explorations and conquests of the Spaniards and contains many references to California, and the author states that it was Cortés who first gave it the name. However, this history remains in manuscript form for fifty years after this date.
Francisco Lopez Gomara, secretary and chaplain of Cortés, publishes his Historia General de las Indias (La Conquista de Mexico).
Francisco de Gali, under command of Viceroy Pedro de Moya de Contreras, starting from a port of New Spain, crosses the Pacific Ocean of Alta California, and then traverses the coast southward, skirting the islands on the California shores. On this voyage, he discovers the Japan Current, thus making an easy return trip from the Philippine Islands to Mexico. This had a very important bearing on the history of California. As, owing to the length and dangers of the trip back from the Philippines it was necessary to have a port of repairs for the galleons, before reaching Mexico; and as the return by the Japan Current brought the galleons along the shores of California, California thus becomes a commercial necessity to Mexico. It was this that caused the King of Spain to desire California, and not her own worth, as that was never known nor appreciated by Mexico.
Thomas Cavendish, second English circumnavigator of the globe, and, like Drake, a freebooter, sails through the straits of Magellan, preys upon Spanish vessels, and exploring the Pacific Coast of Mexico to Lower California, returns to England. He thus performs the third periplus of the globe.
Pedro de Unamunu, a navigator of Macao, is sent by Viceroy Contreras on an exploring expedition to discover islands to be used as refitting stations for the Philippine galleons. Unamunu does not find these islands nor, indeed, any others, but discovers a bay which he called Puerto de San Lucas, probably the Bay of Monterey, thus antedating the discovery of Viscaino by fifteen years.
"The Silver Map of the World" appears, which is assumed to be "A contemporary medallion commemorative of Drake's voyage (1577-80)", and on this may is engraved "Californoa".
Thomas Cavendish makes another voyage to the Pacific Coast, repeating his previous adventures and explorations.
Juan de Fuca, a Greek navigator whose real name was Apostolos Valerianos, in the employ of the Viceroy of Mexico, explores the Pacific Coast and sails into the Bay which is now known as the Gulf of Georgia, and having for twenty days steered through its intricate windings and numerous islands, returns with a belief that the entrance to the long desired passage into the Atlantic has been found; that is, "Anian". The Straits into Puget Sound still bear his name. Juan de Fuca really claims to have made the voyage completely through the Straits of Anian from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This had a very great influence on the geography of the time.
Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeño, sailing from the Philippines on a voyage of discovery of islands to be used as ports of refuge for the Philippine galleons, is driven into a bay behind Point Reyes, latitude 38, along the coast of California. This bay is probably the Francis Drake Bay. The ship is wrecked, but some seventy escape in a viroco and later, sailing down the coast, reach a "very large bay", latitude 37, which is very likely Monterey. Thus is added another possible "discoverer" of Monterey before Vizcaino.
Gonzalo de Francia, boatswain of a ship under Sebastian Vizcaino, visits Santa Cruz Bay and later (1629) writes to the King: "We came upon un puerto grande which was called El Puerto de la Paz, - and an island at the mouth of it which was called Island of Women, who were without men, none passing over them except in summer on rafts made of reeds."
Juan de Oñate, a Spanish explorer, under commission of Viceroy Don Luis de Velasco to colonize the district north of the river Rio Grande, which was confirmed by the Viceroy Gaspar de Zuñiga y Acebo de Monterey, sets out on an expedition with a large force of soldiers, Indians, wagons and cattle, and crossing the Rio Grande, founds San Gabriel, the first capital of New Mexico.
Juan de Oñate extends his explorations into the territory later comprising Arizona and traverses the edges of the desert and fertile mountain valleys which had been discovered sixty years earlier.
In revenge for the murder of a number of Spaniards, Oñate decides to attack the city of Acoma, the great stronghold of the Pueblo Indians, standing on its almost impregnable cliffs. But the great cliffs were not proof against cunning, and the Spaniards divided themselves into two parties, one of which climbed the walls during the night and the other, making the frontal attack the following morning, take the city. In all history there is no more desperate battle, nor none fought at so dizzy a height. Of the 3,000 Pueblo Indians only 600 survived and they were forced to leave their homes and live in the valley.
An excellent map is published by Tattonus in this year, showing Lower California as a peninsula. The early cartographers persisted in the insular idea. From 1541 (the map of Castillo) to 1622 the peninsula idea gained ground, but again from 1622 to 1746 a reaction toward the idea of California being an island prevailed, even against the distinct proof to the contrary in Kino's entradas.
As a part of his conquest of New Mexico and of his further explorations, Oñate makes an expedition into the country of the Quivira.
Antonio de Herrera, Historian General of New Spain, publishes his account of the Cortés expedition, and states that between 1535 and 1537 the Spanish leader called the waste about him "California".
Sebastian Vizcaino, a Spanish explorer, having become Chief Pilot of New Spain and commissioned Captain-General for a second California voyage by the Condé de Monterey, explores the west coast of Alta California north to Cape Blanco de San Sebastian, latitude 42. Vizcaino enter the great Bay, which had been previously visited by Ferrelo Unamunu and Cermaño, and names it the Bay of Monterey in honor of the Viceroy of Mexico.
In this expedition by Vizcaino, a vessel under the command of Juan Martin de Aguilar becomes separated from the others during a storm and Aguilar sails north on his own responsibility as far as Cape Blanco in Oregon, altitude 43, or further. He sails up a river which is referred to as Aguilar on current maps. To him is given credit for the discovery of the mouth of the Columbia River, although it is doubtful if he went that far.
Sebastian Vizcaino publishes maps showing the Port of Monterey and the San Francisco Bay of Cermeño (Puerto de los Reyes). This latter bay is also identical with Sir Francis Drake's Bay.
A second exploration of the territory now included in the State of Arizona is made by Juan de Oñate. On this expedition Oñate followed the Colorado River to its mouth, being the first European to accomplish this.
After continuing for seven years, the settlement or pueblo of San Gabriel in New Mexico is abandoned. While it thereby loses its antiquity as a permanently inhabited town, yet in later years the town of Chamita is founded on the same site.
The town of Santa Fé, now in the State of New Mexico, is established by Juan de Oñate on the site of at least one pre-historic pueblo and is given the name of "La Cuidad Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco". Oñate enslaves the Indians of the neighborhood and proceeds to open up extensive gold and silver mines. Santa Fé is the second oldest white settlement in the United States, that of Saint Augustine, Florida alone exceeding it in the point of age, and pre-dates the settlement of Jamestown by two years and the landing of the Mayflower in Boston Harbor by fifteen years.
Enrico Martinez, a Mexican engineer and royal cosmographer of Spain, constructs a noted canal in the Valley of Mexico, and publishes the observations and surveys, made by Vizcaino in 1602, of Alta California in thirty-two charts which are still preserved in the archives of the Council of the Indies.
King James I of England makes his second grant of land on the North American Continent, in Virginia, known as the Jamestown Charter, being dated May 23, 1609, the seventh year of King James' reign. The island limit of this grant or charter was from sea to sea, that is, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the southern boundary 38 north latitude. It is interesting to note that his northerly limit as finally settled passes into the Pacific Ocean, just north of San Francisco and that the southern limit as finally settled passes about three miles south of what is now the city of Redlands, California, through the city of Riverside, and into the Pacific Ocean at about the point where Santa Monica, California is today, so that all of the Pacific Coast line from Santa Monica to the Golden Gate Bridge was the westerly limit of this Jamestown Grant, though never legally established or right of control exercised.
Sebastián Vizcaino explores the region about Japan in hopes of finding the islands Ricas de Oro y Plata, island of gold and silver. (The Armenian Islands of Villalobos and Unamunu). The existence of these mythical islands probably was due to folklore of Japan.
A map of "The World" by Kaspar Van Baerle appears, and on this California is drawn as an island of great size and of rectangular shape. Other maps from this year (and in succeeding years to 1746) replace the peninsula of California by an island.
The manuscript history entitled "Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva Espana", which had been written during the labors and studies of a period of many years by Bernal Diaz del Castillo and which had been hidden among the archives of a library in Spain for a period of fifty years and long after his death, is at this time brought to light and published to the world. It immediately secures an eminent position as historical evidence and authority and brings more positive attention to the discoveries and explorations of Hernando Cortés and the country then called "California". This history of the conquest of New Spain refers to Cortés as having discovered "an island" and that on that account Cortés was heartily cursed by his followers - a starving band.
Francisco de Ortega names one of the islands in the lower gulf of California Espiritu Santo. It was probably either this island or Cerralvo to which the name California was first given.
(Note - With subsequent historians, it is a matter of speculation as to what land, whether Lower California itself, or some islands off the coast, was first spoken of as "California". The quotation exactly from Richman was: "It" - the land to which the name California was first given - "may have been Cerralvo (the Santiago of Cortés), or Espiritu Santo, (so named by Ortega in 1632), both at the mouth of the Bay of Santa Cruz".)
Robert Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, an English Nobleman and historiographer, publishes his three-volume work, Arcano Del Mare, and describes in It Mare d'America Occidenale, the trips of the galleons from the Philippines making the northwest coast of America. He defines the "Vermillion Sea" as beginning "at the Cape Santa Clara of California", etc., and as so many others, calls California an island.
Father Joannis Bisselius, a Jesuit priest, contributes to the geographical literature of the age his Argonauticon Americanorum and proposes to name all the regions of the eastern and northern part of North America with the western kingdoms of Quivira and Tolmum, Estotilandia, and then turning to the south, on the west coast, he begins with California. He writes: "The kingdoms and regions better known to our navigation are these: those which lie on the south sea, Zurium, in an oblique direction from the west; in these after Quivira and the lands of the Tolmi, in the same extent of coast, the regions of California are stretched out on the sea toward the east (orientum versus). The back of this land is shut in by mountains from which flows into the ocean the river Farrellónes. The sides are surrounded by water in the manner of arms. On the right indeed, which looks toward the south, the South Sea; on the left however, toward the north, it is bordered by a certain gulf running transversely up beyond the middle of the length of California. Some call this the Vermillion Sea."
George Horn, in his notable work, on the origins of the people of America, traces the origin and migration of peoples by similarity of words; and writing of Corea thus curtly refers to the deviation of the name California from the name of the Coreans: "Hi Coreani primo in Californiam venerunt; quae nomen suum a Caoli habet."
The notable work Sir Francis Drake Revived appears, containing an account of his several voyages and his dangerous adventures for gold and silver. It includes the World Encompassed.
Peter Heylyn publishes his famous Cosmograghie in four books in which he describes California as an island.
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, a young Frenchman of Rouen, France, makes his famous exploring tour in the middle west, floats down the Mississippi River to its mouth, takes possession of its vast basin in the name of France, and calls it "Louisiana", in honor of the king. This event bears direct relationship to subsequent Pacific Coast history.
Captain Charles Swan, for the English, makes a voyage and enters California waters, carrying as a pilot and histriographer William Dampier, a navigator. Dampier eventually makes four circumnavigations of the globe and publishes his adventures in a number of thrilling volumes.
The Jesuit Mission System begins in Baja (or Lower) California, under Fathers Eusebio Francisco Kino, missionary and royal cosmographer, and Juan Maria de Salvatierra, assistente at Los Chimpas, as visitador. The first mission, Loreto de Concho, is founded at Loreto, Baja California, on October 25. In the succeeding seventy-two years, eighteen missions are located, all but one by the Jesuit order, and the famous "Pious Fund of California" is established.
The Pious Fund had its origin in voluntary contributions in Mexico for the maintenance of Jesuit missions in California. The members of this company administered the fund until their expulsion from Spanish territory in 1768, when the government assumed charge until 1840 when it was turned over to the newly created Bishop of California, who administered it until 1842, when the government again assumed control. At this time the government sold all the properties belonging to the fund, agreeing to pay to the missions of California 6% per annum on the total selling price. This pledge has been the cause of a number of international difficulties between the United States and Mexico since California has been part of the United States, but the question was finally settled in 1902 at The Hague, and Mexico pays to the bishops and archbishops of California $43,000 annually.
William Dampier publishes A New Voyage Round the World, describing the lands visited on his voyages and the inhabitants, their customs, religions, etc., and makes reference to California which he also depicts as an island.
In these years is made the voyage to the South Sea and around the world by the ships Duke and Dutchess of Bristol, commanded by Woods Rogers. Edward Cooke was second captain on board the Dutchess and in 1712 publishes a journal of all the memorable transactions experienced during this voyage. William Dampier, who really projected the exposition, went as pilot to the Duke.
Woods Rogers in his visits to the Pacific waters rescues Alexander Selkirk, the original of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, from the Island of Juan Fernandez, three hundred miles off the coast of Chile. Selkirk is described as: "A man in goatskins who looked wilder than the first owners of them."
Captain George Shelvocke makes a voyage to the Pacific Coast. It is very interesting that the sailor Hatley, of this expedition, was the ancient mariner who shot the albatross in Coleridge's famous poem.
Vitus Behring, a Danish navigator, employed by Peter the Great of Russia, sails through the straits that have since been given his name. By this voyage the question whether or not Asia and North America were one continent was indisputably settled.
William Betagh publishes an account of a voyage round the world and of a remarkable enterprise begun in the year 1719, chiefly to cruise piratically on the Spaniards in the Great South Ocean.
John Georgius Gemling publishes a rare tract which appears to have been prepared as a thesis for a university or college degree, entitled Disputatio geographica de vero Californiae situ et conditione, a little known but important publication.
The Russian government orders a second voyage to discover and explore the islands west of Asia. North America is first sighted by Alexei Chirikof, the commander of one of the two ships under Behring, and which had become separated from its companion in a storm, at latitude 55. He sails as far south as Vancouver's Island. He returns to Siberia without again seeing Behring. Behring thirty-six hours later sights Mt. St. Elias and takes on water on Kayak Island, latitude 59, 40', and returns to Siberia without any further explorations.
George Anson, Esq., later Lord Anson, as commander-in-chief of a squadron of His Majesty's ships, is sent upon an expedition to the South Sea and makes a voyage around the world. The experiences of this expedition were afterwards published from his papers and materials by Richard Walter, M.A., who had been Chaplain of His Majesty's ship, the Centurion, on that expedition. The book was perhaps the most popular about maritime adventure of the eighteenth century.
Russian sailors, coming from the north, descend upon and take possession of the Aleutian Islands.
As a result of the commercial war started in London over the Indian trade and fur traffic, Arthur Dobbs had fitted out two vessels for this purpose and if possible to open the route to the South Seas; one of these was named California and under command of Captain Francis Smith the voyage is undertaken, of which a full account later appears. This is the first vessel to bear the name California.
Miguél Venegas, a Mexican priest, publishes in Spain his history of California, Notica de la California. This work has been translated into English, Dutch, French and German, and has become the basis of all later histories. In it Venegas says he thinks the word California originated from two Latin words calida and fornax, meaning hot furnace, though he doubts the Spanish adventurers "had so much learning". He also suggests that the origin may be an Indian word, possibly kali forno, meaning high hill.
As a supplementary note to the foregoing, the following authorities with reference to the etymology of the name California should be included although the year dates do not come within the limitations of this Chronology:
Professor Jules Marcou in 1876 publishes, in the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers of the U. S. Army, his notes upon the first discoveries of California and the origin of its name. He ascribes to Cortés the division of the Mexican region into "tierra frio, tierra templada, tierra caliente, and tierra california, or cold region, temperate region, hot region and region like a furnace, from two Latin words, calida and fornax, hot furnace."
In 1893, an article appears in the San Francisco Chronicle by M. L., who states that the words cal y forno means lime kiln in the language of the Indians of Lower California, and that the author heard one of them use it as such, and he believes that Ulloa, remembering the name California as used in the Sergas de Esplandián, gives the name to the peninsula.
Professor George Davidson, President of the Geographical Society of the Pacific, in 1910 publishes his monograph on the origin and meaning of the name California. He accepts the hypothesis of the Sergas de Esplandián, and gives as the etymological derivation of the word California two Greek words, meaning beauty and bird.
By decree of the Spanish Cortés, the Jesuits are expelled from Mexico and all Spanish territory; and their missions offered to the Franciscans.
The Abbé, Jean Chappe D'Auteroche, voyages to California for an observation of the passage of the planet Venus over the face of the sun, June 3rd, 1769. This celestial phenomenon was visible only upon the coast of California. Spain knew of the expedition and fearing the possible results hastened to dispatch Don Gaspar de Portolá upon his mission of occupation and colonization of Upper California. The Abbé Chappe died while in Lower California and was there interred. Monsieur de Cassini publishes an account in 1722.
Conquest of Upper California is ordered and committed to Don José Gálvez, the Visitador General of Mexico and San Francisco de Croix, Viceroy. Captain Gaspar de Portolá is made civil and military commander of the country, and Fray Junipero Serra, Father President of the missions.
Beginning of the civil and religious reduction of Alta California, by an expedition under Governor Don Gaspar de Portolá and Father Junipero Serra.
July 14th, starting from San Diego of an expedition of sixty-seven soldiers, friars and artisans northward to find the Bay of Monterey, the real objective of the whole expedition, all under the command of Portolá. In the company was Sergeant Jose Francisco de Ortega, who first discovers San Francisco Bay, while out hunting.
Founding of the first Franciscan Mission at San Diego, July 16th; the full name of the mission was San Diego de Alcala. There has been much discussion as to the origin of the name. The Bay was named for Vizcaino simply San Diego, after his flagship, but the mission was named by Serra after the saint whose day it was and not Santiago (San Diego) de Compostella, patron saint of Spain, as has often been said.
San Francisco Bay is given this name for the first time, although still with the idea that it was the St. Francis Bay of Cermeño. A late authority, Richman, says: "The truth is that until 1774, the year of the Anza expedition, it had not so much as been settled just where the port of San Francisco was, where the precidio and mission were to be founded. What, however, was presumed was that the estuary of 1769 and 1770 (the present San Francisco Bay) was appurtenant to the old San Francisco Bay of Cermeño. On a map of 1772 the present San Francisco Bay is called Estero de San Francisco (estuary of San Francisco, or arm of the old bay of Cermeño.)"
Eusebio Francisco Kino, a missionary of Sonora, makes a final entrada to the Colorado, following it as far north as 35, proves practically that California is not a peninsula.
Fray Francisco Garcés, resident minister of San Xavier de Bac, Arizona, makes the third of his entradas, and in this one, the most important, travels down the Rio Gila and the Colorado, nearly, if not quite to the mouth of the latter.
On May 24th, in a second overland expedition to find Monterey, Portolá discovers and recognizes the bay. On the 31st, Captain Juan Perez anchors his ship San Antonio in Monterey Bay and on July 9th the second mission and precidio of San Cárlos Borromeo de Monterey is founded, the second mission and the first precidio, or fort. It becomes the first capital of California.
Note - Monterey was not a pueblo in the beginning, but a precidio. There were three forms of local government set up in California, the precidio, or military center, the mission, which were never very far from the precidios, for the sake of protection, and the pueblo, or municipal settlement with regular colonists. These pueblos had a regular governing body and alcalde. The colonists all had town-lots and a suerte, or field, for irrigation, besides the use of the public grazing pastures. These properties were not to be sold, nor could they be mortgaged. The settlers were subsidized by freedom from taxation for a number of years, and in Los Angeles each family received ten pesos per month. The only pueblos founded directly in early California were Los Angeles and San José (that is, from the very start they had a municipal government. Monterey was a precidio, or fort, it did not have a municipal government until 1826.)
This is the probable date of the publication of Miguél Costanso's Diario historico de los viages de mar y tierra hecos al norte de la California, although it is not positive, as the edition was suppressed in Mexico for a number of years because it was thought the work gave too much information concerning California into the hands of the English. The work is one of the utmost value, being the first book that relates exclusively to California, and contains a most complete account of the Portolá expedition to find the bay of Monterey.
The mission of San Cárlos at Monterey is moved to the valley of Carmelo.
Founding of the Mission of San Antonio de Padua, at Los Robles, July 14th, the third such mission.
Founding of the Mission of San Gabriel, "The Queen of the Missions", in a valley of the Sierra Madre Mountains, the fourth such mission.
Founding of the Mission of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, September 1st, the fifth such mission.
Juan Bautista de Anza, commandante of the precidio of Tubac, in Arizona, marches, in company with Fray Garcés, across the Colorado desert to San Gabriel and then north to Monterey, trying to open a practical overland trail from the California missions to Mexico, through Arizona.
Juan Miguél de Ayala, Lieutenant of the Royal Navy of Spain, and his ship San Cárlos, are the first to enter the harbor, Saint Francis Bay, (Cermeño's and identical also with Drake's Bay). Ayala selects point for fort and for mission, the Dolores Mission.
Anza makes a second journey from Tubac with colonists intended for the precidio of San Francisco. He reaches San Francisco in company of Pedro Font and José Moraga, and surveys the coast about the bay. Positions for the precidio and missions are decided upon.
Fray Garcés makes his last great overland journey. He accompanies Anza as far as Yuma, and then leaving the party, crosses the Mojave Desert and reaches San Gabriel.
James Cook makes the last of his four voyages under the English flag. It is this fourth voyage that is of special interest to California. He sails by the way of the Cape of Good Hope and discovers the Hawaiian Islands. He reaches California at Cape Mendicino and skirting the coast to the north discovers Nootka Sound, thus laying the foundation for the Nootka Controversy at a later date, and sails through the Behring Straits as far north as Icy Cape. Cook dies on the voyage but on the return, while at Canton a discovery of great historic and commercial value is made when the supposed valueless furs, which had been traded for knives and trinkets with the Indians of the Nootka Sound vicinity, brought fabulous prices in China. This laid the foundation for the great fur trade of the future, and opened up so many and such intricate commercial and diplomatic controversies that Cook's voyage has come to be reckoned as most important in its historic bearing.
Founding of the Mission and Precidio of San Francisco de Asis, by two Franciscan monks, Palou and Gambon, the sixth such mission. The precidio was founded September 17th, but the mission, a league or so away from the precidio, was not founded until October 4th, on a small creek called Dolores. Hence the mission is commonly known as the Dolores Mission. Fathers Palou and Gambon assume charge of the mission.
Founding of the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, November 1st, the seventh such mission.
Founding of the Mission of Santa Clara, January 12th, the eighth such mission.
The pueblo of San José de Guadalupe, the first purely civil settlement in California, is founded by Gov. Felipe de Neve on the Rio de Guadalupe. The colonists consisted of fourteen heads of families, sixty-six persons all told. They were granted house lots and planting lots and free use of the public grazing fields, under charter of the pueblo system. The lands could not be sold nor mortgaged. The colonists were free from taxes for a number of years, and furnished a certain number of domestic animals and seeds. The government was under an alcalde, or magistrate, and a council elected yearly.
Founding on the Rio Porciuncula (Los Angeles River) of the pueblo of Los Angeles under the direction of the governor, Felipe de Neve. The pueblo was called Pueblo de Nuestra Sonora la Reina de Los Angeles, meaning City of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels. At the beginning there were eleven heads of families, forty-six persons all told. Los Angeles was the second of the early pueblos. From 1835 Los Angeles vies with Monterey for the honor of being the capital of the province.
Founding of the Mission of San Buenaventura, March 31st, the ninth mission.
August 28th, Father Junipero Serra dies at the age of seventy-one years at his own Mission at San Cárlos, in his loved valley of Carmelo (today known as Carmel). For forty-four years he had been a Franciscan priest, thirty-five of which had been spent in California, during which nine missions were established and over five thousand eight hundred Indian neophytes converted from heathenism to Christianity.
Father Francisco Palou, friend and biographer of Serra, becomes Father President of the missions until 1786, when he retired to the prominent position of Father Guardian of the College of San Fernando in Mexico. Here, he writes his Vida del Junipera Serra, and edits his Notices de la Nueva California. The first becomes the standard for the life of Serra, and the latter is the first book written in what is now California.
Jean François de Gallaup, Count de la Pérouse, under commission from the French government to explore the North Pacific Coast of North America for the purpose of finding the Straits of Anian (for this ghost was still unlaid), visits California. He leaves a very interesting journal of his visit, full of shrewd observations on the affairs of the country, the mission system, treatment of the Indians, etc.
Fray Fermin Francisco de Lasuen becomes father president of the missions.
Founding of the Mission of Santa Barbara, by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen. The fourteenth mission, this is the first founded by Father Lasuen and is dedicated on December 14th.
Captain Robert Gray, an American discoverer, from Rhode Island, is appointed to command the sloop Washington, which is equipped by merchants of Boston for trade with the Indians on the Pacific Coast, and makes the voyage successfully.
Francisco Palou publishes his famous and extensive history relating to Upper California. This includes a symbological portrait of the venerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra, typifying his apostolic labors and recounting the stories of the foundations of the California missions. As his closest friend and biographer, Padre Palou says of Father Serra that: "his laborious and exemplary life is nothing but a beautiful field decked with every class of flowers of excellent virtues."
Founding of the Mission of La Purísima Concepcion, near the present town of Lompoc, December 8th.
John Meares, an Englishman, voyages to the northwest coast of North America for the purpose of fur trading. Complications arise between him and the Spanish authorities, which assume large proportions, almost embroiling the two countries in war. Meares' voyage has importance out of proportion to the geographic value, for it was on his discoveries that England, later, based her claims for the Oregon territory.
Captain Robert Gray, returning from his Pacific Coast voyage in another sloop, named the Columbia, makes the noteworthy record of being the first to carry the United States flag around the earth. Upon a second voyage in this sloop to the Pacific Coast, he discovers the Columbia River, which he names after his vessel.
1790 to 1795
George Vancouver is commissioned by the King of England to explore the northwest coast of America and makes a remarkable voyage of discovery to the north Pacific Ocean and round the world, in the Discovery, sloop of war, and armed tender, Chatham. He carefully examines and accurately surveys the northwestern coast, including the port of San Francisco. A published work of this voyage, in 1798, is superior to any of its kind and constitutes the primary reference work of that period.
Founding of the Mission of the Holy Cross at Santa Cruz, September 25th, the twelfth such mission.
Founding of the Mission of Maria Santisma de la Soledad, meaning "Our Lady of Solitude", commonly called Soledad, on October 9th, the thirteenth mission.
Francisco Palon, Spanish friar, who was the founder of the San Francisco Mission in 1776 and the successor of Junipero Serra as president in 1783, passes out of the history of California. The exact date of his death is not known.
Arrival in Monterey of the Boston, the first American trading vessel to visit California. From this time begins a regular system of contraband trade between the Americans and the Californians, more or less connived at by the local officials. The Yankee traders exchanged manufactured goods for otter skins (which were exchanged again in China for teas, silks, etc.). The trade was of necessity contraband as the Mexican government would not, at this time, permit the Californians to trade with any one but the home country.
Founding of the Mission of San José de Guadalupe, in honor of Saint Joseph, patron saint of California, near San José, the fourteenth mission.
Founding of the Mission San Miguel Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist, June 25th, the fifteenth such mission.
Founding of the Mission of San Miguel Archangel, in honor of Michael, the Archangel, July 25th, the sixteenth mission.
Founding of the Mission of San Fernando Rey de España, at San Fernando, September 8th, the seventeenth mission.
Founding of the Mission of San Luis Rey de Francia, June 13th, the eighteenth mission.
Arrival of the Lelia Byrd, under command of Capt. Shaler, in San Diego. She is suspected of contraband trade and ordered to leave. Not complying until it loads a number of otter furs, the ship is fired upon by the fort but escapes.
President Thomas Jefferson concludes his greatest diplomatic achievement, the acquisition of the vast, unbounded region beyond the Mississippi known as Louisiana. It established a precedent that made the later conquest and cession of California an easier task to accomplish.
James Burney, a captain in the Royal Navy of England, publishes his Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea (or Pacific Ocean), and writes: "In what manner this country came to be distinguished by the name California is left uncertain. It is not believed that the name was derived from the natives; as the missionaries who have since resided among the Californians have not at any time heard of such being applied to any port, bay, or part of the country. Some have conjectured that on account of the heat of the weather, Cortés formed the name California, from the Latin words calida and fornax."
First expedition of General Zebulon Montgomery Pike, American soldier and explorer, to the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
June 26th marks the death of the venerable friar Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen at San Cárlos, for thirty years a missionary in the province and for eighteen years president of the missions.
Founding of the Mission Santa Inés, in the mountains seventy miles distant from San Luis Obispo, September 17th, the nineteenth such mission.
Lewis and Clark, with their company, after a journey of a year and a half through the wilderness, reach the coast November 15th, and look upon the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Previous and subsequent to this date, for a certain period of years, the name "The Californians" was popularly current - by which term was intended to include solely the Mexican residents in California.
General Zebulon Montgomery Pike completes a great exploring tour of the middle west in which he crosses the plains to the site of Denver and discovers "Pike's Peak", then turning southward to the head waters of the Rio Grande.
Nikolai Petrovich Rezanoff, representative of the Czar of Russia, visits the Russian colony in Alaska and, seeing the immediate necessity of providing the colony with food nearer than that sent from China, decides to visit California to open negotiations with the government for the purchase of breadstuffs, of which California had a surplus; and also with the ultimate end in view of founding within the limits of California a Russian colony.
William Alden Gale, a Boston trader, visits California as a clerk on the Albatross and becomes noted by his nickname, Cuatro Ojos, by reason of his spectacles. But, his name was also translated into Tormenta, "a gale", and he was sometimes called Cambalache, or a "barter". He was the pioneer in the hide trade with Boston.
Appears Alexander von Humboldt's political essay on New Spain, which contains references to the early voyages to California.
The Russian settlement is eventually founded at Bodega Bay, and called Fort Ross. It is more properly a trading post and shipyard rather than a fort. A lively trade with California was kept up for the support of the colony of Sitka, and with Europe and Asia in the export of skins. But in the end the otter and seal become scarce and the fort was disposed of to John Augustus Sutter.
The Spaniard Cortés passes a decree looking toward the secularization of the missions. From the beginning the idea had been that the mission system was only a temporary expedient for the civilization of the natives, and was supposed to last but ten years. This time was extended as it was seen to be too short. But there began to grow a feeling of dissatisfaction with the system as it was felt the Indians were not trained in independence and in the knowledge of citizenship. The government decided that the missions should be secularized, that is the Indians were to receive their lands to use individually - the missions had only ostensibly been keepers of the lands for the rightful owners, the Indians. The religious work was to be turned over to parish priests, and the missionaries were to seek new fields. The Indians were to be gathered into pueblos to learn the duties of self government and self-support. This plan was not carried out for twenty years, though it came up again and again in the intervening years. This scheme of secularizing the California missions amounted in effect to government confiscation.
Appears the account of the Langsdorff Expedition of 1807-1807. The Russian, Resanoff, was one of this expedition.
John Gilroy, a Scotsman, born as John Cameron, is the first foreigner to settle permanently in California. Having run away from home, he comes as a sailor on the ship Isaac Todd and is left sick and stranded at Monterey. He is baptized at San Cárlos as Juan Antonio Maria Gilroy.
Otto von Kotzebue, commanding a scientific expedition from Russia, visits California. In the party was Dr. Eschscholtz, for whom the California poppy was named Eschscholtzia California. The published account of this expedition forms a very valuable contribution to the scientific literature of the period and the place.
Thomas W. Doak, is the first American settler in California. He was a native of Boston and came to the Pacific coast on the Albatross. He was baptized at San Cárlos as Felipe Santiago.
Founding of the Mission of San Raphael, near San Francisco, December 18th, the twentieth such mission.
The first man to whom English was a native tongue reaches Los Angeles - Joseph Chapman from Massachusetts - a member of the crew of the Bouchard. Sailing under letters of marque, it ravages the coast of California in 1818. He marries Señorita Guadalupe Ortega, builds the first grist mill in Southern California at San Gabriel. and lived for some thirty years as José, El Inglés.
Spanish regimé in California has now lasted under, successively, ten governors, namely:
Don Gaspar de Portolá
Felipe de Barri
Felipe de Neve
José Antonio Romeu
José Joaquin de Arrillaga
Diego de Borica
José Dario de Arrillaga
José Dario Arguello
and Pablo Vicente de Sola, last of the Spanish governors, who is held over until 1822.
Marks the Spanish era of California during which is built the historic El Camino Reál -the King's Highway - which finally connected the twenty-one Franciscan missions, over a stretch of seven hundred miles of its length between San Diego and Sonoma, and which was traveled by the lonely Indian, Franciscan friar, the religious neophyte, the soldier and adventurer, and has become the subject of song and story for many years.
The Spanish era ends when Don Augustin de Iturbide, at the head of a victorious army, throws off the yoke of Spain and establishes the independence of Mexico and, creating a separate empire, becomes himself Emperor Augustin I. California passes under jurisdiction of the Mexican Emperor, whose agents plan a seizure of the missions.
The Mexican era continues for twenty-five years under eleven different governors, many whose last names are still familiar to the present day:
Pablo Vicente de Sola
Luis Antonio Arguello
José Maria de Eschendiá
Juan Batista Alvarado
Pio Píco, again, who was the last Mexican governor.
San Vicente, the agent from the new government of Mexico to California, enters into a contract with an English trading company for the sale of all of the hides and tallow of the province.
Founding of the twenty-first, and last, mission, that of Saint Francis of Solano, near the present city of Sonoma.
An Indian uprising occurs at Santa Ynez.
Captain Jedediah S. Smith, under permit from the United States to hunt in the far west, and his party of hunters and trappers, are the first Americans to go overland across the continent to California.
Visit to San Francisco and Monterey of the English ship, Blossom, commanded by Capt. Frederick William Beechey. He publishes a full account of his voyage in which he speaks at length of the necessity of Spain's taking more active interest in the affairs of California if she wished to hold the country. "It is too important to be permitted to remain in its present neglected state," thus over-shadowing the intervention of some foreign power.
Visit of the Frenchman, Auguste Duhaut-Cilly. Of the contemporary accounts of California, his is one of the most extensive.
Abel Stearns, a native of Massachusetts, becomes a resident of California, acquires extensive holdings of land and other property rights from the Mexican government and is a notable character of his day.
Captain James P. Arthur visits California in the Brookline and makes the claim to have been the first to raise the United States flag in California. This was, of course, a crude representation of the emblem.
"Arthur and his little party were sent ashore at San Diego to cure hides. They had a barn-like structure of wood, provided by the ship's carpenter, which answered the purpose of storehouse, curing shop, and residence. The life was lonesome enough. Upon the wide expanse of the Pacific they occasionally discerned a distant ship. Sometimes a vessel sailed near the lower offing. It was thus that the idea of preparing and raising a flag, for the purpose of attracting attention, occurred to them. The flag was manufactured from some shirts and Captain Arthur writes, with the just accuracy of a historian, that Mr. Green's calico shirt furnished the blue, while he furnished the red and white. It was completed and raised on a Sunday, on the occasion of the arrival of the schooner, Washington, commanded by Captain Thompson of the Sandwich Islands, but sailing under the American flag." So writes honest Captain Arthur: "These men raised our national ensign, not in bravado, nor for war and conquest, but as honest men to show that they were American citizens and wanted company."
Alfred Robinson, a native of Massachusetts, comes to California as clerk for the Boston trading company, Bryant Sturges & Company. Mr. Robinson marries Ana Maria de la Guerra y Noreiga, and becomes one of the early and respected American settlers. He publishes his life in California in 1840, one of the best books of the period.
David Douglas, the famous Scotch botanist, visits California in an earnest and adventurous search for botanical specimens. He examines California flora and ten years later the botanical results of his trip are published by Sir William Hooker.
Insurrection against the Mexican governor, Manuel Victoria, headed by such prominent Californians as Echeandía, Pio Píco, Juan Bandini, and others, as the result of the spirit of the growing liberalism and democratic principles - the very principles which made the American occupation so possible later - against the arbitrary methods and militarism of the Governor, as shown principally in his refusal to convene the disputación. For the first time in the history of California, blood is shed between men of Spanish extraction in a bout on the outskirts of Los Angeles, in which Captain Romualdo Pacheco and Avila were killed, and the Governor himself severely wounded. Pablo de Fortilla, Commandante at San Diego, participates.
Further secularization of the missions by Mexican authority is undertaken as well as confiscation of their property. The action really went into effect then although it was not fully consummated until 1845.
Under rules known as Prevenciónes de Emancipacion the missions are secularized. All Indians, Christians for twelve years, all married men and widowers with families, and all such as are competent to make a livelihood, are gathered together in pueblos and initiated in the laws of self-government. To each family is granted house-lots, planting lots and pasture lands, and live stock. The mission churches are turned over to the parish clergy and the other properties are sold. 1834
José Maria Padres, a native of Pueblo, having become a military leader under the Mexicans with the commission of Lieutenant Colonel, associating with José Marias Hijar, devises the Hijar and Padre's colonization scheme and comes to California as a director of a colony of 250 persons.
Richard Henry Dana, Jr. voyages to San Francisco Bay in the trading brig Pilgrim, afterwards transferred to the Alert, and later recounts his experiences and describes California in his book Two Years Before the Mast.
San Diego becomes a municipality, but remains such only three years, as the population decreases to such an extent that in 1838 there were not enough people to entitle it to a council. De Morfras reckons the population to be between 100 and 150. From 1838 to the Mexican War San Diego is governed as part of the sub-prefecture of Los Angeles.
Near the best anchorage and three miles northeast of the Mission, a small trading village, Yerba Buena, is founded on San Francisco Bay, and it is to this settlement rather than to the precidio of San Francisco or the Mission of Dolores that must be given the origin of the present city of San Francisco.
A new revolution is started in California against existing authority. This was decidedly the outcome of the same growing spirit of democracy and liberalism as shown under the Victoria revolt. It is a revolt by the younger California, the spirit of liberalism and democracy, under Juan Bautista Alvarado, a young clerk of the customs, against the spirit of centralization and despotism of the Mexican government as evinced in the new constitution, in which all departments of the government, legislature, executive, and judicial were practically in the hands of the central executive in Mexico. California was reduced to a department of that government and could not be considered as exercising the functions of a state. However, this revolt is successful and California is created a separate and independent government with Alvarado as governor.
One of the central figures in the Revolution of 1836, is Isaac Graham, who had been a Tennessee hunter, and who organizes what became known as the Kentucky Riflemen. This adventurous character is described as wild, reckless, a crack shot, and a hater of Mexicans. Operating from his distillery at San Juan, he is aided in his organizing of the riflemen by William R. Garner and John Coppinger, both Englishmen, and Louis Pombert, a Frenchman of some prominence in early California affairs, is made sergeant, that is, next in command to Graham.
John Augustus Sutter, a Swiss, comes to California with the idea of forming a colony of his countrymen, a sort of Swiss Utopia. He becomes a naturalized Mexican citizen and receives a grant of eleven square leagues of land along the Sacramento River. He buys Fort Ross from the Russians.
Thomas Jefferson Farnham, a native of Maine, travels overland to Oregon, makes a voyage on the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands and returns to California and back to the United States through Mexico. He publishes in 1846 an account of this, Adventures in California and Scenes on the Pacific Coast.
Monterey becomes the capital of California, so designated by the Mexican junta under the presidency of Alvarado.
Arrival of Eugène Duflot de Mofras, a Frenchman, commissioned by his government to make a scientific exploration and report on Oregon and the Californias. He was assisted in every way by both the secular and religious authorities of California, and was give access to all the documentary material of the province so it was possible for him to make a more complete report on the affairs of the country than could any of the other narrators. From the mass of material he had the literary judgment to arrange and select a work of marked ability, discrimination and historic value.
Threatened uprising of the foreign element known as the Graham Trouble. Forty-six suspects, English and Americans, are captured and exiled to Mexico. About twenty of them are purged of conspiracy and allowed to return to California and granted compensation.
The revolution headed by the Carrillos and supported by a small party of Americans under the Tennessean named Graham is of short duration and is soon put down. General José Castro and Mariana Vallejo, names to become famous in California history, come into prominence.
Sir James Douglas, a Scotsman, and representative of the Hudson's Bay Company of London, visits California and records the events of his visit in a diary or journal, which later receives the title of Douglas' Voyage from the Columbia to California. With the Salinas and Santa Clara valleys the English visitor was so delighted that he was moved to pronounce California "a country in many respects unrivalled by any other part of the globe".
Captain John Augustus Sutter builds a fort, which he calls "New Helvetia", which became headquarters for friendly Indians, white trappers and early travelers. "Sutter's Fort", as it was popularly called, was in the natural line of travel both from the Oregon country and from the east, and Sutter being an exceedingly hospitable person, his place became the rendezvous and the Mecca for all the overland travelers. Many of them remained there under Sutter's employ while others went to other places.
First overland emigrant train, under John Bidwell, called Bartleson-Bidwell Company, crosses the Great Plains and reaches California.
Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones, American naval officer, cruising in western waters, lands and captures the town of Monterey, under the erroneous impression that war had been declared against Mexico. He holds possession for just one day.
Stephen Smith, a native of Baltimore, arrives in California with the first steam engine ever seen upon the coast; also,he brings with him three pianos, which are the first ever heard in California. He receives commission from the Mexican authorities and in 1844 erects both a saw mill and a grist mill.
General John Charles Frémont's first expedition to the west.
General Frémont's second overland trip to the west for the purpose of surveying a route to the Pacific, and his first to California. He comes by the way of Carson's River and Johnson's Pass.
Annexation of Texas, March 1st.
Frémont's second expedition to California. Suspicion is aroused by the California government and he is ordered to leave the department. This Frémont refuses to do and fortifies himself on Gavlin's Peak, and raises the American flag. But he quits his defenses and departs for Oregon.
Samuel Brannan, born in Maine, a Mormon elder and chief of a colony sent from New York on the Brooklyn, comes to California to take charge of a Mormon colonization scheme.
Patrick Breen, an Irishman, who first came to America in 1826, comes to California overland from Iowa with the Donner Party. Himself, his wife, Margaret, and seven children survive the perils of that terrible journey. Breen's original Diary of the Donner Party is an authority on the incidents of that fated journey.
Lieutenant Archibald Gillispie arrives with dispatches for Frémont at the receipt of which Frémont returns to California, on May 8th.
One hundred and seventy horses for General Castro, which rumor had, were to be used for the purpose of driving the Americans out of California, are seized by General Frémont on June 5th.
Bear Flag Revolution. The flag of "The Republic of California", with its lone star and painted image of a grizzly bear, is first raised at Sonoma. Captain Ezekiel Merritt, accompanied by William B. Ide and a small band of Americans, captures the Mexican General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and his aides. The new republic lasts twenty-six days.
The famous scout, Kit Carson, appears with General Frémont, and the Haros and Berreyesa are killed.
There are so many and such contradictory stories concerning the murder of the Haro brothers that the real facts are not definitely known. At the very best, the responsibility for the death of the men, justly or unjustly, must rest with Frémont and not with Carson. This has been one of the scandals of the Frémont Expedition. The most violent supporters of Frémont do not deny that the men were killed without knowing anything of their guilt or innocence. It was reported that they were killed in revenge for the murder of two Americans, Cowie and Fowler. There was also a story circulated that the men had deliberately permitted themselves to be captured with false orders in their boots purporting to announce an attack on Sonoma by the Californians, for the purpose of deflecting the American troops to the protection of Sonoma, and thus permit the closely pressed Californians to escape.
War is declared between the United States and Mexico on May 3rd. The American flag is raised at Monterey, July 7th, by Commodore John Drake Sloat.
Josefa Bandini de Carrillo, the wife of Don Pedro Carrillo, who had been appointed provincial governor of California in 1837, manufactures with her own hands the first United States flag in full and proper form ever unfurled to the breezes of sunny California. This is on the occasion of the arrival in San Diego of Commodore Stockton of the United States Navy and General Kearney of the United States Army. Commodore Stockton raises the silk flag to the masthead of the first American warship ever to sail the Pacific Ocean.
Commodore Robert Field Stockton arrives at the Port of Monterey and Commodore Sloat appoints Stockton Commander-in-Chief of the American forces, and the latter undertakes the conquest of California against the Mexican General José Castro.
Commodore Robert Stockton takes possession of San Diego for the United States and establishes a fort there which is still known as Fort Stockton.
Los Angeles is easily captured. Stockton and Frémont enter the city August 13th without opposition; Píco and Castro had fled to Mexico; and Lieutenant Archibald H. Gillispie is placed in command of the south with Los Angeles as headquarters and with orders to maintain martial law. Trouble arises though, possibly due to too strict an interpretation of his orders, and Gillispie finds himself surrounded. He capitulates and is allowed to retreat with the honors of war.
The Californians who identify themselves with this revolt are Captain José Maria Flores, José Antonio Carrillo, Adreés Píco, and Serbulo Varela.
A party of Americans under B. D. Wilson while hunting for Castro are met by a company of Californians at the Chino Ranch near Los Angeles, and a skirmish ensues in which three Americans are wounded and one Californian is killed.
Arrival of General Stephen W. Kearney, who has just completed the conquest of New Mexico. He and Gillispie meet the Californians under Andrés Píco at San Pasquale, December 6th, and a bloody battle ensues with serious loss to the Americans; and Kearney was only rescued from his perilous position by a detachment of Stockton's men. It is the only battle of any importance in the history of California.
The Donner Party, consisting of eighty-four persons, in an overland trip from Independence, Missouri, are caught in the snows of the high Sierras, and through starvation and exposure, over forty of them perish before relief arrives.
Yerba Buena exchanges its name for that of the Mission and the Bay of San Francisco.
Monterey becomes the military capital of California under the occupation of the United States authority.
Los Angeles is recaptured January 10th and the famous treaty is signed between Colonel John C. Frémont, as Commander of the American forces, and Andrés Píco, Commandante of the California forces, at a point near Cahuenga Pass. In present day Universal City, the historic site is preserved to this day, Campo de Cahuenga. With this capitulation all of California comes under United States rule.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2nd, terminates the Mexican War, by the terms of which California is ceded to the United States; its affairs are committed to the charge of Colonel Richard B. Mason. He became the military governor succeeding Kearney. By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Texas, the western part of Colorado and New Mexico, all of the present states of Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California, an extensive and valuable portion of the Great West, were ceded to the United States.
James Wilson Marshall, a native of New Jersey, discovers gold at Sutter's Mill, January 24th, and the rush of gold-seekers to California commences. The exact day of the month that gold was discovered has never been settled, Marshall himself saying: "on or about the nineteenth". But he also said he is not sure of the date. However, a man named Bigler, who was on the spot at the time kept a diary, stating the date as being the 24th, which is most likely correct.
In February, is witnessed the arrival in San Francisco Bay of the steamship California from New York with the first party of gold seekers from the Atlantic states. In March, the Oregon arrives, and in June there are two hundred square-rigged vessels lying in the Bay.
During this year the numerous and mighty caravans of horses, wagons, cattle, men, women and children make their devious and dangerous way across the overland trail. This is the coming of the "Argonauts", celebrated in California history as the "Forty-Niners".
This year marks two important developments: (a.) The growth of population during this period. In 1845, the estimated census was 18,000 including Indians, while in 1850 it was estimated at 150,000. (b.) The struggle for order, for this was not a period of complete recklessness. There were many reckless people, many criminals, and much to try the temper of the most conservative, but still there arose and grew a steady feeling for law and order that had its final outcome in the convention and constitution.
A constitutional convention is organized at Monterey, September 1st. The Californians, in framing a State Constitution, which is signed October 13th, exclude slavery from the soil by a unanimous vote. Under it Peter H. Burnett is elected Governor, and the new Legislature chooses John C. Frémont and William M. Gwin as United States senators. San José is made the capital of the State. The great seal of the State is designed by Major Robert Selden Garnett, is presented to the convention by Caleb Lyon, and is engraved by Albrecht Kuner in changed form. Hittell, an eminent authority, says: "The constitution, notwithstanding its haste, was one of the best, if not the best, of the thirty-one state constitutions in effect at the time. Though nearly every portion was copied from some other instrument, there was a rare choice and combination." By the terms of the constitution, slavery was unanimously voted down; the boundary was defined; provisions were made for the establishment of public schools; and the question of taxation was settled.
The necessity of an interior city being felt, and the site of Sutter's Fort being inadequate, a new town-site was laid out below the fort. Town lots were sold and Sacramento had its beginning. In January, 1849, the first frame house was built.
California admitted to the Union, September 9th. California is at last admitted after months of waiting and dilatory action on the part of Congress. She comes in a free and sovereign state with her own constitution, governor and legislature, the only state in the Union with this distinction.
Occurring at short intervals, the five big fires, in which the city of San Francisco is almost completely destroyed, property to the value of $25 million being burned up in the conflagrations.
First Vigilance Committee. As protection against the outlawry and crime of the city, the citizens of San Francisco organize themselves into a vigilance committee, with regular constitution binding them "to perform every lawful act for the maintenance of law and order, and to sustain the law when properly administered; but not to be deterred in the punishment of any crime by any quibble of the law, but in the insecurity of the prisons, or the corruption or laxity of those in authority." As occasion soon occurred for their action. A man accused of theft was caught with the stolen goods, tried, sentenced to be shot, and the sentence duly carried out.
Capital of the State removed to Vallejo.
Appears Francisco Saverio Clavijero's Historia de la Antigua ó Baja California.
Sacramento swept by two disastrous fires partially destroying the town.
Capital of the State located at Benecia.
Capital of the State removed to Sacramento.
Second Vigilance Committee. On May 15th, the Vigilance Committee is again organized for the purpose of punishing one James Casey, who had murdered James King of William, editor of the Evening Bulletin, and the champion of the cause of law and order. As before, the Vigilance Committee duly tried the prisoner and sentenced him to death along with another murderer named Cora.
The first railroad in California is opened for business with Sacramento and Folsom as its terminals.
Convention held in San Francisco for a Pacific railroad, subsequently constructed over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
September 13th, David Colbreth Broderick, United States Senator from California, engages in a duel with David S. Terry, in which Broderick is killed. The challenge grows out of the anti-slavery agitation, in which Senator Broderick is an uncompromising opponent of slavery and delivers severe strictures on the subject in the California campaign of this year. This is an important event as it was the culmination of an important period.
Application of the name "California" in 1510, considered by the noted American writer, Edward Everett Hale, in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, April 30th, 1862, p. 45; Atlantic Monthly, Vol XIII, p. 265.
Life In California in 1851
The following letter, illustrative of the conditions in California, was written by a brother of one of the Society's members, Mr. Abram Ehle Pomeroy (SR #208), in the year 1851.
Lassons Ranch, California
March 12, 1851
I hardly know in what way to begin to apologize for my neglect in not having written you for so long a time. In fact I have no good reasons unless I claim that I have not received any answer to the one (& only one) that I wrote you near a year since, but whether you wrote me or not I have no good reasons for not troubling you occasionally & I hope & trust that you will let me occasionally hear from you. I am now stopping on Lassons Ranch, it is situated on the most northerly route or road from the States on the Sacramento River about 100 miles above Sacramento City and about 250 miles from San Francisco.
I am this season engaged in farming and gardening. Shall cultivate probably from 80 to 100 acres, the soil is excellent & is easily cultivated, in fact it is almost impossible to raise vegetables especially without irrigation. Frank, Sheldon & myself last season were engaged jointly in mineing on Feather River, principally in damming and draining the beds of the River & with us as it was with all others who were operating upon that Stream it proved an entire failure, we not only lost our whole summer's work but all that we had previously made.
Since which time Frank has been stopping in Sacramento City, keeping a Restaurant and doing tolerably well. Sheldon is on a Steam Boat, gets good wages & lays up his money & as for myself after leaving Feather River I came down to Sacramento City with the intention of going into business, but after remaining there a short time the Cholera broke out and from its severity, I thought it most prudent to leave and again I went to mineing at which I continued until the middle of December, but for the want of water, I was compelled to leave the location we had selected, as we have had no rains this winter to raise the water in the ravines. We wash when the rains do come if ever, as we have had no rains since the first week in January & then but very little. An old acquaintance and friend of mine had bought this Ranch, & persuaded me to come up & cultivate it. It contains 36 square miles of sand bars, 12 miles on the Sacramento River & extends back 3 miles, a large majority of it is excellent sand and it has the reputation of being one of the best Ranches in California.
They have discovered a new pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in fact, a regular sink or rent in the mountains, being an excellent road without a single eminence in passing the mountains, it has also another advantage, about 30 miles of Desert and good water on the Desert. After passing the Sierra Nevada Range you enter what is termed the Feather River Meadows, a valley on the North Fork of the Feather River covered with the most luxuriant growth of clover and other grasses, in fact, these valleys are the best pastures I ever saw in any country that follow this valley to within a short distance of the Sacramento Valley, it is believed this route is far preferable to any of the others heretofore travelled, & if the Emigration should take it will make a ready sale for all of our effects, as we are right at the termination of the road & of course the greater the demand the better the prices.
Anyhow, I am and shall be here this Season, & hope I may meet with better success than I did the last. I probably shall not do any worse. I can write you no news about California, it is an old story, and as the papers in the States give you all that is new or interesting, you of course are better posted in California news than I am. I will say this much for California, that the climate I do consider delightful, but it never can be an agricultural country or not so to any extent. Vegetation where the soil is moist grows beyond anything I ever saw, but the amount of such sand is limited & stock & Gold Digging will be the principal production. Gold I think will be found here for ages but not in the quantities it has heretofore. Although for years it will pay a miner reasonable wages when the expenses of living and operating are reduced to a reasonable standard.
Remember me to your wife & ch -- I was going to say children but put it Charley. Also to all our folks, Gilbert &c, Uncle Shull &c, &c. Do write me soon and direct to this Ranch as we are to have a Post Office here after the first of April & if I was a Whig I might be P. M. I suppose, which would be a very lucrative office here as probably the office will not take in fifty dollars a year. I am in receipt of letters from home monthly. I received one a few days ago from my wife. My family were at the time she wrote (Dec.) in good health, but wanted me home, but I must try California a little longer, with the hope that I may yet get paid for coming.
Your Aff't Brother,
Mr. R. H. Pomeroy
The foregoing is excerpted from Centennial Register of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of California by Richard H. Breithaupt, Jr.
To learn more about this excelent reference, click below:
1. 1This section was written by Cassius Milton Jay and appeared in The Bulletin, Sons of the Revolution in the State of California, Vol II, No. 5, December, 1928. Hence, some of the language may seem antiquated.
2. 2This section was written by Cassius Milton Jay and appeared in The Bulletin, Sons of the Revolution in the State of California, Vol II, No. 4, November, 1928.
3. 3It is interesting to note that several members of the California Society, Sons of the Revolution, are descendants of Captain Francis Drake of Piscataway, NJ, a grand-nephew of the navigator, including former Society President Orra Eugene Monnette.