The Old Spanish Missions of California: A Historical and Descriptive Sketch

by Paul Elder

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There were twenty one Spanish missions in California, established between 1769 and 1833 by Catholic priests to spread Christianity. Paul Elder collected various snippets of California history and compiled it in this work with quotes from various primary sources and photographs of numerous missions across the state, which presents a romanticized view of their founding. This work only portrays a partial and sanitized tale of the Spanish missions in California and their impact. The missions relied on agriculture to fund themselves, and sought to convert and colonize the Native people and their land. Multiple rebellions against the missions occurred since the missionaries sought to destroy native culture, and in the process, they transmitted communicable diseases which killed thousands. Missions did not just exist in California, but also Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida.