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Thursday, 9th of July 2020


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San Diego - History 101

Down in the corner of California, the southwestern corner that is, you will find one of the state's jewels, the city and county of San Diego. Geographically and politically it lies within the borders of the United States and California but the cultural and emotional boundaries are far less clear. One sometimes thinks that if it were not for the overpowering presence of the US Navy, San Diego would somehow, ever so quietly, slip back over the border into Mexico. The millions of tourist that visit each year sure as hell wouldn't know the difference.

After all, its roots lie in what was known as 'New Spain' to the south. From there, the first European to see the Northwest Coast of the continent set sail, his name was Juan Rodriquez Cabrilho. Later Californians would call him Juan Cabrillo. That's not necessarily what Juan wanted but Californians really don't give a shit in that regard. As a matter of fact, they are still arguing about the correct spelling. Similarly, half the 'Mexican' food served in California has never been heard of in Mexico.

The Spanish acted like they really didn't want the place anyway. After Juan discovered it in 1542 and named it San Miguel, nobody was sent to follow up on the new land until 1602 when Sebastian Viscaino arrived on his ship the San Diego. Just after arriving, on the feast day of San Diego de Alcala, the first Catholic service to be held in California was celebrated on a point of land now called Ballast Point. On that day, the bay was renamed San Diego in honor of the day and the ship. So started the time honored tradition of changing the name of everything in site to suit the powers that be.

Viscaino was really looking for the rumored Northwest Passage so he kept heading north and found an even better looking bay at Monterrey. He wrote that it looked a great place for a championship golf course, plenty of trees for clubs made of wood. It was then that the Spanish forgot all about California and totally ignored it for the next one hundred and sixty years! No wonder they lost their empire, all that beachfront property and they just put all their efforts into raping the Philippines and Mexico of their gold and treasures. Duh!

Eventually the Russians started looking for a place to thaw out their frozen borsht and the Spanish finally decided they wanted the whole thing back but by then the Americans were spreading their wings. The Spanish tried to save the game by sending in priests and soldiers to establish missions and presidios but then they turned on the Spanish in favor of a Mexican revolution.

In 1834 San Diego became a pueblo - or town "" instead of just a military post. For some reason, probably disgust with the politicians, people started leaving and by 1838 it couldn't even be called a pueblo anymore. In 1840 there were only 140 people left and they were considered part of LA. How's that for an insult? This pissed off the Mexicans and they welcomed the Americans when they wanted to turn all of California into a republic. They must have gotten the idea from the Texans who had just done the same thing with a big chunk of land down south. Sure enough, it wasn't long (1846) before a Major Freemont and his scout Kit Carson (the guy who wears animal skins and stinks to high heaven) arrived to see all that prime real estate up for grabs. They sent word back to Washington and the US declared war on Mexico. The war lasted about 3 hours and California was declared a republic. In 1847 the first American census of the county was taken with the following results:
There were 248 whites, 483 converted Indians, 1,550 wild Indians, 3 Negros and 3 Sandwich Islanders. I wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole.

In 1849, gold was discovered and in 1850 California, now having enough money to pay admission, was made a state and the Mexicans could be heard beating their heads against the wall for miles around.

And now 170 years later, with the help of the Democrats, they are finally nudging it back into their corner.

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