A Made-Up Story That Explains Something That People Do Understand Review: Monterey: Presidio, Pueblo and Port (The Making of America Series)

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Review: Monterey: Presidio, Pueblo and Port (The Making of America Series)

From its opening pages, Jim Conway’s Monterey: Presidio, Pueblo, and Port displays an impeccable scholarship on the subject that will undoubtedly prove to be an important contribution to our understanding of the history of Monterey, California.

According to Conway, Monterey’s history goes beyond classifying its history into four periods—Indigenous, Spanish, Californian, and American—but rather that this picturesque seaside community grew out of the culture of its current residents from the native people. .

Today, people come to Monterey to vacation and experience the splendor of its natural surroundings. Conway explores how Monterey reached this juncture in its history as it transitioned from a presidio to a pueblo and a port. It’s a story that comes from real places and people where cultural conflict and historical tolerance have played an important role.

The book is organized in a concrete and logical manner with the first chapter focusing on the natural history of Monterey and its original inhabitants, the Rumsien Oholon. According to Conway, “To understand Monterey it’s important to start with its natural history, because it’s not what people have tried to achieve, it’s the weather patterns and geography that ultimately created Monterey.” It was the native people of Monterey who depended on native trees, grasses and plants, as well as the changing seasons, for their daily lives. As noted, the O’Chons word was “seed time” and these Native Americans measured time not by a calendar but by the natural events that created their seasons, as they considered themselves a part of nature.

Not much is known about these Native Americans, because their stories were told by Euro-Americans, and as we know, historians have constantly debated among themselves how to distinguish definitive “facts” from “objective truths.” Although, the Spanish were the first to keep written records of the native people, unfortunately, there seems to be an absence of stories and explanations of the losers in the war—the natives themselves.

From this fascinating opening chapter, Conway proceeds to explore the contributions of Spanish settlers and missionaries, but, as he points out, before the arrival of these men, Monterey Bay was visited and promoted by Spanish explorers and fortune-seekers. Much ink has been written about who these adventurers were and what role they played in Monterey’s history. One such important figure we read about is Rodríguez Cabrillo and his expedition in 1542 and we are told that it was his expedition that helped identify and map the coastline of California. Furthermore, his discovery of the San Diego and Monterey Bays brought further exploration, which eventually led to the first European settlements in Alta California.

These first European settlers were soldiers and missionaries who arrived with Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra whose primary goal was to protect Spain’s political interests. According to Conway, Spain’s goals were threefold: protection against foreign occupation; the mercantile development of Alta California as an economic resource; and the Christianization of “heathens” or native peoples. All these objectives led to the building of the Presidio and a mission, although, as noted, Monterey did not attain pueblo status until 1795. Monterey was designated a port of entry on December 15, 1821, and changed from a Spanish outpost. An international port. It should be noted that for several years prior to this designation, Spanish law prohibited foreign ships from entering its ports, although smugglers often ignored the law.

Conway was the Mexican period from 1822-1846 and the Pueblo of Monterey was designated as the official port of entry for Mexican California in 1831. We will be.

The remainder of the book provides a coherent depiction of the American period beginning with pre-statehood and ending with present-day society. We are shown that the Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, as well as the Spanish and Mexicans have all contributed to Monterrey’s remarkable history. How the fishing industry and the canneries played a huge role in shaping this picturesque seaport city. And not to be left out is Monterey’s military heritage that still makes a big contribution to its community today. For tourism, there is no doubt that Monterey’s first grande-dame hotel, the Hotel Del Monte, will never be forgotten, as its influence can still be felt today.

History should not simply be a reconstruction of past events with dates and names with little explanation—stories and anecdotes excluded. Conway must have had this in mind, as his objectivity as a historian amply proves. He presented the history of Monterey not only through his own perspective but through the eyes of the people and the environment in which they lived. It’s this presentation that makes Monterey: Presidio, Pueblo, and Port a book you’ll want to keep on your shelf.

Author: JD Conway

Publisher: Arcadia Publishing

ISBN: 0738524239

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