Joaquin Murrieta: Life and Adventures of the Celebrated Bandit : His Exploits in the State of California

By Ireneo Paz; Francis P. Belle | Go to book overview

Introduction

The Pastoral Myth

The eighty years of the history of Upper California as part of Mexico, from 1769 (the first land expedition by Gaspar de Portolá and Fray Junípero Serra) until 1848 (the California Gold Rush), has been called the “Pastoral Age.” The structural base of the period was the latifundio, the large landed estate whose social and cultural center was situated in the large houses of the so-called ranchos. Historians such as Hubert Howe Bancroft, with his book California Pastoral, 1769–1848 (1888); novelists, especially Helen Hunt Jackson with her Ramona (1884); and the films of Hollywood have all mythologized that culture, so that today we commonly accept their depiction of the restful and pleasant life of old California, where all social problems were resolved by Zorro, that mysterious and powerful character who was a sort of Hispanic Batman.

The origin of the ranchos may be found in the land grants given to the first settlers by the Spanish Crown in the eighteenth century. When Upper California ceased to be a province of New Spain and became part of the Republic of Mexico, the ranches multiplied as a result of the appropriation of the mission lands carried out by the central government in 1838. Land owned by the missions was auctioned off and passed into the hands of well-to-do families.

From 1848 on, as the Californios were being stripped of their property, the ranchos disintegrated, and the groups that had provided manual labor—cowboys, laborers, shepherds, servants—moved to the urban centers or began to work in the mines; some of them joined the gangs of bandits that were beginning to form. As Joseph Henry Jackson observes, “These thousands of vaguely employed Mexicans found themselves displaced persons…[and] could rarely find anything to do but the most menial work. Others simply took what they needed as they could find it, and if this meant living off a society

-ix-

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Joaquin Murrieta: Life and Adventures of the Celebrated Bandit : His Exploits in the State of California
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • I - The Historical Joaquín xii
  • II - Biography xviii
  • III - Translation and Plagiarism of Ridge's Work xxv
  • IV - Joaquín Murrieta as Myth xxxvii
  • V - Joaquín Murrieta in Narrative Fiction xlviii
  • VI - Joaquín Murrieta in Poetry lix
  • VII - Joaquín Murrieta in Theater and Film lxviii
  • VIII - The Corrido of Joaquín Murrieta lxxviii
  • IX - This Edition xcvi
  • Notes xcviii
  • Bibliography cii
  • Chronology cxii
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 7
  • Chapter III 13
  • Chapter IV 18
  • Chapter V 22
  • Chapter VI 29
  • Chapter VII 35
  • Chapter VIII 43
  • Chapter IX 48
  • Chapter X 54
  • Chapter XI 61
  • Chapter XII 65
  • Chapter XIII 69
  • Chapter XIV 72
  • Chapter XV 76
  • Chapter XVI 80
  • Chapter XVII 86
  • Chapter XVIII 90
  • Chapter XIX 94
  • Chapter XX 99
  • Chapter XXI 107
  • Chapter XXII 113
  • Chapter XXIII 118
  • Chapter XXIV 123
  • Chapter XXV 128
  • Chapter XXVI 135
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