Thursday, April 23, 2015

Background for Reading About Junipero Serra and the California Missions

California Lakes, Streams and Water Resources

California is a big place, with mountains, deserts, and fertile areas. The Indian population in say 1750 was a few hundred thousand, and they lived primarily as hunter gathers, using fire ecology to manipulate their environment to keep it fruitful for their way of life. Today California is experiencing a devastating drought -- devastating that is for most of the current 37+ million inhabitants of the state. However, the 20th century saw California emerge as an agricultural powerhouse, with huge production in the Central Valley (watered by rivers from the Sierra Nevada snow pack, with the San Joaquin and Sacramento River systems) and the Imperial Valley in the south-west irrigated with water from the Colorado River.

The Spanish

Spanish missions were established in Alta California from 1771 to 1783 under the leadership of Junipero Serra. The effort was part of a larger effort by the Spanish government to settle what was then a frontier, an effort that included sending troops to the region and establishing pueblos in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Monterey and San Francisco. Baja California had been earlier, not too successfully, settled by the Spanish.

The Spanish focused their early colonization of Central and South America on relatively densely populated areas: The area of Central America that they found controlled by the Aztec Empire and the portion of South America that they found controlled by the Inca Empire. There was gold and silver in large quantities in these areas. Moreover, even after the Indian populations had been decimated, there were relatively large numbers of Indians who could be put to work to enrich their new Spanish masters; these Indians could also be converted to Catholicism.

Bartolomé de las Casas gets a brief mention in Junipero Serra's biography, but he perhaps deserves more attention.
Arriving as one of the first European settlers in the Americas, he participated in, and was eventually compelled to oppose, the atrocities committed against the Native Americans by the Spanish colonists. In 1515, he reformed his views, gave up his Indian slaves and encomienda, and advocated, before King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on behalf of rights for the natives....... 
Bartolomé de las Casas spent 50 years of his life actively fighting slavery and the violent colonial abuse of indigenous peoples, especially by trying to convince the Spanish court to adopt a more humane policy of colonization. And although he failed to save the indigenous peoples of the Western Indies, his efforts resulted in several improvements in the legal status of the natives, and in an increased colonial focus on the ethics of colonialism. Las Casas is often seen as one of the first advocates for universal human rights.
The suppression of the Jesuits
in the Portuguese Empire, France, the Two Sicilies, Malta, Parma and the Spanish Empire by 1767 was a result of a series of political moves in each polity rather than a theological controversy. Monarchies attempting to centralize and secularize political power viewed the Jesuits as being too international, too strongly allied to the papacy, and too autonomous from the monarchs in whose territory they operated. By the brief Dominus ac Redemptor (21 July 1773) Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus. 
The Mexicans

Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 after more than a decade of fighting. Alta California continued as a frontier for the Mexican government. While 30 land grants of huge California estates had been made by the Spanish government before Mexican Independence, that number was increased to about 455 by the Mexican Government. The Franciscan missions were secularized, and their lands and cattle were taken by the large haciendas. While immigration from Mexico was encouraged, and while the Indian population was much depleted by disease and cultural disruption by that time.
By 1845, the province of Alta California had a non-native population of about 1,500 Spanish and Latin American-born adult men along with about 6,500 women and their native-born children (who became the Californios). These Spanish-speakers lived mostly in the southern half of the state from San Diego north to Santa Barbara.[31] There were also around 1300 American immigrants and 500 European immigrants from a wide variety of backgrounds. Nearly all of these were adult males and a majority lived in central and northern California from Monterey north to Sonoma and east to the Sierra Nevada foothills. 
A large non-coastal land grant was given to John Sutter who, in 1839, settled a large land grant close to the future city of Sacramento, California, which he called "New Helvetia" (New Switzerland). There, he built an extensive fort equipped with much of the armament from Fort Ross—bought from the Russians on credit when they abandoned that fort. Sutter's Fort was the first non-Native American community in the California Central Valley. Sutter's Fort, from 1839 to about 1848, was a major agricultural and trade colony in California, often welcoming and assisting California Trail travelers to California. Most of the settlers at, or near, Sutter's Fort were new immigrants from the United States.
The Russians

Russia had begun colonization of North America quite early, and Alaska and other Russian possessions in land claimed by the United States were not sold to the United States until 1867 -- after the Civil War. Quoting from Wikipedia:
From 1812 to 1841, the Russians operated Fort Ross, California.........By the 1830s, the Russian monopoly on trade was weakening. The British Hudson's Bay Company was leased the southern edge of Russian America in 1839 under the RAC-HBC Agreement, establishing Fort Stikine which began siphoning off trade.
And Fort Ross:
was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America between 1812 to 1842......In addition to farming and manufacturing, the Company carried on its fur-trading business at Fort Ross, but by 1817, after 20 years of intense hunting by Spanish, American and English ships - followed by Russian efforts - had practically eliminated sea otter in the area........
Following the formal trade agreement in 1838 between the Russian-American Company in New Archangel and Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver and Fort Langley for their agricultural needs, the settlement at Fort Ross was no longer needed to supply the Alaskan colonies with food. The Russian-American Company consequently offered the settlement to various potential purchasers, and it was sold to John Sutter, a Mexican citizen of Swiss origin.
 Russian expansion into the west coast of what is now the United States, and especially its fur trade in Alta California was apparently one of the important reasons that the Spanish sought to reinforce its sovereignty over the region by establishing pueblos, missions, and military establishments.

British Empire

Canada remained a colony of the British Empire until the British North America Act in 1867. Prior to that date, the British empire and its Canadian colony competed with other nations for territory in western North America. Eventually, the boundary between British Canada and the United States was settled via a number of treaties and boundary surveys. The London Convention (1818) saw the boundary extended west along the 49th parallel. The Oregon Treaty (1846) established the 49th parallel as the boundary through the Rockies.

The United States

In the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the United States extended its territory from the Mississippi west to the Rocky Mountains. The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) traveled through the northern portion of the land acquired and continued on to the Pacific.

Source: Wikipedia

John Jacob Astor's fur company established Astoria (Oregon) in 1611. The U. S. Exploring Expedition in the early 1840s charted the coast of Oregon, and send a party by land from Astoria to San Francisco Bay, where it was met by the ships of the expedition. The settlement of the coast was facilitated by the development of the Oregon Trail
a 2,200-mile (3,500 km) historic east-west large wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Idaho and Oregon. 
The Oregon Trail was laid by fur trappers and traders from about 1811 to 1840 and was only passable on foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails were cleared further and further west, eventually reaching all the way to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Later the Oregon Trail was used in conjunction with branch trails for the early settlers from the United States to California, notably after the discovery of gold in 1848 and during the gold rush starting in 1849.

At the outbreak of the Mexican American War in 1846 led to U.S. annexation of California.
On June 15, 1846, some thirty settlers, mostly American citizens, staged a revolt and seized the small Californio garrison, in Sonoma, without firing a shot and declared the new California Republic government. 
On hearing of this revolt, John C. Fremont and his small exploratory force -- which had been in California -- returned and declared that California was henceforth United States territory. The "republic" never exercised any real authority and only lasted 26 days before accepting U.S. government control.
In 1846, the U.S. Navy was under orders to take over all California ports in the event of war. There were about 400–500 U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy bluejacket sailors available for possible land action on the Pacific Squadron's ships. Hearing word of the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, California, and the arrival of the large British 2,600-ton, 600-man man-of-war HMS Collingwood flagship under Sir George S. Seymour, outside Monterey Harbor, Commodore Sloat was finally stirred to action. On July 7, 1846, seven weeks after war had been declared, Sloat instructed the captains of the ships USS Savannah and sloops Cyane and Levant of the Pacific Squadron in Monterey Bay to occupy Monterey, California—the Alta California capital. Fifty American marines and about 100 bluejacket sailors landed and captured the city without incident—the few Californio troops formerly there having already evacuated the city. They raised the flag of the United States without firing a shot.
California became a state in 1850. 


John Daly said...

I should have included a reference to the expeditions led by Juan Bautista de Anza from Nogales, through what is now Arizona, crossing the Colorado River, to San Diego and then north in 1715 and 1776. The second expedition brought settlers and established a town at San Francisco Bay. This also allowed the establishment of missions at San Francisco. The Anza Trail was thereafter a southern route to California.

John Daly said...

I have also been reading an out of print book on Padre Serra: Junipero Serra, pioneer colonist of California by Agnes Repplier (1933). It focuses on Serra's work in Alta California, and provides some details not included in the newer biography described above. It is short and lacks references, but gives materials from letters and original sources.