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Citadel of Civilization? Crime and Punishment at the Presidio de San Diego

As San Diego commemorates 250 years since the founding of the San Diego Presidio and the first mission in Alta California we have a unique opportunity to examine the role of the Presidio in our early history and its legacy today. Was the Presidio a citadel ushering in new modes of existence and lifestyle, or was it comparable to today’s Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons?

In this presentation, historian Richard Carrico will focus on the Spanish colonial system as implemented at the Presidio de San Diego from 1770 to 1820, and address the following:
– What was the nature of the legal and moral system practiced at the Presidio, and how were methods of law
and justice applied?
– How did indigenous men and women end up at the Presidio, and its prison?
– What lessons can we learn from those instances of moral turpitude and moral valor?

Join us for this thought-provoking examination of the history of the Presidio at the newly renovated Serra Museum, overlooking the Presidio grounds.


Richard L. Carrico, historian, writer, educator, and wine maker, is a lecturer in the Department of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. He is a well-respected scholar, public speaker, and researcher who has made significant contributions to our understanding of the local indigenous cultures and early Spanish colonization. In addition to more than 30 publications in professional journals, including several in the Journal of San Diego History, and contributions to stand-alone chapters in five academic books, Richard has received several awards for academic excellence including the prestigious Norman Neurburg Award for outstanding research presented by the California Missions Foundation in 2019.


September 26
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Junípero Serra Museum
2727 Presidio Drive
San Diego, CA 92103 United States