The Outcomes and Viewpoints of the Californian Missions


HST 370 History of California


July 8, 2004


In 1769 the San Diego Mission was established, marking the first mission and first settlement of the Spaniards in California since their claim in 1542 by Cabrillo. The document, A Mexican Commission Urges the Secularization of the California Missions, 1833, was a short passage that depicts the opposite of the churches intents, “far from persuading the weak, opposing the rebels…they suffer from those who profess the adorable religion” (p. 86). The Native Americans experienced turmoil instead of joy and the author proposed fifteen articles that support secularization to alleviate the troubles missions have brought (p. 87-88).


The account, Angustias de la Guerra Ord Defends the Virtue of Mission Priests, 1878, shows the aftermath of secularization through the eyes of a civil officer’s wife. It is an interpretation that fell victim to a closed-minded and biased view favoring the empowered and the mission system, “padres saw that it was coming upon them, they decided to turn as much of the herds into cash as possible” (p. 89). The statement tried to gain sympathy for the padres on the basis that they were forced to destroy their herds. However, she failed to mention that the herds were grazing on land that Native Americans once called “home.” The source is not credible, “If there had been dishonest killing of herds to get money before the Missions were secularized, I would have known of it” (p.89), “I do not believe that any other Missions held killings on a grand scale… if there had been I would have known it” (p.89). She stated her thoughts and supported them with herself as a source, which ultimately destroys the reliability of the document because more opinionated than factual.


Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Crticizes the Mexicans in California, 1834, illustrates the problems that rose when Mexico took power over California. “The missions had been going down; until at last, a law was passed stripping them of their possessions, and confining the priests to their spiritual duties” (p. 91), by devastating a holy figure the author had successfully depicted the Mexican government as a merciless foe. “The administradores are strangers sent from Mexico, having no interest in the country…men of desperate fortunes-broken-down politicians and soldiers-whose only object is to retrieve their condition in as short a time as possible” (p. 91), sums up Mexicans as selfish and terrible leaders. The racist theme against Indians arose again when comparing an Indian with a Mexican, who both committed the same crime in two separate incidences, “A judge and jury were appointed…He was decently buried” (p.92), the Indian on the other hand did not receive just treatment, “yet he was an Indian, and that was enough…he had been shot” (p. 92).


Guadalupe Vallejo Reminisces About the Ranchero Period, is a narrative through the eyes of General Vallejo’s nephew, and the interpretation he perceives from his uncle’s stories. Another biased encounter, that summates the Rancho period in Sonoma as a tranquil and peaceful era that is ultimately interrupted by Americans. “The quiet and happy domestic life of the past seems like a dream. We, who loved it, often speak of those days…” (p. 94), enables foresight to the discontent of the author when California falls under the rule of America. He tells the story when his father was tricked by an American for all his land, “I will fence the field for you at my expense if you will give me half…the American had it entered as government land in his own name, and kept all of it” (p. 95). The account fails to mention the secularization of the missions that took place under Mexican control.


The Article, William Robert Garner Promotes the American Annexation of California, 1847, depicts a California that is under tyrannical rule, and is awaiting the United States as its savior, “Should she now abandon us, that joy would be turned into bitter lamentation” (p. 95). The Selected Articles from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848, is a treaty that signs over California to the United States and ensures the protection of the Mexican Californians, “their condition shall be on an equality with that of the inhabitants of the other territories of the United States, and at