Sonoma Valley Historical Society to host authors who bring written history back to life

The people who transcribed Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s historical accounts.|

The Sonoma Valley Historical Society will host experts on Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and his history of Alta California in a lecture, “The Yankees, Señor General, Are Not Like Us.”

The lecture will be delivered by Rose Marie Beebe, professor emerita of Spanish literature, and Robert M. Senkewicz, professor emeritus of history, both at Santa Clara University. They have collaborated on several books on the history of Spanish and Mexican California.

A generation after the U.S. conquest of California, 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 18 months composing a five-volume history, “Recuerdos.” It is the most complete account of California before the Gold Rush written by someone who resided in California at the time.

Beebe and Senkewicz have translated Vallejo’s “Recuerdos,” and after almost 150 years, it now has been published.

Vallejo (1807—1890) 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, such as the Monterey Constitutional Convention and the first legislature. Like many Mexican Californios, he lost most of his land to squatter occupation and expensive legal proceedings during the first few decades of American rule.

With his history project, undertaken in conjunction with historian and publisher Hubert Howe Bancroft, Vallejo sought to correct misrepresentations of California’s past, which dismissed as insignificant the pre — Gold Rush Spanish and Mexican periods, and conflated them into one “Mission era.” He sought to convince the new rulers of the land in which he had been born that the Mexican people, whom they generally disdained, had laid the indispensable foundation for the California in which they were all then living.

The lecture will take place on Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. inside Sonoma Mission Chapel, 114 E. Spain St. in Sonoma.

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