Slike strani
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]





Introduction-Origin of the Name-By Whom Discovered—The Changes in its Boundaries

-The Missions—their Beginning and End—The Aborigines of California, The Early Settlers-Commerce of California while under Spanish and Mexican Rule—The Acquisition of California by the United States.

This book, being more particularly intended as an exhibit of the natural wealth of the State of California, makes no pretensions to being a history of the Pacific Coast; but the two subjects are so intimately blended, that it is not possible to write about one without referring to the other. The limits of the portion of the work proposed to be devoted to the historical branch of the subject, compel us to confine ourselves, as much as possible, to facts and events connected with that portion of the coast embraced within the boundaries of this State—a somewhat difficult task, as, until a comparatively recent period, the whole country, from the boundaries of South America, to the late Russian possessions on the north, and from the Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, was included in California.


There are few countries, the origin of the name of which is involved in as much mystery as that of California. A compound of Greek and Latin, it is not positively known by whom or when compounded ; nor the reason why, although many profound scholars in Europe and in the

[ocr errors]

United States have endeavored, during the past century, to trace its origin. It is first met with in a once popular, but now almost forgotten romance, entitled “The Sergas of Esplandian, the son of Amadis, of Gaul,” published at Seville, (Spain), in 1510, in which it occurs three times. In one passage, thus:

“Know that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California, very near to the Terrestrial Paradise, which was peopled by black

women, without any men among them, because they were accustomed to live after the manner of the Amazons. They were of strong and hardened bodies, of ardent courage, and of great force. The island was the strongest in the world, from its steep rocks and great cliffs. Their arms were all of gold, and so were the caparisons of the wild beasts they rode.”

Another passage reads:

“In the island called California are many griffins, on account of the great savageness of the country and the immense quantity of wild game to be found there."

This romance was very popular in Europe, passed through several editions during the twenty-five years immediately preceding the discovery of this country, and it is quite possible that Hernando Grixalva

one of Cortez' officers to whom the honor of making that discovery belongs—or some of his companions, may have read it, and, finding what they supposed to be an island while sailing “towards the Terrestrial Paradise,” along the coast of Mexico, which is “on the right hand of the Indies,” they called it California-not because it answered to the description in the romance, but to secure an additional interest in the discovery, by giving it a name that possessed the attraction created by that popular work. They must have drawn on their imagination immensely, however, when adapting such a description to that portion of the coast first discovered, which is near the site of the present port of La Paz, in Lower California.

There is a tradition among the native Californians, that, in an expedition of the Spaniards against the Indians, in 1829, they found in the country between Tomales Bay and Cape Mendocino, a tribe in which the squaws had as much to say, and to do with the affairs of peace and war, as the men. These women are stated to have been stout and well made, and are remembered, in the old traditions, as "Los Amazones.”

Where the author of the romance obtained the name, has not been ascertained. It is probable that he took the idea of the location of the “Terrestrial Paradise” from a letter, written by Columbus to Fer

« PrejšnjaNaprej »