Lapérouse sailed during 10–30 August all the way south to the Spanish Las Californias Province, present-day California. He reportedly observed the only historical eruption of Mount Shasta on 7 September 1786, although this account is disputed. He stopped at the Presidio of San Francisco long enough to create an outline map of the Bay Area, "Plan du Port du St. Francois," which was reproduced as Map 33 in L. Aubert's 1797 "Atlas du Voyage de la Perouse." He arrived in Monterey Bay and at the Presidio of Monterey on 14 September 1786. He examined the Spanish settlements, ranchos, and missions. He made critical notes on the missionary treatment of the California indigenous peoples with the Indian Reductions at the Franciscan run missions. France and Spain were on friendly terms at this time. Lapérouse was the first non-Spanish visitor to California since Drake in 1579, and the first to come to California after the founding of Spanish missions and presidios.
If one just stops there and thinks about that for a moment, it is almost unbelievable. No non-Spanish visitor in California for over 200 years. That's a long time for something to remain static and unchanging which is pretty much what happened in California. What's really interesting is how 200 years of Spanish work vanished almost overnight once Califorinia was thrown open to the American adventurers and gold pioneers.
As with Texas, many of the missions still remain and the Presidios mentioned in the first paragraph are still there but nothing of their nature remains at all. It was washed away by the culture that completely replaced it. You can see troubling echos of this now as the cultures we remember from our youth are being eroded and swept away by 'immigrants' that are realigning the foundations of the socieities they have overwhelmed. Western Europe is not the same as it was when I was younger and traveled there and much of the face of the American West is gone as well.
As with the mission life of California and Texas, one cannot say it was better but it was what one knew and it is saddening to see if go without so much as a feeble struggle.
I was led away the other night by infogalactic. Somehow I found myself looking at the First Fleet which led to Lapérouse which led to another article following the one that discussed his interaction with the First Fleet and his ultimate loss on one of the Pacific islands along with his ships and men as they sailed from Australia to New Caledonia. This, in turn led to the Bounty and so on.
The size of the world was driven home again as I read of the epic voyages of those times. The First Fleet set out for Australia and it took them 251 days to reach their destination. Things have been speeding up for every generation since then. Looking back it is easy to see the Agents of Change. It's in the moment that they are difficult to spot.
|The Golden Hind|
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