MEXICAN CALIFORNIA
CHAPTER 9

After three centuries of attempted dominance by the homeland, the Spanish colonies in the New World grew increasingly restive. Discontent kindled the flame of revolution, which spread from province to province between 1808 and the mid-1820s. Almost to the last, however, California remained loyal to Spain. This was partly because so little news reached provincial California of the revolutionary fervor throughout the rest of Latin America. An aristocrat, Governor Solá, looked upon revolutionary activities south of his capital at Monterey as the work of misguided fanatics. Although opposed to independence, Solá was interested in the welfare of California and proved to be skillful in managing its affairs.

After 1808, severe discontent arose in California when vessels from San Blas failed to arrive in sufficient number to supply the local populace. Revolutionary attacks against Spanish ships had aggravated the situation, so that fewer and fewer relief vessels made it into California ports. Along with American trading ships that helped fill the supply gap, a number of foreign privateers began to appear in the Pacific, some fitted out in the United States. These vagabond pirates roamed the high seas, menacing shipping lanes as well as the shorelines of Spain’s colonies. News of the blockade of the South American Pacific colonial ports of Valparaíso, Callao, and Guayaquil by revolutionists and privateers so worried Governor Solá that he ordered a stricter shore watch for suspicious vessels. Although the Californios registered complaints against the viceroy in Mexico City for his failure to send them sufficient supplies and back pay to the soldiers, they originally had no thought of resisting his authority or that of Governor Solá. They were more concerned with pirates.

In November of 1818, a sentinel at Point Pinos near Monterey sighted two mysterious ships. The larger of the two vessels, the Argentina, was commanded

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