Translation of extracts referred to in the “Brief History of the Pious Fund of the Californias,” and to be found on pages 187 to 221 of the record in the case of Alemany v. Mexico.
extracts from the work entitled “account of california, and of its temporal and spiritual conquest up to the present time, taken from the manuscript history, made in mexico in the year 1739, by father miguel venegas, of the society of jesus, and from other reports and accounts, ancient and modern, dedicated to the king our lord by the society of jesus of the supreme council of the inquisition, 1757.” madrid: press of the widow of manuel fern andes and the supreme council of the inquisition, 1757.
This work is commonly called Venegas’ California, by which title we have cited it. It is believed to have been compiled from Venegas’ MS., and original documents by Andres Marc Buriel.[Page 350]
In the early part of the year 1697 Father Salva-Tierra, having been given permission by the superiors of the society to ask alms with which to undertake a work that the Kings with such increased expenses could not accomplish, arrived in Mexico from Tepotzotlán. He found in Mexico a good companion in Father Juan Ugarte, who was reading philosophy in the college. Father Ugarte was imbued also with the same desire for this undertaking. Among other qualities which made, him highly esteemed within and without the house, was a singular ability for dealing with temporal affairs and for bringing them to successful culmination.
The spiritual conquest of California could not be undertaken unless there should remain in Mexico an active and diligent agent (procurador) who would overcome any difficulties and look after the collecting and forwarding of continued support to those who were engaged in the work. Father Ugarte did this with zealous activity, thus aiding from Mexico the conquest which Father Salva-Tierra took up in California.
God rewards the constancy of His servants after having purified them, since in the remaining days of January Don Alonso Davalos, Count of Miravalles, and Don Matheo Fernandez de la Cruz, Marquis de Buena Vista, promised them about two thousand dollars, and, following their example, from other benefactors they collected about fifteen thousand—five (thousand) cash and ten (thousand) on promise. Don Pedro Gil de la Sierpe, treasurer of Acapulco, offered to lend a vessel for the transportation and to present them with a small launch. But as this did not assure the conquest, since it had no estate with annual incomes, the congregation of Our Lady of Sorrows of Mexico, founded in the College of San Pedro and San Pablo, gave eight thousand dollars for the establishment of a mission, to which was afterwards added two thousand more, because an annual income of five hundred dollars was deemed indispensable for each mission, since the location was remote and without supplies. In addition Don Juan Cavallero y Ozio, priest in the city of Queréto, agent of the Inquisition, a man of great wealth and of no less religious liberality, to which his famous pious works all over the Kingdom testify, offered twenty thousand dollars for the endowment of two other missions and promised Father Salva-Tierra that he would cash all drafts bearing his (Father Salva-Tierra’s) signature.
With such an auspicious beginning it now seemed necessary to ask authority from the viceroy, who at that time was His Excellency Don Joseph de Sarmiento y Valladares, Count of Montezuma, distinguished knight, whose memory should never be forgotten by New Spain and, much less, by the society. The father provincial, Juan de Palacios, addressed this officer by means of a carefully drawn-up memorial. There were great embarrassments in the royal assembly, but after some representation, and inasmuch as now nothing was asked of the King, and as, according to the royal accounts, which were examined, the expedition of Admiral Otondo had cost His Majesty two hundred and twenty-five thousand four hundred dollars, the authority was at last granted on the 5th of February, 1697—a special day for the society, because the feast of the three Japanese martyrs is celebrated on that day. The venerable Father Juan María Salva-Tierra received the despatches permitting him and Father Kino to enter California upon two conditions: First, that they should incur no cost or charge against the royal treasury without an express order of the King, and, second, [Page 351]that they should take possession of the country in the name of His Majesty. Their powers were construed to be, to take with them at their own cost soldiers, who should escort them; to elect their commander; to dismiss him or the soldiers upon making a report to the viceroy; that the soldiers be furnished with all necessaries and their services be rewarded as though rendered in active war, and, lastly, that the fathers should appoint justices in the new country for good government. (Part 3, sec. 1, Vol. 2, p. 11, etc.)
This apostolic Jesuit (Father Kino), who, as we remarked, had enthused Salvo-Tierra to undertake the enterprise in California, had endeavored, from Sonora, where, on account of physical disability, he was held pfisoner, to support the work by collecting alms and sending through the ports of Guaymas and Hiaqui furniture, milk animals, and supplies gathered in the mines and missions. But his great mind was not limited to the present time, nor to little things, nor was that of the venerable Salva-Tierra. Both hoped to conquer, and make subject to God and the King, the vast countries of America which border upon the Pacific, one of them spiritual conquests through the north of California, and the other across the American continent at least as far as the country along the frontier of the port of Monterey and Cape Mendocino, in case California was found not to be an island, Christianizing the intermediate countries. These great men could not execute all they had planned, nor have the Jesuits, who succeeded them in their missions and work; hitherto been able to accomplish it. (Part 3, sec. 5, vol. 2, p. 75.)
In this same year (1716) the venerable Father Salva-Tierra had, among; many trials, the consolation of seeing secured in the way he desired the donations made by different benefactors of the missions already founded and a better form of temporal government established. This affords us the opportunity of touching upon the spiritual and temporal branches of the policy inaugurated in California by Father Salva-Tierra, before we give an account of his death. Immediately upon his arrival in California, the venerable father saw that it was necessary to have in Mexico an agent (procurado), whose duty it should be to collect the incomes for the missions founded, alms and assistance contributed by benefactors—the goods, clothing, and provisions which should be bought for the fathers, soldiers, and seamen engaged in the “reduction,” and for the churches and Indians; that he should also be charged with the despatch of any business of the mission pending before the real audiencia or the viceroy; that he should look after the purchase, construction, and repair of vessels; and in a word, that he should watch over the temporal needs of so distant, so dangerous, and yet necessary an undertaking. Father Juan Ugar te was charged with this duty for the first few years, until he became a missionary. Father Alexander Romano, of the order of N. P. General, succeeded him as agent of California, representing Father Salva-Tierra, so that the latter had only to conduct the affairs of the missions. This was not only because there was needed an agent unhampered by any other occupation, but also in order that the funds of California should not in any way be mixed with others of the colleges or of the province; and that they should not be touched, confused, or employed for any other purpose than that desired by the benefactors. Father Romano carried on this work for eighteen years with great zeal—until, in 1719, he became provincial of New Spain. Father Joseph de Escheverría succeeded [Page 352]him for eleven years—until 1729—when he was appointed inspector of California. Brother Francisco Tompes then succeeded to the post and served with great activity and benefit to the mission until his death in May, 1750.
The sum allowed by the King for the missions of New Spain, not only for those administered by the Jesuits, but also by other sacred orders, is three hundred dollars annually, which may be used for support of the missionary and to meet his expenses with the Indians, unconverted as well as converted. This amount, which may seem excessive to the inexperienced in Europe, is, in fact, very little in America, especially with respect to remote missions, not only because of the lesser estimation in which silver is held for purposes of exchange and trade, but also because of the high price of European goods, and even more because of the difficulty and expense of transporting them, which at times do not arrive wholly undamaged. Because what must it cost to undertake a journey of four or five hundred or even more leagues through uninhabited country, for the most part, over rugged mountains for many leagues, it being necessary to carry all the food for themselves and for their pack horses on the road? The sum allotted each missionary was fixed at five hundred dollars annually, as in California the expenses were much increased because of its remoteness, the expense of transportation, loss of supplies, and barrenness of the land even for the supply of food; and, accordingly, those who desired to found a mission gave ten thousand dollars, the interest of which, placed at five per cent, yielded the necessary sum for the support of the missionary. All the missions of California are up to this time the foundations of private parties, and none depend upon the royal treasury; because, although His Majesty directed that new missions be founded on his account, this has not yet been done. The benefactors and founders did not turn over these donations to the society, but retained them, paying only the interest each year from the founding of the mission, until Father Juan María de Salva-Tierra, being provincial and on a visit to California, thought it would be better to invest the principals in country estates, not only because they would not be risked in the whirl of their owners’ trade (as happened in the case of Don Juan Bautista Lopez, founder of San Juan de Liguí, who lost his property, and with it that of that mission), but also because California being obliged for its maintenance to buy in New Spain cattle and provisions these could be supplied at less cost from the output of its own estates.
He asked the opinion of Father Ugarte, in whom he had much confidence because of his great virtue and intelligence. Father Ugarte praised and approved the plan. Having returned to Mexico to settle this matter, with the customary reflection and wisdom of the society, he submitted it to the provincial council. All the fathers, including Father Alexander Romano, agent of California, and shortly afterwards provincial, approved the plan. Only one adviser hesitated, doubting whether it was in conformity with the rule of the society to have missions endowed with productive estates or otherwise. One objection, however, could not prevail against the determined views of the others. Nevertheless, it sufficed for Father Juan María to hold the matter in abeyance until he could consult the father-general and receive his opinion from Rome. The father-general replied that it was not against the rule to hold missions endowed with estates, or in any other manner, [Page 353]since, in the eighth general congregation, by decree 27, thanks were directed to be given, in the name of the society, to Don Fernando Fuste, to Don Fernando Fustemberg, bishop, and Prince of Munstér and Paderborn, for the endowment which he made of fifteen missions in Japan, in Germany, and other places in the north; that these foundations should be regarded in the same way as those of the colleges (since, although the Jesuits can receive no salary, compensation, or alms for their ministrations, it is necessary that the society attend to providing food and clothing for them), and that for this purpose there may be estates and endowments in those places where alms can not be solicited for their support, as is done by the higher branches of the church, which are the houses of the professed in which endowments can not be made even for the churches.
This letter reached Father Salva-Tierra in the year 1716, and he forthwith directed Father Romano to collect the property and purchase country estates, which he should administer for the benefit of the mission. This was accomplished by the purchase in turn of the estates of Guadalùpe, in the valley of Acolmán or Oculma, Huasteca de Ovejas of Huapango, and of Arroyo-Sarco.
There was employed in the purchase of these estates all the principal of the seven missions already founded and in existence up to the death of Father Salva-Tierra; also, five thousand dollars bequeathed to California in the will of his excellency the viceroy, Duke of Abrantes and Linares; another four thousand dollars from a gentleman of Guadalajara, and a large part of the lesser alms contributed by different persons to the mission. (Part 3, sec. 11, vol. 2, pp. 230–236.)
On the 13th of November, 1744, an exhaustive cedula was despatched by King Philip V to his excellency the Count of Fuen-Clara, viceroy, and other cedulas to several private persons, requesting reports upon various important subjects. Father Christoval de Escobar y Llamas, provincial of Mexico, forwarded a very extensive report, signed on the 30th of November, 1745. This reached Madrid on the 9th of July, 1746, when our most virtuous monarch, Fernando VI, had ascended the throne. The King was animated with the same zeal and magnanimity as his glorious father. Upon the advice of the council, reported to His Majesty by his excellency the Marquis de la Ensenada, then secretary of state and of the Indian office, his royal mind being inclined to a favorable view, the King commanded the issuing of a cedula broader in its terms than the earlier one, which he ordered to be inserted, addressed to his excellency the present viceroy of New Spain. This decree it has seemed to me well to copy, because no document can more truly show the sovereign and august intentions and ardent zeal of both monarchs, the wisdom, circumspection, and foresight of their supreme council, and the broad views, prudence, religion, and energy of their ministers. It reads, then, as follows:
The King, to Bon Juan Francisco de Guemes y Horcasitas, lieutenant-general of my most royal armies, viceroy, governor, and captain-general of the province of New Spain, and president of my real audiencia there, residing in the City of Mexico:
On the 13th of November, 1744, a cedula of the following tenor was sent to the Count of Fuen-Clara, your predecessor in office.
[Here follows the royal cedula of King Fernando Triviño, printed in the Transcript at pp. 436–441.]
And now being informed that the aforesaid viceroy, Count of Fuen-Clara, has [Page 354]received the present decree, and that he had begun to collect information and to take the other necessary measures to facilitate the execution of its demands; and bearing in mind that upon your arrival, and with the indispensable occupations of entry into your government, it will not be possible to make much headway in the matter; and, finally, a full report having been received from Father Christoval de Escoval y Llamas, provincial of that province, of the Society of Jesus, written in that capital on the 30th of November, 1745, to carry out what was advised by the decree of even date with the one above inserted, which report contains information of the greatest importance, and sets forth the situation, climate, and conditions of the above referred to province of California, and the great difficulties which are encountered to congregate the natives into towns, because of the barrenness of the land in much of the province, and of even greater difficulties in founding Spanish posts, and of providing them and the converted Indians with all necessities, and suggests, at the same time, the means and expedients by which these difficulties and embarrassments may be overcome. All this having been taken into consideration by my council of the Indies with the foregoing information on the subject, and having considered the statement made by my attorney, laid before me on the 24th of August, of this year, I have determined to transmit to you a copy of the aforesaid report of the father provincial, and to direct and command you, as in fact do, that being advised perfectly of its contents, you take steps to inform yourself concerning persons that seem more suitable to attain the desired result, and that you consider and deliberate fully upon all the matters in the communication of the aforesaid father provincial; and that after considering the practicability or impracticability of the means and expedients proposed, you yourself shall determine, without awaiting further orders, upon the putting into effect of those measures that may seem most practicable for the accomplishment of the objects set forth in the decree, above inserted, so far as may be possible, and should there be no serious obstacle or danger, bearing in mind the condition of my royal treasury in your provinces, so that no exorbitant or unnecessary expenses may be incurred;a and you will report as often as opportunity may offer upon the progress that is being made in this very important affair, which at the same time concerns the propagation of our holy faith, my royal service, and the security and defense of the tribes already conquered and converted; and I especially charge you that, after conferring with the aforesaid persons, you seriously consider the advisability of completing the conversion of the Seris tribe, bordering upon the province of Sonora; that of the Pymos Altos, and that of the Papagos, taking care also to restrain and prevent the continued unfriendliness and hostilities of the Apache tribe; and, in the same manner, I direct you to use your authority with the new bishop of Durango in order that from this time he may approve the concessions which the same father provincial made to your predecessor of twenty-two missions, which are suitable for parishes for secular clergy, so far as may be advisable: This being my will.
Dated in Buen-Retiro, December 4, 1747.
I, the King.
By command of our lord the King:
Don Fernando Trivino.
(Part 3, sec. 21, vol. 2, pp. 500–520.)
In the paper entitled “Establecimento y progresos de las missiones de la Antigua California, dispuestos por un religioso del santo evangelio de México,” which forms the fifth volume of the “Documentos para la historia de México, cuarta serie,” the receipt of the foregoing cedula is mentioned as follows:
“On the 3d of November, 1744, a royal cedula arrived which was very honorable to California, and in terms which would have been very useful, if they could have been carried out without expense to the royal treasury, for which reasons its execution was suspended.”↩
- Of a very noble family, and descended from the first gentleman who established the Jesuits in Mexico.↩
- Each volume commences with a certificate of the correctness of the copies contained in it. That at the commencement of volume 6, from which these extracts are made, is as follows: “This volume is a faithful copy of its original. Mexico, Dec. 3, 1792. Fr. Francisco Garcia Figueroa.” Who or what he was or for what purpose the papers were certified I am unaware.—J. T. D.↩
- Archives of the royal notary, Don Pedro del Valle, in Mexico, to-day in possession of Don Ramon Villalobos.↩
- Report presented to Congress in January, 1831, by Don Lucas Alaman, minister of state.↩
- Sec: “Diario del Gobiernio de la Republica Mexicana,” Nos. 8 and 21, of February, 1842.↩