Did You Know? – At One Time Alaska Was Part Of Mexico?

articles History & People

Teresa Kendrick

Did You Know…?

In the second half of the 18th century both the Russians and the British began to penetrate into the Alaskan peninsula, an area considered a Spanish possession as Spain was credited with “discovering” the American continent.

Spain soon sent orders to “New Spain”, Mexico, to go and reassert its possession of this part of the Americas. Three expeditions left from the port of San Blas in Nayarit bound for Alaska, sailing past land that was rapidly becoming the United States.

The first expedition left in 1774, commanded by Captain Juan Peréz whose ship made it as far as the 58th parallel. The second expedition under the command of Mexican Captain Bruno de Ezete, made it to parallel 61, planting crosses as markers in 1775. The third expedition, commanded again by a Mexican Captain named Ignacio Arteaga, again sailed as far as parallel 61.

Missionaries accompanied all of the expeditions, who evangelized to the native peoples and made scientific observations.

Mexican expeditions to Alaska resumed in 1788 because the Russians were making explorative forays deeper inland. Three well-planned Mexican expeditions in 1788, 1790 and 1792 were conducted from the schooner “La Mexicana” under Captains who once again claimed the territory for Spain. In reclaiming the territory, they ended up capturing a handful of British and North American seamen, as well as native people within their political boundaries. They engaged in little action against them, as most were native peoples who migrated to the area for its more hospitable weather.

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This Did you Know provided by Teresa Kendrick.

Published or Updated on: February 15, 2004 by Teresa Kendrick © 2008
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