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THE CHANGES IN ITS BOUNDARIES.
As explained in a preceding portion of this chapter, the name California, was originally applied either by Grixalva to the peninsula of Lower California, under the supposition that it was an island, or by Bernal Diaz, to a bay in the same vicinity. Through causes which do not come within the province of our purpose to explain, in the course of the century succeeding its adoption, this mysterious name of California, which has since attracted the attention of the whole civilized world, had spread to such an extent that it embraced the entire continent to the north, as far as the Arctic circle, as well as a considerable portion of the territory on the south of both the points to which it is claimed to have been originally applied.
In 1536, we find it applied by the Spaniards to the southern portion of the great peninsula which extends on the western side of North America, and to the whole Pacific Coast, from the 32d degree of north latitude to the limit of the frigid zone. Subsequently, they caused it to include that portion of the continent northwest of Mexico, and extending east to Canada; claiming the whole country by right of a Pope's bull.
Nor were the Spaniards the only nation that aided in extending the dominion of the name of California. Jean Bleau, a famous Dutch geographer, published an extensive work on the geography of the Pacific coast, in 1662, at Amsterdam, in which he includes, under the name of California, the whole coast from the northern boundary of South Amerioa to Behring's straits, (then called the straits of Anian,) This application of the name was followed by many French, Spanish, English, German, and Russian writers on geography, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Until as recently as 1750, Kodiack, a portion of the late Russian territory of Alaska, was included in California, in many works published relating to the Pacific and northwest coast.
Yet, notwithstanding that it denominated so extensive a section of the North American continent, it was not until towards the close of the eighteenth century, that the name of California began to be generally known in Europe or the United States—being considered of so little importance as to be rarely mentioned, except by writers on geography.
In a map of the world, published in the year 1554, at Venice, a copy of which is in the Odd Fellows' Library at San Francisco, the continent of North America unites with Asia, the river Colorado is shown as having its source in the mountains of Thibet, and empties into the Gulf of California, after meandering through the continent for more than fifteen thousand miles.
On English maps, published as recently as 1750, California is represented as an island, extending from Cape St. Lucas to the forty-fifth degree of latitude. It was not until Father Begart's book on California was published at Manheim, in 1771, that California was known to be a portion of the American continent by geographers, and many years after it was still referred to as a peninsula.
Towards the close of the seventeenth century, the Spaniards had lost a considerable portion of their loosely held territory, by the encroachments of the British, Russians, and Americans, on its northern and northeastern borders, as well as by absolute abandonment, so that for nearly a hundred years, the boundaries of California proper, included only the peninsula known as Lower California, and the strip of country embraced within a line arbitrarily drawn from the head of the Gulf of Mexico to the shore of the Pacific Ocean, considerably to the south of the present harbor of San Diego.
After the settlement of the territory north of the peninsula, by the missionaries, in 1769, it being considered a portion of the same country, inhabited by the same race of people, it was again called California, but distinguished from the older territory by being called New, or Upper California. It had been recognized for several years previously as New Albion, a name given to it by Sir Francis Drake, who, while on an exploring expedition on the coast, in 1759, took possession of the country in the name of Queen Elizabeth of England. Many of the English writers described it as "Drake's Land, back of Canada." It is a portion of this Upper California, or New Albion, this land "behind Canada," which now forms the flourishing State of California.
The boundaries of the new territory thus re-acquired by Spain, through the services of the missionaries, was never very accurately defined until its purchase by the United States from Mexico, which had acquired it by the "right of revolution." The missionaries, from 1796 till about 1820, were literally '' monarchs of all they surveyed "— no one questioning their pretensions. When La Pe'rouse visited the country, in 1786, the authority of the military governor of the two Californias extended over about eight hundred leagues. Although under the control of a military officer, the territories were purely religious colonies. There were no settlements outside of the twenty-one missions which then existed at different points along the coast, none of which were located more than a few miles from the sea.
In 1835, according to Forbes, the British Consul on the coast at that time, the boundaries of Upper California, under the control of the missionaries and early settlers, were about five hundred miles in length by an average breadth of about forty miles, forming an area of about twenty thousand square miles, or thirteen millions of English statute acres. No settlements had been attempted in the foot-hills at that date.
When the United States commenced negotiations for the acquisition of the territory, California was considered as including the peninsula and the territory extending from it on the Pacific coast, northward, as far as the southern limit of Oregon; Cape Mendocino, in latitude 40° 27' being assumed by the United States as the extreme northern limit of the Mexican territory—though the government of that country claimed to a higher parallel of latitude, in accordance with a treaty made between the two governments in May, 1828. But the northern limit of the actual Mexican settlements in California, at that time, were San Francisco, in 37° 47' north latitude, and longitude 122° 22' west, and Cape St. Lucas, on the south, in 22°48' north latitude, and 109°47' longitude.
By the treaty between the United States and Mexico, of May, 1848, the territory obtained by the United States, extending eastward from the Pacific Coast was so extensive, and so little known, that the members of the Convention which assembled at Monterey in 1849 to frame a Constitution for the then embryo State of California, found it exceedingly difficult to decide how far they should extend the border of the new State into this terra incognita. The committee appointed for that purpose proposed to make the boundaries, the ocean on the west, Oregon on the north, Mexico on the south, and the 116th parallel of longitude on the east, which would have included about one half of the present State of Nevada, the territory of which, at that time, was supposed to be a barren, worthless wilderness. It was proposed by one member of the Convention to amend the report by adopting the. line of separation between California and New Mexico, as marked on Fremont's map, which would have included a great portion of Utah, as well as the whole of Nevada. Another member proposed to amend the report by extending the eastern boundary to the 105th parallel of longitude, which would have included Nevada, Utah, and portions of Nebraska, as well as nearly the whole of Colorado. The matter, after considerable debate, was finally decided by adopting the following boundaries, which are those at present existing: "Commencing at the point of intersection of the 42nd degree of north latitude with the 120th degree of longitude west of Greenwich, and running south on the line of said 120th degree of west longitude until it intersects the 39th degree of north latitude; thence running in a straight line in a southeasterly direction, to the River Colorado, at a point where it intersects the 35th degree of north latitude; thence down the middle of the channel of said river to the boundary line between the United States and Mexico, as established by the treaty of May 30th, 1848; thence running west, and along said boundary line to the Pacific Ocean, and extending therein three English miles; thence running in a northwesterly direction, and following the direction of the Pacific Coast to the 42nd degree of north latitude; thence on the line of said 42nd degree of north latitude to the place of beginning; also, all the islands, harbors, and bays along and adjacent to the Pacific Coast."
These boundaries embrace a territory of about seven hundred miles in length by about two hundred miles in average breadth—covering nearly one hundred and fifty-nine thousand square miles; the longest line, seven hundred and ninety-seven miles, being from Crescent City, Del Norte County, to Fort Yuma, in San Diego County; forming a State larger than any other in the North American Republic, except Texas— three times as large as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and nearly as large as the whole French Empire.
THE MISSIONS—THEIR BEGINNING AND END.
We have already shown that the first successful efforts towards civilization in Upper California were made by monks of the Order of St. Francis. Without going into details of the history of these real pioneers of the State, or of the missions they founded, these missions form such an important link in the chain of events that mark the progress of California, that the merest sketch of its history would be incomplete, were they omitted. Besides, these generous old Padres deserve a passing notice, as a mark of recognition of their well-intended but ill-directed labors in the service of God and man. What profoundly interesting material for the moralist, the virtues and weaknesses of these kind old men furnish. How true to them has been the proverb that "the love of money is the root of all evil." While few Christians, or philanthropists, can approve of that religion, or system of government, which aims at no higher purpose than to cultivate the fears of the untutored child of nature in order to make him labor for the advantage of his teacher—none can ponder over the sweeping destruction of the wretched natives which followed the abolishment of the missions without feeling pity for the miserable remnant of the race remaining, who are neither savage nor civilized, having the vices of both conditions, but the virtues of neither.
For several years after the establishment of the first three missions, briefly referred to heretofore, the missionaries were liberally sustained with means for their support and for the extension of operations, both by grants from the Spanish government, which was most anxious for the settlement of the country, and its annexation to that empire, and by contributions and endowments from zealous Catholics of Spain and Mexico, who were anxious that all the natives should be converted to Christianity. These grants and collections had been previously formed into what was called the "Pious Fund of California," during the days of the Jesuits, but on the expulsion of that order was placed under the control of the Convent of San Fernando, of the Order of St. Francis, in the City of Mexico, from whence all the missionaries were sent. By the aid of this fund, the increase of their herds and flocks, and the labors of the natives, in the course of a few years the missionaries became wealthy, and, but for the radical error of the whole system, which required separation from the world to insure success, they might have been in existence to-day—one of the wealthiest religious communities on earth—with their proselytes as happy and contented as they are now wretched and miserable.
For sixty years after their settlement the missionaries had an almost undisturbed field in which to test the efficiency of their schemes for civilizing the natives. They extended their dominions from San Diego to San Francisco, established missions at intervals of twenty or thirty miles between these places; took possession of the whole country, by causing the lands of one mission to join with another, so that free settlers, who even in those early days desired to dwell in the land, were as effectually excluded as if the whole coast had been surrounded by a wall—for the Holy Fathers were the temporal as well as the spiritual lords of the land, and there was no appeal from their decisions. They cultivated the vine, the olive, and the fig, and enjoyed all the comforts and luxuries a genial climate, a generous soil . and abundance of costless labor could produce; for the whole race of natives were their servants, working for food and raiment of their own production. In 1831 there were 18,683 Indians domesticated at the missions, while their horses, cattle and sheep multiplied amazingly on the virgin pastures that covered the valleys of the Coast Range. But, as the Fathers waxed rich, they seemed to have relaxed their efforts for the conversion of the heathen, and paid more attention to the cultivation of their broad acres than to civilizing their neophytes.
After founding twenty-one missions along the coast, (the last of which, in 1823) they appear to have abandoned all the natives of the interior to their fate, as there is no proof that any effort was ever made