California

If California had a Patron Saint, it would certainly be St. Francis of Assisi, since it was the Franciscan order of monks who were charged with founding Missions in Upper (Alta) or New (Nueva) California. This at first specifically meant Father Junípero Serra (1713-1784), who became the superior of the Franciscan Missions in Lower (Baja) California in 1767 and then entered Upper California to found the first Mission at San Diego in 1769.

The first Missions in Baja California, begun in 1697, had been founded by the Jesuits. But the Jesuits came in for special condemnation during the Enlightenment, from which even the Pope was not immune. When the Jesuits were suppressed in 1773, the Dominicans inherited their Missions in Baja California, and the whole of California was neatly divided between the Franciscans and the Dominicans.

Since the Franciscans and Dominicans had long been rivals, both starting as Mendicant Orders in the 13th century, this produced some interesting effects: One of the important Missions, and then great cities, of Alta California was named after St. Francis himself (San Francisco), so the Dominicans had to respond in Baja California with the Mission of Santo Domingo (St. Dominic) de la Frontera. And the Franciscans and Dominicans had rival philosophers, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, both of whom had received their doctorates (reluctantly, because of suspicion of the mendicant orders) from the University of Paris in the 13th century.
So, as the Dominicans founded the Mission of Santo Tomás de Aquino in Baja California, the Franciscans founded the Mission of San Buenaventura in Alta California (where St. Bonaventure, at right, presides over the altar), which later gave its name to the city of Ventura and to Ventura Blvd., the original route for US 101, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. San Buenaventura was the last Mission personally founded (1782) by Father Serra (d.1784), who had himself been a professor of philosophy and theology. Another important Franciscan figure is "Santa Clara de Asís," St. Clare of Assisi, who left her family to join St. Francis and founded the Franciscan order of nuns, the "Poor Clares." Serra died and was buried at the Mission in Carmel. A modest monument now exists over his grave, but after the Mission had been abandoned for some years, Serra's body was exhumed no less than three times just to make sure that he was still there and that the body was indeed him.

Although Serra and the Missions have been understandably criticized for their impact on the population and culture of the California Indians, such effects either would have been regretted by them (i.e. the deaths from disease in the population) or would have been incomprehensible (i.e. the idea that a "heathen" native culture would have been valuable in its own right). Such impacts, both demographic and cultural, were inevitable in any case -- California Indians now tend to consciously combine their own traditions with the Mission heritage. As it was, the devout activity of the Franciscans in the last 50 years of Spanish rule created a historical geography and romance for California that is inescapable: Numerous California cities, from San Francisco and San Diego to San Luis Obispo and Carmel, and several geographical features, like the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Mountains, are still named after the original Missions. Although freeway building has relocated or abolished parts of the original road, US 101 still follows much of the original El Camino Real, the Royal Road that was laid out between the Missions, which themselves were supposed to be spaced a day's journey apart. Since the separation could be forty to almost sixty miles, this might really be a rather demanding day's journey by foot, but then the "day's journey" is sometimes said to have been meant by horse. Today, the separation means less than an hour drive by car, barring traffic problems. US 101 now ends in downtown Los Angeles, but Interstate 5 continues the route south to Mexico.

While the southernmost Mission, at San Diego, was founded first, there was no particular order in which the other Missions were founded,
#Missionfoundedlocation
21San Francisco de Solano4 July 1823Sonoma
20San Rafael Arcángel14 December 1817San Rafael
6San Francisco de Asís
Arroyo de los Dolores
9 October 1776San Francisco
14San José de Guadalupe11 June 1797Fremont
8Santa Clara de Asís12 January 1777Santa Clara
12Santa Cruz28 August 1791Santa Cruz
15San Juan Bautista24 June 1797San Juan Bautista
2San Carlos Borromeo
de(l Rio) Carmelo
3 June 1770Carmel
13María Santísima Nuestra Señora
Dolorisima de la Soledad
9 October 1791Soledad
3San Antonio de Padua14 July 1771Fort Hunter Liggett
16San Miguel Arcángel25 July 1797San Miguel
5San Luis Obispo de Tolosa1 September 1772San Luis Obispo
11La Purísima Concepción
de María Santísima
8 December 1787Lompoc
19Santa Inés17 September 1804Solvang
10Santa Bárbara4 December 1786Santa Barbara
9San Buenaventura32 March 1782Ventura
17San Fernando Rey de España15 June 1798Los Angeles
4San Gabriel Arcángel8 September 1771San Gabriel
7San Juan Capistrano1 November 1776San Juan Capistrano
18San Luis Rey de Francia13 June 1798Oceanside
Asistencia San Antonio de Pala1815Pala
1Basilica San Diego de Acalá16 July 1769San Diego
Asistencia Santa Ysabel1818Santa Ysabel
although the second one was at, and then moved near (to present Carmel in 1771), the Spanish capital of California, Monterey. The plan for the spacing of the Missions was not completed until the founding of Santa Inés in 1804. The final two Missions (San Rafael and Solano) extend the line to the north from San Francisco.

After Mexican Independence (1821), between 1833 and 1836 the Missions were all secularized. This meant that, while the Church was often left operating, the land and assets of the Missions were confiscated and/or sold off. This was supposed to mean that the local Christianized Indians would take over, but the assets (cattle, etc.) were then usually dispersed or neglected, and the sequel was that in the 1840's the Missions were often abandoned. Every Mission but Santa Bárbara (and perhaps Santa Inés) was abandoned at one time or another. After the Mexican Cession and Statehood for California, in 1855 Mission lands began to be returned by the United States Government to the Catholic Church. Most were returned between 1858 and 1865.

La Purísima was returned to the Church in 1874 but was so ruined that the Church sold the land. In 1935 the site was bought by the State of California, which restored the Mission as a State Park. The remote San Antonio de Padua could not be sold and was simply abandoned in 1882. It was first restored 1903-1907 and more extensively rebuilt in 1948-1949, with, of all things, the help of William Randolph Hearst, who built a large house nearby (now a hotel for visitors to Ft. Hunter Liggett). While the Church never returned to Purísima, Franciscans did return to San Antonio, and the church there is in active use. From the full name of La Purísima are doubtless derived the names of nearby Point Conception and the city of Santa Maria.

Spanish Alta California, 1769-1822
Military Governors, Nueva California
Gaspar de Portolà1769-1770
Pedro Fages1770-1774
Fernando Rivera y Moncada1774-1777
Governors (Intendants)
of Las Californias
Felipe de Neve1777-1782
Pedro Fages1782-1791
José Antonio Roméu1791-1792
José Joaquín de Arrillagaacting, 1792-1794
Diego de Borica1794-1800
Pedro de Alberniacting, 1800
José Joaquín de Arrillaga1800-1804
San Diego Earthquake, 6.5, 1800
Governors (Intendants)
of Alta California
José Joaquín de Arrillaga1804-1814
Wrightwood Earthquake, 6.9+, Santa Barbara Earthquake, 7.1, 1812
José Darío Argüelloacting, 1814-1815
Pablo Vicente de Solá1815-1822
As a child, I was enchanted by models of all the Missions at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Now, at Mission gift shops, such models -- large, small, or even as refrigerator magnets -- can be purchased. One of the most famous associations of all the Missions is the tradition that migrating swallows return from Argentina to their mud-daub nests at San Juan Capistrano on St. Joseph's Day, March 19th. They were then supposed to leave on October 23, the feast day of St. John of Capestrano (the Italian spelling), after whom the Mission was named. The presence of the swallows was first noted in 1777. Unfortunately, restoration work recently disturbed the nests, and the birds began to relocate elsewhere.

The "San Fernando Rey de España" was Ferdinand III of Castile and León (1217-1252), who conquered the heartland of Islâmic Andalusia. "San Luis Rey de Francia," on the other hand, was St. Louis IX of France (1226-1270), after whom the city of St. Louis, Missouri, is also named. "San Luis Obispo de Tolosa" was a 13th century Bishop of Toulouse and Franciscan monk, Louis of Anjou, a grandson of Charles I of Anjou. This means he was a great-nephew of St. Louis IX, as shown in the linked Anjevian genealogy.

Not counted among the traditional 21 Missions is that of San Antonio de Pala, originally a branch or asistencia of San Luis Rey de Francia. Today it is the only Mission that still ministers directly to Native Americans, located at the seat of the Pala Indian Reservation, across the road from the new Pala Tribal Casino. The Pala tribe is thus served by the oldest institution of California Christian religion -- the Mission -- and the newest institution of California Indian income -- gambling.

Governors of Mexican
Alta California, 1822-1847
Luis Antonio Argüello1822-1825
José Maria de Echeandía1825-1831
Manuel Victoria1831-1832
Pío Pico1832
Augustín Zamorano &
José Maria de Echeandía
1832-1833
José Figueroa1833-1835
José Castroacting, 1835
Mariano Chico1836
Nicolas Gutierrezacting, 1836
Juan Bautista Alvarado1836-1837
Carlos Antonio Carrillo1837-1838
Juan Bautista Alvarado1838-1842
San Francisco Earthquake, 6.7+, 1838
Manuel Micheltorena1842-1845
Pío Pico1845-1846
José María FloresLos Angeles, 1846-1847
Andrés PicoLos Angeles, 1847
Pala is sometimes said to represent a plan to start a second line of Missions inland from the first. The first such example would have been the Mission La Purísima Concepcíon founded in 1780 on the Colorado River, not far from modern Yuma (not the later Mission of the same name near Lompoc). This isolated Mission, and another founded nearby in January 1781, were both abandoned in July 1781 after Indian attacks. We might wonder if Santa Inés was itself another example of an inland Mission, since it was never an asistencia, is inland from both Purísima and Santa Bárbara, was originally almost put in the San Joaquin Valley, and was the last Mission founded (1804) before Pala (1815). If the Mission had been put in the San Joaquin Valley, it certainly would have been set apart from the coastal Missions. But it was a wise move to stick to the coast. The isolation and punishing climate of such an inland site would have spelled disaster (as on the Colorado River). San Rafael, on the other hand, did start as an asistencia, so that Indians could escape the literally sickening fog and cold of the San Francisco Mission, which was almost abandoned. But San Rafael was then raised to the status of a Mission in its own right. Another site that was asistencia, and never anything else, was the church at Santa Ysabel, in the mountains east of San Diego, but this is noted even less often than the Mission at Pala.

One of the most famous movie scenes in a California Mission came in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, where Jimmie Stewart had trouble climbing the bell tower of the Mission at San Juan Bautista (near Salinas). Unfortunately, the Mission at San Juan Bautista does not have a belltower, as I discovered to my astonishment in 1985 when I drove by specifically to see the site of the movie. The exterior scenes of the movie were shot at the Mission; but all the interiors, including the famous interior of the tower, were sets constructed at the studio back in Hollywood; and the exteriors of the tower are models, sets, or matte paintings. One notices that the exterior shots of the bell tower are not in the same frame as the actors or identifiable objects on the ground.
A tower could not have been digitally added back then (1957), as it could now, and even matting in the tower, although possible, does not seem to have been attempted in the exterior shots.

What the Mission overall was supposed to look like with its tower is preserved in a set design drawing, though the form of the tower in the drawing is somewhat different from the final model. The drawing shows two towers, with their forms matching. The smaller tower was real, looking as it does in the drawing, but it was not an original part of the Mission and had been torn down in 1949. The original set design drawing may have been based on older pictures of the Mission, without the news that the tower was no longer there. When that was understood, then the design of the movie tower could be altered at will. The final version of the tall bell tower looks rather like the bell towers on the Santa Bárbara Mission.
A difficulty for Hitchcock was that no Missions still had bell towers as tall as dramatic effect required for the movie. So even if a Mission with an existing bell tower had been chosen, the needs of Hollywood might still have exaggerated its height. An appropriate tower did exist at one time:  The Mission at San Juan Capistrano once had a great stone church, with a 120 foot tall bell tower; but church and tower were destroyed in an earthquake in 1812. The present bell wall (campanario) at San Juan Bautista was not built until 1975/6 and so did not exist when the movie was made.

A map of Alta California printed in 1776, all in Spanish and Latin, indicates, besides existing Missions and settlements, a large area of the Central Valley of California, where there were as yet no Spanish settlements, and labels it TULARES. This is a derivative the word tule, which Spanish borrowed from Nahuatl (Aztec) tullin to mean a kind of bulrush growing on "overflow" land. Several minor features in California are named "tule," like Tule Lake, in the extreme north-east of Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border, and Tule River, which rises in the Sierra in Tulare County and flows towards the now dry lakebed of Tulare Lake in the San Joaquin Valley. The dense, grim fogs of the Central Valley can also be called "tule" fogs. Tulares is a formation from "tule" with the suffix "-ar," which can mean a grove or field. Thus, pinar, "pine grove," is derived from pino, "pine." So tulares is the plural of tular, "tule field." The singular form "tulare" is a back formation from tulares. I have not seen English or even good Spanish dictionaries give this whole story, but it can be found in detail in California Place Names, The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names, by Erwin G. Gudde and William Bright (Fourth Edition, Unversity of California Press, 1998, p.402).

The lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in California, at Bad Water in Death Valley, 279 feet below Sea Level. The surface of the Salton Sea is also below Sea Level, by 228 feet. These depressions are certainly caused by the East Pacific Rise, the sea floor spreading center which lies off the west coast of South America, runs up the Gulf of California, and was overridden by North America millions of years ago.
14,000 Ft. Mountains in the 48 States
Mt. Whitney14,494 ft.Sierra Nevada
Mt. Elbert14,433 ft.Sawatch Range
Mt. Massive14,421 ft.Sawatch Range
Mt. Harvard14,420 ft.Sawatch Range
Mt. Ranier14,410 ft.Cascade Range
Mt. Williamson14,375 ft.Sierra Nevada
Blanca Peak14,345 ft.Sangre de Cristo
La Plata Peak14,336 ft.Sawatch Range
Uncompahgre Peak14,309 ft.San Juan Mountains
Crestone Peak14,294 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Mt. Lincoln14,286 ft.Mosquito Range
Grays Peak14,270 ft.Front Range
Mt. Antero14,269 ft.Sawatch Range
Torreys Peak14,267 ft.Front Range
Castle Peak14,265 ft.Elk Mountains
Quandary Peak14,265 ft.Mosquito Range
Mt. Evans14,264 ft.Front Range
Longs Peak14,255 ft.Front Range
Mt. Wilson14,246 ft.San Juan Mountains
White Mt. Peak14,246 ft.White Mountains
North Palisade14,242 ft.Sierra Nevada
Mt. Cameron14,238 ft.Mosquito Range
Mt. Shavano14,229 ft.Sawatch Range
Mt. Belford14,197 ft.Sawatch Range
Crestone Needle14,197 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Mt. Princeton14,197 ft.Sawatch Range
Mt. Yale14,196 ft.Sawatch Range
Crooks Peak14,180 ft.Sierra Nevada
Mt. Bross14,172 ft.Mosquito Range
Kit Carson Peak14,165 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Mt. Shasta14,162 ft.Cascade Range
El Diente Peak14,159 ft.San Juan Mountains
Point Success14,158 ft.Cascade Range
Maroon Peak14,156 ft.Elk Mountains
Mt. Tabeguache14,155 ft.Sawatch Range
Mt. Oxford14,153 ft.Sawatch Range
Mt. Sill14,153 ft.Sierra Nevada
Mt. Sneffels14,150 ft.San Juan Mountains
Mt. Democrat14,148 ft.Mosquito Range
Capitol Peak14,130 ft.Elk Mountains
Liberty Cap14,112 ft.Cascade Range
Pikes Peak14,110 ft.Front Range
Snowmass Mountain14,092 ft.Elk Mountains
Mt. Russell14,088 ft.Sierra Nevada
Mt. Eolus14,083 ft.San Juan Mountains
Windom Peak14,082 ft.San Juan Mountains
Polemonium Peak14,080 ft.Sierra Nevada
Challenger Point14,081 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Mt. Columbia14,073 ft.Sawatch Range
Missouri Mountain14,067 ft.Sawatch Range
Humboldt Peak14,064 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Mt. Bierstadt14,060 ft.Front Range
Sunlight Peak14,059 ft.San Juan Mountains
Split Mountain14,058 ft.Sierra Nevada
Handies Peak14,048 ft.San Juan Mountains
Culebra Peak14,047 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Ellingwood Point14,042 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Mt. Lindsey14,042 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Little Bear Peak14,037 ft.Sangre de Cristo
Mt. Sherman14,036 ft.Mosquito Range
Redcloud Peak14,034 ft.San Juan Mountains
Mt. Langley14,026 ft.Sierra Nevada
Conundrum Peak14,022 ft.Elk Mountains
Mt. Tyndall14,019 ft.Sierra Nevada
Pyramid Peak14,018 ft.Elk Mountains
Wilson Peak14,017 ft.San Juan Mountains
Wetterhorn Peak14,015 ft.San Juan Mountains
North Maroon Peak14,014 ft.Elk Mountains
San Luis Peak14,014 ft.San Juan Mountains
Middle Palisade14,012 ft.Sierra Nevada
Mt. Muir14,012 ft.Sierra Nevada
Mt. of the Holly Cross14,005 ft.Sawatch Range
Thunderbolt Peak14,003 ft.Sierra Nevada
Huron Peak14,003 ft.Sawatch Range
Sunshine Peak14,001 ft.San Juan Mountains
The sinking of Death Valley and the Imperial Valley is due to a thinning of the Earth's crust as it is melted and spread from below. In time this means that the Imperial Valley and then Death Valley will join the Gulf of California. Robert Heinlein wrote a science fiction story about the Gulf breaking into the Imperial Valley after a massive earthquake. Someday this will happen. An anomaly in this process is the plateau of the Mojave Desert between the two Valleys. The recent Landers and Hector Mine earthquakes, however, were evidently on faults that will link those two depressions.

The highest point in the Western Hemisphere is Mt. Aconcagua in the Andes in Argentina, at 22,834 feet. The highest point in North America, and in the United States, is Mt. McKinley in Alaska, at 20,320 feet. Other mountains up to that height can be found in Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. The highest point in the 48 States, only the 29th highest in North America, is Mt. Whitney in California.

The table at left compares mountains in the 48 States that are 14,000 feet or greater. Those on a red background are in California, those in a blue background are in Washington State, and those on a white background are in Colorado. There are relatively few of these in California, all in a relatively short stretch of the Sierra Nevada, with the sole exceptions of White Mountain Peak, which is in the White Mountains, just across the Owens Valley from the Sierra, and the awesome Mt. Shasta, which is a great volcano in the Cascade Range, like Mt. Ranier in Washington State (Point Success and Liberty Cap are both lesser peaks of Mt. Ranier). Otherwise, most of these peaks are in Colorado.

I don't know if this is an exhaustive list of 14,000 foot peaks in the Sierra. Californians don't seem too interested, and I've never seen any mention, let alone a list, of such peaks, while the "14ers" come in for regular comment in Colorado, where there are said to be between 54 and 58 of them (57 are given here -- part of the disagreement seems to be about what constitutes a distinct separate peak). These are distributed between the Front Range, the Sawatch Range, the Sangre de Cristo Range, the Tenmile-Mosquito Range, the San Juan Mountains, and the Elk Mountains. The abundance of such high mountains in Colorado is especially striking since the States around Colorado, which are also in the Rockies and very mountainous -- New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona -- have no peaks over 14,000 feet. Colorado is the "Roof of the Rockies."

In several ways this is curious. Colorado is a long way from the ocean and, more importantly, from any tectonic plate boundaries. Since mountain building is now understood in terms of plate tectonics, where did the Rockies come from? But it is also noteworthy that, high as Colorado seems for the 48 States, it is really not all that high. 14,000 feet looks good if all we are doing is comparing it to Australia or Western Europe, but, as already noted, it doesn't seem that significant in comparison to Alaska, South America, or, to say the least, Central Asia (where there are five ranges, even besides the Himalayas, that have peaks higher than 24,000 feet). This makes it look like whatever made the Rockies is a process now inactive. The Rockies are fading.

A brief discussion of this can be found in John McPhee's great Assembling California [The Noonday Press, New York, 1993], part of his series of four (or five) books on geology (starting with the classic Basin and Range, 1981). McPhee says to one of his geologist friends that if the Colorado Plateau is analogous to the Tibetan Plateau, and if the Tibetan Plateau (and all those Central Asian mountain ranges) is the result of the collision of India with Asia, where is the India to the North American Tibet? His thought is that it was Alaska. The geologist agrees. Some large body collided with North America, pushing up the Rockies and the Colorado Plateau, but then was sliced off and carried north by the Pacific or some earlier tectonic Plate. What was carried north ended up smeared along the coast or attached to Alaska.

Once the continent-to-continent collision was over, then North America was riding up over oceanic plate, which pushed up mountains rather like the Andes. Those were probably in Nevada, and erosion from them laid down the sediments full of gold that later became the Gold Rush country in the Sierra. When the actual East Pacific Rise was overridden, the present situation of the growing Gulf of California to the south and the Basin and Range province to the north was created. The Sierra is the western wall of the Basin and Range, as the most dramatic basins are the Owens Valley, Saline Valley, Panamint Valley, and Death Valley, all in California -- though the province, of course, extends all up through Nevada.

Meanwhile, western California is on the Pacific Plate, headed north-west, as North America itself is still headed west. The Coastal Ranges are the long seam of the San Andreas Fault, along which most of the lateral motion is evident. This has made for the earthquakes that are so much a part of California history, from the earliest days of the Missions to the very active 1990's. In the 70's, there was a flurry of books about how California was going to sink into the ocean. Now it is pretty obvious that sinking is something that continents don't do. Los Angeles ending up near San Francisco, or the Gulf of California extending to Lovelock, Nevada, is more like it. Even these are in a future many millions of years down the line. The earthquakes that will lead to it, although producing geographical changes measured in little more than feet at a time, nevertheless release the energy of many nuclear weapons, visiting damage across large areas -- the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 threw down adobe walls at Mission San Antonio de Padua, 138 miles away.
President of the California Republic
William B. IdeSonoma, 1846
US Military Governors of California
John Drake Sloat1846
Robert Field Stockton1846-1847
John C. Frémont1847
Stephen W. Kearny1847
Richard Barnes Masonacting, 1847-1849
Persifor Frazer Smith1849
Bennett Riley1849

California is thus rather more geologically active than Colorado, though most of the energy is not going into mountain building. Where some energy is thus directed is in Southern California. There is a twist in the San Andreas Fault, associated again with the plateau of the Mojave Desert that obscures the link between the Imperial Valley and Death Valley. Between where the Fault turns west and then turns back north are the Transverse Ranges, especially the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains. As the tectonic plates grind against each other, these ranges are thrust up, on what are called, appropriately enough, "thrust faults."

Governors of the State of California
1Peter Hardeman Burnett (D)1849-1851
2John McDougall (D)1851-1852
3John Bigler (D)1852-1856
4J. Neeley Johnson (A)1856-1858
Parkfield/Fort Tejon Earthquake, 7.9, 1857
5John Weller (D)1858-1860
6Milton Latham (D)1860-1860
7John Downey (D)1860-1862
8Leland Stanford (R)1862-1863
9Frederick Low (R)1863-1867
10Henry Haight (D)1867-1871
Hayward Earthquake, 6.8+, 1868
11Newton Booth (R)1871-1875
Lone Pine Earthquake, 7.6+, 1872
12Romualdo Pacheco (R)acting, 1875
13William Irwin (D)1875-1880
14George Perkins (R)1880-1883
Parkfield Earthquake, 5.5+, 1881
15George Stoneman (D)1883-1887
16Washington Bartlett (D)1887-1887
17Robert Waterman (R)1887-1891
18Henry Markham (R)1891-1895
19James Budd (D)1895-1899
20Henry Gage (R)1899-1903
Parkfield Earthquake, 5.5+, 1901
21George Pardee (R)1903-1907
Great San Francisco Earthquake, 7.9, 1906
22James Gillett (R)1907-1911
23Hiram Johnson (R)1911-1917
24William Stephens (R)1917-1923
Parkfield Earthquake, 5.5+, 1922
25Friend Richardson (R)1923-1927
26C.C. Young (R)1927-1931
27James Rolph (R)1931-1934
Long Beach Earthquake, 6.4, 1933
28Frank Merriam (R)1934-1939
Parkfield Earthquake, 5.5+, 1934
29Culbert Olson (D)1939-1943
30Earl Warren (R)1943-1953
Kern County/Tehachapi Earthquake, 7.5, 1952
31Goodwin Knight (R)1953-1959
32Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr. (D)1959-1967
Parkfield Earthquake, 5.5+, 1966
33Ronald Reagan (R)1967-1975
Sylmar/San Fernando Earthquake, 6.6, 1971
34Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr. (D)1975-1983
35George Deukmejian (R)1983-1991
Coalinga Earthquake, 6.5, 1983; Whittier Narrows Earthquake, 5.9, 1987; Loma Prieta Earthquake, 6.9, 1989
36Peter "Pete" Wilson (R)1991-1999
Cape Mendocino Earthquake, 7.2, 1992; Landers Earthquake, 7.3, Big Bear Earthquake, 6.5, 1992; Northridge Earthquake, 6.7, 1994
37Joseph G. "Gray" Davis (D)1999-2003
Hector Mine Earthquake, 7.1, 1999;
38Arnold A. Schwarzenegger (R)2003-2011
San Simeon Earthquake, 6.5, 2003; Parkfield Earthquake, 6.0, 2004; Eureka Earthquake, 6.5, 2010
39Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown (D) ?!2011-
Recent earthquakes like the Sylmar (1971), Whittier (1987), and Northridge (1994) earthquakes were all associated with thrust faults; and in each the mountains to the north grew a bit. The results are significant if not overwhelming. The highest point in the San Gabriels is Mt. San Antonio (usually called Mt. Baldy) at 10,064 feet, while the highest point in the San Bernardinos is Mt. San Gorgonio, at 11,499 feet -- the highest point in Southern California. Interstate 10 passes between Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Jacinto, at 10,804 feet, to the south. In the winter, both peaks are snow capped and starkly visible for at least a hundred miles in some directions. Driving back into California on that highway, I always thought of that Pass as the real entrance to Southern California, especially when haze from the marine layer, and from the smog, often began at that point. If the Golden Gate is the traditional entrance to California by sea, into San Francisco Bay, I have often thought that the dramatic passage between these two great mountains could at least be considered the Silver Gate.

Coloradans might laugh at Mt. San Gorgonio being considered an impressive mountain, but standing below Sea Level at Indio, you are looking up at all 11,499 feet of the mountain, while standing at a mile high in Denver, Mt. Evans, for instance, only rises a relative 9000 feet higher. From Leadville, above 10,000 feet, Mt. Elbert, the highest point in Colorado, is only 4233 feet higher. Even Coloradans sometimes have trouble being impressed by Mt. Elbert. On the other hand, Mt. Whitney is 10,794 feet higher than Lone Pine, through which all traffic passes in the Owens Valley. It is actually Hawaiians who might sneer at this. Standing at Sea Level in Hilo, you can look up to the 13,796 foot summit of Mauna Kea and the 13,677 foot summit of Mauna Loa. Unfortunately, the great Hawaiian "shield" volcanes rise so gradually that it is very hard to tell just how big they are. An abrupt rise gives a better sense of height, even when the difference isn't all that great. Thus, the Sandia Mountains, rising to 10,447 feet above the mile-high Albuquerque, are not all that high and are not relatively all that much higher than the city; but it looks like they go straight up. A 5000 foot wall gets your attention.

This page now features all the Spanish, Mexican, and American executives of California. The Spanish capital of Upper California settled at Monterey, whose harbor was identified as suitable before the discovery of San Francisco Bay, which might have been better. There are so many Mexican Governors of California, during not much more than 20 years of rule, because there was some difficulty enforcing Mexican authority in the province, and the local Californios, like Pío Pico, were sometimes in revolt. These problems had only recently been resolved, and Pico himself had become Governor, when the Mexican-American War began. American settlers in the north declared the "Bear Flag Republic" in 1846, while late in the year John C. Frémont moved south toward Mexican forces. A battle that never happened that nevertheless is of some interest was over Santa Barbara. Frémont thought that Andrés Pico was holding Gaviota Pass, where US 101 still crosses the Santa Ynez Mountains. To avoid him, Frémont entered Santa Barbara over the San Marcos Pass, still crossed by State Highway 154. Pico was actually in Los Angeles, and subsequently, on 13 January 1847, surrendered his forces and California at the Campo de Cahuenga -- where on 20 February 1845 Pío Pico had repulsed the Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena.

Governors of California have become a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Earl Warren) and a President of the United States (Ronald Reagan). In 2003 California saw the extraordinary recall of the unpopular, although recently reelected, Governor Gray Davis. On a ballot of over 100 candidates, Austrian muscle builder, movie star, and Kennedy in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger gained a majority of the vote. With the State recently dominated by socialist Democrats and powerful, radicalized, and irresponsible public employee unions, Arnold, the Gubernator, was going to have a tough fight to return the State to rational (and American) principles of government.

As of 2008, Arnold unfortunately has failed to do this. After a brief attempt at reform, with ill considered ballot initiatives rushed into a special election, where all his enemies would be the most likely to vote, Arnold pretty much gave up and threw in with the Democrats. The result of this has been a continued hemorrhage of State spending, even as revenues decline (with a recession resulting from the home mortgage market collapse, and any sensible businessman still leaving the State), and a growing temptation to accept the perpetual desire of the Democrats to raise taxes. Since he won't be running for re-election, he doesn't need to worry about becoming the George H.W. Bush of California politics. Even worse, Arnold suddenly became a Believer in Global Warming and was eager to burden the economy with massive carbon, i.e. energy, reduction mandates. Like many Country Club Republicans, he has become obsessed with ingratiating himself with people who are never going to like him anyway.

As Arnold's governorship began, even I had great hopes. I saw him show up at a Reason Foundation banquet to honor Milton and Rose Friedman, shortly before their deaths. Arnold came to pay tribute to the Friedmans, who had inspired him when he was getting started in America. Perhaps it is just as well that Milton did not live to see what would come of Arnold's years. As Governor, Arnold's greatest failure may have been that he was unable to articulate what was wrong with the Democrat government that was busy flying the State into the ground. Instead, he himself saw one of his principle accomplishments as a Communist Command Economy "Global Warming" bill that will help bury the State deeper and deeper. When an Initiative was put on the 2010 ballot (Prop 23) that simply wanted to suspend the bill until the economy recovers, Arnold campaigned against it, in league with all his Hollywood leftist friends, and was rewarded when the No vote came in at 61%. This will further help rip the remaining guts out of the State economy.

The movie industry journal Daily Variety reported on November 4, two days after the election:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and many of the industry's envirnomental activists cheered the resounding defeat of Proposition 23, which would have rolled back the state's landmark global warming law. ["D.C. feels new vibes," p.1]

Verily, they have their reward.

Now we learn that as Arnold was cooperating with the Democrats in destroying the State, he had also been busy for years destroying his marriage. This is a sad business in its own right, since the public face of his marriage with Maria Shriver, who had four children with him, had always seemed strong and happy -- they had recently hit their 25th anniversary. We have seen before how false these representations can be, and now the dam has burst. We are even hearing that Arnold, like Bill Clinton, used State police to deliver women to him in Maria's absence. I hope he enjoyed his time as Governor, because he may not be able to put back together a life like he had.

Arnold's failure of leadership may have contributed to the nature of the results of the 2010 election. But that can't be the whole story. A California majority that returns the dinosaur Jerry Brown to Sacramento and reelects the witless and execrable Barbara Boxer to six more years in Washington has all but lost its mind. Substantively, it looks like a tipping point has been reached in California, as previously in Massachusetts and New York -- and apparently now in Nevada -- where a majority of voters have been converted into the form of the morally and intellectually corrupted French or even the Greek electorate. The socialist propaganda of "public education" has succeeded in destroying capitalism in the hearts of the majority, and they are no longer Americans in any traditional sense. Indeed, many of them do not want to be -- in some cases because they want California returned to Mexico (with all the joy and success of life there [note]).

Thus, after the Democrats have dominated and corrupted State government for years, and Arnold turned out to be just another RINO, the socialists have been returned to even greater dominance in Sacramento in 2010, despite "moderate" and professionally successful Republican women candidates like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina for Governor and Senator, respectively. They were both viciously attacked just for being in business, even while their opposition (Brown & Boxer) have never held a job outside of politics or run a business themselves -- something that has not prevented Boxer, at least, from enjoying great wealth.

This contrasts with the results of the 2010 election in a place like Michigan. After driving business out of the State for years, to the point where large areas of Detroit and other cities have simply been abandoned (with suggestions to return them to Nature), the voters of Michigan have now put the Republicans in power in both the Statehouse and both Houses of the State Legislature. This is the way democracy is supposed to work. Throw the bums out. No one would put it past the Republicans to botch the job, but that could well mean that it is high time to get rid of both of the "major" parties. The Democrats and Republicans often conspire together to head off anything of the sort -- as the Republican Establishment in this election got the Tea Party to field Republican candidates but then treacherously undercut and backstabbed their winners.

Meanwhile, the Californians who have fled the State to Nevada have reproduced the effect we have seen in New England, where refugees from New York and Massachusetts have mindlessly continued to vote the same way they had back home and have corrupted and/or destroyed the politics of Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire, beginning to reproduce the conditions that they sought to escape from in the first place. Thus, Nevada has absorbed a good bit of California political culture, and the result has been the reelection of the debauched and pathetic dolt, "dingy" Harry Reid, to the U.S. Senate. When I was in rural Ely, Nevada, in July 2010, however, all I saw were "Anybody but Reid" signs. Some Nevada RINO's actually endorsed Reid, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee only gave half-hearted support to his opponent, Tea Party favorite Sharon Angle.

A Leninist "festival of the oppressed" will thus continue in California and Nevada, which have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Unprincipled, disloyal, or confused Republicans helped prevent the Republicans from taking back the U.S. Senate in 2010, but the new Republican House may well cut off the bailout money that has helped keep irresponsible States like California afloat. While a majority of Americans have awakened with alarm to the socialist agenda of the Democrats and bounced them out of power in the House of Representatives and in multiple State governments, Californians have gone in the other direction, under the influence of the openly Communist leadership of labor unions like the SEIU. This is really no less than what they have generally been taught in school. The gravity of our peril cannot be overestimated.

Lest anyone think that Jerry Brown is some different kind of politician, one of the first things he did as Governor was to dismiss Ben Austin from the State Board of Education. Austin is a self-described Democrat activist and "community organizer" who has worked for "Meathead" Rob Reiner, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Unfortunately, he was on the side of parents and children rather than the teachers union and the educational establishment, so Brown apparently got the word from his handlers, and Austin had to go. Thus we see immediately the stuff that Brown is made of. He is a tool of the educrat gangsters; and the Democrats, especially the Black parents, who voted for him have been hoodwinked and betrayed, yet again.

Governors of New Mexico (1598-present)

Spanish and Mexican Governors of Texas (1691-1836)

The Kings, President, & Governors of Hawai'i (1795-present)

Sam Houston, Presidents & Governors of Texas (1836-present)

Spanish & Portuguese Colonial Possessions

Visiting the Missions

The Colorado 14ers

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Philosophy of History

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Copyright (c) 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

California, Note

A microcosm of Mexican political culture in California has been on display in the small City of Bell in Los Angeles County. Run by part-time city councilmen and a "professional" city manager, Bell was exposed by the Los Angeles Times as giving its top employees some of the highest salaries and pension benefits of any city in the country. The city manager, with various benefits, had been making over a million dollars a year. The police chief was paid more than the police chiefs of the City of Los Angeles or New York City. The city councilmen were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few days work. Nevertheless, the City had held special elections, successfully, to raise property taxes, pleading need. It later turned out that some of the gimmicks to raise taxes were illegal.

None of this survived exposure to public scrutiny. And many of those involved were indicted by the State Attorney General -- Jerry Brown, as part of his campaign for Governor -- for corruption and other crimes. At the same time, the partisan Press has been careful to avoid identifying any of the elected officials of Bell as Democrats. Yet all of them were. It hard to believe that such restraint would have been shown had they been Republicans. Equally significant, however, was the circumstance that most of the population of Bell was Hispanic, as were most of the officials involved. Now, there is nothing unusual about Democrats fleecing the taxpayer. That is what the Democrat Party is all about. But most Democrats know that the reality of this must be carefully obscured and concealed with both lies and restraint.

What was remarkable about Bell was not corruption by political parasites, which is standard operating procedure for Democrat government, but the lack of restraint and the shamelessness of it all. Yet this is characteristic of nearly all government in Mexico (something of which few can be unaware), and it is hard to resist the conclusion that the combination of Democrats with Hispanic ethnic dominance put all the cultural elements in place for a reproduction of Mexican practices. But one then wonders why the Los Angeles Times, which otherwise is a front organization for the Democrat Party, was willing to break ranks with fellow Democrats. Perhaps they feared that the State of California was just not ready to let this sort of thing get out of hand -- we need a little more "public education" to condemn and destroy American political and economic culture before that is possible.

Or it may be that they need not have worried. In 2010 the Voters have given the Democrats more than enough power to carry the State as a whole the rest of the way into Mexican poverty, crime, and corruption. Of course, since the Times story made no point of the Party of the offenders, and drew no parallels to Mexican political culture, they may have contributed to the illusion that the Democrats, and Jerry Brown in particular, are uninvolved in and opposed to the kind of political corruption we have seen in Bell. The Voters suckered again. But we have now seen the looming future of California, and its name indeed is "Bell."

Now, I would think that people fleeing from conditions in Mexico or Central America for a better life in the United States would know that it would make no sense to recreate here what it was like where they left. Cuban-Americans are unlikely to make such a mistake -- which is why the Democrats do less well in Florida than in California. However, other Hispanics may not realize that supporting Democrats, let alone the "La Raza" crowd, will accomplish exactly that. They'll be right back where they started. The problem may be correcting memories of the sort of Communist propaganda that is ubiquitous in Latin America; but then this is hard to do when American "education" is awash with very similar propaganda.

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Sequoia

The Cherokee Indian Sikwayi (Sequoyah), or, Latinized, Sequoia (1770?-1843?), was one of the great men of American history. Although he had a white father, and was often himself known as George Gist (or Guest, Guess), Sequoia lived his life with the Cherokee Nation in Georgia and the West and never learned to speak much English.

While missionaries had attempted to reduce the Cherokee (Tsalagi) language to writing, their system didn't seem quite right, and many Cherokee ended up thinking that Indian languages simply could not be written like the languages of whites. Sequoia didn't believe this and, although he couldn't read any language, he determined to develop a system to write Cherokee. Most people thought he was crazy, and at one point his wife burned all his work, forcing him to start over again. Nevertheless, between 1809 and 1821, Sequoia succeeded in creating a distinctive syllabary for Cherokee, which had a small enough number of syllables to make such a system, rather than a true alphabet, practical.

At first people didn't believe he had succeeded any more than they had believed the task could be done; but public tests were performed, in which people Sequoia had taught to write were told to inscribe messages, which later Sequoia was presented to read. The success of the tests led in short order to virtually the entire Cherokee Nation learning to read and write. Soon printing presses were obtained, fonts created, and Cherokee newspapers sprang into existence. If what whites had wanted were "civilized" Indians, the Cherokees soon filled the bill. Unfortunately, it turned out that white Georgians were more interested in Cherokee land than in Cherokee civilization.

Sequoia had wanted a distinctive looking script for his writing system, so he deliberately made it look very different from the examples of English he could inspect. But when it came time to make up type fonts, it seemed more practical to stick to close modifications of the Latin alphabet. Thus, the word "Cherokee" itself, Tsa-la-gi, looks very much like "CWY."

While the storm clouds gathered over the Cherokee Nation, eventually to lead to the infamous "Trail of Tears" march to the West in 1838-39, Sequoia himself anticipated the trouble by leaving early, establishing himself in the Arkansas Territory, and encouraging others to follow him. After the whole Nation had been removed to what then became the Indian Territory, Sequoia decided to pursue a rumor that there were Cherokee in Mexico. He never returned from that trip, and we don't know what happened to him.

Sequoia has ended up with a curious honor. His name is now used for the unique Redwood trees of California, some of the largest, tallest, and oldest living things on earth. The coastal Redwoods, which are the tallest, are formally called Sequoia sempervirens. The Redwoods of the high Sierra, much more massive, were previously designated Sequoia gigantea, but are now dignified as a separate genus, Metasequoia. None of this had anything to do with the man Sequoia; but as a man of learning, indeed a creator of learning as only the creator of an alphabet can be, it does seem appropriate to immortalize him in the terminology of science. Return to Vita

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Copyright (c) 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

Sam Houston

Presidents of Texas
David G. Burnet1836
Sam Houston1836-1838
Mirabeau B. Lamar1838-1841
Sam Houston1841-1844
Anson Jones1844-1846

In the Arkansas Territory, Sequoia could well have met the former Governor of Tennessee, Sam Houston (1793-1863). A protegee of Andrew Jackson, Houston's life had already been a little unconventional. As a teenager in Tennessee, Houston had run away once to live with the Cherokee; and although he returned to white society and pursued a military and political career, he evidently felt a strong connection to the people.
Governors of Texas
J. Pinckney Henderson (D)1846-1847
George T. Wood (D)1847-1849
Peter Hansbrough Bell (D)1849-1853
J. W. Henderson (D)1853-1853
Elisha M. Pease (U)1853-1857
Hardin R. Runnels (D)1857-1859
Sam Houston (I)1859-1861,
impeached
Confederacy, 1861-1865
Edward Clark (D)1861
Francis R. Lubbock (D)1861-1863
Pendleton Murrah (D)1863-1865
Fletcher Stockdale (D)1865
Reconstruction
Andrew J. Hamilton (D)1865-1866
James W. Throckmorton (D)1866-1867,
removed
Elisha M. Pease (R)1867-1869,
resigned
Edmund J. Davis (R)1870-1874
Richard Coke (D)1874-1876
Richard B. Hubbard (D)1876-1879
Oran M. Roberts (D)1879-1883
John Ireland (D)1883-1887
Lawrence Sullivan Ross (D)1887-1891
James Stephen Hogg (D)1891-1895
Charles A. Culberson (D)1895-1899
Joseph D. Sayers (D)1899-1903
S.W.T. Lanham (D)1903-1907
Thomas Mitchell Campbell (D)1907-1911
Oscar Branch Colquitt (D)1911-1915
James E. "Pa" Ferguson (D)1915-1917,
impeached
William Pettus Hobby (D)1917-1921
Pat Morris Neff (D)1921-1925
Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson (D)1925-1927
Dan Moody (D)1927-1931
Ross S. Sterling (D)1931-1933
Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson (D)1933-1935
James V. Allred (D)1935-1939
W. Lee O'Daniel (D)1939-1941
Coke R. Stevenson (D)1941-1947
Beauford H. Jester (D)1947-1949
Allan Shivers (D)1949-1957
Price Daniel (D)1957-1963
John Connally (D)1963-1969
Preston Smith (D)1969-1973
Dolph Briscoe (D)1973-1979
William P. Clements (R)1979-1983
Mark White (D)1983-1987
William P. Clements (R)1987-1991
Ann W. Richards (D)1991-1995
George W. Bush (R)1995-2000
James Richard Perry (R)2000-present

Elected to Congress in 1823 and then as Governor of Tennessee in 1827, Houston's future seemed destined for success. Success there would be, but not the way it looked at that point. In 1829 Houston's new wife left him, perhaps in distress at his poorly healed wounds from the War of 1812. Houston resigned his post in humiliation and took off for the Arkansas Territory. Taking up residence in the "Wigwam Neosho," at the confluence of the Neosho and Arkansas rivers, now in Oklahoma, perhaps with an Indian wife, Houston briefly disappeared from history through a "Big Drunk." Recollecting himself, he began to represent the Cherokee Nation, in full Cherokee garb, on trips to Washington.

Houston also went down to Texas to check on the Cherokee there, but managed to walk in on a brewing rebellion against Mexico. In 1836, in tribute to his military experience with Andrew Jackson, he was given the task of raising an army. It was not at all clear that Houston was going to be successful in this. The army was not ready in time to save the Alamo, and then Houston retreated before the advance of Santa Anna's large Mexican army. The complaints and suspicions this aroused, however, were forever ended when Houston surprised, defeated, and captured Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, fighting with great bravery and sustained new wounds himself. The great painting of the Surrender of Santa Anna in the Texas State Capitol shows the wounded Houston sitting up against a tree.

In short order Houston was elected President of the Republic of Texas (1836-38 -- Spanish and Mexican Governors of Texas can be examined on a separate popup). The Texas Constitution prohibited a President from succeeding himself, and the next President, Mirabeau Lamar, wanted the Cherokee kicked out of Texas, which Houston, naturally, opposed. Lamar got his way, and the Cherokee were expelled, but then Houston defeated Lamar's chosen candidate and was reelected President (1842-1844). After Texas was admitted to the Union, Houston became a United States Senator from Texas (1846-1859).

Sam Houston's career would then take one last extraordinary turn. Elected Governor of Texas in 1859, he absolutely refused to assent to Texas leaving the Union and joining the Confederacy. The last event in his political life was then his removal from office in 1861, so that Texas could go ahead and leave the Union anyway. Houston died before the following contest was decided. Houston turned down an offer from President Lincoln for federal troups to prevent Texas secession and subsequently voiced some support for the Southern Cause, but his main concern seems to have been to avoid internal strife in Texas (there was some killing of Unionists) and in general he remained to the end a Jacksonian, i.e. Unionist, Democrat, deeply grieved at the turn of events.

Until the end of his life, Houston liked to be shown in his Cherokee blanket. Thus we see him photographed as an old man above and even in the political cartoon from Harper's Weekly at left. The blanket is still there on the statue by the great German sculptress Elisabet Ney, done by her together with one of Stephen F. Austin to represent the State of Texas in the Capitol of the United States of America. Copies also stand in the Capitol of the State of Texas, near the famous painting of the Surrender of Santa Anna, where we see Houston, wounded, propped up against a tree.

Ney's home and studio still stand in Austin, containing many of the original sculptures that she had done in Germany and later brought over to Texas. Her work included busts of Otto von Bismark, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Arthur Schopenhauer, King Ludwig II "the Mad" of Bavaria, William Jennings Bryan, and many others. Rumor attributed to her an affair with Ludwig.

Texas history certainly has its colorful and outrageous aspects. One of my favorites is the story of Governors "Ma" and "Pa" Ferguson. "Pa" Ferguson, James E., was impeached and removed from office in 1917. Later his wife, Miriam A., "Ma" Ferguson, ran for Governor herself and won. She returned again in 1933, just in time, we might remember, for the end of Prohibition. There are thus two portraits of Fergusons in the Rotuna of the Texas State Capitol, but both of them are of Miriam, for her non-consecutive terms. James, impeached, is not shown. They are buried together in the Texas State Cemetry in Austin.

The State Cemetry also has the grave of Albert Sydney Johnston, who had been the Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas and then was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. Johnston's monument, showing him as he was carried off the battlefield, with the flags of Texas and the Confederacy across him, was also sculpted by Elisabet Ney.

Among the Governors we also have James Stephen Hogg. In 1891 Hogg, riding a wave of populist resentment against railroads, got the Texas Railroad Commission established to regulate shipping rates within Texas. In 1901 the Texas oil boom began, and in 1917 the Commission was given powers over the transport of oil. In the 1930's this power was used to limit oil production and drive up prices -- another New Deal era attempt to create prosperity by protecting producers. This was of no benefit to consumers, only to rent seekers, and of course did nothing to create prosperity. Hogg was, appropriately, a stout man, and he named his daughter "Ima." She lived until 1975. The story is told that she had a sister "Ura," but that is not true -- and her three brothers did not have names that sounded like wordplay. We also see John Connally, who was in the same car and was shot along with President John F. Kennedy in 1963. George W. Bush, of course, became the 43th President of the United States. Perhaps the best that can be said for him is that, considering how much the Left hates him, he must be doing something right.

Governors of New Mexico (1598-present)

Spanish and Mexican Governors of Texas (1691-1836)

California, Governors of California (1769-present)

The Kings, President, & Governors of Hawai'i (1795-present)

Spanish & Portuguese Colonial Possessions

The Bushes

Philosophy of History

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Copyright (c) 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

The Bushes

Not many years ago the Bushes would have seemed very minor players in American politics. George H.W. Bush knocked around in various appointments, head of the C.I.A., de facto American ambassador to China, and other things. He was more an appointee type than a politician type. He posed just enough of a challenge for Ronald Reagan in 1980, however, that Reagan picked him as Vice-President. This, indeed, was another appointment, and Bush was a good team player, although Reagan picked him to represent a number of things that Reagan did not represent, like the "moderate" old Northeast, Country Club Republican elite. When Reagan's momentum got Bush elected President in his own right in 1988, Bush returned the favor by calling for a "kinder, gentler" nation -- apparently kinder and gentler than what Reagan had envisioned. Since Bush, in turn, wasn't interested in the "vision thing," he was duped by the Democrats, went back on his "no new taxes" campaign pledge, failed to articulate that the recession he was blamed for was already over, and lost to Bill Clinton in a vote that was swung by Ross Perot.

That might have been the end of it. But the most unlikely thing happened. His eldest son, George W. Bush, recovered from a drinking and possibly a drug problem, and fully as inarticulate as his father, had beaten what seemed like a popular Governor of Texas, Ann Richards, and then went on to beat Bill Clinton's own version of George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, in 2000. W.'s brother, Jeb, had by then also won the Governorship of Florida. Suddenly, this looked like a major political family. And for all his faults, W. then handsomely won reelection in 2004. This all threw the Left into a frenzy. The connection of the Bushes to international Nazi conspiracies, starting with H.W.'s father Senator Prescott Bush, is now conventional wisdom in the blame-American-first crowd and on the lunatic fringe, both Left and Right. The best that can be said for the Bushes, indeed, is how much the Democrats and the Left hate them. They must be doing something right. Apart from aggressively fighting Terrorism, however, which has given Tendured Radicals the chance to relive their youth by cooperating in a second great defeat of Amerika (as in Vietnam), it is hard to find very much good in the Bush record or program. Modest tax cuts were good, proposals to reform Social Security were good, but then the proposals went nowhere, and all the rest of the Bush program has been just more Big Spending, Big Government, Nanny State New Dealism. Not big enough, to be sure, or socially radical enough, to make any Democrats happy, but in truth simply a modest "me-too-ism" to Democrat government. This was "compassionate conservativism," which again seems to mean something not as mean -- or as consistent, American, or good -- again, as Ronald Reagan's conservatism. The Bush Justice Department couldn't even come out against "affirmative action" preferential policies, and W. actually signed the fraudulent McCain-Feinfold "campaign finance reform" bill which assaulted the First Amendment (perhaps in the expectation that the Supreme Court would strike it down, which it didn't). The result has been disaffection among conservatives and little but disgust among libertarians. To the Democrats, any stick with which to beat Bush has become welcome, even if it is over counter-terrorism measures (often those actually used by Bill Clinton and earlier Presidents) that so far may have prevented a repeat of 9/11. One often wonders if the Democrats actually care whether there is another 9/11 or not, or if they would welcome it as finally discrediting Bush.

Nevertheless a Bush political future may continue in the form of the attractive sons of Jeb Bush. Other family members represent personae of interest. Jeb's daughter Noelle has ended up in some trouble over drugs, which should make the Drug Warriors happy. Brother Neil's daugher Lauren has become a fashion model, running with the "beautiful people" crowd of the Hiltons and Hearsts. The public presence of the Bushes thus may grow for a good time after the retirement of W.

The Du Ponts

The Astors

The Vanderbilts

The Rockefellers

The Hearsts

The Fords

The Roosevelts & Delanos

The Hiltons

The Kennedies

Philosophy of History

Political Economy

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Copyright (c) 2006 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved