They had further causes of anxiety. The complications between Mexico and Spain, which culminated in the independence of the former, and then the establishment of the Empire, gave the leaders enough to occupy their minds.
The final establishment took place in 1823, without any idea of founding a new Mission. The change to San Rafael had been so beneficial to the sick Indians that Canon Fernandez, Prefect Payeras, and Governor Argueello decided to transfer bodily the Mission of San Francisco from the peninsula to the mainland north of the bay, and make San Rafael dependent upon it. An exploring expedition was sent out which somewhat carefully examined the whole neighborhood and finally reported in favor of the Sonoma Valley. The report being accepted, on July 4, 1823, a cross was set up and blessed on the site, which was named New San Francisco.
Padre Altimira, one of the explorers, now wrote to the new padre presidente—Senan—explaining what he had done, and his reasons for so doing; stating that San Francisco could no longer exist, and that San Rafael was unable to subsist alone. Discussion followed, and Sarria, the successor of Senan, who had died, refused to authorize the change; expressing himself astonished at the audacity of those who had dared to take so important a step without consulting the supreme government. Then Altimira, infuriated, wrote to the governor, who had been a party to the proposed removal, concluding his tirade by saying:
“I came to convert gentiles and to establish new Missions, and if I cannot do it here, which, as we all agree, is the best spot in California for the purpose, I will leave the country.”
Governor Argueello assisted his priestly friend as far as he was able, and apprised Sarria that he would sustain the new establishment; although he would withdraw the order for the suppression of San Rafael. A compromise was then effected by which New San Francisco was to remain a Mission in regular standing, but neither San Rafael nor old San Francisco were to be disturbed.
Is it not an inspiring subject for speculation? Where would the modern city of San Francisco be, if the irate Father and plotting politicians of those early days had been successful in their schemes?
The new Mission, all controversy being settled, was formally dedicated on Passion Sunday, April 4, 1824, by Altimira, to San Francisco Solano, “the great apostle to the Indies.” There were now two San Franciscos, de Asis and Solano, and because of the inconvenience arising from this confusion, the popular names, Dolores and Solano, and later, Sonoma, came into use.
From the point now reached, the history of the Missions is one of distress, anxiety, and final disaster. Their great work was practically ended.
THE INDIANS AT THE COMING OF THE PADRES
It is generally believed that the California Indian in his original condition was one of the most miserable and wretched of the world’s aborigines. As one writer puts it: