Copyright 2000 - 2003 - Janine M. Bork
This page is part of the Union County, OR AGHP
Spanish Settlements on the Coast of California - Jesuit Missionary Conquest of Lower California - Expulsion of the Jesuits by Charles III. - The Franciscans Establish Missions in Upper California - Inland Discovery and Settlement of San Diego, San Francisco and Monterey - California's Department of Spain, its Northern Boundary Undefined.
The Spanish government had long been anxious to occupy and establish settlements upon the coast of California. This desire increased with the growing importance of Manilla commerce. Ports of refuge were not only demanded for the vessels engaged in the Philippine trade, but these bays and inlets, so long as they remained unoccupied, proved but so many convenient places of concealment for piratical cruisers infesting the Pacific Ocean to prey upon Spanish galleons returning from the Philippine Islands with their rich East India cargoes. Colonies if established would not only securely perpetuate Spanish dominion over the contiguous inland territories, but would render these bays valuable as harbors. Buccaneers would cease to resort to them as resting places and recruiting stations.
In 1683, an expedition consisting of soldiers, priests and colonists was placed under the command of Don Isidro de Otondo, accompanied by Father Kuhn, a German Jesuit (called by the Spaniards Kino), acting under a special warrant from the King of Spain authorizing the spiritual conquest of California. They sailed up the Gulf of California, distributing themselves at various places on the western side. Kino established his headquarters at La Paz. After three years of mingled success and discouragement, the project was abandoned.
The Viceroy of New Spain then offered the Jesuits an annual subsidy to undertake the reduction of California by the conversion of its native population. This was declined, but the chapter agreed to furnish necessary missionary aid to accompany any expedition or colonization project. Father Kino, though unsuccessful in planting a permanent colony under Otondo's leadership, had dedicated his life to the pious resolution of conquering California for the church. In furtherance of his purpose, he accepted the appointment of Superintendent of Missions of Sonora.
He then secured as a co-laborer Father Salva Tierra, equally zealous with himself. The Fathers preached and exhorted the people, and labored with those in power. In 1697, Salva Tierra was clothed with authority by the Jesuits to raise contributions for the spiritual conquest of California. He enlisted Father Ugarte, professor of philosophy in the College of Mexico, who consented to remain in Mexico and act as agent. Salva Tierra with a small party crossed the Gulf of California, and established the mission of Loreto, on the 25th of October, 1697, and took possession of Lower California in the name of the King of Spain.
In a short time several missions were founded, all of uniform character, consisting of a church, a storehouse and a fort. The Indians were persuaded to labor for their own
maintenance, and to accept instructions from the missionary. The Fathers discouraged any immigration from European countries, thus avoiding any interference with the exclusive management of the missions and the natives surrounding them. Within the first half of the eighteenth century, their establishments extended at convenient distances apart, from the southern extremity of the Gulf of California, along its eastern half, to the mouth of the Colorado. A learned author thus accounts for their success in molding the native population to their wills:
"The Jesuits, superior to the rest of mankind in the art of persuasion, and laboring for themselves, made an incredible progress in their designs. At the end of fifty years and to the disgrace of the other colonies, the country of the missionaries was filled with villages, the Catholic faith was triumphant, and the savages, civilized and happy, and subject to the wisest of governments. No people on earth were more contented; labor and property were all in common. There were neither rich nor poor, nor dignities, nor great nor little; there was no inequality whatever, and consequently neither avarice, ambitious nor jealously; every one contributed equally his portion of labor, and received an equal remuneration from it. Every village was one numerous family, of which the Jesuit was the father; and the society itself was the mother of this happy republic."
But this very success provoked a jealous suspicion which occasioned their downfall. While they received but little countenance or aid from the government, they brought no revenue, contributed no political strength. Their motives were questioned. It was denied that they were actuated by religion or philanthropy; and they were charged with being selfish and mercenary. At length the order was accused of "endeavoring to establish an independent empire in America, and that they had actually labored to undermine the authority of the European Sovereigns in Mexico, Peru and Brazil; that no fear of consequences was capable of limiting the extent of its plan; be cause the society was perpetually renewed, and had never been known to abandon any design which it had once adopted; and that the general of the order had defended moral irregularities on his own responsibility."
In 1767, the royal decree was proclaimed by Charles III., King of Spain, by which the Jesuits were expelled from his dominions. During their ascendency in Lower California, they had acquired a mass of information as to the country, its geography, ethnology, natural history, etc. In 1700, Father Kuhn had determined that Lower California was a peninsula connected with the continent. True, de Ulloa had settled that geographic problem as early as 1540; but it had been forgotten, doubted, denied. The charts before Father Kuhn's discovery delineated the peninsula of California as an island. To it has been ascribed the name Islas Carolinas, in honor of Charles III., King of Spain.
Upon the reception in Mexico of the royal edict banishing all Jesuits from Spanish territory, their establishments, their property, their "Pious Fund" (that grand aggregate of contributions from all sources, the treasury by which they supported their missions), were all transferred to nineteen monks of the Order of St. Francis, of the College of San Fernando, Mexico. Father Junipero Serra was created President of the Missions.
European nations had remained in ignorance of the result of Russian voyages in the North Pacific Ocean until after the return, in 1749, from St. Petersburg to Paris, of Joseph Nicholas de Lisle (1), the eminent French astronomer. In 1750, in a paper read by de Lisle to the French Academy of Sciences, the world had become advised of the
de Lisle was the youngest and most illustrious of three distinguished brothers.
Guillame, the eldest, "First Geographer" to King Louis XV., died in 1726.
Louis accompanied Behring in 1741, and died the same year, as stated in
the preceding chapter. Joseph, the eminent astronomer, geographer and author,
died in 1758.
discoveries in Northwest America by Behring and other Russian navigators. To Spain, this intelligence caused great uneasiness. That government had just cause of fear that Russia would push her discoveries southward and encroach upon Spanish claims.
Charles III, at once resolved upon vigorous measures to renew the exploration of the western coast of America, extending voyages to high northern latitudes; to occupy the vacant coasts and islands adjacent to new Spain; to establish settlements for the effectual securing to the Crown of those territories, the coasts of which had inured to Spain by right of discovery.
With this object in view, the "Marine department of San Blas" was organized, to whom was committed the supervision and control of all maritime operations. Don José de Galvez had been appointed, in 1764, to the Council of the Indies. In 1765, as Visitor-General, he was bearer to Mexico of orders from the king. One of those instructions was to rediscover San Diego, and to occupy it and the other harbors on the coast. Galvez was also special agent of the Crown to see that these orders were executed. In Father Junipero Serra, President of the Missions, he found a zealous auxiliary in the labor. The Franciscan Fathers were ready to undertake the formation of the settlements. Without delay an expedition by land and sea was ordered. The ships were to transport supplies and heavy articles, the land party to drive flocks and herds to the new settlements. Two vessels, the San Carlos, Don Vicente Vila, and the San Antonio, Juan Perez, had been supplied from San Blas, and were being equipped at La Paz for the voyage. All were to start at different dates, but San Diego was the common destination. The San Carlos sailed first on January 9, 1769. She carried sixty-two persons. She arrived at San Diego on the 1st of May, having lost all of her crew except the officers, cook and one sailor by scurvy, that terrible scourge in those pioneer voyages. The San Antonio followed on the 15th. With a loss of eight of her crew, she reached her port April 11th. A third vessel, the San José, sailed from La Paz on the 16th of June, but was never heard of after leaving port.
Galvez selected Gaspar de Portola, Governor of Lower California, Captain of Dragoons, as leader of the land operations. With him was associated a second in command, Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncado, who the fall preceding had made the tour of the northern Jesuit missions, and collected men, provisions and two hundred head of cattle and horses to stock the colonies. On the 24th of March, Rivera, with the first overland party, left to stock the colonies. On the 24th of March, Rivera, with the first overland party, left the northermost Mission, driving the stock. His party consisted of twenty-five soldiers, six packers and herders, a guide who acted as journalist, and a large number of converted Indians. The party was accompanied by a Franciscan priest. On May 14th Rivera reached San Diego.
Governor Portola, accompanied
by Father Serra, with the first party, left the northermost Mission May
15th and arrived July 1, 1769, at San Diego. Father Serra, with imposing
religious ceremonies, took possession of the country in the name of the
King of Spain. Thus commenced at San Diego the first white settlement in
Upper California. On the 16th, Father Serra established the mission. On
the 14th, with a party of sixty-five persons, Governor Portola had started
for Monterey to establish that Mission. Passing by Monterey without seeing
it, he journeyed northward till the 25th of October, when he reached the
bay, to which he gave the name of San Francisco, in honor of the patron
saint of the order. Portola's party returned to San Diego, where they arrived
January 24, 1770, after an absence of over six months. In March, 1770,
Portola again marched northward and found Monterey. On the 3d of June,
1770, the San Antonio, with
Father Junipero Serra, arrived; and possession of the bay and adjacent country was taken in the name of the Sovereign of Spain. Portola then returned to Mexico to superintend the formation of colonies for the new settlements.
Upper California, from San Diego to its northern line, between the coast and the mountains, was almost entirely appropriated by the Missions, scattered throughout the country sufficiently near to secure aid in case of an outbreak, but distant enough to form a network embracing the whole region. Each Mission extended to and joined its neighbor. The plan of settlement and construction was uniform. The site for the church and buildings was located in the center of a large tract, generally about fifteen miles square. All land fit for cultivation or grazing became the farm and pasturage of the Mission. The church was built as massive and imposing as the funds would permit; and no pains nor expense were spared in ornamentation. Near to it were the residences of the Missionary employés. All buildings were constructed of adobe, roofed with tiles of the same material. There were also shops, storehouses, granaries and other necessary buildings. At a short distance was the "Rancheria" or quarters for the converted natives who labored for and lived at the Mission. Close by those quarters was the garrison building or castillo, in which were accommodated the guard of six or more Spanish soldiers, but which was also designed as a place of retreat in the event of an outbreak.
In addition to guards and guard-houses to each Mission, presidios were established at the four principal harbors; San Diego (1769), Monterey (1770), San Francisco (1776) and Santa Barbara (1780). These presidios were inclosures from two to three hundred feet square surrounded by an adobe wall twelve feet in height, surmounted by guns. Within the inclosure were the church, storehouses, officers' quarters and barracks. The commanding officer was military governor within his district, bound to assist the missionaries if called upon, but not authorized to interfere with their management. As a means of relief to the government of supplying these presidios with recruits and provisions, pueblos or towns were established in the vicinity of the presidios, in which every settler was entitled to a homestead, a two-hundred vara lot, with privileges of common and timber lands. There were also three independent towns or pueblos, - settlements by the discharged Spanish soldiers who intermarried with the natives. These were Los Angeles, San José and Santa Cruz.
From the inauguration of the settlement by Galvez, in 1769, Upper and Lower California were under the control of a military governor; while the settlements themselves, except the presidios and the few independent pueblos, were purely missionary colonies, - independent religious communities governed by the Father in charge. The two Californias constituted a Department of Spain, its Governor being responsible to the Viceroy of Mexico. The northern boundary as yet was undefined. Spain claimed as far north as her navigators had sailed. Russia was pushing her voyages southward, and interposing a check to further Spanish advance to the north.