Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

John Francis Davis
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 46 pages of information about California Romantic and Resourceful; .

The past of California possesses a wealth of romantic interest, a variety of contrast, a novelty of resourcefulness and an intrinsic importance that enthralls the imagination.  I shall not attempt to speak of the hardship and high endeavor of the splendid band of navigators, beginning with Cabrillo in 1542, who discovered, explored and reported on its bays, outlets, rivers and coast line; whose exploits were as heroic as anything accomplished by the Norsemen in Iceland, or the circumnavigators of the Cape of Good Hope.  I do not desire to picture the decades of the pastoral life of the hacienda and its broad acres, that culminated in “the splendid idle forties.”  I do not intend to recall the miniature struggles of Church and State, the many political controversies of the Mexican regime, or the play of plot and counterplot that made up so much of its history “before the Gringo came.”  I shall not try to tell the story of the discovery of gold and its world-thrilling incidents, nor of the hardships and courage of the emigrant trail, nor of the importance of the mission of the Pathfinder, and the excitement of the conquest, each in itself an experience that full to the brim.

Let me rather call attention to three incidents of our history, ignoring all the rest, to enforce the point of its uniqueness, its variety, its novelty, its importance, as entitling it to its proper proportionate place in the history of the nation.

And first of all, the story of the missions.  The story of the missions is the history of the beginning of the colonization of California.  The Spanish Government was desirous of providing its ships, on the return trip from Manila, with good harbors of supply and repairs, and was also desirous of promoting a settlement of the north as a safeguard against possible Russian aggression.  The Franciscans, upon the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, had taken charge of the missions, and, in their zeal for the conversion of the Indians, seconded the plans of the government.

“The official purpose here, as in older mission undertakings,” says Dr. Josiah Royce, “was a union of physical and spiritual conquest, soldiers under a military governor co-operating to this end with missionaries and mission establishments.  The natives were to be overcome by arms in so far as they might resist the conquerors, were to be attracted to the missions by peaceable measures in so far as might prove possible, were to be instructed in the faith, and were to be kept for the present under the paternal rule of the clergy, until such time as they might be ready for a free life as Christian subjects.  Meanwhile, Spanish colonists were to be brought to the new land as circumstances might determine, and, to these, allotments of land were to be made.  No grants of lands, in a legal sense, were made or promised to the mission establishments, whose position was to be merely that of spiritual institutions, intrusted with the education of neophytes, and with the care

Follow Us on Facebook