Spanish History in Santa Fe

Date January 14, 2008 at 11:00 PM

Categories Culture

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The Spanish influence in New Mexico's capital city dates back to 1540 when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a Spanish nobleman, traveled north from Mexico in search of the fables “Seven Cities of Cibola”. He explored what is now northern New Mexico extensively before returning empty-handed to Mexico. After several aborted attempts to resettle the northern territories, in 1598 Juan de Onate founded a Spanish village, which he named San Gabriel, located near today's San Juan Pueblo about 30 miles north of Santa Fe.

Onate's experiment at San Gabriel did not fare well and in 1610 the provincial capital was moved to Santa Fe under Governor Pedro de Peralta and the Palace of the Governors was built. Santa Fe prospered until 1680 when the Pueblo Indian Revolt was launched in which 400 Spanish were killed and the occupying force was driven back to El Paso del Norte. It took 12 years for the Spanish to resettle New Mexico under Don Diego de Vargas and Santa Fe has been a city with strong Spanish influence ever since.

For almost 130 years after the resettlement Santa Fe's lifeline was the Camino Real (the Royal Road) which connected Santa Fe with Mexico City and over which almost all trade to Northern New Mexico passed. This changed in 1821 when Mexico won independence from Spain and New Mexico became a province of the Republic of Mexico. With the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in the same year new trade routes with New Mexico were established by American traders traveling over this new land route from the Midwestern United States.

In 1846 Brig. General Stephen W. Kearney invaded New Mexico with the U.S. Army of the West and took possession of New Mexico for the United States. Mexico eventually ceded New Mexico to the United States in 1848 and trade with the Americans was further solidified thirty years later with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe R.R. reaching New Mexico and two years later extending into Santa Fe.

Santa Fe was incorporated as a city in 1891 and in 1912 New Mexico became the 47th state under President William Taft. Spanish roots and traditions continue to this day in the “Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis de Assisi”, Santa Fe's entire name.

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