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The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1983, Volume 29, Number 3
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

Forward

MALLORCAN BEGINNINGS
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
OCCUPATION OF SAN DIEGO
PLANTING THE CROSS
SERRA AS FATHER-PRESIDENT
MOVING THE MISSION
INDIAN REVOLT
CONFIRMATION
SERRA’S FINAL DAYS
THE YEARS FOLLOWING
THE SERRA MUSEUM TODAY

 

The Years Following

Following Serra’s death, Father Palou served as interim president of the California missions until Father Lasuen, head of Mission San Diego for ten years, was appointed to the post in 1785. The mission chain continued to expand, eventually numbering twenty by 1821 when Mexico declared its independence from Spain, One additional mission, San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, was founded by the Mexican government in 1823. All of the Upper California missions were secularized in the mid-1830s by Mexico – taken from the Franciscan order and turned over to non-religious administrators. Although the Indians were to receive a large portion of the land, much of it formed the basis for large ranchos granted during the later Mexican period.

The Royal Presidio of San Diego continued to function on the hill overlooking the harbor throughout the Spanish and early Mexican periods. In 1790 it housed 190 persons of whom ninety-six were adults. A school was conducted within the presidio walls for the children and the fortress resembled a small community. The defense of San Diego was bolstered by the building of Fort Guijarros or San Joaquin on today’s Ballast Point in 1797, yet security of the port was never tight. Jurisdiction of the presidio extended as far as Mission San Gabriel to the north until the founding of Santa Barbara presidio in 1782.

At about the same time as Mexico’s independence (1821-1822), soldiers and their families began to move from the hill to the flat lands between the presidio and bay, The homes and garden plots they established formed the nucleus for the pueblo of San Diego, officially designated as such in 1834. The presidio, costly to maintain, declined in importance since the danger from Indian attacks had lessened. There was little concern by the Mexican government about foreign invasion. As the soldiers built houses in the pueblo, they carried away tiles and adobe bricks from the presidio buildings for construction purposes.

During the 1830s, the presidio was slowly abandoned. Boston visitor Richard Henry Dana commented in Two Years Before the Mast about his visit in 1834 to “the old ruinous presidio, which stands on a rising ground near the village, which it overlooks …. Twelve half clothed and half starved looking fellows composed the garrison; and they, it was said, had not a musket apiece.” By 1846 the presidio was essentially in ruins and played no significant role in the Mexican War, which resulted in California’s annexation to the United States.