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1. Altamira y Crevea, Rafael. 

The Share of Spain in the 
history of the Pacific 
Ocean. 1917 

2. Bagley, Clarence B. The 

Waterways of the Pacific 
Northwest. 1917 

3. Balch, Thomas Willing. The 

Alasko-Canadian frontier. 

4. Bolton, Herbert E. The Early 

explorations of Father 
Garces on the Pacific Slope. 

5. Bolton, Herbert E. New light 

on Manuel Lisa and the Spanish 
fur trade. 

6. Dunning, William A. Paying fofc 

Alaska, 1912. 

7. Howay, F. W. The Fur trade in 

northwestern development. 1917 

8. Morrow, William W. "The Spoilers 11 





9. Stephens, Henry Morse. The 
Conflict, of European 
nations in the Pacific. 

10. Teggart, Frederick J. The 
Approaches to the Pacific 
Coast. 1915 


0*f\ I &4 K.ftj CinjuC\. L U^ ' ^ ! - '1 ' 





Copyright, 1917, By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



I REGARD it as useless to emphasize the importance which I 
attach to this opportunity, offered by the meeting of the Historical 
Congress, to recall in the presence of an audience so familiar 
with the subject and so kindly disposed, the general outlines of 
a considerable portion of Spanish colonial history. 

In any case, reference to the useful work done in the past by 
the nation to which one belongs amounts to authorization of our 
right to exist and to continue our existence as associates in a com- 
mon humanity struggling for the attainment of conditions more 
and more civilized and prosperous. But the present occasion, 
because of the many circumstances of which I shall speak later, 
even if you know them well, increases notably the value of calling 
up the past. 

Such a finality of judgment as I may deliberately wish to give you 
is not incompatible with the scientific character of the Congress. 
No one can deny the Spaniards the right to concern themselves 
with their own history in a scientific sense and for patriotic ends 
as well as in the human one of mere investigation of the truth for 
truth's sake. Nor in this case is there any contradiction between 
the two lines of thought, since in last analysis what we desire is 
that the world shall know the entire truth about our history, and 
not a part of it exaggerated by unfavorable prejudices. When 
the final balance has been struck we are confident that it will be 
rather more advantageous for us than otherwise, as reasonably 

1 The English translation of this paper has been made partly by my old friend 
Professor William R. Shepherd of Columbia University, New York, partly by 
Mr. Herbert I. Priestley, University of California. I give to both of them my 
best thanks for their useful and accurate aid. The original Spanish version of the 
paper follows, pp. 55-75. 



might be supposed a priori of any people, in view of the very fact 
that it is made up of men who carry in their hearts along with the 
evil the good also of the species to which they belong. 

Furthermore, the point of view to which I refer arises naturally 
out of the topic itself, chosen at the particular request of our presi- 
dent, since in a sketch necessarily brief one finds it impossible to 
dwell on the details of recent investigation at once monographic 
and specialized. My present duty is simply to indicate the main 
lines of a complex development extending through several cen- 
turies, to offer a kind of summary that for many of you will be 
little more than a reminder of things already known, and for others 
an orderly condensation of loose facts to which I shall add the 
personal element of a historian's opinion. 

It is not true, indeed, in this field, nor in the remainder of our 
national history, that there are no new discoveries or researches 
to be made ; on the contrary, you all know that much remains 
to be done in this line. Even in the matter of inventories of ma- 
terials available, a work which is well advanced (and you Ameri- 
can historians have labored in this field with great assiduity and 
felicitous results), these inventories themselves still remain to be 
profitably utilized, since to know merely that a document exists 
is not the same as to know, utilize, and disseminate its contents. 
But the fact is that even in the matter of knowledge of the mate- 
rials themselves, every day the investigation of the archives re- 
veals to us something new, as I had occasion not long since to 
prove, concerning the legislative history of our colonization. In 
places other than the Archive de Indias there exist numerous 
documents not yet used, and part of these refer especially to 
California. But I repeat that this topic cannot be pursued here, 
lest I digress from the general character of the exposition which it 
is my duty to make now in your presence. 

Of course the term " Pacific Ocean," as it appears in the title 
of my address, must not be interpreted strictly as an allusion to 
the history of the Spanish sea expeditions to this part of the world. 
In the true geographical sense the Pacific includes all lands of 
the continents bordering upon it and receiving from it some of its 
conditions of life. Both elements are inseparable. To speak of 
the work of Spain in the Pacific does not mean, in my judgment, 


to speak of Oceania alone, but of America as well, of many an 
American area on which we planted our foot, and among them of 
this one where we now are. 

This point agreed, it may be observed that the history of Spain 
in the Pacific contains not only everything substantial in our work 
of colonization, but in quantity and even quality the greater part of 
it. One may say that here in this portion of the Pacific is the 
spot where the Spanish people, especially in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, and also in California in the eighteenth, 
applied the maximum of their energies and afforded the greatest 
proofs of their service in the civilization of the world. It is curi- 
ous that it should have been so, but it was not merely a casual or 
arbitrary occurrence. For some reason the action of the Span- 
iards on the American continents took place above all on the 
shores of this ocean, that is to say on the coast remote from Europe 
and not in the Atlantic just opposite to them. Consideration 
of the reasons connected with this fact, those at least visible to 
us, is a primary point worthy of the attention of the true historian 
who does not detain himself over minute details of erudition. 

That this is true was due at first to the initial enterprise 
that resulted in the discovery of America the westward 
passage to the Indies. The barrier of new lands encountered 
on the way, with all its attractiveness in wealth, actual and 
dreamed about, and in the zest, so human then and now, for 
domination, could not check the ultimate desire. One must 
go onward toward the West, fulfil the thought of Columbus, 
arrive at the real Indies. Thence came the efforts to find a passage 
through, by the northwest, by the centre, by the south, the enter- 
prise of Balboa, the projects for a canal, the multiple voyages of 
Spanish sailors across the seas from the time of Magellan and 
Elcano onward. 

The direction taken by Columbus in his first journey also 
brought the Spaniards to the Pacific. Had the course been shifted 
somewhat to the northward, they, rather than the English, would 
perhaps have colonized Virginia and New England at a consider- 
able distance from the Pacific. Had it inclined more to the south- 
ward, the great continental point of the Guianas and Brazil, to 
the Spaniards would have been entrusted a task of another sort. 


But Columbus in fact came to the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico 
and hence directly to the point most easily penetrable to the 
Pacific and fitted to become the centre of Spanish colonization 
and activity. 

A third fact planted us here, also, away from the Atlantic areas 
in question, the fact, namely, of discovering in regions bathed 
by the Pacific on one side, like Mexico, and in others adjacent 
to it, advanced types of aboriginal civilization that abounded in 
their appeal of wealth and glorious dominion. 

The westward trend of Spanish endeavor, then, apart entirely 
from the actual maritime enterprises on the Pacific, was also 
determined by the enterprises, on the Atlantic side, of extraneous 
activities which gave to France and England almost all to the 
northward and to Portugal almost all to the southward, and to 
the two nations first mentioned a great part, also, of the Antilles, 
which, even if it were made up only of the smallest islands, pos- 
sessed the greatest importance both numerically and commercially. 
In regard to the south it is well known that the actual colonization 
by Spain of the regions about the River Plate (not the voyages of 
discovery, which are another matter) belonged to a period much 
later and was far from reaching the intensity and proportions of 
that in Mexico, Peru, Chile, etc. 

But, since there came to be added to the field of history in the 
eighteenth century as a matter of doctrine, the question of what 
each people had contributed to the common labor of civilization 
(not to say that this question had not arisen prior to the eighteenth 
century), that which is of most import to general opinion, which 
demands of history definite conclusions or at least materials upon 
which to base conclusions, is to know what each nation has done 
in every sphere of its activity upon which either favorable or 
unfavorable opinion may be based concerning its contribution to 

It would be necessary to extend this paper beyond bounds 
if I should attempt now to discuss this historical problem in rela- 
tion to the entire work of Spain in America and the islands of 
the seas. In my other works I have spoken of this matter, or 
shall soon do so, hence I may be permitted to refer to them in 
outline, omitting details (which are often of great importance), 


a limitation imposed by the circumstance already alluded to of 
the incompleteness of the publications yet issued in regard to 
our history. The general outline I do believe has been clearly 
traced, especially if it be borne in mind that our written history 
has until now consisted in great part rather in the application to 
the facts of preconceived judgments and moral considerations, 
not always logical, than in quiet contemplation and balanced 
judgment of all the facts in their ensemble, with their proper rela- 
tionships and counterpoise just as reality presents them. 

I omit, then, consideration of the motives of our colonial move- 
ment, especially the characterization of it as a selfish, covetous 
appetite for lucre, as if only the Spaniards had undertaken coloni- 
zation for gain and the other nations for philanthropy, and as if our 
actual civilization, so firmly established upon the bases of economic 
well-being and the development of material interests, to which 
so many things are often sacrificed, could convert into a defect 
or even into a crime the pursuit of riches, especially when this 
motive was accompanied by others, of which the history of Spain 
offers many shining examples. Be whatever it may the opinion 
in this regard, it is fitting not to forget one thing often remarked 
upon, but which the exigencies of the argument demand should 
be recalled again, and that is that the economic incentive (either 
among mere fortune-hunters or among real merchants) carries 
man to other planes of life. A Spanish savant, Professor Aramburu, 
said upon a memorable occasion, referring to the Inquisition, in 
a phrase the rhetorical brilliancy of which does not conceal a fund 
of keen historical perspicacity, that it is not within the power of 
man to prevent bonfires from giving light ; that is to say that fire, 
though it burns, illuminates the means by which it will one day 
come to be extinguished. So also it may be said, that although 
he may not realize it, the gold-hunter or the merchant cannot 
prevent the circumstance that with the merchandise with which 
he ministers to indispensable necessities, should also be dissemi- 
nated the ideas and the civilization of the people to whom he be- 
longs things well outside his sphere, and often conveying great 
moral elevation. 

So then, although the Spaniards each and all of them who 
came to America or to the Pacific, or the public powers of that 


country and day, had had no other motive than covetousness, 
they would also have necessarily produced fundamental elements 
of civilization of other types, and it would be necessary to give 
credit for them. But it is well known that Spain proposed other 
things than the mere economic benefit of her discoveries, conquests 
and colonization. Among them was the extension of her religion, 
her culture, her spirit ; that is, to give all that she had, and that all 
(much or little, correct in all things or mistaken in part) her very 
own, which she might contribute to the common work, believing 
in good faith that it was her best and desiring that all peoples 
might participate in it and (as it always happens to every one, 
since none can give more than he has) without the power humanly 
to give anything else, so by that token without responsibility for 
not having given more. 

Briefly, then, let us see what Spain accomplished in its general 
activities throughout the continental areas bathed by the Pacific, 
on this ocean itself and on its islands. As already observed, I 
must avoid details, feeling assured as I do of knowledge of them 
possessed by my audience, who for that reason can follow readily 
the general treatment that I have in mind without seeking an 
explanation of every fact mentioned. 

In the first place, let us consider the fact itself of the expeditions 
by land and sea which in a short time and in immense quantity 
added to a knowledge of the planet. That result alone performed 
a valuable service to civilization and the progress of the world; 
but in its relation to the work of Spain it possesses a most important 
significance, because, as has been pointed out very well by Torres 
Campos in a treatise concerning California itself (and along with 
him Fernandez Duro and others), the extension of Spanish effort 
in that field shows that the Spanish people here were not merely 
mine-hunters and warlike conquerors, but geographical explorers 
to whom are due a long series of discoveries superior in this respect 
to everything achieved in those centuries by other peoples in this 
part of the world. The actual frequency of the voyages and the 
abundance of accounts of them which everyone nowadays may read 
and does read, have exhausted our admiration for those deeds with 
which we are familiar. Only when some exceptional act of valor 
is performed, like that of Scott for example, do we fix our attention 


on it, regarding it as something heroic and worthy of making proud 
the men who achieved it and the people to whom they belonged. 
But in general we have lost or lowered considerably our ability 
to appreciate the valor of effort in such undertakings, more diffi- 
cult and appreciable in proportion as we go back into history and 
encounter men who accomplished the same feats or even greater 
ones than those of to-day, with fewer means and hence with a 
greater expenditure of personal energy. And if to this trait in 
the spirit of man to-day we add the neglect visited upon the his- 
tory and remembrance of Spanish travellers, together with the 
deliberate silence or unconscionable ignorance about them long 
since common among foreign writers, one can understand how diffi- 
cult it is now to give a clear idea of Spanish enterprises of the sort 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is evident also 
that the public at large, creating as it does the collective opinion 
about history, through what is supplied by specialists or met with 
in the legends of common knowledge, is unable to-day to form a 
definite idea of that great work of Spain in its entirety, because 
of the lack of a picture of it which brings together and condenses 
all its elements. 

At this point it should be stated, furthermore, that the voyages 
and discoveries undertaken by the Spaniards were not the fruit 
of chance, or of a disordered action of individuals (even allowing 
for the very respectable share of individual initiative in human 
endeavor). Neither were they merely the fortuitous consequences 
of attempts that had failed in some other direction, as many, 
with pardonable error, asserted, including authors very favorably 
disposed toward the colonial history of Spain. Quite to the 
contrary. On the part of the elements directing Spanish action 
in the New World and beyond and in the bent of mind visible 
among the travellers themselves viewed as a body, there was some- 
thing reflexive, systematic, and orderly that befitted the final 
realization of an object upheld in spite of the more personal and 
egoistic purposes of some of the discoverers. This purposeful 
endeavor, as I have observed, had two main lines of action before 
it : the one, to carry out the thought of Columbus in its original 
form of arriving at the East Indies, establishing direct relations 
between them and Spain and utilizing their products for Spanish 


commerce; the other, to know well, in every aspect that might 
be of interest (not only in the political and in the strictly economic 
sense) the new lands that had been found, by bringing together 
and centralizing the information constantly assembled by the 

The first object was not fully realized, because the Portuguese, 
arriving from the East, had closed the way and prevented Spain, 
despite lengthy negotiations known to everyone, from securing 
more than a small portion of the island territory adjacent to Asia. 
The commercial current setting in from this direction, instead of 
moving toward Spain, that is, from East to West, by the Portu- 
guese route itself, moved from West to East, that is, from China, 
Japan, and the Philippines, and thence across the Pacific toward 
America and eventually Spain, thus creating the first commer- 
cial highway in that ocean and by Spanish effort. The day when 
one knows well the history of that highway, of the mercantile 
transactions associated with it, of its chief agency the Acapulco 
galleon (and it is to be hoped that the promised work of Mr. 
Schurz will make good progress in the matter concerning which 
there is much yet unpublished to be seen) and of the other elements 
that go to make them up, we shall see the importance it had, alike 
in itself and as a precedent for modern development. Then, too, 
we shall perceive how many Spanish enterprises in Oceania, appar- 
ently disconnected and casual, were united from within by the 
desire to subserve the great commercial object in question, seek- 
ing out its main line and assuring it as much as possible. Other 
enterprises were brought together for objects independent of this 
and derived, partly from the consequences that every discovery 
entails by giving rise to new geographical and cosmographical 
problems, partly also from the general eagerness, very active 
at that time in the minds of the Spanish pilots, captains, and 
adventurers, to discover for the sake of the satisfaction of dis- 
covery in itself, or for the advantages of conquest and the economic 
utility. Finally, a third group was one set in action by the 
necessity of knowing the coasts of the new ocean ; first, proceeding 
from the Isthmus and New Spain to the north and south (with 
new incentives at times like that which led to the several voyages 
of Pizarro and his companions) ; then, also from Peru and Chile 


to the south, for the purpose of connecting with the discovery 
by Magellan, apart from the impulse in various senses afforded 
by the eagerness to discover the maritime passage between the 
two oceans. 

Two points of capital interest are noticeable in this long history 
of the discoveries and both were the work of Spaniards : one was 
the discovery by Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the vast importance of 
which is recognized by the entire world, the epic valor of which 
was sung by one American writer, Washington Irving, and to the 
history of which a Spanish author, Altolaguirre, has just contrib- 
uted a large amount of material ; 1 the other was rendered effective 
by Magellan with Spanish money, ships and men, and led to 
the first circumnavigation of the globe, with which deed is 
connected the name of the Spaniard, Elcano. But the day when 
these three glorious names, that everyone knows, and a few more 
of like celebrity, are combined in the familiarity of popular 
consciousness with all those who contributed with their efforts 
and their successes greater or smaller to the secular work of dis- 
covering the huge Pacific and most of its lands to the east and to 
the west and within the vast sweep of its waters, everyone will 
recognize then what only a few specialists know now. It is that 
not merely the exploration of the American coast on the west, 
with scant exception in the extreme north, was entirely 
Spanish in its accomplishment, but a large portion of the islands 
of the Pacific also owe their discovery to Spanish sailors who threw 
themselves into the work with so much tenacity and vigor, un- 
mindful of perils which, as one author has observed, caused more 
than eighty per cent of them to perish in those hazardous voyages ; 
and all this without producing in two centuries any stoppage of 
the current of venture, while at the same time it left behind, in 
spite of the misfortunes of many an expedition, a glorious record 
of discoveries and descriptive studies. 

I refrain from giving here a list of names, which might seem a 
vain boast of erudition, useless indeed if merely a list is given, 
and there is not space for more ; but I do wish to say once again 
that in this matter all the data which have come down to us have 

1 Angel de Altolaguirre y Duvale, Vasco Ntiiiez de Balboa (Madrid, 1914). 


not been published, nor have those which are known been gathered 
together, in spite of the valuable labors of Jimenez de la Espada, 
Zaragoza, Ferreiro, Coello, Duro, Beltran, and other Spaniards, 
Collingridge, Morgan, and a few others among foreigners who, 
with sympathetic attitude toward Spain, have undertaken investi- 
gations of this character. When that work, which is now lacking, 
has been done, will be seen not only how much of our knowledge 
of the Pacific is due to the efforts of the Spaniards whose now un- 
known names will stand out in high relief, but also we shall know 
how full of dramatic episodes and impelling curiosity is the history 
of Spanish navigation, in which, that nothing should lack, there 
were even women captains of expeditions ; and how in Peru there 
were women who governed as viceroys during interregnums, 
showing that our ideas and customs of those times were not repug- 
nant to the spirit of feminism. It will also be seen how erroneous 
is the affirmation made by some persons that the Spaniards were 
not natural navigators since all the pilots of their expeditions 
were foreigners, for it will be demonstrated that many native-born 
Spaniards played principal roles in the development of precision 
in cosmographical studies by writing works which were trans- 
lated and copied in other countries of Europe by cartographers, 
and it will be demonstrated that this advancement in cosmography 
had created a propitious medium for the development of excellent 

With respect to the other purpose already mentioned, that of 
determining as exactly as possible the knowledge of the newly 
discovered lands in all aspects, it will suffice to notice, in order 
that it may be apparent that the effort was made with a clear 
idea of what was desired and a profound understanding of the 
difficulty of the enterprise first, the well-matured plan of the 
Relaciones de las Indias which our Jimenez de la Espada 
issued so brilliantly in his well-known collection of documents 
(afterwards continued in various other publications) ; and, second, 
the making of the Padron de Indias definitely to correspond 
with the Relaciones; finally, the systematic preparation of 
purely scientific expeditions, such as the well-known one of Dr. 
Hernandez in the time of Philip II. It is worthy of note that this 
expedition, and others of those centuries, were not sporadic and 


isolated, but were valuable links in a long chain, more or less 
closely connected according to circumstances, but practically 
uninterrupted ; the final episodes of these voyages were marked, 
in the eighteenth century, by numerous expeditions of famous 
Spanish naturalists (not considering that of Jorge Juan and 
Ulloa). In the nineteenth century, as a conclusion of these, oc- 
curred the expedition called the Pacific Expedition, in which was 
laid the foundation of the fame of Jimenez de la Espada. Among 
these voyages there should be found a place in which to group 
also those of Bonpland and Humboldt for, while it is true 
that these were performed by men of other nationalities, it is no 
less true that they were assisted amply in their efforts by the 
Spanish government. 

In view of all this, it is not strange that, shortly after the begin- 
ning of the discoveries, there should have been published not only 
books like the short but interesting one of Enciso, but fuller 
accounts such as the Geografia y Description de las Indias, com- 
piled by the cosmographer, Juan Lopez de Velasco, thirty years 
before the end of the sixteenth century, and in part derived from 
the labors begun in the Council of the Indies to form the above- 
mentioned Relaciones. 1 In this work there are many accounts 
of the islands of the deep ocean (islas de Poniente), especially the 
Moluccas, the Philippines, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Ladron 
Islands, and the coasts of China, Japan, and the Lequios (Loo- 
chow). In the same manner, and in the light of all that 
scientific preparation, based on the numberless materials ob- 
tained by travellers and missionaries (from the naturalists to 
those whom we to-day would call sociologists) , one may appreciate 
what rich treasures of all kinds exist in our chroniclers of the 
Indies; in some, because they utilize that material, and in 
others because they were prepared by the atmosphere of the 
epoch to see the reality of the new world with a width of vision 
and with a complexity of programme to which they never would 
have been drawn by the learned traditions of the historiography 
then dominant in the Old World. 

When the history of all these facts shall be written in its en- 
tirety, and placed before the public in proper form, adequate 

1 First published in 1894, with additions and illustrations, by Don Justo Zaragoza. 


proof will be presented that the Spaniards were predecessors of 
navigators of other nations in voyages repeated later by foreigners, 
aside from those which are exclusively and undisputedly Spanish. 

But I do not desire, nor could I well leave the present topic 
without referring by way of a slight digression to a matter, the 
importance of which has been during the current year raised to 
a high degree of interest. I refer to the Panama Canal. Here, 
less than in any other part of the world, do I need to extol the 
value which the opening of the Canal will have in human history ; 
but it is not for the purpose of lauding the enterprise that I here 
make mention of it, but rather to point out the share which the 
Spaniards have had in earlier efforts to effect what has been now 

Here again is a subject which as yet lacks a definitive study. 
The book recently produced by the learned Spaniard, Senor 
Manjarres, 1 although it adds many notices to those already well- 
known and oft-repeated, included in the handbooks of history, 
does not .exhaust the accounts which might be adduced. Man- 
jarres cites in his work twenty-one projects all Spanish (with 
one exception that of M. de Fer de la Nouerre) from the 
first project of Hernan Cortes to cut the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 
to that of the Deputy to the Cortes of Cadiz, Don Jose A. Lopez 
de la Plata. To these there might have been added, among 
those which are well known, that of Galve (sixteenth century), that 
of the Consulado de Comercio y Navegacion (communication by 
way of Patagonia) or even that which La Bastide (although that 
was not a Spanish enterprise, according to the name of the author) 
presented to Charles IV. Be whatever may the number finally 
verified, two facts stand out sharply to link the name of Spain 
perpetually to the great modern work accomplished, just as the 
name of Balboa is perpetually associated with the discovery of 
one of the oceans now united. The first is, that Spain contem- 
plated from the very first years the opening of an artificial water- 
way (since no natural one existed save at the extremes of the 
continent) between the Pacific and the Atlantic; and that, in 
the conception of the idea of this undertaking, as well as in the 

1 Ram6n de Manjarr6s, Proyectos Espafloles de Caned Interocednico (Rev. de Arch. 
Bib., y Mus. t Enero a Abril, 1914). 


formation of projects for its realization, in explorations and pre- 
paratory labors, to Spain also belongs the precedence. When 
Champlain in 1600 conceived the idea of the canal, years had 
already elapsed since Spaniards had not only had the identical 
idea, in view of the need of such a waterway, and with direct 
knowledge of the lands in which its construction was possible, but 
had decided various projects for utilizing several practicable 
routes (Tehuantepec, Nicaragua, Panama). Spain did not in 
the end construct the canal on account of the coincidence of nu- 
merous causes, among which, in the eighteenth century especially, 
was one of especial weight, that the new communication might 
prove a source of international complications. But Spain never 
ceased during three centuries to think of the project ; nor did she 
ever, as Humboldt himself recognizes, prohibit speaking or writ- 
ing about the piercing of the isthmus. 

All these vast efforts toward understanding and getting benefit 
from these new lands and seas produced, aside from the dis- 
coveries themselves and the numerous problems which the needs 
of the time suggested, a series of secondary but none the less im- 
portant consequences, which must also be included in a sketch of 
Spanish activities in the regions of the Pacific. These were, 
succinctly stated, knowledge of geography and geology (in so far 
as these fields of learning, until then without name or scope, could 
be furthered by the observations of the explorers), of botany, 
zoology, and mineralogy (with all the applied skill which mining 
demands, in which the Spaniards realized considerable progress 
by means of metallurgical methods of which some are still in use) ; 
of native dialects (in which the studies of our missionaries are of 
prime importance, as is well known, and of truly extraordinary 
number) ; and of the customs, social organization, traditions and 
history of the Amerinds, which keenly interested the Spaniards, 
including those religious matters which departed most from Span- 
ish tradition. As a result of all these labors in different fields there 
remains the most ample and abiding source of materials for mod- 
ern investigations. If to all this immense labor is added the inten- 
tional introduction into America of over 170 species of plants 
and animals here unknown hitherto, some of which throve and 
became characteristically American; and if we add the introduc. 


tion into Europe of trees and of plants such as the potato, the to- 
mato, Indian corn, the pita, the aguacate, the batata, the Chilian 
and Virginian strawberries, etc., we shall have a well-rounded 
picture of the useful and civilizing labors, material as well as spirit- 
ual, which the Spaniards effected in their contact with the new 
lands discovered upon the shores of the Atlantic and the Pacific. 

This picture signifies, in fact, the introduction of European 
civilization into America and many of the islands of the sea. 
Before that, all that existed in America was prehistoric, in spite 
of the material and artistic, advancement which certain civiliza- 
tions present without having essentially passed beyond the actual 
boundaries of the primitive. Through Spain, America became 
incorporated in that Westward Movement which has come to be 
the autonomastical civilizing mould of the greater part of the world. 
Thus Spain was the first teacher (in order of time) of citizenship, 
of the Christian life, and of classic culture elaborated anew upon 
the fabric of the original European organization of the Middle 

And it is fitting to say that the importance of Spanish activities 
in America is not only quantitative, but, in many of them, qualita- 
tive. The long list of names which might be presented, Oviedo, 
Acosta, Hernandez, Ximenez, Gomez Ortega, Sahagun, Herrera, 
Lozano, Carmona, Mutis, Ruiz, Pavon, Azara, Sesse, Mocino, 
Ulloa, Jorge Juan, Pineda, Malaspina, Medina, Saavedra, Barba, 
Fernandez de Velasco, Contreras, Acuiia, Ovalle, Lopez Medel, 
Elhuyar, and many others who might be named, is vindicated 
by the judgment which the labor accomplished has merited in 
modern times, from specialists not to be suspected of Spanish 
leanings; men like Humboldt, Linnaeus, Lyell, Hoefer, Sonne- 
schmidt, and many others. Of a transient, casual activity, product 
of futile curiosity without scientific direction, it might not be said, 
as it has of those Spanish activities to which I now refer, that 
"no nation has made greater sacrifices for the . advancement of 
botany " ; that in Oviedo and Acosta are found "the fundamentals 
of what we to-day call natural science ; " that " since the foundation 
of society, in no other epoch (as in that of our discoveries) had 
widened so marvellously and suddenly the circle of ideas touching 
the exterior world and relations of space;" or that the "Spanish 


descriptions of American countries are distinguished for their 
precision" (the judgment of Lyell), etc. 

We may, then, rest assured of having contributed to the labors 
of human science a treasure which warrants us to ask recognition 
as distinguished collaborators. 

There are certainly, along with these contributions, which are 
now coming to be recognized by general opinion, other acts of ours 
in all the colonies, hence in those to which this paper refeis, con- 
cerning which we have for centuries been hearing terrible censures. 
First of all, it is fitting to say frankly that although all the accusa- 
tions against Spain should be true, especially with regard to treat- 
ment of the natives, these censures would not invalidate the 
importance of any of the services to civilization just enumerated. 
In order that judgment upon a man or a country may be just, 
it is necessary to impute to them all that they have done, both 
good and bad. To pretend that since the latter exists all the 
former is to be blotted out, is an injustice, and, moreover, an un- 
reality. Each fact in history remains indelible, be what it may; 
the neglect or the malice of man may obscure it for a time, but in 
spite of that it shall not disappear from the debit or credit of its 
author, upon whose responsibility or vainglory it shall forever 
rest with an intrinsic value which nothing can countervail. All 
that we have claimed remains, then, as has been stated ; let us 
proceed to examine these other spiritual phases with which we are 
now dealing. 

After much discussion, a great portion of opinion has settled 
upon this formula of compromise; Spain conceived and wrote 
the most humane and elevated legislation for inferior peoples 
which is known to history, but this legislation (as well as that for 
governmental administration, which also interested the Spaniards) 
remained a dead letter in spite of the existence and the propaganda 
of numerous defenders of human rights, not only for the Indians, 
but also for the negroes, it being granted that the first known 
abolitionists were Spaniards. 

I do not believe that this formula expresses the reality of events 
as they occurred. Let it be noted that if it is accepted as valid, 
it is equivalent to acknowledging that, save for a restricted minor- 
ity of cultivated and generous men who conceived and issued 


those laws, from the time of Queen Isabella, and who in the 
professor's chair, on the printed page, and in the pulpit de- 
fended the liberty and dignity of the Indians and negroes 
save for these, that the mass of Spaniards were so cruel and 
undisciplined, or were so thoroughly imbued with the general 
ideas of contempt for inferiors and desire for their exploita- 
tion which prevailed at that time in Europe (and indeed these 
same ideas were applied by all the other colonizing powers) that 
they neither complied with these laws, nor omitted a single oppor- 
tunity to sacrifice to their selfishness and ferocity all the peoples 
with whom they came in contact. We must, no doubt, acknowl- 
edge this minority, which was as Spanish as the supposed majority 
which cherished opposite sentiments and ideas, but I repeat that 
this does not, in my opinion, convey the whole truth. 

Note that I say the truth. I do not, by this token, take the 
purely patriotic point of view, which tries to deny sentimentally that 
which appears unfavorable to my native land ; I assume a scien- 
tific point of view, in saying that that formula (which is indeed a 
priori absurd, since it divides essentially the two spheres, that of 
the ideal and that of practical life, as though they belonged to 
distinct worlds) does not express the truth as it occurred. Many 
North American writers accept the position that, with regard to 
our colonial system, " many of its errors and shortcomings existed 
because of the incompetence and venality of subordinate officials," 
and not from poor organization or the intention of the officers 
of central government, of the viceroys and higher functionaries. 
This, if true in general terms (allowing for exceptions among those 
same higher functionaries, not all of whom were impeccable, and 
it would suffice to mention a few names from Nueva Espafia, 
Tierra Firme, Peru, etc.) that is, only to transfer the respon- 
sibility, as in the previous case, and the evil intent, to those 
beneath, who were in the majority, thus confusing in a single 
sweeping judgment of venality and incompetence, all subaltern 

Well, then, it is indubitable that this constitutes an error and 
an injustice. It is not historically accurate to say that in Spanish 
colonization there were two distinct worlds ; one above, endowed 
with the grandest human ideas and intentions, another below 


but much greater, for whom these ideas were a dead letter. The 
actual fact is that in both classes there were humane, honorable, 
and just people who knew how to be faithful to the spi it of the 
laws (which were essentially our own, that is to say, they were 
the product of our spirit and not of another people's). So were 
there also those of the opposite character. Side by side with the 
legislators, with the apostles like Las Casas, with the scientists 
like Vitoria, there was a legion of people who were in immediate 
contact with the natives, and hence were obliged to practice their 
ideas missionaries, conquerors, encomenderos, miners, colonists 
of diverse types who did not perpetrate cruelties nor even those 
abuses and acts of exploitation which even to-day are considered 
permissible or explainable among the most advanced peoples of 
the earth, if practiced upon those who are economically or anthro- 
pologically inferior. The historical question then is to establish 
what number of abuses actually existed, and in what proportion 
with the cases of humanity and faithful application of the laws 
for natives did they occur. We must also take account along 
with the irregularities of those measures taken by a central 
government not impeccable no doubt, but conforming to the mode 
of civilization then everywhere in vogue. 

This task, the labor of the historical investigator, which will 
slowly be finished as we come more and more to know the details 
and can measure the exactitude of the allegations made up to 
now, as well as the value of general and inexact statements (so 
natural in those who preach a doctrine or complain of what seems 
to them evil in the portrayal of which they need to accentuate 
in order to command attention) this task, I say, will give 
us an exact measure, or an approximate one, of the proportion 
in which acts were good or bad. But however numerous the latter 
may have been, they will never be able to invalidate the reality 
or destroy the merit : first, of our laws of the Indies ; second, of 
the long line of our humanitarian writers or of our jurists of refined 
legal judgment; or third, of the long roll of our benevolent and 
charitable men, humane toward the Indians, and faithful to pro- 
fessional duty, whom our history unquestionably presents. It 
would suffice to mention and this is only a part of this group 
the list of our missionaries, really Christlike in their procedure, in 


order that Spain's credit column might show a respectable balance. 
California herself is not the part of America where with least 
justice this memory might be invoked. 

There would still remain, in this matter, something very impor- 
tant to be done before arriving at a just appreciation of the facts ; 
that would be the application to proved abuses (in peace or war, 
through motives of conquest or economic relations) the criteria of 
legal and moral judgment which the majority of mankind of that 
day and of this apply to non-Spanish acts of the same category. 
In the question of injuries to one's neighbor, there are but two 
positions : the philanthropic, which must needs be pacificist, 
and which has resulted in ill for all the nations of history; and 
that which we might call the realistic, which recognizes what is 
inevitable in human relations such as have been until now preva- 
lent, or excuses that which everyone did and still continues doing. 
If the first of these positions is sincerely adopted, truly many acts 
of our conquest and colonization will be condemned, but by the 
same token the same, or even worse acts at times, of the other 
colonizing powers from the remotest antiquity until now will be 
equally condemned. To apply to us exclusively this criterion, as 
do many foreign writers, and some Spaniards as well who are less 
nationalistic than desirous not to compromise themselves by 
excusing deeds which their consciences now condemn, is notori- 
ous injustice. But we must agree that a humanitarian judgment, 
for example that of Reclus or Pi y Margall, is not the one professed 
and is even less the one applied by the majority of men of all na- 
tions, and even by governments themselves in most cases. The 
world in general, then, cannot judge our history save by the criteria 
which dominate it, and which every people applies to its own and 
not to alien acts. It is hence necessary to judge those acts of our 
history alleged reprehensible by the light of dominant practice in 
order to place us upon an equality with others, and to ascertain 
in each case the degree of responsibility which must be assumed 
by government and people in the light of existing practice in the 
epoch under contemplation. Only thus can we put ourselves on 
a genuine basis whereupon the philanthropic criterion which has 
its merits, though with due historic reservations raises yet 
other questions which can only be asked by those who see affairs 


in their universal aspects. It will always redound to our credit 
that the ruling classes of Spain, in the colonization period, rejected 
and even punished many acts which the general conscience of the 
period held permissible, and which modern guiding minds some- 
times defend or commit under the guise of solus populi, or as we say 
in Spain, "for reasons of state," which are usually very flexible 
and elastic. 

And yet to that moral and judicial example which Spain during 
those centuries gave to the world, we may add another spiritual 
and practical lesson which is not, I believe, one of the least of our 
labors in all parts to which we carried our activities, chiefly to 
the New World. The lesson I refer to, there is perhaps no other 
nation more apt to comprehend in all that it signifies for life than 
the people of North America. It springs from a common fund of 
moral qualities, that is, spirit and will, which both Spaniards and 
North Americans have exhibited at various times when confront- 
ing similar needs of life. These qualities are endurance in suffer- 
ing, serenity in danger, energy in strife, force in struggle, and valor 
in difficulties which made possible among you the epic of the West 
and the Far West, and which shone with such remarkable lustre 
among our discoverers and conquerors. So, that which was done 
by the builders of this great republic upon the primitive shores of 
the Atlantic finds its precedent in the work of the Spaniards of 
the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, who, with 
lesser material equipment, had to contribute more of the personal 
element, more of physical energy. So our history in America, per- 
haps distinctively on Pacific shores, will always remain an inex- 
haustible source of those " professors of energy " from whom 
modern decadent nations, lacking confidence in their own powers, 
seek regenerative contacts. Men of such energies we had our- 
selves in those days, and to-day as well, without noise or ostenta- 
tion, but with positive efficiency in modern struggles among our 
emigrants to various countries, as have ever been found in other 
lands. Their example may serve not only for us, but for any 
people whatsoever, either to ratify and amplify these qualities, 
or to restore them. The having given the example is indeed a 
credit to Spanish colonization. 

This good work had, at times, moments of sublimity, when 


energetic quality of soul was joined with kindness of heart and 
sentiments of justice and fraternity. In such moments it pro- 
duced effects like the colonization of California, realized, as 
Torres Campos writes, "by a handful of men who knew how to 
demonstrate the peculiar aptitude of our people for the work of 
expansion and assimilation of the natives, which people of superior 
culture and lofty spirit may bring about by peaceful measures 
in favor of savages." 

Upon this beautiful page of our history in the Pacific, which you 
have learned to appreciate in such a noble manner, there are names 
which cannot be pronounced without great respect and deep emo- 
tion those of Junipero Serra and Salvatierra, whose letters 
to Ugarte are a high example of serenity in the presence of 
death and of manly persistence in the mission undertaken, until 
his last moment, which in our days can only be compared with the 
diary of the celebrated Captain Scott. 

Let me be permitted to place under the shield of these great 
names the completion of this labor. Through their efforts and 
those of others, the history of the civilization of California is inter- 
woven with that of my native Spain, and both have, for a long 
period, a common field. This warrants the thought that we may 
labor as companions, both Californians and Spaniards, in many 
ways, and perhaps here we may begin the practical realization 
of a project which I first advocated in 1909 to some Spanish- Ameri- 
can republics 1 and which I now find advocated by Professor Ste- 
phens. This is the establishment at the Archives of the Indies 
of schools similar to those which all nations have created for the 
study of the Secret Archives of the Vatican. The idea has already 
made some progress in some places in Spain, which are not of least 
influence, and certain preparation has been made in the official 
world. I should indeed congratulate myself if the result of my 
visit to San Francisco might be the realization of that which I 
consider, equally with Professor Stephens, as a prime necessity of 
our common investigation, and a bond of intellectual confraternity 
between our two nations. 

And I think that these historical labors in search' of the truth 

1 The material features of this proposal may be seen in my book Mi Viaje d 
America. Madrid, 1910. 


of the past, will not be the only common work to be done in the 
future by the United States and Spain, in order to realize the ideals 
of humanity and civilization which, I am sure, can only be reached 
through friendly cooperation by all the peculiar qualities of spirit 
and energy that the history of each people has produced. 




CONSIDERO intitil explicar la importancia que concede a esta 
ocasion, proporcionada por el Congreso historico que celebramos, 
de recordar ante un auditorio tan competente y tan bien dispu- 
esto, las grandes lineas de una parte considerable de la historia 
colonial espanola. 

En todo momento, la evocacion de la obra titil realizada en 
lo pasado por el pueblo a que pertenecemos, equivale a la legiti- 
macion de nuestro derecho a ser y seguir siendo miembros de la 
humanidad en la lucha por un estado cada vez mas civilizado y 
prospero; pero la ocasion presente, por muchas condiciones de 
que luego os hablare, aunque bien las comprendeis por vosotros 
mismos, aumenta de un modo considerable el valor de esa evoca- 

Esta finalidad que deliberadamente quiero comunicarle, no es 
incompatible con el caracter cientifico del Congreso. No se 
ptiede negar a los espanoles el derecho de preocuparse de su his- 
toria en un sentido critico y de orientacion patriotica, tanto como 
en el humano de la pura averiguacion de la verdad por la verdad 
misma, ni hay en este caso contradiccion entre ambas cosas, 
puesto que, al fin, lo que nosotros queremos es que el mundo 
sepa toda la verdad de nuestra historia, no una parte de ella ex- 
agerada por prejuicios desfavorables, confiados en que el balance 
final ha de ser nos mas ventajoso que contrario, como en razon y a 
priori puede pensarse de todo pueblo por el solo hecho de estar 
compuesto de hombres que lie van en su espiritu, con lo malo lo 
bueno tambien de la especie a que pertenecen. 

1 The Spanish original of the preceding address. 


For otra parte, ese punto de vista a que me refiero viene por 
si mismo impuesto en la formulacion del tema, hecha a peticion 
especial de nuestro Presidente ; ya que en un trabajo de conjunto, 
y forzosamente breve, es imposible detenerse en las minucias de 
la investigation nueva, necesariamente monografica y particular- 
izada. El seiialamiento de las grandes lineas de un hecho com- 
plejo y que abarca varies siglos, se impone aqui, a modo de resumen 
que para muchos de vosotros sera un simple recuerdo de cosas 
sabidas y para otros una condensation ordenada de datos sueltos 
a que el expositor anadira el aporte personal de sus reflexiones de 

No es ciertamente que en esto como todavia en lo mas de 
nuestra historia nacional no quepan novedades y trabajo de 
rebusca erudita; por el contrario, todos sabeis que aun queda 
mucho por hacer en este orden. Aun en los particulares respecto 
de los que el inventario de los materiales disponibles esta hecho 6 
muy adelantado (y vosotros, los historiadores americanos, habeis 
trabajado en esto con gran asiduidad y resultados felices), queda 
por hacer el aprovechamiento de aquellos, ya que no es lo mismo 
saber que existe un documento y conocer, utilizar, y divulgar su 
contenido. Pero es que aun en el orden del conocimiento de los 
materiales mismos, todos los dias la investigation de archives 
nos revela algo nuevo, como no hace mucho he tenido la ocasion 
de comprobar en punto a la historia legislativa de nuestra colo- 
nization, en lugares que no son el Archive de Indias pero guardan 
numerosa documentation aun no aprovechada, parte de ella es- 
peci. Imente referida a California. Pero repito que nada de esto 
cabe hacer ahora, para no apartarnos del caracter general de la 
exposition que tengo el deber de hacer ante vosotros. 

Por de contado, la apelacion de Oceano Pacifico aplicada a 
mi tema, no puede ser interpretada estrictamente, reduciendo 
aquel a la historia de las expediciones maritimas de los espanoles 
en esta parte del mundo. Tambien pertenecen al Pacifico, en 
recto sentido geografico, todas aquellas tierras del continente que 
corresponden a la vertiente del Mar del Sur y de el reciben condi- 
ciones de vida. Ambos elementos son inseparables. Hablar, 
pues, de la obra de Espana en el Pacifico, no es a mi juicio hablar 
solo de Oceania, sino tambien de America, de muchas regiones 


americanas en que pusimos el pie y, entre ellas, de esta en que 
nos hallamos. 

Convenido este punto, observemos que nuestra historia en el 
Pacifico no solo contiene todo lo sustancial de nuestra obra co- 
lonizadora, sino, en cantidad y aun en calidad, lo mas de ella. 
Puede decirse que aqui, en estas regiones del Pacifico es donde 
el pueblo espanol de los siglos XVI y XVII sobre todo, y tambien 
respecto de California, en el XVIII, aplico el maximo de sus ener- 
gias y dio las mayores muestras de sus servicios & la civilizacion 
del mundo. Es curioso que asi hay a sido, pero seguramente 
no casual y arbitrario. Por algo nuestra accion en el continente 
americano, se produjo sobre todo del lado de este mar, es decir 
en la costa opuesta a Europa, y no en el Atlantico, en la que mi- 
raba a nosotros ; y la consideration de las causas a lo menos, 
las visibles para nosotros de ese hecho, es ya un primer punta 
digno de la atencion del verdadero historiador que no se para 
ante el pormenor erudito. 

Por de pronto, inclinaba a que asi fuese, la influencia del intento 
inicial que produjo el descubrimiento de America : el paso a las 
Indias por el (Este. La barrera de tierras nuevas encontradas en 
el camino, por mueho que atrajera con sus riquezas reales y sonadas 
y con el afan (I tan humano antes y ahora !) de la domination, no 
podia borrar el anhelo final. Era preciso seguir hacia el (Este, 
completar el pensamiento de Colon, llegar a las verdaderas Indias, 
y de alii los intentos para buscar el paso por el N. O., por el Centro, 
por el Sur, la empresa de Balboa, los proyectos de canal, las 
navagaciones multiples de nuestros marines mas adelante, a 
partir de Magallanes y Elcano. 

La direction tomada por Colon en su primer viaje, nos arras- 
traba tambien a venir a la vertiente del Pacifico. Algo mas al 
Norte, hubieramos quiza sido los colonizadores de Virginia y 
Nueva Inglaterra a una distancia considerable del Pacifico; 
algo mas al Sur, la gran punta continental de las Guayanas y el 
Brasil, nos hubiera empenado su labor de otro genero ; pero 
Colon vino a la entrada del golfo de Mejico, y por alii, derecha- 
mente al punto mas facilmente penetrable para llegar al Pacifico 
y hacer de el centro de nuestra colonization y nuestras expedi- 


Un tercer hecho nos fijo aqui tambien, apartandonos de las 
regiones atlanticas mencionadas, y fue el del hallazgo, en tierras 
que el Pacifico bana por un lado, como Mexico, y otras plena- 
mente correspondientes a el, de civilizaciones indigenas adelanta- 
das que brindaban con solicitaciones de riqueza y de dominacion 

Y en fin, la determinacion principalmente occidental de nuestra 
obra aun descontando todo lo que significa la accion maritima 
por el mismo Pacifico se vio cumplida por la interposicion, 
del lado del Atlantico, de actividades extranas, que nos tomaron 
casi todo el Norte (Francia e Inglaterra sobre todo), con todo el 
Sur (Portugal) y una gran parte de las Antillas que no por ser 
la de las islas mas pequenas dejaba de tener importancia numerica 
y comercial grandisima. Sabido es, en cuanto al Sur, que 
nuestra verdadera colonizacion de las regiones del Plata (no las 
expediciones de descubrimiento, que son otra cosa) corresponde 
a tiempos relative men te ultimos, y estuvo lejos de alcanzar 
la intensidad y las proporciones de la de Mejico, Peru, Chile, 

Pero, desde que en el siglo XVIII vino a plantearse en el terreno 
de la historiografia, de una manera doctrinal, la cuestion de lo 
que cada pueblo habia significado hasta entonces y significaba de 
momento, en la obra comun de la civilizacion (sin que sea esto 
decir que la pregunta no estuviera tambien presente en la inteli- 
gencia de los hombres anteriores al XVIII), lo que mas importa 
a la opinion general, que pide a la Historia conclusiones y juicios, 
6 materia para ellos, es saber que ha hecho cada nacion en cada 
una de las esferas de su actividad que pueda fundar un juicio 
favorable 6 adverso de su colaboracion humana. 

Seria extender mucho este travajo y salirse de los limites que 
corresponden a su enunciacion, plantear ahora este problema 
historico relativamente a la obra entera de Espafia en America y 
Oceania. En otros trabajos mios he hablado de esto 6 hablare" 
pronto y a ellos me remito, siempre con la reserva en punto a 
los detalles (a veces, de mucha importancia, claro es) que impone 
la circumstancia ya recordaba de lo mucho que aun queda por 
publicar y di vulgar en cuanto a nuestra historia. Las lineas ge- 
nerales si creo que ya se dibujan claramente, sobre todo si se tiene 


en cuenta que ellas han consistido en buena parte hasta hoy 
(en que ya se construye cientificamente nuestra historia), mds 
en la aplicacion a los hechos de criterios preconcebidos y con- 
sideraciones morales no siempre esgrimidas con logica, que en 
la contemplation serena y la estimation equilibrada de los he- 
chos todos en su enlace, relation y contrapeso natural, tal como 
la realidad los muestra. 

Dejo, pues a un lado la consideration del movil de nuestro 
movimiento colonizador, sobre todo en cuanto al reducirlo a un 
apetito codicioso y egoista de lucro, se ha querido hacer de esto 
una acusacion contra Espana, como si solo los espanoles hubiesen 
realizado empresar coloniales por lucro y el resto de los pueblos 
por filantropia, y como si nuestra civilization actual, tan firme- 
mente establecida sobre las bases del provecho economico y del 
desarrollo de los intereses materiales los que tantas cosas se 
sacrifican a menudo, pudiese convertir en defecto y casi en delito, 
la persecution de riquezas, y por tanto, la presencia de este movil, 
juntamente con otros tambien (y Espana ofrece grandes ejemplos 
de esto) en la historia de un pafs. Pero tengase sobre esto la 
opinion que se quiera, conviene no olvidar, al hablar de ello, una 
cosa repetidamente observada y dicha, pero que las exigencias de 
la argumentation obligan a tener presente ahora, y es que con el 
incentivo economico (ya de los simples buscadores de riqueza, 
ya de los verdaderos comerciantes), el hombre lleva donde va 
otros elementos de vida. Un pensador espanol, el profesor 
Aramburu, ha dicho en ocasion memorable, y refiriendose a la 
Inquisition, una frase en que la brillantez retorica no oculta un 
f ondo de aguda perspicacia historica : la frase de que no esta en 
poder del hombre evitar que las hogueras alumbren, es decir, 
que dan, a la vez que fuego que quema, luz que ilumina incluso 
los caminos por donde el fuego llegara a ser apagado ; y asi tam- 
bien podria decirse que aunque en ello no piense, el buscador 
de oro, y el comerciante no pueden evitar que con ellos y con los 
bultos de las mercaderias que acuden a satisfacer necesidades in- 
dispensables, vayan tambien las ideas y la civilization del pueblo a 
que pertenecen, es decir cosas de muy otra esfera y, d veces, de 
una gran elevation moral. 

Asi pues, aunque los espanoles todos y cada uno de los que 


vinieron a America y al Pacifico, y entre ellos, los Poderes publicos 
de la Espafia de entonces no hubieran tenido otro movil que 
el de la codicia, hubieran producido necesariamente, tambien, 
hechos fundamentales de civilizacion en otros ordenes, y seria 
precise contarselos en su haber. Pero a mayor abundamiento, es 
bien sabido que Esparia se propuso otras cosas que el mero pro- 
vecho economico en sus descubrimientos, conquistas y coloniza- 
ciones, y entre ellas, la de extender su religion, su cultura, su 
espiritu, es decir, dar todo lo que tenia y era; mucho 6 poco, 
acertado en todo 6 equivocado en parte, pero lo suyo, lo que podia 
aportar a la obra comun, creyendolo de buena fe lo mejor, queri- 
endo que todos los pueblos participasen de ello y, en todo caso, 
como a todo sujeto ocurre, puesto que nadie da mas que lo que 
tiene, sin poder humano de dar otra cosa, y, por tanto, sin responsa- 
bilidad de no darla. 

Veamos, pues, en breve resumen, que cosas hizo Espana en su 
accion general sobre las tierras continentales que bana el Pacifico 
y sobre este mismo mar y sus islas. Repito que he de prescindir 
de detalle, reposando en el conocimiento de ellos que tiene el 
publico a quien me dirijo y que por ello puede seguir la exposition 
general a que me contraigo sin necesidad de explicar cada hecho 

En primer lugar, consideremos el hecho mismo de las expedi- 
ciones terrestres y maritimas cuyo efecto f ue afiadir en poco tiempo 
y en cantidad inmensa, al conocimiento del planeta, partes 
considerables de el. En si mismo, ese efecto es ya un servicio 
considerable a la civilizacion y al progreso del mundo; pero en 
relation con la obra espanola, tiene una signification especial 
hnportantisima, porque, como ha hecho muy bien observar Torres 
Campos en un trabajo relativo precisamente a California (y con 
el Fernandez Duro y otros), la extension de nuestros esfuerzos 
en aquel sentido, demuestra que no fue el pueblo espanol aqui 
solo un buscador de minas y un conquistador guerrero, sino un 
explorador geografico a quien se deben descubrimientos numerosisi- 
mos, superiores en este respecto a todos los hechos en aquellos 
siglos por otros pueblos en esta parte del mundo. La frecuencia 
actual de los viajes, y la abundancia de las relaciones que a ellos 


se refieren y que hoy puede leer y lee todo el mundo, nos ha gastado 
la admiracion respecto de estos hechos con que nos hemos 
familiarizado. Solo cuando se produce un acto excepcional de 
valor, como el de Scott, v. gr., paramos la atencion en ello, consid- 
erando que es algo heroico y digno de enorgullecer a los hombres 
que lo realizan y al pueblo a que pertenecieron. Pero en general, 
hemos perdido 6 apagado mucho la cualidad de apreciar el valor 
del esfuerzo de tales empresas, mas dif iciles y estimables a medida 
que remontamos en la historia y encontramos hombres que 
realizaron las mismas y aun mayores hazanas que los de hoy, con 
menos medios y por tanto, con mayor derroche de energfa personal* 
Y si a esta disposition espiritual del hombre de hoy anadiremos el 
descuido en que hemos tenido la historia y recordacion de nuestros 
viajeros, asi como el silencio deliberado 6 el desconocimienio 
inconsciente que respecto de ellos se ha advertido por lo general 
durante mucho tiempo, en los escritores extranjeros, se com- 
prendera que cueste hoy trabajo darse cuenta de lo que fueron 
nuestras empresas de este genero en los siglos XVI y XVII y 
que el gran ptiblico, que es quien forma la opinion colectiva en 
punto a la historia, a traves de lo que le proporcionan los es- 
pecialistas 6 lo que encuentra en las leyendas que forman el saber; 
vulgar, no pueda hoy formarse una idea de conjunto de aquella 
gran labor espaiiola, por falta de cuadro en que esten reunidos y, 
condensados todos sus hechos. 

Conviene ahora aiiadir que los viajes y descubrimientos es- 
panoles no fueron frutos del hazar, ni de una desordenada accion 
individual (aun dada toda la parte respetable que corresponde en 
el hacer humano a las iniciativas individuales), ni fortuitas 
consecuencias de intentos desgraciados que habian tenido otro 
objeto, como con excusable error han dicho incliiso autores muy 
favorables a nuestra historia colonial. Fueron por el contrario,, 
de parte de los elementos directores de nuestra accion en Indias 
y en la misma orientation general de los viajeros mismos consid- 
erados en conjunto, algo reflexivo, sistematico y ordenado con- 
forme a una finalidad que se mantuvo siempre aun por bajo de los 
objetivos mas personales y egoistas de algunos descubridores., 
La finalidad era de una parte, como ya dije, completar el; 
pensamiento de Colon en su intencion inicial de llegar a las Indias. 


Orientales, establecer relacion directa de ellas con Espafia y 
aprovechar sus producciones para nuestro comercio; de otra, 
conocer bien, en todos los aspectos que pudieran interesar (no 
solamente en el politico y en el estrictamente economico) las 
nuevas tierras que se habian encontrado, reuniendo y centralizando 
los informes que iban recogiendo los exploradores. 

Lo primero no se cumplio totalmente, porque los Portugueses, 
llegando por el Este, habian cerrado ya el camino, sin que cupiese 
a Espafia, no obstante largas negociaciones de todos sabidas 
mas que aprovechar una parte pequena de las tierras oceanicas 
proximas al Asia. La corriente comercial que de aqui previno, 
en lugar de orientarse respecto a Espafia, de E. a O., por la misma 
ruta portuguesa, se oriento de O. a E., desde China, Japon y 
Filipinas hacia America y de aqui a Espafia, a traves del Pacifico, 
estableciendose asi la primera ruta comercial de este mar por 
obra espanola. El dia en que se conozca bien la historia de esa 
ruta y de su movimiento mercantil, en su corriente principal de 
la nao de Acapulco (y es de esperar que el anunciado trabajo de 
Mr. Schurz adelante bastante en la materia, respecto de la cual 
hay todavia mucho inedito que ver) y en los demas elementos que 
las formaron, se vera la importancia que tuvo, en si y como pre- 
cedente de desarrollos mas modernos y se advertira como muchas 
empresas espanolas en Oceania aparentemente sueltas y sin nexo, 
estaban interiormente unidas por el interes de servir a aquella 
finalidad mercantil, buscando su linea mejor y asegurandola lo 
mas posible. Otras empresas se agrupan por finalidades indepen- 
dientes de aquella y derivadas ya de las consecuencias que cada 
descubrimiento trae consigo, planteando nuevas cuestiones geo- 
graficas cosmograficas, ya del afan general, muy vivo entonces, 
en el espiritu de nuestros pilotos, capitanes, y aventureros, de 
descubrir por la satisfaction del descubrimiento mismo 6 por el 
provecho de la conquista y la utilidad economica. Un tercer 
grupo, en fin, es el motivado por la necesidad de conocer las costas 
del nuevo mar, primero, a partir del istmo y de Nueva Espafia, 
hacia el Norte y hacia el Sur (con nuevos incentives, a veces, 
como el que produjo los varios viajes de Pizarro y sus companeros) ; 
luego, tambien desde Peru y Chile hacia el Sur, para enlazar 
con el descubrimiento de Magallanes, aparte lo que empujo en 


varies sentidos el afan de buscar el paso maritime entre los dos 

Dos mementos capitales hay en esta larga historia de des- 
cubrimientos y los dos corresponden a espanoles; el inicial de 
Vasco Nunez de Balboa, cuya importancia capitalisima reconoce 
el mundo entero, cuyo valor epico ya fue cantado por un escritor 
norte-americano, Washington Irving, y a cuya historia acaba de 
anadir numerosa documentation un autor espanol, Altolaguirre, 1 
y el de Magallanes, hecho con dinero, barcos, y hombres espanoles, 
y origen de la primera circumnavegacion a que va unido el nombre 
de nuestro Elcano. Pero el dia que a estos tres nombres gloriosos 
que todo el mundo conoce, y algunos pocos mas que gozan de esa 
condition, se unan en la familiaridad del conocimiento popular 
todos los que concurrieron con su esfuerzo y con sus exitos may- 
ores 6 menores a la obra secular del descubrimiento del inmenso 
Pacifico y las mas de sus tierras, al E. al O. y en el grandioso 
ambito de sus aguas, se reconocera por todos lo que ahora solo 
saben algunos especialistas y es que no solo la investigation de 
las costas americanas del (Este, con muy corta exception en el 
extremo Norte, fue puramente espanola, sino que tambien lo 
fue la de una gran parte de las islas del Pacifico a cuyo descubri- 
miento se lanzaron con tanto teson y arrojo nuestros navegantes, 
sin recelo de los peligros, que como ha hecho observar un autor, 
mas del 80 por ciento de ellos perecieron en aquellos arriesgados 
viajes, sin que en dos siglos cesase la corriente de ellos y dejando, 
a pesar del infortunio de muchas expediciones, un rastro glorioso 
de hallazgos y de estudios. 

Renuncio a dar aqui una lista de nombres que pudiera parecer 
alarde de erudition, infitil, ademas, si se limita a esto (y para otra 
cosa no hay espacio) ; pero si quiero decir que, una vez mas, 
ocurre en esto que ni estan publicados todos los datos que ha 
llegado a nosotros, ni reunidos en un conjunto, los que ya se saben, 
no obstante las valiosas aportaciones de Jimenez de la Espada, 
Zaragoza, Ferreiro, Coello, Duro, Beltran y algun otro entre 
los espanoles, y Collingridge, Morgan, y pocos ma's entre los 
extranjeros que con animo simpatico a Espana han emprendido 

1 Vaaco Nufiez de Balboa, por Angel de Altolaguirre y Duvale. (Madrid, 1914.) 


investigaciones de este orden. Cuando esa labor que ahora falta 
este hecha, se vera no solo lo mucho que al esfuerzo espanol debe 
el conocimiento del mar Pacifico y sus aledanos, sacando a luz 
y poniendo de relieve nombres hoy obscuros 6 de poca resonancia, 
sino tambien cuan llena de episodios dramaticos 6 de alta curi- 
osidad se halla esa historia de las navegaciones espanolas en la 
que, para que nada falte, hasta hay mugeres capitanas de expedi- 
ciones, como en el Peru hubo virreinas con mando efectivo en 
interregnos en que nuestras ideas y costumbres no repugnaban el 
feminismo mas. Tambien se advertira entonces cuan equivocada 
es la afirmacion sostenida por algunos, de que los espanoles no 
eran propiamente navegantes, porque todos los pilotos de sus 
expediciones eran extranjeros, revelandose la existencia y el papel 
principal de muchos nacidos en Espana donde el desarrollo y 
precision adquiridos entonces por los estudios cosmograficos, 
traducidos y copiados en otros paises de Europa, y por los 
cartograficos, habian creado un medio propicio a la formacion de 
buenos marines. 

En cuanto a la otra finalidad antes senalada, a saber, la de 
determinar lo mas exactamente posible el conocimiento, en todos 
ordenes, de las nuevas tierras descubiertas, bastara recordar, 
para que se vea como a ello presidio una clara conciencia de lo 
que se deseaba y un saber profundo de la complejidad del intento, 
de una parte, aquel plan de las relaciones de Indias tan sabia- 
mente madurado y que dio a conocer de tan brillante modo nuestro 
Jimenez de la Espada en su conocida coleccion de aquellos docu- 
mentos (continuada despues en otras varias publicaciones) ; de 
otra, la formacion del padron de Indias con ellas estrechamente 
relacionado, y, en fin, la preparation sistematica de expediciones 
puramente cientificas como la bien sabida del Dr. Hernandez en 
tiempo de Felipe II. E importa advertir que esta expedition y 
alguna otra de aquellos siglos, no fueron iniciativas esporadicas 
y como perdidas, sino eslabones, mas 6 menos valiosos, de una 
larga cadena, variadamente intensa segun las circunstancias, 
pero propiamente ininterrumpida y cuyos ultimos episodios estan 
senalados, en el siglo XVIII, por las numerosas expediciones de 
naturalistas espanoles de todos conocidas (aparte las de Jorge 


Juan y Ulloa) y en el mismo siglo XIX, como tlrmino de ellas, 
por la llaniada del Pacifico (1862-66) en que comenzo a tejerse 
la legitima fama del Jimenez de la Espada. Y aun cabria agrupar 
en alguna medida a todos estos viajes, los de Bonpland y Hum- 
boldt, pues si es cierto que los realizaron hombres de otras naciones, 
no lo es menos que en ellos se vieron amplimente asistidos y 
ayudados por el gobierno espanol. 

Con todo esto, no es estrafio que poco despues de iniciados 
los descubrimientos, se pudiesen escribir, no solo libros como 
el breve pero interesante de Enciso, sino amplios y nutridos de 
noticias como la Geografia y description universal de las Indias f 
recopilada por el cosmografo Juan Lopez de Velasco, 1 treinta anos 
antes de finalizar el siglo XVI y en parte derivada de los trabajos 
emprendidos en el Consejo de Indias para formar las Relaciones 
antes citadas. En ella hay ya muchas noticias de las islas oceanicas 
(islas de Poniente), en especial las Molucas, de Filipinas, de 
Nueva Guinea, Salomon, Ladrones y las costas de China, Japon 
y Lequios. Del mismo modo, a la luz de toda esa preparation 
cientifica y sobre la base de los innumerables materiales que iban 
aportando los viajeros y los misioneros, se comprende de una 
manera razonada la existencia del rico caudal de noticias de todo 
genero (desde las naturalistas a las que hoy diriamos sociologicas), 
que se encuentra en nuestros cronistas de Indias ; en unos porque 
aprovechan aquel material, en otros porque estaban preparados 
por el ambiente de la epoca a ver la realidad del mundo nuevo con 
una amplitud y complejidad de programa a que no les hubiera 
llevado nunca la pura tradition erudita de la historiografia domi- 
nante en el Viejo Mundo. 

Y en fin, cuando la historia de todos estos hechos pueda ser 
totalmente escrita y trascienda en divulgaciones bien orientadas 
al gran publico, quedara totalmente determinada la precedencia, 
que en muchos descubrimientos luego repetidos por extranjeros, 
corresponde a los espanoles, aparte los que son exclusivos suyos 
y nadie les disputa. 

Pero no quiero ni podria abandonar este orden de cosas sin 
hacer parrafo aparte de un asunto cuya importancia propia ha 

1 La Geografia y Descripcidn Universal de las Indias, por Juan L6pez de Velasco. Se 
public6 por primera vez en 1894, con adiciones 6 ilustraciones de D. Justo Zaragoza. 


recibido en este mismo ano un elevado suplemento de interes 
circunstancial. Me refiero al canal de Panama. Aqui menos 
que en ninguna parte del mundo, necesito realizar el valor que 
para la historia humana tiene el hecho de la apertura del canal ; 
pero no es para dedicarle ditirambos para lo que yo lo traigo aqui 
a colacion, sino para precisar la parte que en sus antecedentes 
corresponde a los espanoles. 

Tambien es este asunto en el cual hace falta un estudio defi- 
nitive. El que recientemente le ha dedicado el erudito espaiiol 
Sr. Manjarres, 1 aunque afiade muchas noticias a las ya conocidas 
y repetidas incluso en manuales de historia, no agota las que 
podrian aducirse. Veinte-un proyectos cita Manjarres (espanoles 
todos con excepcion de uno, el de M. de Per de la Nouerre) en su 
trabajo, desde la idea inicial de Hernan Cortes referida al istmo 
de Tehuantepec, hasta el del diputado de las Cortes de Cadiz, D. 
Jose A. Lopez de la Plata ; pero aun hubiera podido afiadir, entre 
los conocidos, el de Galve (siglo XVI), el del Consulado de Co- 
mercio y Navegacion (comunicacion por Patagones), y aun el de 
La Bastide (aunque no es espanol por su autor) presentado a 
Carlos IV. Sea cualquiera el inmenso total de los que al fin 
se averiguen, dos cosas resultan claros y enlazan eternamente el 
nombre de Espafia a la gran obra moderna, como enlazado va 
en la persona de Balboa al del descubrimiento de uno de los mares 
ahora unidos ; la una, que Espana penso siempre, desde los prime- 
ros tiempos, en abrir una via de agua artificial (puesto que natural 
no la habia sino en los extremes del continente) entre el Pacifico 
y el Atlantico, y que en la concepcion de la idea de esta obra, tanto 
como en la determinacion de proyectos para realizarla y de explo- 
raciones y trabajos que la preparasen, a ella corresponde la pri- 
macia. Cuando Champlain tuvo la idea del canal, en 1000, hacia 
anos que gentes espafiolas habian, no solo tenido esa misma idea, 
sobre la base de la necesidad de semejante via y del conocimiento 
directo de las tierras en que era posible, sino que habian deter- 
minado varios proyectos en relacion con trayectorias diferentes 
aprovechables (Tehuantepec, Nicaragua, y Panama). Espafia 
no hizo al fin el canal, por concurrencia de diversas causas, entre 

l Proyecto8 Espafloles de Canal Interocednica, por Ram6n de ManjarrSs. (Rev. 
de Arch., Bib. y Mus. Enero a Abril 1914. 



las que en el siglo XVIII especialmente parece haber tenido valor 
la de los recelos de que la nueva via fuese motive de complicaciones 
internacionales ; pero ni ceso de pensar en el durante tres siglos, 
ni, como Humboldt mismo reconoce, prohibio nunca que se hablase 
y escribiese acerca de la ruptura del istmo. 

Toda esta enorme cantidad de esfuerzos dirigidos al estudio 
y aprovechamiento de las nuevas tierras y los nuevos mares, 
produjo, aparte los descubrimientos mismos y el planteamiento 
de los problemas de todo genero que sugerian a la mentalidad 
las necesidades de entonces, una serie de consecuencias derivadas, 
pero no menos importantes, que tambien hay que incluir en el 
cuadro de la obra espaiiola en las regiones del Pacifico. Estas 
consecuencias fueron, sucintamente dichas, el conocimiento de la 
geografia y geologia (hasta donde esta esfera del conocer, sin 
nombre ni campo propio entonces, cabia en las observaciones de 
los exploradores) , de la botanica, la zoologia y la mineralogia 
(esta, con todas las aplicaciones que la mineria exigia y en que 
los espafioles realizaron progresos y novedades considerables, 
mediante la introduccion de metodos metalurgicos algunos de los 
que aun se emplean) , de los idiomas indigenas (en que los estudios 
de nuestros misioneros son capitales, como es sabido, y en numero 
verdaderamente extraordinario) y de las costumbres, organization 
social, tradiciones e historia de los amerindos, que interesaron 
vivamente a los espafioles incluso en los particulares religiosos 
que mas se apartaban de la ortodoxfa espanola, hasta el punto de 
formar la agrupacion de sus trabajos en este orden, la fuente 
mas amplia y segura para las investigaciones modernas. Si a 
toda esta inmensa labor se une el servicio que representa la 
introduccion deliberada en America de especies vegetales (unas 
170) y animales aqui desconocidas y algunas de las cuales se 
convirtieron despues en autonomaticamente americanas y el 
traspaso a Europa de arboles y plantas como la patata , el tomate, 
el maiz, la pita, el aguacate, la batata, el freson de Chile y fresa de 
Virginia, etc. se tendra el cuadro complete de la obra util, 
civilizadora, tanto en el orden material como en el espiritual, 
que realizaron los espanoles en su contacto con las nuevas tierras 
descubiertas del lado del Atlantico y del Pacifico. 

Ese cuadro signifies, de hecho, la primera implantation en 


America y en parte de las islas oceanicas, de la civilization europea. 
Antes de Espafia, lo que en America se encuentra es prehistoria, 
no obstante el adelanto material y artistico que algunas 
civilizaciones ofrecen, sin haber roto, en lo fundamental, el limite 
propio de lo primitivo. Con Espana, America se incorpora al 
movimiento occidental que ha venido a ser el molde civilizador 
por antonomasia, de la mayor parte del mundo y asi ella fue la 
primera maestra en el orden del tiempo de la vida ciudadana, de 
la vida cristiana y de la cultura clasica reelaborada sobre el fondo 
de la original formation europea de la Edad Media. 

Y conviene decir que la importancia de la obra espanola en 
America no esta solo en la cantidad de los trabajos que la forman, 
sino tambien en la calidad de muchos de ellos. La larga lista de 
nombres que pueden sefialarse Oviedo, Acosta, Hernandez, 
Ximenez, Gomez Ortega, Sahagun, Herrera, Lozano, Carmona, 
Mutis, Ruiz, Pavon, Azara, Sesse, Mocifio, Ulloa, Jorge Juan, 
Pineda, Malaspina, Medina, Saavedra, Barba, Fernandez de 
Velasco, Contreras, Acuna, Ovalle, Lopez Medel, Elhuyar, y 
tantos otros que cabria citar, esta avalorada por el juicio que 
la labor realizada ha merecido en tiempos modernos a especial- 
istas no sospechosos de patrioteria espanola, como Humboldt, 
Linneo, Lyell, Hoefer, Sonneschmidt y muchos mas. De una 
obra de acarreo y casualidad, fruto de una curiosidad futil y sin 
direction cientifica no cabria decir, como de la espanola de estos 
generos a que me refiero ahora se ha dicho, que " ninguna nation 
ha hecho mas sacrificios en pro de los adelantos de la Botanica " ; 
que en Oviedo y Acosta se halla " el fundamento de lo que hoy 
llamamos fisica del globo"; que "desde la fundacion de las 
sociedades, en ninguna otra epoca (como en la de nuestros des- 
cubrimientos) sehabia ensanchado repetidamente, y de un modo tan 
maravilloso, el circulo de ideas en lo que toca al mundo externo y a 
las relaciones con el espacio" ; que "las descripciones espanolas de 
los paises americanos se distinguen por su precision'' (juicio de 
Lyell), etc. Podemos, pues, estar seguros de haber aportado a 
la obra de la ciencia humana un caudal que nos autoriza & pedir 
titulo de colaboradores distinguidos. 

Hay ciertamente, al lado de estos puntos que ya van siendo 


reconocidos por la opinion general, otros de nuestra accion en 
las colonias todas y por tanto en las regiones a que se refiere 
este trabajo, respecto de los cuales venimos oyendo hace siglos 
censuras terribles. Ante todo, conviene decir con franqueza que 
aun en el caso de que fueran verdad todas las acusaciones que se 
han hecho contra Espana, singularmente en cuanto al trato de los 
indigenas, ellas no invalidarian la importancia de ninguno de los 
servicios a la civilizacion antes enumerados. Para que el juicio 
de un hombre 6 de un pais sea justo, hay que computarles todo lo 
que hicieron, lo bueno y lo malo. Pretender que por existir esto 
ultimo se debe borrar todo lo otro, es una injusticia y, ademas, 
una irrealidad. Todo hecho queda indelible en la historia, sea 
como fuere ; podra la negligencia 6 la malicia de los hombres ob- 
scurecerlo por algun tiempo, pero no por eso desaparece del haber 
6 el deber de su autor, sobre cuya responsabilidad 6 vanagloria pe- 
sara eternamente, con propio valor que nada puede contrarrestar. 

Queda, pues, en pie, todo lo consignado anteriormente, y ven- 
gamos a examinar esta otra parte espiritual a que ahora nos 
refer imos. 

Despues de mucho discutir, una parte considerable a la opinion 
ha venido a fijarse en esta formula intermedia : Espana concibio 
y escribio la mas humana y elevada legislacion de la historia re- 
lativemente a los pueblos inferiores, pero esa legislacion (asi como 
la de gobierno, que interesaba tambien a los mismos esparioles) 
fue letra muerta, a pesar de la existencia y la propaganda de 
numerosos defensores del derecho humano, no solo con respecto a 
los Indios, sino tambien con respecto a los negros, dado que los 
primeros abolicionistas conocidos son espanoles. 

No creo que esa formula expresa la realidad de las cosas ocu- 
ridas. Notese que si se acepta como buena, equivale a reconocer 
que, salvo una exigua minorfa de hombres ilustrados y generosos 
(los que en el gobierno del pais concibieron y redactaron aquellas 
leyes, desde la misma reina Ysabel, y los que en la catedra, en 
el libro y en la predication defendieron la libertad y la dignidad 
de los indigenas y de los africanos), la masa de los espanoles 
fue tan cruel e indisciplinada 6 estaba de tal modo imbuida 
en las ideas generales de desprecio y explotacion del inferior 
que predominaban entonces en Europa (y bien las aplicaron 


todos los demas pueblos colonizadores) , que ni cumplieron aquellas 
leyes, ni perdieron una sola ocasion de sacrificar a su egoismo y a su 
ferocidad todas las gentes con quienes se rozaban. Algo es, sin 
duda, el reconocimiento de aquella minoria, tan espafiola como 
la supuesta mayoria de contraries sentimientos e ideas ; pero repito 
que no es, a mi juicio, toda la verdad. 

Notad que digo la verdad. No me coloco pues en un punto de 
vista patriotico, que procura negar sentimentalmente lo que aparece 
desfavorable a su patria, sino en un punto de vista cientifico, 
diciendo que aquella formula (que ya es absurda a priori, pues to 
que divide radicalmente las dos esferas, la de la idea y la de la 
vida practica, como si perteneciesen a mundos distintos) no 
expresa la verdad de lo ocurrido. Ya se acepta por muchos 
tratadistas norte-americanos, en materia de nuestro sistema co- 
lonial, que "muchos de sus errores y maleficios existieron a causa 
de la incompetencia y venalidad de los funcionarios subaiternos " 
y no de la mala organization 6 la intension dafiada de los gover- 
nantes metropolitanos 6 de los virreyes y funcionarios superiores ; 
lo cual, si en terminos generales puede ser verdad (caso aparte de 
excepciones en esos mismos funcionarios superiores, que no fueron 
todos impecables, y bastaria citar algunos nombres de Nueva 
Espaiia, Tierra Firme, Peru, etc.), no hace mas que trasladar, 
como en el caso anterior, la responsabilidad y la maldad, a Ibs de 
abajo, que son tambien los mas, confundiendo pues, en un solo 
juicio de "venalidad e incompetencia," a todos los funcionarios 

Ahora bien, es indudable que en esto hay un error y una in- 
justicia. No es exacto historicamente que en la colonization 
espafiola haya habido dos mundos distintos ; uno superior, dotado 
de las mas grandes y humanas ideas e intensiones, y otro inferior 
pero mucho mas extenso para quien eran aquellas letra muerta. 
La verdad real fu6 que en ambos hubo gentes humanitarias, 
honorables y justas que supieron ser fieles al sentido de nuestra 
legislation (que por algo es nuestra, es decir, por algo salio de 
nuestro espiritu y no del de otro pueblo), como en ambos las 
hubo de contraria condition. Al lado de los legisladores, de 
los apostoles como Las Casas, de los cientfficos como Vitoria, 
hubo una legion de personas, de las que inmediatamente estaban 


en contacto con los indigenas y tenian pues que practicar sus 
ideas misioneros, conquistadores, encomenderos, mineros, coloni- 
zadores, de diversas layas, que no realizaron crueldades, ni 
siquiera aquellos abuses y explotaciones que todavia hoy consideran 
licitas 6 explicables los pueblos mas adelantados del mundo, con 
respecto al inferior economica 6 antropologicamente. La cuestion 
historica en este punto se halla pues en precisar que numero de 
abuses hubo realmente, y en que proporcion se hallaron con los 
casos de humanidad y fiel aplicacion de las leyes en punto a los 
indigenas, asi como los que en el orden del gobierno senalaron 
al lado de los irregularidades una administracion dentro de su 
propio concepto, no impecable, sin duda, pero adjustada a los 
moldes corrientes que la humanidad usaba entonces en todas 

Esta labor, propia del historiografo investigador y que len- 
tamente se ira completando a medida que conozcamos mas y mas 
pormenores de hechos y que depuremos la exactitud de todos los 
aducidos en contrario hasta hoy, asi como el valor de las dec- 
lamaciones generates e imprecisas, tan naturales en los que pre- 
dican una doctrina 6 se que j an de algo que les parece mal y cuya 
pintura necesitan acentuar para que la atencion de las gentes se 
fije en ellas, esta labor, digo, nos dara la medida exacta 6 
con la mayor aproximacion posible de la proporcion en que 
estuvieron las practicas buenas y las malas. Pero por muy 
numerosas que estas hayan sido, no podran nunca invalidar la 
realidad y el merito : 1, de nuestras leyes de Indias ; 2, de la 
nutrida serie de nuestros escritores humanitarios y de nuestros 
juristas de alto sentido del derecho ; 3, de la larga serie de hom- 
bres benevelos, caritativos, humanos en el trato con los inferiores 
y celosos cumplidores de su deber profesional que incuestionable- 
mente ofrece nuestra historia. Bastaria presentar y solo es 
una parte de ese grupo la lista de nuestros misioneros verdadera- 
mente cristianos en su proceder, para que el haber de Espafia en 
este respecto contase con una partida considerable ; y no es Cali- 
fornia la region de America donde con menos justicia y verdad 
puede invocarse este recuerdo. 

Quedaria, por ultimo, en esta materia algo muy importante 
que hacer para llegar a una justa apreciacion de las cosas : y es 


la aplicacion a los hechos de abuso comprobado (en paz y en guerra ; 
por motives de conquista 6 de relation economica), de los criterios 
de juicio moral y juridico que la humanidad de entonces y la de 
hoy, en su inmensa mayoria, aplica a hechos no espanoles de la 
misma naturaleza. En materia de danos al projimo no hay 
mas que dos posiciones : la filantropica, que necesariamente ha 
de ser pacifista y de cuya aplicacion saldrian mal parados todos 
los pueblos de la historia, y la que podriamos llamar realista, que 
aprecia lo que es inevitable en las relaciones humanas tal corno 
se han llevado hasta aqui, 6 escusa lo que todos hicieron y siguen 
haciendo. Si se adopta el primero sinceramente, claro es que 
resultaran condenados muchos hechos de nuestra conquista y 
colonization, pero con igual motives los iguales quiza peores 
a veces, en su genero de las demas naciones conquistadoras y 
colonizadoras desde la mas remota antiguedad hasta los momentos 
actuales. Aplicarnos exclusivamente ese criterio, como nos lo 
han aplicado muchos escritores extranos y nosotros tambien, a 
lo menos una gran parte de nuestra opinion moderna, menos 
patriotera que celosa de no aparecer comprometida con la 
aprobacion 6 escusa de hechos que su conciencia actual rechaza, 
es una notoria injusticia. Pero convengamos tambien en que 
el criterio humanitario v. gr. de un Reclus 6 de un Pi y Margall 
no es ni el profesado, ni mucho menos el practicado por la 
inmensa mayoria de los hombres en todos los paises del mundo y 
aun por los gobiernos mismos en los mas de los casos. El mundo, 
pues, en general, no puede juzgar nuestra historia sino con el 
criterio que en el domina y que cada pueblo aplica para juzgar 
sus hechos propios ya que no los ajenos. Sera pues precise con- 
siderar los hecho tildados de reprobables en nuestra historia a la 
luz de ese criterio dominante, para colocarlos en situation de 
igualdad con todos los otros analogos, y depurar, en cada uno, el 
grado de responsabilidad que toca al individuo ejecutor y al 
pueblo de que era ciudadano, habida consideration del medio 
ambiente en cada epoca; y solo asi nos colocaremos en un terreno 
real, sobre el que la aplicacion del criterio filantropico que 
tambien cabe, aunque con las debidas reservas historicas plantea 
otras cuestiones distintas que solo tienen derecho a formular los 
que ven asi las cosas siempre y para todos. Siempre resultara 


en nuestro haber, que las clases directoras espanolas, en los tiempos 
de la colonizacion rechazaron y persiguieron muchos hechos que 
la conciencia general de la epoca estimaba licitos y que a veces 
los directores modernos defienden 6 realizan a titulo de "salus 
populi" 6 como decimos en Espafia, "por razon de Estado," 
que suele ser una razon muy comoda y elastica. 

Y todavia, a ese ejemplo juridico y moral que Espafia dio en 
aquellos siglos a los pueblos del mundo, puede anadirse otra 
ensefianza de orden espiritual y practice que no es, a mi juicio, 
de las menores que ofrece nuestra obra en todos partes a donde 
llevamos nuestra actividad y principalmente en estas regiones del 
Nuevo Mundo. Esa ensefianza a que me refiero ahora, quiza no 
hay otro pueblo en el mundo mas apto para comprenderla en todo 
lo que significa para la vida, que el pueblo norte-americano. Nace 
esto de un fondo comun de cualidades, morales, quiero decir de 
voluntad y de espiritu, que espafioles y norte-americanos han 
demostrado en momentos distintos de su historia y ante iguales 
necesidadas de la vida. Esas cualidades son la fortaleza en el 
sufrimiento, la serenidad en el peligro, la energia en la lucha, el 
empuje en el avance, la valentia y desprecio de las dificultades 
en todo momento; las que hicieron posible entre vosotros la 
ep^peya del West y el Far- West y las que brillaron por tan alto 
modo en nuestros " descubridores " y "conquistadores." Asi, 
lo hecho por los creadores de esta gran Republica sobre la base 
del primitivo hogar costero al Atlantico, encuentra su precedente 
en la obra de los espafioles del siglo XVI, XVII y XVIII, que 
con menos medios materiales, tuvieron que poner en ella mas 
elemento personal, mas gasto de energia del sujeto. Asi nuestra 
historia en America, y quiza mas en estas partes del Pacifico, sera 
siempre manantial inagotable de esos "profesores de energia" 
con que los pueblos modernos decadentes 6 desconfiados en su 
propio poder, piden un contacto regenerador. Profesores asi 
los tuvimos entonces tambien hoy, sin ruido, pero con igual 
positiva eficacia respecto de las luchas modernas en nuestra emi- 
gracion a diversos paises, tantos y tan buenos y sugestivos 
como tiempos despues cabe encontrarlos en otros paises. Su 
ejemplo puede servir no solo para nosotros, sino para todo 
pueblo que quiera, 6 ratificar y ampliar sus cualidades 6 res- 


taurarlas ; y el haberlo dado, ya es una buena obra de la Espaiia 

Esa buena obra tuvo, a veces, momentos sublimes, cuando el 
temple energico del alma se unia a la bondad de corazon y al sentido 
de la justicia y la fraternidad. Entonces producia hechos como 
el de la colonizacion de California, realizada, como ha escrito 
Torres Campos, por "un puiiado de hombres que supieron de- 
mostrar las aptitudes singulares de nuestro pueblo para la obra 
de la expansion y de la asimilacion de los indigenas, y lo que gentes 
de superior cultura y espiritu elevado pueden hacer por medios 
pacificos en favor de los salvajes." En esa hermosa pagina de 
nuestra historia en las regiones del Pacifico, que vosotros habeis 
sabido apreciar de un modo tan noble, hay nombre que no pueden 
pronunciarse sin un gran respeto y una honda emocion, el 
del P. Junipero Serra, de un lado, y el de aquel P. Salvatierra, 
cuyas cartas al P. Ugarte son un alto ejemplo de serenidad ante 
la muerte y de persistencia varonil en la mision emprendida, hasta 
el ultimo momento, que en nuestros dias tan solo puede compararse 
con el diario del celebre Captain Scott. 

Seame permitido poner bajo la egida de estos grandes nombres 
la terminacion de este trabajo. 

Mediante ellos y otros mas, la historia de la civilizacion de 
California se enlaza con la de mi patria espanola, y ambas tienen, 
por algun tiempo, un campo comun. Esto autoriza a pensar que 
podemos trabajar como companeros, los eruditos californianos 
y los espanoles en muchas cosas, y que tal vez, aqui podria co- 
menzar la realizacion practica de un proyecto que en 1909 expuse 
por primera vez en algunas republicas hispano-americanos, 4 y que 
ahora veo igualmente defendido por el profesor Stephens, a saber, 
el establecimiento, en el Archive de Indias, de escuelas seme- 
j antes a las que todas las naciones han creado para el estudio de 
los Archives Secretes del Vaticano. La idea encontraria camino 
ya hecho en algunos lugares de Espana que no son de los que 
menos pueden influir en el exito de ella, y cierta preparation 
incluso en el terreno oficial. Yo me congratularia mucho con que 
el resultado practice de esta visita mia a San Francisco fuese 
la realizacion de lo que considero, al par del profesor Stephens 9 

* Los terminos de el pueden verse en mi libro Mi Viaje d America. 


como una necesidad de nuestras comunes investigaciones y como 
una prenda de fraternidad intelectual entre ambos paises. Y aun 
creo que esa labor historica en busca de la verdad referente al 
pasado, no ha de ser la unica obra comun que en lo futuro reali- 
zaran los Estados Unidos y Espaiia. Otras hay que a las dos 
naciones obligan en punto al deber que ambas tienen de impulsar 
el cumplimiento de los ideales de humanidad y civilizacion, cosa 
que, sin duda alguna, solo puede lograrse mediante la amistosa 
colaboracion de las cualidades originales que la historia ha de- 
mostrado en cada pueblo. 



ESK Fl*mv/r 

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