Centuries of Defense - Spanish (1776-1821) and Mexican Era(1822-1846)

Spain controlled the western coast of the North American continent in 1776 as the thirteen colonies declared independence from Great Britain. The mouth of the San Francisco Bay presented an entry to a new and rich world, ripe for the taking as various nations vied for control of the region.

Presidio of San Francisco c. 1776
Drawing of what the Presidio of San Francisco may have looked like in the early 19th century.

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, PAM Negative Collection, GOGA 35256.0645

  • 1779 - El Presidio de San Francisco established

    Northern-most outpost of the Spanish territories. El Presidio is outfitted with two cannons and soldiers are garrisoned at the site for the protection of Spanish settlers, development of the community, and control of the native population.
  • 1794 - Construction of Castillo de San Joaquin

    Adobe fort built by the Spanish to protect the mouth of San Francisco Bay from possible British and Russian aggression.

  • 1797 - Construction of Battery San Jose

    A Spanish defense at the current site of Fort Mason, built in response to the war with Britain.
SPM - 2
Fort San Jose and the Golden Gate straight during the Mexican period.

Image courtesy of the Bancroft library.

  • 1821 - Formation of the Mexican Republic

    Mexico successfully battles through the War of Independence from Spain. Soldiers at the Spanish defenses in San Francisco change their allegiance from Spain to Mexico.

  • 1835 - Mexican forces abandon Presidio

    General Mariano Vallejo transfers military headquarters to Sonoma.

  • 1847 - American forces occupy the Presidio of San Francisco
Presidio of San Francisco crest

Original panel for "Spanish (1776-1821) and Mexican Era (1822-1846)" (PDF, 39.5 MB)


Last updated: February 28, 2015

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