A generation after the U.S. conquest of California, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo set out to write the story of the land he knew so well. He aimed to dispel the romantic vision that was beginning to dominate the interpretation of the state’s history before the American conquest. To this end he spent more than a year and a half composing a five-volume history, which he titled Recuerdos.
It is the most complete account of California before the gold rush written by someone who resided in California at the time. Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz have translated Vallejo’s Recuerdos and after almost 150 years, it has been published.
Beebe and Senkewicz will discuss the book in an April 13 lecture presented by the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. The 7pm event will be held at Sonoma Mission Chapel, 114 E. Spain St. Free, but donations encouraged.
Beebe is Professor Emerita of Spanish literature at Santa Clara University and Robert M. Senkewicz is Professor Emeritus of History, also at Santa Clara. They have collaborated on a number of books on the history of Spanish and Mexican California, including, The History of Alta California; Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535–1846; Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815–1848; and Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary.
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (1807–90) grew up in Spanish California, became a leading military and political figure in Mexican California, and participated in some of the founding events of U.S. California. With his history project, undertaken in conjunction with historian and publisher Hubert Howe Bancroft, Vallejo sought to correct misrepresentations of California’s past, which he felt dismissed as insignificant the pre–gold rush Spanish and Mexican periods, and conflated them into one “Mission era.”