The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1969, Volume 15, Number 4
Rita Larkin, Editor

By W. B. Campbell and J. R. Moriarty

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The missions of Alta California, like the presidios or garrisons established by the Spanish government, were characteristically and designedly frontier institutions. Historians, particularly those writing about the missions in Alta California, have produced primarily chronicles of the deeds of the fathers which dwell upon the heroic exploits of individuals or stories that hover about the romance surrounding the mission ruins. However, very little has been written about the missions and their direct relation to general Spanish colonial policy of the period. Only one major work is a notable exception, and that is the learned studies by Father Zephram Englehardt.

The mission was a pioneering agency existing on the frontier and whether it be considered from a religious, social, or political standpoint, it must be recognized as such. The most prominent view of the mission as a religious institution fails to take into consideration that its establishment was to be the first step in the civilizing and colonizing of the frontier. Once the Faith had been introduced among the population, its function was to cease. The missions were designed primarily for the frontier, and they were intended to be temporary. As the religious aspect was finished on one frontier, it was expected that the missionary would move on and establish another base.

In theory, within ten years after its establishment, each mission was to be turned over to a secular clergy and all the common mission lands were to be distributed amongst the Indians. As the colonial law which phrased this portion of policy was based upon experience with the more advanced tribes in Central America, Mexico and Peru, it became immediately apparent to men like Father Serra on the northern frontier in Alta California that the Indian tribes he was dealing with would take a far greater period of tutelage than ten years. And, consequently, the result of this brought about the struggles over secularization which occurred in California.

Within that vague demarcation which marked the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the modern period in Europe, there appeared on the scene a remarkable man whose preaching of a new gentleness brought about the establishment of a monastic order whose members, “being unselfish in life would be fit heralds of God and helpers of men,” (Englehardt, 1908: 3-18)

The organized work of the followers of St. Francis of Assisi began in A.D. 1208. The primary goal of the order was that it should benefit all men. The order of St. Francis was to be involved historically in almost all the major Spanish enterprises of discovery, development, and civilization in the New World.

By the middle of the sixteenth century when Carlos III ascended the throne of Spain, Russian fur trading ships were already threatening the northern coasts of Alta California.

The French, under the leadership of La Salle had planted a colony at Matagorda Bay in Texas. The French governor of Louisiana permitted his agent, St. Denis, to intrude himself into Coahuila. The Spanish government, after these incidents, began to give liberal financial support to the refounding of missions in Texas as well as the establishment of more missions north of Baja into Alta California.

As early as 1620, Father Ascención who had been with Vizcaíno, warned, “I do not know what security his Majesty can have in his conscience for delaying so long to send ministers of the Gospel to this realm of California,” During the next century and a half, hundreds of other ecclesiastics, as well as political personages, in the New World echoed this admonition. It took, however, the first of the Russians on the Pacific Coast to finally loosen the Royal purse strings. Sensible now to the threat to his frontier, Carlos III sent religious and military support into the area of Alta California.

Long experience had shown that the use of the missionary was unquestionably the most successful method for the training of primitive people in the me­chanics of civilization. This training, aa a consequence, and most importantly brought them into status as obedient subjects of the King of Spain. (Hunt and Sanchez, 1929: 89)

The missions of California passed through three historic phases. The first was their period of establishment by the Franciscan padres under whom their religious, economic, and social, as well as political, foundations evolved. Secondly, there was the period of revolution and the effect that this had on the mission establishments. Finally there is the phase secularization of the Spanish institutions under the rule of the Mexicans.

In A.D. 1767 the Jesuit order was expelled from its missions in Baja California. The majority of these mis­sions were occupied in the central and southern region by Dominicans. The order of St. Francis held and began to establish immediately missions in the northern areas which at that time were called “fronteras.”

Under the leadership of Father Serra and the redoubtable Commander Portolá, Spanish occupation was extended into Alta California in 1769 with the establishment of the mission of San Diego at San Diego. The avowed and sole purpose was the civilizing of the Indian populations with the consequence of making the territory faithful to Spain. It should be recognized that while it is true the missions were supported to a very considerable degree by the Royal treasury, the amount of government aid as well as the ease by which it was secured, depended largely upon the extent to which political ends could be combined with religious purposes. (Bolton, 1918: 48-49)

The work of reducing the frontier by both the friars of the order of St. Francis and the soldiers of the King was directed by Jose de Galvez from New Spain. Immediately upon the establishment of the mission at San Diego, Portola was ordered to move as rapidly as possible north for the purpose of establishing another mission at Monterey.

After some delays and much suffering on the part of the explorers, a mission was finally established at Monterey. Within six days after the arrival of the news of the establishment of both missions, the Viceroy provided additional funds to support the establishment of five new missions which were to be founded as quickly as possible north of San Diego. (Pourade, 1960: 9) Eventually twenty-one missions were founded, nine of these by Father Serra and the remaining by Father Lasuen.

In considering a site upon which to build a mission, the padres kept three requisites in mind. First the arability of the soil in the immediate vicinity was considered as each mission was expected to become self supporting in the sense that its food supply must come from the development of its own crops. Secondly, there must be an available supply of portable water both for drinking and irrigation. A convenient and steady supply of water in sufficient quantities was thus an essential factor. Last was an indigenous population in sufficient numbers and concentration to warrant the establishment and support of a mission. (Hunt and Sanchez, 1929: 90)

After a site had been selected for a mission, the routine for its founding was prescribed and, therefore, was carried out each in the same manner. First a cross was set up. This was closely associated with a booth or ramada made of branches, and then the ground and the structure were consecrated with holy water and christened with the name of a saint. After these preliminaries, the bells were rung hoping to arouse and summon any of the neighboring Indians. At this time, to inspire trust, presents of various types were distributed among the local inhabitants. These usually took the form of cloth and trinkets. (Jackson, 1907:33)

The general plan for the mission was to construct a reasonably large quadrilateral building containing about 450 square feet. The church occupied one of the wings with a facade ornamented with a gallery. Most of the buildings were two stories high. An interior court was thus formed and decorated with fountains and trees. A gallery ran completely around the interior and opened into the dormatories. On one side the entrances to the visitors’ rooms and on the other side the office of the Major Domo were to be found. These were flanked by some small workshops, the school and store­rooms of the mission. The hospital and the school were situated normally in the most quiet part of the building. (Jackson, 1907: 52)

The plan for colonization of the frontier was threefold; after the missions were build, pueblos in which the Indian families lived were then constructed and the presidio housing the soldiers were developed. The pueblo was constructed on a pattern of regular streets which surrounded the mission building. The original homes on the California frontier were built of adobe or reeds in the native fashion.

The presidio was a fort constructed for the purpose of guarding the mission and of offering protection to its inhabitants in case of attack. A reciprocal relationship was maintained between the mission and the presidio in that the soldiers were assigned to protect and assist the padres wherein the missions had the duty of supporting the presidios with food and cloth as well as other products and handicrafts which were developed. The military governors were authorized to draw upon the friars not only for contributions of supplies and money, but for laborers.

This relationship immediately became a basis for contention between the two parties. The military was jealous of the power the missionaries held over the issuance of land grants and their tight rein on the vast labor force which the Indians constituted. The missionaries, on the other hand, were reluctant to place the natives under the control of the military and they often complained about the bad behavior of the soldiers. As a consequence of this, the civil authorities on the frontier without exception constantly pressed the authorities in Mexico to secularize the missions.

The system of government in the missions can be described as a patriarchal government. The missionaries considered themselves, and indeed occupied the position of, a relation to their Indian wards as fathers to their children. At each establishment there was an administrative body consisting of two monks, the older of whom was in charge of interior affairs and religious instruction and the younger in charge of agricultural and other works outside the mission walls. (Hunt and Sanchez, 1929: 92

These two friars were responsible directly to the Father or President of the missions. He. in turn, was responsible to the “President” or “Guardian” of the Franciscan College of San Fernando in Mexico. Liason was maintained from Mexico City to the missions by an officer called the “Procurador.” This functionary brought supplies for the mission and for the presidios. He was authorized to do this from drafts given to the friars by the presidio commander. There was also a general agent who attended to the shipping and forwarding of supplies. (Jackson, 1907: 64)

In order to maintain the missions, a substantial amount of revenue had to be acquired. The income to support the missions was derived mainly from two sources. The first was called the “Pious Fund.” This fund had originally been created and maintained by the Jesuit order, but upon the suppression of that order in 1768, the Spanish government had confiscated all of the funds.

The Pious Fund was started in the eighteenth century. It was made up primarily from estates; mines, manufactories, and herds which were gifts of Catholic laymen to the Society of Jesus. Originally it yielded an annual income of $50,000 a year when figured at today’s dollar standard. All of this money belonged of course to the Church, and it was given to be used in paying for the establishment and maintainence of frontier missions.

The second source of income was derived from the sale of mission products. The majority of the surplus mission products were sold to the presidios. The presidios in turn paid for these products by drafts on the government at Mexico City. The missions also traded the surpluses to the occasional ships which arrived in greater numbers each year on the California Coast. In the beginning these were Russian vessels; later on the French, the Americans, and the English traded with the missions. The drafts paid out of the Pious Fund originally by the Spanish government were, after the Revolution, continued by Mexican governors. However, the eventual misuse of the Pious Fund by Mexican governors assisted in bringing about the final decline of the missions.

The daily routine of the Franciscan Missions was as simple as it was monotonous. A system of signals and bells regulated the movement of both the friars and the Indians during the day. Morning began with the Angelus which summoned everyone to rise and to prayer. At breakfast each of the Indians came and was inspected for cleanliness and a portion of food, generally in the form of some cereal grain, was distributed. After breakfast the bells again summoned each to his work. The children noisily entered the classrooms, the women gathered their materials, cloth, and yarn and material for basketweaving and repaired to the place in the courtyard where this was normally done. The few artisans, that is, skilled craftsmen, entered their shops; and the rest who were either herders or field hands moved out through the main gate into the fields to spend the day.

Indian children as well as the offspring of the soldiers or colonists at the presidio were integrated in the classrooms. The most intelligent among the pupils were chosen for instruction in religious services and music, the violin, the flute, the horn, the violincello, the harp, and other instruments. Among the adults, anyone who distinguished himself in either the artisan’s crafts or the agricultural sphere were appointed as overseers. It was their duty to give orders to the others and to assist in seeing that the orders of the padres were carried out by the workers under them.

Promptly at 11:00 in the forenoon the bells again rang and all repaired to the mission for lunch. This usually consisted of meat, either beef or mutton, and some cereal grains in the form of a succotash or “empinole.” At 2:00, after a brief hour siesta, labor was resumed and continued until the evening Angelus. This was then followed by an early supper of corn and possibly some meat and beans again, and there was a short period of recreation followed by Vespers in the chapel (Markham, 1914: 84)

During the evening recreation period the Indians often divided themselves into groups according to age and specific interests. The boys and younger men would form one group, the girls another, while the older people would congregate together and gossip. The padres were lenient with the types of recreation permitted. They allowed many of the games and pastimes with which the Indians had been familiar in their savage state. This was allowed as long as the laws of Christian decency and modesty were observed. The Franciscan Fathers were not rigid, indeed, they were much less puritanical than any of the other orders. (McCarthy and Waters, 1958:20)

The routine and the monotony of this life, however, made the Indians very dependent on the Fathers and on the missions. It can be said with some truth that it destroyed most of their individuality and initiative. This destruction of individually motivated behavior was a factor which played a prominent role in the collapse of the mission institution.

It should be recognized that the Franciscan Fathers of Alta California were something more than just teachers of religion. The wide powers of their administration made them virtually the owners and managers of a vast economic industry. They played the role of farmer, cattleman, manufacturer, and trader, and they were the overseers of an extremely large labor force.

One of the major emphases in the colonization and reduction of Alta California was to teach the indigenous population the advantages of working the land. Enormous areas of unused land surrounded the missions, most of which could be cultivated by the Indians both for profit and experience. The climatic conditions in most cases were ideal for the encouragement of orchards and various grains. However, although some progress was made in agriculture, this was kept to a minimum because of the primitive methods of sowing and reaping which were utilized. The usual plow was nothing more than a crooked limb of a tree shod with an iron point. The ground was furrowed by dragging large branches of trees over it, and it was in this badly prepared soil that the seeds were planted.

In the areas of virgin earth even this crude method produced an enormous yield at first. In some places where wheat was grown, it was not even necessary to reseed, as replanting was eliminated by cutting the wheat so high that there was enough seed left over so that the plants resowed themselves. When the grain had reached proper ripeness, it was cut with hand sickles, usually, and bound in sheaves.

A cleared circular piece of ground was fenced in, and its surface was watered, pounded, repounded and rewatered again until it was very hard. The wheat was then thrown into this enclosure and seventy-five to one hundred mares were driven in and about the enclosure until the grain was all trampled out. The winnowing was done by simply tossing it against the wind.

The only means of grinding at first was the traditional Indian pestles and mortars, and this kept great numbers of the Indian women busy throughout the day. Water mills were, however, later built. Perhaps the most common method was by constructing an “arrastre.” This machine consisted of two mill stones, one placed on top of the other. The lower was stationary while the other was attached to a cross beam which revolved on a central axle and was dragged around in a circular manner by a horse or a mule. The grain was, of course, crushed and powdered between the two stones. (Hunt and Sanchez, 1929: 118)

The inventive genius as well as the mechanical skill of the missionaries is best demonstrated by the construction of irrigation systems which supplied water not only for drinking, but also sufficient quantities for the cultivated areas.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the missions were at their zenith of prosperity. An enterprising economic system had been established and there were nearly 30,000 Indian converts throughout California, Soon after the turn of the century, however, governmental support lessened considerably and the friars found themselves being heavily taxed while their relations with the military institutions were becoming more and more of a burden.

After three centuries under the dominion of Spain, the colonies in the New world began to grow restive. The colonies quite justly sought to alleviate the discrimination practiced against them by the mother country in such matters as trade restrictions and exclusion from official representation. This discontent continued to grow until in the early part of the nineteenth century a revolution broke out. Moving from province to province, the revolution eventually encompassed most of the Spanish colonies in the New World. The period of revolution extended from 1910 through 1926. (Hunt and Sánchez, 1929: 177)

The missions in Alta California were the most isolated of all the provinces of all of the Spanish colonies. They, as a consequence, were the last territories to be touched by the confligration of revolt. Spanish ships attempting to reach the California Coast were set upon by privateers working in the cause of independence. As a consequence of the lack of supplies, poverty and privation prevailed everywhere except in the missions proper where there was no lack of food. However, this could not continue indefinitely. Spanish Viceroys alternately with Mexican insurgents took turns at ruling in Mexico City as the fortunes of both parties fluctuated. Slowly the waves of the Mexican Revolution began to break on the shore of Alta California, The Government at Mexico City made great requisitions upon the missions. They responded generously and gave not only food but money. In addition they submitted to attacks on all of their charges to pay the expenses of a deputy to sit in the Mexican Congress. Eventually the friars were called upon to offer shelter in the form of quarters for troops in the mission buildings, (Jackson, 1907: 70)

An incident occurred on November 20, 1818 which will help demonstrate the impotency to which Pablo de Sola, the last of the Spanish governors in Alta California, was reduced. Two ships under the command of a Frenchman, Hippolyte de Bouchard, and an Englishman, Peter Cortney, landed and sacked as well as burned the presidio and town of Monterey. The people fled into the night, hurrying toward the missions of San Antonio and San Juan Batista. After gathering up their loot the pirates sailed away on November 27, and Governor Sola returned to begin at once to reconstruct and rehabilitate the presidio at Monterey. The pirate ships continued on down the coast stopping at various points to burn and pillage. The invaders claimed to be insurgents who were assisting in the War of Independence. This event was California’s only active participation in the war of the Mexican Revolution.

If Bouchard had succeeded in winning over the Californians to the insurgents’ cause, it is probable that another republic would have come into being. If this had taken place, the whole course of the American conquest would certainly have been changed.

Alta California, the northernmost possession of Spain in the New World, however, remained loyal to the mother country until the utter hopelessness of its stand became apparent. The end came in February of 1821 when Augustín Iturbide, a colonel in the Royal Army, suddenly defected to the insurgent cause. A revolutionary flag was raised and the famous Plan de Iguala was promulgated. This plan set forth a scheme for future government providing for a moderate monarch with some member of the Royal family as ruler. It was issued in the town of Iguala, thus obtaining its name. New Spain thus became independent of the Spanish throne. Iturtaide captured the capitol, Mexico City, in September of the same year and instituted a regency with himself as its head.

The authorities of the government of Alta California, the captains and lieutenants from presidios, together with Fathers Payeras and Sarria, were summoned to meet at Monterey. They took the oath of allegiance to the new government without hesitation. Only the friars had some misgivings, but they took the oath because they believed that the new ruler was a member of the Royal Family. The wiser heads among them, however, knew that this revolution would mean the downfall not only of Spanish dominion in America, but also the destruction of the missions. (Hunt and Sanchez, 1929: 182-184)

As the population of Alta California increased, international discontent also added to the agitation. People were now becoming less and less connected with the missions, and, consequently, friction was caused because of the Church’s occupation and control of such large portions of the country. The constant jealousy on the part of the military authorities, whose measures were often opposed by the friars, readily allied itself to the discontent caused by the population pressure. It was pointed out by laymen time and time again that according to the law the religious institutions were primarily designed to introduce the Faith among the heathen. Having done this their function was to cease.

The law stated that the mission was designed only as a temporary institution. In theory the Spanish law covering the missions, their establishment and support gave them approximately ten years to carry out their function. After this period the mission must then be turned over to the secular clergy and the common mission lands were then to be distributed among the Indians. It was pointed out in addition that the extent of the occupation by the missions in Alta California had been extended well beyond the expected time, and it was of course intimated that the padres wished to remain in control of the population, that they were opposing the establishment of a freer system of government, and were also under the direct influence of the Papacy as well as the Spanish monarchy. Thus they were not to he trusted, and as a consequence, secularization was the only path to follow.

The Mexican Republic was created on November 19. 1823. It was ruled under a constitution much resembling that of the United States. The new regime was accepted in California, and the various appointed officials solemnly swore to uphold the new government and all seemed well for a period of time. However, fears developes in Mexico City that this far away northern province might well be made the center of a royalist movement. It was therefore deemed necessary to send a commission of the regency to learn how the people of California really felt about the government.

Included in this commission was an institute of propaganda for independence, the leaders of which were charged to obtain an oath of allegiance from the citizens of California as well as to instill ideas for independence in the general population. A new national flag was raised and the commission in general set into motion the machinery for constitutional government in the northern province.

In the years between 1823 and 1828 the cry for secularization of the missions became stronger and stronger until finally in 1828 Governor Echeandía formulated a plan for the secularization of the missions. The Governor and the administration which appointed him desired to place these establishments under secular rule and convert the mission towns into civic pueblos. However, the secular state of affairs forced a very cautious approach to this, and the way was made very cautiously through a series of experiments. (Hunt and Sanchez, 1929: 217)

The friars were made to understand that they were to hand over all records and inventories to stewards or administrators appointed by the governor. A board of magistrates was also appointed for each village. One half of the movable property was to be divided among the “emancipated persons,” i.e. the Indians; each head of a family was to be given 400 square yards of land; everything else, movable properties, lands, and other properties were to be placed in the hands of the administrator or to be held subject to the decisions of the federal government. The clergy that was to be left in charge of the Church properties was to be appropriately provided for by the administrators out of their remaining funds. (Jackson. 1907; 74)

When Figueroa was elected governor, he journeyed to California bringing with him ten friars from the Franciscan College at Zacatecas. The College at Zacatecas was not the academic equivalent of the college of San Fernando, and these ten friars were all Mexican by birth. Under Figueroa they were put in charge of the seven missions that lay to the north of the Mission of San Carlos. The difficulties encountered by these friars in the beginning of their jurisdiction were many and great. Because of their racial background, any cooperation from the whites was out of the question and this attitude was reflected by the Indians. Governor Figueroa did what he could to present the mission fathers’ arguments about any moves leading to secularization. His major argument was phrased about the proposition that any of these changes would have to be very slow and gradual as it was evident that the Indians were unfit as yet to take their place as independent citizens of a new Republic.

The Government, however, wanted to reduce the Indians from any state of savagery that they might be in and change them into peaceful, lawabiding, and taxpaying citizens who were also revenue producing. The Government felt its goal was to make the Indians self-sufficient as soon as possible and settle them down in organized pueblos subject to the same laws as other citizens.

If this change was to be brought about, it necessitated first the removal of temporal property from the hands of the Church and placing it directly under the management of civil administrators. The state of the souls of the new citizens was to be left in the hands of secular priests.

As a consequence, the padres were now relieved of their duties, and they were either returned to Spain, or, deeply depressed, they sorrowingly moved into obscurity in Mexico or in Alta California. (Hunt and Sanchez, 1929: 252) It was not until 1834 that the final blow fell upon the missions. In compliance with instructions he had received from Mexico, the then Governor of California issued an authoritative edict for total secularization. All Indians were now to be emancipated and were obliged to join into the normal civil labors of the com­munity. These were the indispensible labors such as the gardening, cultivation of the vineyards, gardens and fields.

The edict was an absurdity, for the truth was that only a very small amount of the Indians of Alta California were educationally or culturally able to take advantage of the offering. (Jackson, 1907: 73) Consequently, although this act was supposedly for the benefit of the Indian, under it they knew great suffering for they were exploited now by the white settlers and in many cases became virtual slaves. Hundreds of the survivors reverted to their former state of savagery.

Ten long years after the passage of the Secularization Act, affairs were still becoming, if possible, worse for the missions. Consequently, each governor who was elected had his own plans and devices for making the most of the remaining properties. There were plans for dividing them into parcels for the use of colonists; plans for establishing pueblos on them; plans for making them subject to laws on bankruptcy; and finally, plans for just outright selling them. The Departmental Assemblies sometimes endorsed and sometimes annulled the acts of the governors.

In 1843 Pio Pico came into power and he ruled until the occupation of California by the United States’ forces in 1846. It was during the reign of this man that the final ruin of the mission establishments was completed. The missions were sold and occasionally rented in groups to the highest bidder. Preceding this selling and renting, however, under the law it was necessary for the Governor to issue a proclama­tion to the Indians, (i.e., who were the rightful owners under the law) to return and take possession of the missions if they did not want them sold. These proclamations were issued and posted in the pueblos many months before the sale. Thus it was that in 1844 the former Indians of the Missions of Doloras, Soledad, San Miguel, La Purisima, and San Rafael were informed and notified that they were to return to their respective mission. There was on official act of the Departmental Assembly warning them that if they did not return before such a date, the government would then declare the said missions to be without owner and dispose of them in any manner it pleased. The final act came in March of 1846 when the Departmental Assembly voted to make the missions liable to bankruptcy. They further authorized the governor to sell them to private persons. The few missions that still had some pretense of existence at this time were hopelessly in debt. All of the preceedings in regard to them were much simplified by this act.

In the same year the President of Mexico issued an order to Governor Pico to use all of the means within his power to raise money to defend the country against the territorial expansion of the United States. Using this as an excuse, the Governor proceeded forthwith to sell the missions off to any buyers. He sold them at illegal private sales where no one other than his cronies were able or permitted to attend. All of them sold for insignificant sums, far below the known, accepted or expected value of the property, and in many cases there is no record of them being paid for at all.

One of the last acts of the Departmental Assembly before the surrender of Alta California to the United States, was to declare all Governor Pico’s sales of mission property null and void. (Jackson, 1907: 84)

The early Republic of Mexico had many problems and faced many difficulties. It laid the foundation for the great nation that exists today and its constitution when studied proves to be one of the really great documents of man. Within its concepts as early as 1822 were laws providing for the complete abolition of slavery within its territories. Thus, it represents one of the first positive actions on the part of a government to institute laws regarding the unquestioned equality of men before the law. But Mexico cannot be excused for its destruction of the California missions. Herein lie an ingenious subversion of the frontier mission movement guided and aided by unprincipled greed on the part of individuals in power. It carried out this destruction under the specious cloak of right.

In all of the ways that the frontier missions were agencies of Spain their first and most important task was to spread the Faith. In addition, however, as Bolton states, either designedly or incidently they explored the frontiers, promoted their occupation, defended them and the interior settlements, taught the Indians the Spanish language, and disciplined them in good manners, in the rudiments of European crafts, of agriculture, and even of self government.

The missions played an essential role in the eighteenth century in the settlement of California. The Franciscan dream of Christianizing the Indians was partially fulfilled through the example of love and devotion set forth by men like Father Serra. Unlike the colonization amongst either the French or English colonies, where in many cases the only good Indians were dead Indians, the Spanish colonies, on the other hand, strove to improve the natives and to enculturate them into Spanish life. There was very little active hostility on the part of the Indians of California toward the missions; indeed, on the contrary, they were loyal, and the missions provided from their cultivated lands enough to sustain their charges even during times of revolution. Many of the Indians valued and clung to their Christianity as long as they could after the revolution, but the destruction of the mission and the removal of it as a unifying focal point removed the nurturing quality from the slowly advancing Indian culture.

this destructive influence was in the set routine of life for the Indians. Everything was done at a certain time and in

It may be truly said, however, that the elements which were to bring about the ruin of the mission were in some ways inherent in the very system upon which they were founded. It has been seen that one of the primary factors for a particular way; everything was organized and conducted as part of an organized system. Such a method becomes a fixed custom in a very short period of time and it cramps and binds the individual and leaves little room for inspiration and individual motivation. In addition to this the Spanish Government was impatient to see carried out the pueblo feature of its colonization plan and eager to reap the benefits of it. The time period set for the movement from frontier mission to secularized pueblo was much too short among peoples who were hunters and gathers and who had not established locale for occupation. Once the parental authority and care of the missionaries was removed the Indians were left in a strange and swift moving world that placed them in the perfect position for exploitation by the white settlers which in turn sent them into a reversion to their former primitive states.

Plagued as they were by the many nameless diseases which had been introduced by the white settlers, to seasonal droughts which left deprivation in their pathway, the newly emancipated “citizen” had little chance for survival Only those who were wise enough or who were able to return to their former state of life had a significant chance of survival. Those that remained within the colonies disappeared except for a very few as they were unable to compete in such a world. For all of these reasons the missions of California were a conspicuous feature of Spanish frontiering genius and an abyssmal failure due to greed and premature expectations of economic and political returns.

Mission Chronology

1208   Founding of the Franciscan Order
1767   Jesuits expelled from Baja California
1769   San Diego de Alcala
1770   Monterey settled 1770   San Carlos de Borromeo (June 3)
1771   San Antonio de Padua (July 14)
1771   San Gabriel Arcangel (Sept. 8)
1772   San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (Sept. 1)
1775   Seat of government moved to Alta California
1776   San Francisco de Assisi (Oct. 9)
1776   San Juan Capistrano (Nov. 1)
1777   Santa Clara de Assisi (Jan. 12)
1782   San Buenaventura (March 31)
1784   Death of Father Serra (Aug. 28)
1786   Santa Barbara (Dec. 4)
1787   La Purisima Concepcion (Dec. 8)
1791   Santa Cruz (Sept. 25)
1791   La Soledad (Oct. 9)
1797   San Jose de Guadalupe (June 11)
1797   San Juan Bautista (June 25)
1797   San Miguel Arcangel (July 25)
1797   San Fernando Rey de Espana
1798   San Luis Rey de Franca (June 13)
1804   Santa Ines (Sept. 17)
1814   Pablo Vicente Sola, last of the Spanish Governors of California
1817   San Rafael Arcangel (Dec. 14)
1818   Revolution in California
1821   Iturbide’s insurrection
1823   San Francisco Solano (April 4)
1823   Birth of the Mexican Republic
1825   Adoption of the Constitution of the New Republic
1825   Jose Marie de Echeandia appointed governor
1831   Jose Figueroa, greatest of the Mexican governors, appointed
1834   Secularization Act
1844   Pio Pico appointed governor
1846   American flag over Monterey




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Caughey, John Walton, California, Englewood Cliffs, N. J.. Printice-Hall, Inc., 1935, pp. 100-171.

Chapman, Charles C. , A History of California, Spanish Period, N.Y., The Macmillan Co., 1928, pp. 152-158, 383, 418, 438, 472.

Englehardt, Fr. Zephyrin, Missions and Missionaries, San Francisco. The James H. Barry Co., Vol. I, 1908, pp. 3-18, 579-594.

Hawthorne, Hildegarde and E. H. Suydam, California’s Missions, N. Y. , Appleton- Century Co., Inc., 1942, pp. 1-25.

Hunt, Rockwell D. and Nellie Van De-Grift Sanchez, A Short History of California. N.Y., Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1929, pp. 89-264.

Jackson, Helen Hunt, Glimpses of California and the Missions, Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1907, pp. 1-85.

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Walton B. CampbellWalton B. Campbell is currently a student at the University of California at San Diego, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in June, 1969 with a major in biology and a minor in anthropology. He is employed as a laboratory assistant at the Physiology Research Laboratory of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He was a member of the 1968-1969 United States Antarctic Research Program expedition at Mc Murdo Sound. He has published various papers in collaboration with James R. Moriarty.

James Robert Moriarty, IIIJames Robert Moriarty, III is one of the foremost authorities on archaeology in the Southern California area. He is currently a faculty member of the University of San Diego’s College for Men as an Assistant Professor of History and Anthropology.

He is a member of several scientific associations; has written numerous papers for a wide range of publications, including Spanish borderlands history; and has participated in many archaeological expeditions.

Professor Moriarty was formerly an Associate Specialist in Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He served in the U. S. Army during World War II in the Pacific Theater of Operation as an infantry sergeant. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Bronze Arrowhead and the Order of the Purple Heart with Star.

He attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, as a geology major.

He received his B. A. degree in anthropology, geology, and history and his M. A. degree in social science, emphasizing anthropology, from San Diego State College. He is currently a candidate for a Juris Doctorate from the College of Law at the University of San Diego.