ARANDA, Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Count (1718-1798). Letter signed ("El Conde de Aranda"), as President of the Royal Council of King Charles III, to Don Julián de Arriaga y Rivera (1700-1776), Minister of American and naval affairs, Madrid, 23 May 1768.
8pp., small 4to (8¼ x 6 in.). In a neat clerical hand, in diplomatic style with text on left-hand side of each page for annotation. In Spanish, with full transcript.
SPAIN ORGANIZES THE GOVERNMENT OF ALTA AND BAJA CALIFORNIA, SONORA, SINALOA AND NUEVO VIZCAYA, UNDER GENERAL JOSÉ DE GÁLVEZ
A fascinating letter between two of the most powerful officials at the court of Charles III of Spain, documenting Spain's increasing interest in the lands to the north of Mexico with plans for exploration and governance. It recommends the appointment of Gálvez, who subsequently oversaw the explorations of Junipero Serra, Gaspar de Portolá, Juan Bautista de Anza, Juan Crespi and others. Aranda urges approval of the Spanish crown of the plan to organize, expand and govern New World territories claimed--but not yet explored or fully controlled-- by Spain. At this period Russia threatened to extend its claims down the pacific coast from Alaska. Aranda explains that he has been asked to advise King Charles III on the proposed plan to set up a "new overall command in the Viceroyalty of Mexico, to consist of the Californias, Sinaloa, Sonora and Nuevo Vizcaya. He offers the plan on behalf of Viceroy the Marquis de Croix and Visitador General Don Jose de Gálvez (1720-1787). Under the proposed plan, the Viceroyalty will be organized in 11 administrative districts (intendencias) and the unexplored territories into 10. Aranda praises the plan and stresses the advantages of appointing de Croix and Gálvez, given their familiarity with the situation of the new lands, and adds that their organizational plan has already been approved by the prelates of Mexico. Interestingly, Aranda states that the colonial military are quite as good as those raised in Spain, "and I am not talking just about the mixed-race and Spanish born...but even those of Indian descent," and states "I believe that the old methods of governing in those [American] lands must change over time." Aranda writes only three months after Charles III ordered the expulsion of the Jesuit order from New Spain, after which the Franciscan friars (Serra being one) took over administration of the existing Baja California missions and began to explore in search of new missions to the North.
"Convey this to the King on my behalf," he asks. The plan here recommended by Aranda to Ariaga, Minister of American Affairs, was submitted to King Charles and was approved. In its wake Gálvez initiated an intensive effort to explore and colonize the vast territories of Alta California, Sonora and Sinaloa. He oversaw the establishment of the important naval base at San Blas and, a year after this letter, the expeditions of Serra and Portola were dispatched to explore the California coast. This led to the establishment by Serra of the San Diego Mission (1769) and Portola's erection of the presidio of Monterey (1770) after he explored San Francisco and the northern coast areas. Gálvez returned to Spain in 1772, but continued to play a critical role in the affairs and administration of Spain's American empire.