Foundation and Gold Rush
San Francisco was founded on 29 June 29 1776, when colonists from Spain established the Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís a few miles away, all named for St. Francis of Assisi. After the Mexican War of Independence in 1799 - 1805 the area became part of the Republic of Mexico. After the union of Mexico and the State of Jefferson by the Mexico City Constitution of 1820, California became one of the states of the United States of Mexico, and San Francisco its capital. In the early 1820s, while President Andrew Jackson was consolidating his power, he had the San Francisco Sun closed for allegedly printing lies about abuses by the federal government. The Sun was only allowed to re-open when it admitted the stories had been false.
On 24 December 1823, at the conclusion of his grand tour of the U.S.M., President Jackson addressed the California legislature in San Francisco. He spoke of Mexico's future, and invited his listeners "to join in our quest." He predicted that in the "voyage through time and space," California might have "the greatest frontier of all the Mexican states." Jackson's Secretary of War, Arturo Aragon, explained afterwards to the press that Jackson was referring to the state's agricultural potential. Sobel, however, notes that to the others present it seemed that Jackson was already seeking new conquests, and was referring to California's shared border with Russian Alaska. Sobel adds that to at least one modern scholar, Jethro Stimson, Jackson was not referring to the Russians, but to expansion across the Pacific.
In the wake of the discovery of gold at Santo Tomás, California in February 1838, a consortium of Jeffersonian and French businessmen organized the Jefferson & California Railroad. French engineers began construction of the San Francisco terminus of the railroad on 11 April 1839. Although construction of the railroad would be delayed by the outbreak of the Rocky Mountain War with the Confederation of North America in the fall of 1845, by 1848 the rail link between San Francisco and the Gulf port of Henrytown, Jefferson was complete.
The Rocky Mountain War
In 1849 word reached San Francisco that a North American army was moving west from Vandalia with the clear intent of entering California and capturing the capital. Secretary of War Yves St. Just called up the California militia, placing General Francisco Hernandez in command. In the fall of 1849 Hernandez led his army to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and made camp there in anticipation of an attack the following year by the North Americans. The North American army, led by General David Homer, slowly advanced through Williams Pass in the spring of 1850, emerging from the western end in June. Homer and Hernandez fought the Battle of San Fernando between 5 and 7 July 1850. Hernandez lost 4,500 men in the battle, and Homer more than 5,400. Both armies retired from the field, Homer east back to Williams Pass, and Hernandez west to San Francisco.
Hernandez's army was reorganized and resupplied in San Francisco, and in the fall of 1850 advanced again on Homer's army, entering Williams Pass in November. Both armies became trapped in the mountains during the winter, along with a second Mexican army led by General Michael Doheny and a second North American army led by General FitzJohn Smithers. By the time the spring thaw allowed the trapped men to escape the mountains in April 1851, much of Hernandez's force had perished of starvation and exposure, including Hernandez himself.
The 1851 Mexican Elections
The disastrous Battle of Williams Pass brought a sharp reversal in the fortunes of President Pedro Hermión, who suffered several attempts on his life, one of which finally succeeded on 19 June. The Senate chose Hermión's Secretary of State, Raphael Blaine of Arizona to serve out the remainder of his term, and the ruling Continentalist Party nominated Blaine as its presidential candidate in the upcoming 1851 Mexican elections. Suspicion for Hermión's death had fallon on Liberty Party leader Miguel Huddleston, and the Libertarians had to choose carefully to avoid the appearance of profiting politically from Hermión's death. They finally chose Assemblyman Hector Niles, a San Francisco businessman and lepidopterist.
Niles was belived to be a mild opponent of the war, but he had not participated in the heated debates that took place after the Battle of Williams Pass, and thus had not denounced Hermión's conduct. Niles was considered an economic expert, and had spent most of the war as head of a special committee in charge of armaments. He prided himself on being a meticulous worker, a family man, and a good businessman. He said little during the election campaign except to pledge himself to end the war "in such a manner as to preserve our integrity and honor."
The voters considered Niles to be better equipped to end the war than Blaine, and gave the Libertarians majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as in state-level elections. At his inauguration on 5 September 1851, Niles gave a short address in which he again pledged himself to end the war. He offered to meet Governor-General Henry Gilpin "at a place of the Governor-General's choice, where we may end this sad conflict in good will."
Gilpin chose to interpret Niles' offer as an admission of weakness, and he continued to carry out attacks on the U.S.M., including a second attack on Williams Pass, that failed due largely to widespread desertions among North American troops and mutinies in the field. The election of a more pacifistic government in the C.N.A. in 1853 brought an end to hostilities and led to the negotiation of the Hague Treaty two years later. Under the terms of the treaty, the disputed territory claimed by the U.S.M. was awarded to the C.N.A., and this became an issue in the 1857 Mexican elections. Niles' re-election bid failed, and the presidency went to the Continentalist candidate, Arthur Conroy of Arizona.
Conroy was elected to a second term in 1863, and it was during his second term that a business consortium was formed in San Francisco that would alter the course of Mexican history. In 1865, Bernard Kramer, a German mining engineer-turned-businessman, formed the Kramer Associates, a consortium of California business owners dedicated to improving trade links between California and the rest of the world. Kramer came to focus on the construction of an interoceanic canal through the Central American nation of Guatemala. When he learned that the President of Guatemala had granted a concession to build a canal to a group of German investors, Kramer instigated a coup d'etat that placed a compliant man in charge of Guatemala, and K.A. was soon at work building Kramer's canal.
San Francisco remained the headquarters of Kramer Associates as Kramer built the consortium into the largest company in the U.S.M., and oversaw the installation of Benito Hermión as unelected Chief of State of Mexico in September 1881. As Hermión extended Mexican control over the nations of Guatemala and New Granada and the Hawaiian Islands, K.A. followed, taking over economic control. Kramer's successor, Diego Cortez y Catalán, instigated a war in 1898 between the U.S.M. and the Russian Empire that began with a Russian army marching on San Francisco and ended with the Mexican conquest of Alaska and Siberia and the collapse of the empire following the Russian Revolution of February 1900. In 1902 Cortez deposed Hermión and reinstated democratic government, making certain that only business-friendly leaders controlled the Mexican government.
K.A.'s control of the Mexican government received a blow in 1926 with the election of Pedro Fuentes, who became a bitter foe of the company during the passage of the Manumission Act of 1920. Fuentes created the Zwicker Commission to rein in the company, and although his effort failed, company President John Jackson decided to move K.A. beyond the control of the Mexican government, tranferring the company headquarters from San Francisco to Luzon in the Philippines in 1936.
The Global War and After
Fuentes' successor, Alvin Silva, was determined to build Mexican military power and resume the conquests of the Benito Hermión era. After the Global War broke out between Germany and Great Britain in 1939, Silva was determined to attack Japan and expand the U.S.M.'s reach across the Pacific. This brought him into conflict with Jackson, who wished to remain beyond Mexico's reach. Jackson created an informal alliance between K.A., Japan, and Australia, and when Silva launched an attack on Japan in 1942, Jackson was able to orchestrate the response, leading his alliance to victory against the U.S.M. Mexican forces were driven from their conquests in the Pacific, and in March 1945 Japanese planes bombed San Francisco. Siberia fell to the Japanese in 1948, and the war came to an inconclusive end as exhaustion prevented either side from carrying out any offensive actions.
In the U.S.M. itself Silva's cancellation of the 1944 Mexican elections led to uprisings by Causa de Justicia and the Black Justice Party known as the Rainbow War. Terror attacks against targets across northern Mexico, including San Francisco, made life hazardous for ordinary Mexicans. A disputed presidential election in 1950 led to a second coup d'etat and another dictatorship.