Hernán Cortés explored the Baja California Peninsula, sailing the Sea of Cortés and founding the city of La Paz.
Francisco de Ulloa sailed around the Cedros Islands off the coast of Baja California. He was the first to call it "California," a name taken from a heroic romance novel,
Amadis de Gallia, published by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo around 1510.
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo is believed to be the first European to actually explore the California coast. Landing at San Diego Bay, then sailing around the channel islands, he claimed "the Island of California" for Spain. He came ashore at San Pedro bay, which became the port of Los Angeles.
Sir Francis Drake, sailing for England's Virgin Queen Elizabeth I, explored up the coast of California on his voyage to circumnavigate the globe. He anchored north of San Francisco at
In 1595, Spanish explorer
Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, on his galleon
San Agustin, sailed from the Philippines, named for King Philip II of Spain, to map the coasts of Oregon and California, down to Acapulco, Mexico.
In 1769, the first Spanish missions were founded in California by Franciscan missionary
, whose statue is in the
U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall.
California cities were originally founded as
Spanish Christian missions
San Diego de Alcalá
(grew into San Diego, CA, cultivated the first olives in California)
San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
(grew into Carmel, CA)
San Antonio de Padua
(grew into Monterey County, CA)
(grew into San Gabriel, CA, began California's citrus industry)
San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
(grew into San Luis Obispo, CA)
San Francisco de Asís
(oldest surviving structure in San Francisco, CA)
San Juan Capistrano
(grew into San Juan Capistrano, CA, produced California's first wine)
Santa Clara de Asís
(grew into Santa Clara, CA)
(grew into Ventura, CA)
(grew into Santa Barbara, CA)
La Purísima Concepción
(grew into Lompoc, CA)
(grew into Santa Cruz, CA)
Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
(grew into Soledad, CA)
(grew into Fremont, CA)
San Juan Bautista
(grew into San Juan Bautista, CA, restored with help from the Hearst Foundation)
San Miguel Arcángel
(grew into San Miguel, CA)
San Fernando Rey de España
(grew into Mission Hills district of Los Angeles)
San Luis Rey de Francia
(grew into Oceanside, CA, first California Pepper Tree planted)
(Danish town of Solvang built around mission)
San Rafael Arcángel
(grew into San Francisco Bay area, had the first hospital in California)
San Francisco Solano
(grew into Sonoma, CA)
Get the book America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations
Prior to the Spanish Christian Missions, the Indian culture regarded
role of women
, as it was considered degrading for men.
Spanish Christian Missionaries
taught men to work in industry and
introduced into California irrigation
oranges, grapes, apples, peaches, pears, figs, cattle, sheep, horses, mules, burros, goats and swine.
Spanish Christian Missions
introduced the Indians to
the wheeled cart
, which had been in existence in Mesopotamia since the 4th millennium BC, and the
, which was invented in China in the 2nd century BC.
Technologically, native inhabitants had an existence somewhere between the stone age and the bronze age.
Spanish Christian Missions
built foundries, introducing Indians to the
with blacksmith furnaces smelting and fashioning iron into nails, crosses, gates, hinges, and cannons.
Spain lost California to Mexico in 1821, but instead of giving people rights and freedoms,
Mexico set up a monarchy with Augustin Iturbide as Emperor
was executed, and Mexico adopted a Federal Constitution in 1824.
General Santa Ana
became President and, together with his Vice-President Gomez Farias, instituted
anti-clerical Mexican Secularization Acts
took all Christian Mission property
away from the Catholic Church and
sold it to insider political supporters of his government.
General Santa Anna suspended Mexico's Constitution
and declared himself
, stating to U.S. minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett:
"A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty ... a despotism is the proper government for them."
When several Mexican States opposed Santa Ana, he sent his army and crushed the resistance.
ruthless actions precipitated the
Texas War of Independence
, 1836, and the
After the wars, California was purchased by the United States with the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
In 1849, workers in California building a sawmill for John Sutter on the south fork of the American River,
Soon prospectors, called "Forty-Niners," arrived.
California became the 31st State on SEPTEMBER 9, 1850.
California's Constitution, which prohibited slavery, stated:
"We, the People of the State of California,
grateful to Almighty God for our freedom
... do establish this Constitution."
Regarding California's Catholic Missions, the
U.S. Board of Land Commissioners
wrote, as recorded in W.W. Robinson's book,
Land in California
(Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1948, p. 28):
"The Missions were intended ... to be temporary ... It was supposed that within that period of time
sufficiently instructed in Christianity and the arts of civilized life
On May 23, 1862,
President Lincoln restored all 21 California Missions taken by anti-clerical Mexican Secularization Acts
back to the Catholic Church:
"I grant unto the ... Bishop of Monterrey ... in trust for the religious purposes ... the tracts of land described in the foregoing survey."
Spanish Missions were an integral part of California's history.
In 2004, the A.C.L.U.,
similar to Santa Ana's Secularization Acts
, pressured Los Angeles County to remove a tiny cross from its county seal.
In 2014, the County restored the cross.