MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 2023
“My biography is the history of California:” Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and his Recuerdos
6:00 PM – 7:15 PM Pacific
5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program
The Book Club of California | 312 Sutter Street | San Francisco, California 94108
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (1807–90) grew up in Spanish California, became a leading military and political figure in Mexican California, and participated in some of the founding events of U.S. California, such as the Monterey Constitutional Convention and the first legislature. Like many Mexican Californios he lost most of his land to squatter occupation and expensive legal proceedings during the first few decades of American rule.
A generation after the U.S. conquest of California, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo set out to write the story of the land he knew so well. He aimed to dispel the romantic vision that was beginning to dominate the interpretation of the state’s history before the American conquest. Vallejo sought to correct misrepresentations of California’s past, which dismissed as insignificant the pre–gold rush Spanish and Mexican periods, and conflated them into one “Mission era.” He sought to convince the new rulers of the land in which he had been born that the Mexican people had laid the foundation for the California in which they were now all living.
To this end he spent more than a year and a half composing a five-volume history, which he titled Recuerdos. It is the most complete account of California before the gold rush written by someone who resided in California at the time.
Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz have translated Vallejo’s Recuerdos and have brought to light a remarkable perspective, often firsthand, on important events in early California history. Their efforts restore a critical chapter to the story of California and the American West.
An in-person and virtual presentation by Rose Marie Beebe, professor emerita of Spanish literature at Santa Clara University and Robert M. Senkewicz, professor emeritus of History at Santa Clara University