The Spanish missions in California comprise a series of 21 religious outposts….which were established by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1769 and 1833….in order to expand Christianity among the Native Americans northwards into what is today the U.S. state of California. The missions were part of a major effort by the Spanish Empire to extend colonization into the most northern and western parts of Spain’s North American claims. The missionaries introduced European fruits, vegetables, cattle, horses, ranching and technology into the region that became the New Spain province of Alta California….however, the missions also brought serious negative consequences to the Native American populations with whom the missionaries and other Spaniards came in contact. Mexico achieved independence in 1821….taking Alta California along with it….but the missions maintained authority over native neophytes and control of vast land holdings until the 1830’s. The Alta California government secularized the missions after the passage of the Mexican secularization act of 1833. This divided the mission lands into land grants….which became many of the Ranchos of California. In the end, the missions had mixed results in their objectives to convert, educate, and “civilize” the indigenous population….and transform the natives into Spanish colonial citizens. Today, the surviving mission buildings are the state’s oldest structures….and the most-visited historic monuments.
The history of this Spanish mission system is brought to the viewer by ABC’s Jack Whitaker….in his wonderful way of telling a story….as Bone Daddy always says the Mission at Capistrano is his favorite California mission….cuz the swallows return to this historic and peaceful place to promote their flocks.