Thursday, November 3, 2011

California's Emancipation Proclamation

The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.

Abraham Lincoln was not the first North American politician to issue an "Emancipation Proclamation." Neary 40 years earlier, the Mexican governor of California "issued his Proclamation of Emancipation declaring that Indians in certain parts of California, when found qualified, should be free from the missions and become Mexican citizens." (Orange County Through Four Centuries by Leo J. Friis).

With the closing of the missions and the transfer of California land from Spain to Mexico, American businessmen saw an opportunity, and they petitioned the new California governor to allow them to purchase land and settle. Their requests were often granted and thus began the American occupation of Mexican California, which would eventually culminate in the Mexican-American War. As usual, the business men had their eyes on the land before the politicians, much less the ordinary people.

For example, "The jewel of the missions (San Juan Capistrano) came to an end on December 4, 1845 when governor Pio Pico auctioned off its buildings to John Forster and James McKinley for $710" (Friis).


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