Queen Calafia’s Island In 1510 the Spanish writer GarciOrdóñez de Montalvo published Las Sergas de Esplandián, a novel describing the mythical island of California. He described California as abounding in gold and precious stones, and occupied by beautiful Amazonian women. When a 1533 party of Spanish explorers landed on California, they believed they had found the mythical island Montalvo wrote about. Not until 1540 did they realize their geographical mistake.
Queen Calafia’s Island California is a vibrant landscape, combining mountain range, flatland and coast. It contains more than half the shoreline of the western continental United States. At 14,496 feet, Mount Whitney is the second tallest mountain in the U.S., and the tallest in the state. 282 feet below sea level is Death Valley, the lowest point on the continent. California also boasts a plentitude of plant, animal and bird life.
Queen Calafia’s Island It is estimated that in 1492, one third of all Native Americans were living within the present-day boundaries of California. These natives belonged to twenty-two different linguistic families. The flora and fauna available in their regions fostered their unique cultural practices. They had highly developed heritages of creation myths, totems, taboos and rituals. The Ishi tribe continued to live in aboriginal circumstances until 1911.
Laws of the Indies On August 13, 1521, Hernán Cortés occupied Tenochtitlán, laying the groundwork for New Spain. By the early 1540s, Cortés had moved the borders of New Spain as far north as Alta California. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo anchored in San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542, becoming the first European to reach California from the sea. On November 6, 1595, SebastiánRodríguezCermeno found the Bay of San Francisco and claimed the area around it for Spain. In 1602, SebastiánVizcaíno found and named the Bay of San Diego and the Conde de Monterey, claiming them for Spain.
Laws of the Indies New Spain was governed by the Laws of the Indies, written in 1680. Under these laws, the church and state were to cooperate in a program of settlement and development. In 1697, Juan María de Salvatierra oversaw the construction of the first Jesuit mission in California. This system remained in place for 70 years, but the Jesuit missionaries never managed to expand northward. In 1768, under orders from the crown, José de Gálvez arrested the Jesuits and replaced them with the Franciscans.
Laws of the Indies Father Junípero Serra was one of the three men who replaced the Jesuits and planned the settlement of upper California. He was part of two land parties that marched from Baja to Alta California in 1769 for the Sacred Expedition. On July 16, he dedicated Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first of nine missions he would personally found. Serra was constantly quarreling with the military governers of California, representing the tension between Spanish California as a missionary society reporting to the Franciscans and a secular society reporting to the military governor.
A Troubled Territory California became a territory of Mexico was it achieved independence from Spain in 1821. In 1824, Mexico adopted a federal constitution based on the United States. The non-Indian population of Mexican California never exceeded 7,000. Of these citizens, only 1,000 were male adults. In 1833, the Mexican Congress demanded that all missions be secularized and land given to Indians and colonists. However, because of a scheme by JoséMaríaHíjar and JoséMaríaPadrés, few Indians actually came into possession of any land. In 1834, Híjar was appointed governor of California.
A Troubled Territory Starting in September 1786, several scientific exploring expeditions from France, Spain, and England came to California. 10 years later, American visitors would come to Mexico for trading purposes, resulting in a growing trade between New England, California, and China. In April 1806, Russians came, expressing a desire to establish California as a source of resupply. Suspicion of outside arrangements led Governor Figueroa to establish a military district north of San Francisco Bay under the command of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo in April 1833.
A Troubled Territory In January 1846, John Charles Frémont marched towards Monterey. The capital, though, had been moved to Los Angeles. José Castro of Monterey was outraged that Frémont had brought American troops, and ordered Frémont to leave. On March 9-10, Frémont journeyed north to Oregon, but returned in late May with a guard of Delaware Indians. His return incited a group of American settlers to imprison General Vallejo and declare the California Republic. By August 13, 1846, Los Angeles was under American rule.