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Spanish History in Santa Fe

by Malcolm Pynn

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.

OÒate’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.

Spanish History

Pancho Villa
Ortiz y Pino Family History
Religion in New Mexico
Biography: Dr. Sabine R. Ulibarri
Spanish Settlements
Attitudes Towards Indians
Economy During the Spanish Occupation
Government
Juan de Onate
Pueblo Revolt
Native American History
Santa Fe Lore

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