« AnteriorContinuar »
pany with the ships of Vancouver, who later came down the coast and paid a friendly visit to the bay of San Francisco, noting its poor preparations for defence. Vancouver was on the California coast three times between 1792 and 1794. His visit was not without its promptings, and measures were at once taken to strengthen the coast defences; and there was all the more need of it as the outcome of the French Revolution might involve no one knew what necessities.
The history of the California region during the next twelve or fifteen years was one of the progress of missions, of explorations inland, and of fear of the Russians. This people and the Spaniards first met in California in 1806. The Russians had been lured south in search of the otter, and they had taken them even in San Francisco Bay. The belief in the Straits of Anian had not wholly died out,” and the Spaniards, hoping to plant themselves on the coast near any supposable inlet which might lead to the Atlantic, were thus lured north across the track of the fur-hunting Russians.
1 California, i. 513 (for references), 702.
2 Ante, Vol. II. p. 445, etc.; and the present volume, p. 108.
* A cut in the Century Magazine, May, 1883, accompanying an article by Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson, on “Father Junipero and his work, - a sketch of the foundation, prosperity, and ruin of the Franciscan missions in California.” Father Junipero died at the San Carlos mission in 1784.
The period of the first Mexican revolution which now followed (18111817) brought nothing but hard times to the Californian settler, cutting him off from supplies as it did. The crisis also transfers the interest of the reader to the older provinces, which since we last noticed them had gone on in a career of monotonous change and counterchange. In 1786–87, the system of intendencias was put in effect, placing the officers of government in links of dependence, each on his superior. The treasonable plot of Guerrero gives a little color to the early years of the next century.
The causes of the coming revolution were not hidden. The law that excluded Spaniards born in America from equal rights with those who were immigrants was a natural, not to say necessary, source of discontent among people whose good-will was much needed by any viceroy. There was inevitably not a little mutual repugnance between the Mexican and Spanish stocks, and the home government did nothing to mollify such asperities. There were commercial monopolies militant against public interests. The clergy were alienated, and since they were not thus so serviceable as formerly in the part of mediators in enforcing governmental aims, it was found necessary to use force where the people were not accustomed to it. The Viceroy José de Iturrigaray practised a seeming condescension that deceived no one, and he pursued his exactions partly by reason of self-interest, and partly in order to supply Madrid with means to meet the financial troubles that the Napoleonic era was creating. After some years of these
* After the portrait in Alaman's Mejico, vol. i.
conditions in New Spain, a conspiracy, resulting from a reaction, sent the viceroy back to Spain a prisoner. This gave strength to revolutionary sentiments, and a few trials for treason increased the discontent. The men who were now put successively in the vice-regal place had few qualities for the times, and a certain timidity of policy was not conducive to strength of government. These were some of the features of the government of Archbishop Lizana as viceroy.1
The outbreak, when it came, brought to the front a curate of Dolores, a native priest, Miguel Hidalgo, who commanded the confidence of the disaffected, and was relied upon to guide the priesthood. Ignacio de Allende
had some of the soldierly qualities needed for a generalissimo. The purpose of these men and their allies, before they should openly proclaim a revolt, was to seize some of the leading Spaniards; but their plot being discovered, they hastily assembled at Dolores and raised the standard of revolt (1810). Thus banded together, but badly organized and poorly armed, a body of five thousand insurgents marched from Dolores, headed by Hidalgo and Allende, and approached Guanajuato, where the intendente Riaña had intrenched himself in a fortified alhóndiga, or granary. The attack of the rebels was headlong and bloody. The gates were fired with flaming rubbish, and through the glowing way the mad throng rushed, and
i Up to 1808 about two thousand millions of dollars of precious metals had been mined in New Spain.
* This portrait of the archbishop and viceroy follows one in Alaman's Mejico, vol. i.
after a hand-to-hand conflict (September 28, 1810) the fortress fell.1 The royalist leader had been killed, and scenes of pillage and riot followed.
Meanwhile the viceroy in Mexico prepared to receive the insurgents, and his ally, the church, excommunicated their leaders. The military force of the royalists was inconsiderable, and what there was, it was feared, might prove not as loyal as was desirable. As Hidalgo marched towards the capital, he tried to seduce to his side a young lieutenant, Augustin Iturbide, who was in command of a small outlying force. The future emperor declined the offer, and making his way to the city, was at once sent to join
Trujillo, who commanded a corps of observation, which confronted the insurgents, and who finally ran the chances of a battle at Las Cruces. Here Iturbide was of service on one flank, and on the other Trujillo risked the practice of treachery during a parley ; but what he lost in moral force was no help in the sequel, and the insurgents soon surrounded him, and he was only able to reach the city by breaking with a part of his force through the enveloping line. Hidalgo had lost two thousand men, but he had gained the day. He soon intercepted a despatch and learned from it that General Calleja had been put in motion from San Luis Potosi, and it seemed more
1 There are plans of this attack in Alaman, Calleja, and the first and second campaigns of Hist. de Méjico, i. 425. In Ibid. vol. ij. is a map Morelos. of Mexico showing the marches of Hidalgo,
prudent to Hidalgo that, instead of approaching Mexico, he should retreat to be nearer his recruiting ground. The retrograde movement brought the
usual result to an undisciplined force, and he was already weakened by desertions when Calleja struck his line of march at Aculco. Hidalgo felt it
CALLEJA. * From Mariano Torrente's Historia de la Revolucion Hispano-Americana (Madrid, 1829), vol. i. 152. Cf. Alaman, i. 473.
† After a print in Alaman's Méjico, iv. 77.