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Discovery of and Failure to Occupy California by Spain.
Discovery of the Pacific Ocean—Fate of the Discoverer—A New Incentive for Discoveries—Straits of Magellan— Pacific Ocean Named—Letter by Cortez—An Island of Amazons—A Country Abounding in Pearls and Gold—First Intimation of California and its Gulf—Lower California Discovered—Fate of the Discoverer—Cortez Sails, and Establishes the First Colony on the Peninsula—Regarding the Origin of the Name of California—Colony by Cortez Abandons the Country—Expedition to Explore the Pacific Coast in 1543—Spanish Policy in the Pacific Ocean—Sir Francis Drake's Expedition—He Abandons his Pilot on the Shores of Oregon—He Anchors for Thirty-six Days in a Bay that now Bears His Name, and Takes Possession of the Country—The Inducements for the Occupation of California—King Philip's Message— He Gives a Reason: Desires a Supply Station on the Coast of California—A Questionable Statement as to the Indians, and what they Produced—A Glittering Scene in the King's Kaleidoscope —Venegas also Gives a Reason—He thinks the Pacific Coast a Sweet Morsel for the Lips of Kings—History of the Seventeenth Century Commences with the Voyage of Viscaino—He Searches for a Harbor where can be Established a Supply Station; but his Genius Sends him out to Sea, and he Passes the Bay of San Francisco without Discovering it—He Anchors in Drake's Bay—The Wreck of the Ship San Aw/uttine—A Council Called; but Five AbleBodied Men Respond—The Straits of Anian—Suffering from Scorbutic Diseases—The Return—Expedition of Admiral Otondo—Final Abandonment of Further Efforts to Occupy California by the Government.
Over three and a half centuries have passed since a representative of the civilized race, standing upon the heights of Panama, beheld for the first time the placid bosom of our Pacific ocean. It was a Spaniard whom destiny had selected to stand in history at the threshold of a new era,and part the screen that hid from the world a stage on which mankind were to commence a new act in the drama of life. Vasco Nunez de Balboa was the name of that fortunate man. In 1513, he was guided by an Indian to the place where, spread out before him, lay sleeping the legendary waters " beyond America," that conquerors and kings had sought for in vain. The event rescued his name from oblivion, but its owner, because of cruelty, perished miserably at the hands of the race of whom one had been his guide.1
After it became known that a western water boundary had been found to the country that Cortez had subjugated for Spain, the spirit of discovery was increased to a fever-heat. The imagination of the adventurous of all countries was excited to search for the El Dorado, where the Incas had procured their vast treasure of gold. Possibly the "fountain of perpetual youth" was there, that would rescue from old age the one who bathed in its living waters. At least, beyond were the Indies, with the wealth of the Orient, to tempt adventurous trade, and to fan the flame was added, by the Catholic Church, their spirit and zeal for religious conquest, to save the souls of heathen who lived in the countries found and to be found, where the shores were washed by the newly-discovered ocean.
With all these incentives can it be wondered that vast treasures were spent in searching into these new fields of adventure. They had been opened after eleven years of search, by Columbus and others, unsuccessfully prosecuted, to discover a strait or water passage through America, over which they might sail to the fountain of wealth, the fabulous land of Cathay, and the Island of Cipango. To reach those strange countries had been the dream that first led Columbus to undertake the voyage that resulted in the discovery of America.
Six years after this, that is, in 1519, the ill-fated Portuguese, Magellan, started on the famous voyage that resulted in the discovery of the long-sought route to the Indies; thus solving the maritime problem of the fifteenth century. Three years later his vessel returned to Spain, with a log-book that contained a record of the death of that gallant commander at the Philippine islands, whose vessel, the Victoria, had been the first European craft to sail on the waters of the Pacific ocean, and the first to make a voyage around the world. It was this famous navigator that gave the name " Pacific" to our ocean, after having sailed into it from the straits of the "Ten Thousand Virgins," as he called it (now known as Magellan). He had been for sixty-three days beating up through it against tempest and adverse currents, where the tides rose and fell thirty feet. Is it strange that the word Pacific should have been the one above all others that forced itself upon the happy navigator, when he saw the comparatively quiet water that lay before and around him, as he passed out upon this unexplored ocean I
Five years after the departure of the Magellan expedition from Spain, Cortez wrote to his monarch, Charles V. (the letter being dated Oct. 15, 1524), in which he says that he is upon the eve of entering Upon the conquest of Colima, on the South Sea (Pacific ocean). Colima is now one of the States of
1 In Bryant's History of the United States it is recorded that—"But the man whose energy and perseverance led the way, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, fell a victim, five years later, to the jealousy and fears of the Governor of Darien, Peter Anais, who ordered him, after the mockery of a trial, to be beheaded."
Mexico. He further says that "the great men there" had given him information of "an Island of Amazons or women only, abounding in pearls and gold, lying ten days journey from Colima," and the Spanish Jesuit historian, Miguel Venegas, writing one hundred and thirty years ago, says of that letter: "The account of the pearls inclines me to think that these were the first intimation we had of California and its gulf."
Its first discovery came in 1534, by Ortun Ximenes, a mutineer who had headed an outbreak on board the ship of which he was pilot, that had resulted in the death of the captain and some of his officers. The expedition had been fitted up for exploration purposes by order of Cortez, and after the commander was thus killed, Ximenes took charge and continued the search, discovered the Peninsula of Lower California, and landed at a point somewhere between La Paz and Cape St. Lucas, and while on shore he and twenty of his men were killed by the Indians. The remainder of the crew returned to Chametla, where they reported a country found numerously peopled, among whose shores were valuable beds of pearls. Up to this time the word " California" had not been applied to any part of the Pacific coast or its waters.
In 1536, Cortez fitted up an expedition, and set sail for the country found by the mutineers. He landed on the first day of May at the place where Ximenes was killed, giving the name of Santa Cruz to the bay. He established a colony there, and sent back his four vessels for supplies and such of his party as had remained behind. But one only of these vessels ever returned, and it brought no provisions. Cortez immediately embarked on the returned vessel and set out in search of his lost squadron, finding it stranded on the coast of Mexico, hopelessly damaged. Procuring fresh stores, he returned to his colony, that in his absence had been reduced to a famishing condition, many of whom died of starvation, or overeating from the provisions he brought with him. The historian Gomara says (and mark the language): "Cortez, that he might no longer be a spectator of such miseries, went on further discoveries, and landed, in California, Which Is A Bay;" and Venegas, the California historian of 1758, referring to this passage in the work of Gomara says that it "likewise proves that this name was properly that of a bay which Cortez discovered on the coast, and perhaps that now called de la Paz, and fixed to signify, the whole, peninsula." This was the first application of the name California to any definite point on, what is called the Pacific coast.
Cortez was soon recalled to Mexico on account of impending troubles and. danger of a revolt in that country; glad to have an excuse for leaving a place that had proved fruitful only of disaster. Within a few months he was followed by the colony, and Lower California, with its rocks and wastes of sand, was left to the Indian, the cactus and the coyote.
During the remainder of the sixteenth century there were four attempts made to explore the northern Pacific coast by the Spaniards. One only was of importance; it occurred in 1542, under command of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who reached, in latitude 44°, March 10, 1543, the coast of Oregon, and then returned. He discovered Cape Mendocino, and named it after his friend Mendoza, the viceroy of Mexico. He also named the Farallone islands, opposite San Francisco bay.
Spain, however, did not have everything her own way in the sixteenth century in the new world. Her great ambition was to control the western route to the East Indies, that her ships, laden with silks, costly gems, and rare fabrics from that country, might pass undisturbed into her home ports. But the student of history reads of combats and strife between the Spaniards on the one side and the Dutch fleets and English freebooters on the other, as they searohed the high seas in quest of Spanish treasure-ships.
There was one more bold and reckless, more ambitious and successful than the others, who won the reputation of being the "King of the Sea." In 1578, he passed into the Pacific, around Cape Horn, and scattered terror and devastation among the Spanish shipping along the coast. He captured the East India galleon that was on her way home, loaded with wealth; levied contributions in the ports of Mexico; and finally, with his war-vessels freighted with captured treasures, sailed north to search for the fabled Straits of Anian. Through it he proposed to pass home to England, and thus avoid a combat with the fleets of Spain, that lay in wait for him off the Straits of Magellan. His name was Captain Francis Drake; but afterwards the English monarch knighted him because he had proved to be the most successful robber on the high seas, and now the historian records the name as Sir Francis Drake. When near the mouth of the Umpqua river, in Oregon, he ran his vessel into a "poor harbor," put his Spanish pilot, Morera, ashore, and left him to find his way back, thirty-five hundred miles, through an unknown country thickly populated with savages, to his home in Mexico. The feat must have been successfully accon.plished, as the only account existing of the fact came through Spanish records, showing that he survived the expedition to have told the result. Drake then moved on north until he had reached about latitude 48°, where the cold weather, although it was after the fifth of June, forced an abandonment of the hope of a discovery of the mythical straits. The chaplain who accompanied the expedition, being the historian of the voyage, says of the cold, that their hands were numbed, and meat would freeze when taken from the fire; and when they were lying-to, in the harbor at Drake's bay, a few miles up the coast from San Francisco, the snow covered the low hills. That June of 1579, three hundred years ago, must have been an extraordinary one for California. For a long time it was believed that Sir Francis Drake was discoverer of the Bay of San Francisco; that it was in its waters he cast anchor for thirty-six days, after having been forced back along the coast by adverse winds from latitude 48°, near the north line of the United States; but in time this was questioned, and now it is generally conceded that he is not entitled to that distinction. Who it was that did discover that harbor, or when the discovery was made, will probably never be known. What clothes it in mystery is that the oldest chart or map of the Pacific coast known on which a bay resembling in any way that of San Francisco, at or near the point where it is, was laid down, was a sailing-chart found in an East Indian galleon, captured in 1742 with all her treasure, amounting to one and a half million dollars, by Anson, an English commodore. Upon this chart there appeared seven little dots marked " Los Farallones," and opposite these was a land-locked bay that resembled San Francisco harbor, but on the chart it bore no name. This is the oldest existing evidence of the discovery of the finest harbor in the world, and it proves two things: first, that its existence was known previous to that date; second, that the knowledge was possessed by the Manila merchants to whom the chart and galleon belonged. Their vessels had been not unfrequently wrecked upon our coasts as far north as Cape Mendocino; and as Venegas, writing sixteen years later, says nothing of such a harbor, we are led to believe that its existence was possibly only known to those East India Jesuit merchants, and kept secret by them for fear that its favorable location and adaptation would render it a favorite resort for pirates and war-ships of rival nations to lie in wait for their galleons.
With Sir Francis Drake unquestionably lies the honor of having been the first of the European race to land upon the coast of California, of which any record is extant. The account of that event, given by Rev. Fletcher, the chaplain of the expedition, states that the natives, having mistaken them for gods, offered sacrifices to them, and that, to dispel the illusion, they proceeded to offer up their own devotions to a Supreme Being. The narrative goes on to relate that, "Our necessaire business being ended, our General, with his companie, travailed up into the countrey to their villiages, where we found heardes of deere by 1,000 in a companie, being most large and fat of bodie. We found the whole countrey to be a warren of a strange kinde of connies; their bodies in bigness as be the Barbarie connies, their heads as the heads of ours, the feet of a Want (mole) and the taile of a rat, being of great length; under her chinne on either side a bagge, into the which she gathered her meate, when she hath filled her bellie, abroad. The people do eat their bodies, and make accompt of their skinnes, for their King's coat was