By Pablo Jaime Sainz
When we think about the American Revolution, most of the time we think about the 13 original colonies.
We think about the East Coast.
We think about George Washington and the Boston Tea Party.
Ever do we think about California participating in the War for Independence from England.
Why? For one part, California wasn’t even part of the English colonies, it was a Spanish colony in New Spain, which included what is now the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America.
But even though history books rarely mention the role that the Spanish government and Californios and the Indigenous people of San Diego played in the American Revolution, the San Diego Presidio made important financial and military contributions to the American fight for independence from England, according to Larry J. Magerkurth, president of the California Society Sons of the American Revolution.
For this reason, the San Diego Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will dedicate a plaque honoring the San Diego Presidio as supporting site of the American Revolution on Friday, November 4, 2005, at 1:30 p.m., at Presidio Hill next to the Serra Museum.
In 1779, under the orders of King Carlos III, four California Presidios (San Diego, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco) fought against English forces wherever they were found on land or sea.
Soon after King Carlos III declared war on England in support of the American Revolution on Jun 21, 1779, there were rumors of an English invasion to Northwest New Spain, which included California.
Then on August 17, 1780, King Carlos III asked for a one time, voluntary donation of two pesos from each Spaniard in the missions of Alta California and one peso from each Indian.
In total, the missions and presidios raised 2,683 Spanish silver dollars for the American Revolution. It is also known that Spain provided substantial financial support of the Americans during the period of the American Revolution, Magerkurth said.
The ceremony on November 4, will remember those people in San Diego who contributed to the American Revolution, he said.
“They need to be remembered because, although the amount collected at the San Diego presidio might not’ve been much, it is still a significant contribution for our Independence,” he said. “For 200 years they have been forgotten, but now we’re honoring them.”
Magerkurth said that there are several members of the Sons of the American Revolution who can trace their ancestry to some of the residents of the San Diego presidio.
The event on November 4 will include a reenactment of the presentation of the donativo to Father Serra by the children of the School in the Park; music will be provided by the Bird Singers of the Kumeyaay/Luiseno Indians; and a reading of the King of Spain’s Royal Order of August 17, 1780, by Angelines Olson, Spanish Honorary Consul, followed by a reading of the Presidio Proclamation by Magerkurth, said Philip Hinshaw, secretary of the Sons of the American Revolution in San Diego.
“Be it therefore resolved that the California Society Sons of the American Revolution recognizes the financial contributions made by the inhabitants of the Royal Presidio in San Diego, California, to Spain in its war against England. These financial contributions assisted the American Colonies in their fight for independence and the establishment of the United States of America,” reads the proclamation.
President General, NSSAR: Roland V. Downing
President, SAR California Society: Larry J. Magerkurth
Master of Ceremonies: Rev. Louis V. Carlson
Honorary Spanish Consul: Maria Angeles Olson
Parks & Recreation Dept. Head: Ted Medina
San Diego Historical Society Director: Edward Streicher
Presidio Park Council Chair: Eleanor Neely
San Diego Descendants Director: Georgia Callian
Descendiente: Leroy Martinez
Native American Representative: Abel Silvas
Casa de Espana: Maria Jesus Ferri
Daughters of the American Revolution: Nancy Alexander
Children of the American Revolution: Nicole Bednorz
Father Serra: Bruce Buonauro
The event is this Friday, November 4, at 1:30 p.m. at Presidio Hill.