The Missions: Number 1

Two hundred and fifty years after Cortes claimed Mexico and the vast lands north of it for Spain, the Spanish Crown faced a crisis: Russian ships were aggressively nosing about its completely undefended province on the Pacific Coast known as Alta (Upper) California. King Carlos III financed a company of Franciscan Continue reading The Missions: Number 1

Creating California’s Missions

The Catholic priest who is credited with creating California’s coastal missions was born Miguel Jose Serra, on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain. Entering the Franciscan Order at sixteen, he took the baptismal name of Junipero and was soon recognized as a preacher of uncommon power and eloquence. His Continue reading Creating California’s Missions

Settling California’s Borders

California Nevada mapCalifornia’s southern border was resolved by treaty in 1848 after the Mexican-American War, but until 1849 its northern limits stretched into Oregon Territory and its eastern boundary extended somewhat vaguely into present day Utah. That year the pre-statehood Constitutional Convention at Monterey set the Continue reading Settling California’s Borders

The Original Mexican Border

Franciscan missionariesDuring the three hundred-plus years Spain claimed ownership of California by right of conquest, Spain’s official religion took a part in setting the state’s first southern boundary. Imperial Spain’s Nueva Espana (New Spain) was far-flung: it included the Caribbean, Mexico, and parts of what are now the southwestern Continue reading The Original Mexican Border

Mexico Acquires California

Mexican flagMexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821—in general (though the specifics were different) for much the same political and economic reasons our Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. The new Republic of Mexico acquired Spain’s former conquests extending from coastal Continue reading Mexico Acquires California