California’s First Civil Settlement

A commemorative postage stamp on the Californias First Civil Settlement 200th Anniversary :

Issued by United States of America

Issued on Sep 9, 1977

Design : This U.S. 13¢ stamp, designed by Earl Thollander of Calistoga, California commemorates the bicentenary of Alta California’s first settlement for civilians.

Type : Stamp, Postal Used

Denomination : 13 cents

About : 

  • California’s vast array of places with Spanish names commemorates its heritage as a major region of one of the greatest empires in world history. Among the best known of the Spanish colonial outposts is San Jose, the oldest civil settlement in the Golden State.
  • Spanish forays into California and adjacent areas began early. In 1540 the first viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) sponsored an extensive program of conquest of the land to his north. The expeditions included Coronado’s venture into what is now the southwestern United States, Alarcon’s exploration of the Gulf of California, and Cabrillo’s voyage up Mexico’s west coast to San Diego Bay.
  • During the rest of the 1500’s, many Spanish ships visited the California coast, but California was not actually colonized until the late 1700’s. Spanish settlement of Alta (Upper) California – the portion above Baja (Lower) California (still part of Mexico) – had several motivations: fear of Russian or English advances down the Pacific coast, missionary zeal of the Franciscan friars, need of ports for galleons trading with the Philippines, and royal Spanish ambition for empire.
  • The Spaniards established three kinds of frontier institutions, Presidios, which were military garrisons, were located at San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey and San Francisco. Missions, primarily religious but also cultural and agricultural centres, were founded between San Diego and Sanoma. Pueblos, communities for colonizing civilian populations, were established at San Jose, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz.
  • The Spanish colonizers founded California’s first civil settlement in late 1777, and named it Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe, in honor of St. Joseph and after the Guadalupe River on which the town is situated.
  • In 1846, during the Mexican War, the U.S. flag was raised above San Jose. In 1849 it became California’s first capital (although California was not officially a state until 1850). By then the little pueblo had become a bustling trading center. Nearly a century later, during the post World War II period, this historic community was to emerge as the important manufacturing center it is today.

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