The Jesuits In Lower California
California assigned to the Jesuits.—While Kino and his successors were struggling to advance the frontiers of Pimería Alta, another band of Jesuits founded missions and opened trails nearly the whole length of the Peninsula of Lower California, and made explorations northward with a view to meeting the mainland group at the Colorado River. After repeated failures to occupy the Peninsula, the government of Spain turned it over to the Jesuits, with full military and civil authority, as in Paraguay. The missions depended at first mainly on private alms, and in a short time $47,000 were subscribed. This was the beginning of the famous Pious Fund of California.
Salvatierra and his companions.—In 1697 Juan Maria Salvatierra, who had been a missionary in Sinaloa, entered the Peninsula with a handful of soldiers, and began work at Loreto, opposite Guaymas, which became the supply base. Missionary work was attended by unusual difficulties, because of the sterility of the country. More than once the abandonment of California was prevented only by the aid of Father Kino, who drove cattle hundreds of miles to Guaymas and shipped them across the Gulf. Transportation was difficult, and many precious cargoes were wrecked. By the time of Salvatierra's death in 1717 he, Picolo, Juan de Ugarte and their companions had planted five missions in the middle region of the Peninsula, and had made extensive explorations, north, south, and across California to the Pacific. In 1701 Salvatierra had explored with Kino in quest of a land route from Sonora. In 1721 Father Ugarte in the same interest explored the Gulf to its head.
Development in the South.—Salvatierra's death was followed by more liberal royal aid and private alms, and by more rapid mission extension, particularly in the South. The importance of this step was enhanced by making San Bernabé a stopping place for the Manila galleon. By 1732 Fathers Guillen, Tamaral, and Taraval had explored the west coast as far as Cedros Island. A widespread Indian rebellion in 1734, attended by the martyrdom of Fathers Carranco and Tamaral, caused the founding of the presidio of San José del Cabo, which protected the Cape, but by 1748 Indian disturbances had greatly reduced the southern missions.
The Jesuits, fearful of interference in their work, as a rule opposed Spanish settlements, presidios, and the development of industries in the Peninsula. In 1716, 1719, 1723, and later, the government urged the founding of forts and colonies on the western coast, with a view to protecting and advancing the frontier, but the Jesuits usually objected, and the settlements were not founded. The Indian revolt, war with England in 1739, Anson's raid on the coast in 1742, and the westward advance of the French toward the Pacific Coast, increased the anxiety, and in 1744 new orders were given looking to the defence of the Peninsula, but nothing came of them.
By 1750 the exclusive policy of the Jesuits had given way to some extent, pearl fishing was again permitted, private trading vessels came from time to time, and the Manila galleon stopped regularly at San José. Mines were opened in the South, and around them a small Spanish and mixed breed population grew up, La Paz becoming the principal center.
Missions in the North.—The conditions which had stimulated efforts to advance to the Gila by the mainland after 1744, had a corresponding effect on California development. Sterile California needed overland communication with a mainland base. It was with this need in view that in 1746 the Jesuit provincial, Escobar, sent Father Consag to reëxplore the Gulf, whose head he reached shortly before Sedelmayr descended the Colorado to the same point.
The Colorado-Gila base was not supplied, but with new private gifts and royal aid, the Jesuits on the Peninsula pushed northward. Santa Gertrudis (1752), San Francisco Borja (1762), and Santa Maria (1767) were the last Jesuit foundations, while Father Link's land journey to the head of the Gulf in 1766 was the final step in Jesuit explorations.
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