By Bill Federer, staff writer
In 1769, the first Spanish missions were founded in California by Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra, whose statue is in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
In 1822, Mexican Emperor Augustin Iturbide took California away from Spain and in 1833, Santa Anna’s Vice-President, Gomez Farias, took all mission property away from the Church with the Mexican Secularization Act.
Attempting to explain this, the U.S. Board of Land Commissioners reasoned:
“The Missions were intended…to be temporary…It was supposed that within that period of time the Indians would be sufficiently instructed in Christianity and the arts of civilized life.”
In 1849, the same year the U.S. acquired California, workers building a sawmill for John Sutter on the south fork of the American River, discovered gold.
Soon prospectors, called “Forty-Niners,” arrived and California became the 31st State on SEPTEMBER 9, 1850.
Its Constitution, which prohibits slavery, stated:
“We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom…do establish this Constitution.”
On May 23, 1862, President Lincoln restored the mission lands taken by the Secularization Acts:
“I grant unto the…Bishop of Monterrey…in trust for the religious purposes…the tracts of land described in the foregoing survey.”
In 2004, Los Angeles, California, originally founded as a Spanish Catholic Mission, responded to pressure from the ACLU by removing a tiny cross from its County Seal.
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