The land taken from Mexico included, as we have seen, our present state of California. This new section was still little known, although more than three hundred years had passed since the Spaniards first visited it. They named it California because a fabulous story of the time claimed that there was a rich province of that name near India. As people then fancied that India could not be very far away from this part of America, the Spaniards considered this name most appropriate for the newly discovered region.
Some time later California was visited by Sir Francis Drake in the course of his famous journey around the world. He renamed it New Albion, and is said to have discovered San Francisco Bay and the one bearing his name, near by. We are even told that he landed on the shores of Drake Bay to refit his vessel, and that he made such friends with the Indians that they begged him to stay with them and be their king.
Drake was followed, early in the seventeenth century, by a Spaniard who not only discovered the bays of San Diego and Monterey, but claimed the whole region for his sovereign. Nevertheless, for nearly a century and a half after that no lasting settlement was made in California. But at the end of that time some Franciscan friars came from Mexico to preach the gospel to the Indians.
These good men built churches and a score of mission stations in some of the most charming “garden spots” in California. Here they preached to such good purpose that at the end of about fifty years—in 1820—there were nearly thirty thousand Christian Indians. Indeed, the natives felt such awe for the priests that they obeyed them at a word, and worked so hard that the missions soon became very rich.