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Sir Francis Drake claims California for England

Sir Francis Drake claims California for England

During his circumnavigation of the world, English seaman Francis Drake anchors in a harbor just north of present-day San Francisco, California, and claims the territory for Queen Elizabeth I. Calling the land “Nova Albion,” Drake remained on the California coast for a month to make repairs to his ship, the Golden Hind, and prepare for his westward crossing of the Pacific Ocean.

On December 13, 1577, Drake set out from England with five ships on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World. After crossing the Atlantic, Drake abandoned two of his ships in South America and then sailed into the Straits of Magellan with the remaining three. A series of devastating storms besieged his expedition in the treacherous straits, wrecking one ship and forcing another to return to England. Only the Golden Hind reached the Pacific Ocean, but Drake continued undaunted up the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements and capturing a rich Spanish treasure ship.

Drake then continued up the western coast of North America, searching for a possible northeast passage back to the Atlantic. Reaching as far north as present-day Washington before turning back, Drake paused near San Francisco Bay in June 1579 to repair his ship and prepare for a journey across the Pacific. In July, the expedition set off across the Pacific, visiting several islands before rounding Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and returning to the Atlantic Ocean. On September 26, 1580, the Golden Hind returned to Plymouth, England, bearing its rich captured treasure and valuable information about the world’s great oceans. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake during a visit to his ship.


Sir Francis Drake claims California for England - HISTORY

For years, California schoolchildren were taught that a brass marker discovered in 1936 was Sir Francis Drake's "Plate of Brasse," recording the California coastal landing in 1579 of the English explorer and his ship, the Golden Hinde.

A "Plate of Brasse" announcing England's claim to California, supposedly engraved by Sir Francis Drake when he dropped by in 1579, became the state's greatest historical treasure when it was found and authenticated in the late 1930s. After testing by Berkeley Lab scientists 40 years later, it became California's greatest hoax. (photo: Bancroft Library)

That was the case until 1977, when Berkeley Lab's Helen Michel and Frank Asaro used neutron activation analysis on the brass plate and found that it was most probably manufactured between the last half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth. They found that what had been one of California history's greatest archaeological finds was not authentic.

At the time, Michel and Asaro were in Berkeley Lab's Nuclear Science Division Asaro is now in the Atmospheric Sciences Department of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division. Although he and Michel confirmed that the brass in the "Plate of Brasse" was modern, no one knew who had actually made the plate.

Now the final chapter in the plate's history seems to have been written. At a press conference held February 18, 2003, at the University of California at Berkeley's Bancroft Library, historian-researchers claimed that the plate was devised as a practical joke by several friends of Herbert E. Bolton, who was director of the Bancroft Library from 1920 to 1940.

Fascinated by stories about Drake having posted the plate to mark his California landing, Bolton often told his students to look for it in Marin County. The researchers' evidence suggests that the fake plate was meant to be a practical joke among friends, but the hoaxers lost control of their prank when Bolton authenticated the find publicly before they could tell him the truth.

Although it was historical evidence that completed the story, it was science performed over 25 years ago by Michel and Asaro that confirmed what a few historians had suspected all along about the plate's dubious origins. Their neutron activation analysis showed that its chemical impurity levels were too low for sixteenth century English manufacturing techniques. They estimated that the artifact had been made no earlier than the eighteenth century and probably much later -- even as late as 1936, shortly before the forgery was perpetrated.

Beginning in 1967, nuclear chemists Helen Michel and Frank Asaro employed neutron activation analysis for discoveries including the tracing of ancient trade routes, the revelation that it was an asteroid that brought the Cretaceous Period to an end, and proof that Drake's "Plate of Brasse" wasn't made by Drake.

In the mid-1970s the then-director of the Bancroft Library, James Hart, commissioned a new study of the plate in anticipation of the quadricentennial of Drake's landing. As part of this study, he asked the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art at Oxford University in England to chemically analyze small fragments of the plate. He asked Glenn T. Seaborg, then Berkeley Lab's associate director at large, if someone on his staff would drill small samples from the plate to send to England Seaborg asked Asaro if he wanted to do this.

"I discussed this with my colleague Helen Michel, and we agreed to drill the plate," Asaro says. "But we also said we'd like to make some measurements too. This was acceptable to Professor Hart."

Although they started with the expectation that the plate was authentic, right away Michel and Asaro began seeing things that made them suspicious. When they drilled into the plate, they expected to see corroded material instead they saw fine strips of metal. The thickness of the plate was too homogeneous for something that would have been hammered out. Most important, neutron activation analysis revealed not only higher levels of zinc than expected for an alloy made in Drake's time -- zinc hadn't yet been identified in the sixteenth century -- but much lower levels of other metals like nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, lead, and iron. This suggested that the brass was a mix of high-purity copper and zinc, which would not have been available at the time.

These and other clues led Michel and Asaro to conclude that the plate was recent. They wrote up their results and sent them to Hart. "He had wanted a four-page letter," says Asaro. "We sent him a 45-page paper." Hart published 16 pages of the report, and Michel and Asaro later published the complete report in the journal Archaeometry.

Thus the plate was proved a forgery. Only the mystery of who had perpetrated the hoax remained -- until UC Berkeley's press conference in February, 2003.


Francis Drake claims California for England

Drake's journey to California began in December 1577 when, on the orders of Elizabeth I of England, he was sent to plunder Spanish ships along the Pacific coast of the Americas.

By Reginald Frontispiece Ltd

Written by Reginald Frontispiece Ltd

On this day June 17, 1579 Francis Drake claimed California for England.

He named it ‘Nova Albion’ or ‘New Britain’.

His claim of sovereignty was made when moored at what is now San Francisco whilst he was carrying out repairs on his ship.

Francis Drake (c. 1540 to 1596) was the eldest of 12 sons, born to Mary Elizabeth Drake (nee Mylwaye) and her husband Edmund Drake, in Tavistock, Devon.

The family moved to Kent when he was a child where they lived on an old ship.

It is perhaps here that he gained his love of the sea for, before he was thirteen, he had been apprenticed aboard a barque trading across the English Channel.

At twenty, he was master of the barque, the ship being willed to him by his apprenticeship master.

Drake's journey to California began in December 1577 when, on the orders of Elizabeth I of England, he was sent to plunder Spanish ships along the Pacific coast of the Americas.

This voyage would lead to Drake being only the second person to circumnavigate the world.

On his return to Plymouth, England, in 1580, he presented to Queen Elizabeth a large cargo of spices and captured Spanish treasures.

The Queen's half-share of the cargo surpassed the rest of her income for that entire year.

Elizabeth is said to have dined on the Golden Hind at Deptford in 1581 where he was dubbed Sir Francis Drake.

Drake Passage, between South America and Antarctica, and Drake’s Bay, California, are named in recognition of his voyage.

Today, there is a Sir Francis Drake Hotel in Union Square, San Francisco, commemorating Drake's achievement.

Our antique map, published in the 1903 edition of Encyclopeadia Britannica, is from the collection of Frontispiece Ltd of Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets.


Did Francis Drake Really Land in California?

Few sea voyages are as famous as that of the Golden Hind, privateer Francis Drake’s around-the-world voyage that ended with his arrival into England’s Plymouth harbor in 1580. Along with being a remarkable feat of seamanship, the world’s second circumnavigation, among other achievements, was the first to map large portions of North America’s western coast. Filling the Hind’s hold as it berthed in Plymouth were a half-ton of gold, more than two-dozen tons of silver, and thousands of coins and pieces of jewelry looted from Spanish ports and ships along the western shore of South and Central America. Drake’s lucrative journey helped spark England’s ambitions for global empire.

After their Spanish raids, as described in written reports by Drake and other crew members, the Golden Hind landed along the west coast of North America for several weeks to caulk his leaky ship and claim the land for Elizabeth I, the first formal claim by an Englishman to a piece of the Americas. To commemorate that act, Drake posted a “a Plate of Brasse” as a “monument of our being there,” according to an account by one of the crew.

But just where Drake, about 80 crewmen, and one pregnant African woman named Maria stepped ashore has been a matter of acrimonious dispute for nearly a century-and-a-half. Most of the expedition’s details were immediately classified by the queen, who worried that the news of Drake’s claim would instigate open war with Spain. What was published in subsequent decades was often incomplete and ambiguous. As a result, professional and amateur scholars poring over contemporary maps, letters and other documents have proposed candidate harbors from Mexico to Alaska.

In 1875, an English-born geographer named George Davidson, tasked with conducting a federal survey of the U.S. West Coast, pinpointed a bay about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco, a site that seemed to match the geography and latitude described by Drake and his crew. He had the bay renamed in honor of the privateer. Influential Californians quickly embraced the treasure-hungry captain as the natural native son of a state that prided itself on the Gold Rush. Drake also gave the state an English “founder” who arrived long before the settlement of Jamestown and Plymouth, an alternate origin story that could replace those of Spanish missionaries and indigenous populations.

Californians in the early 20th century celebrated the man knighted for his piratical exploits with memorials, parades and pageants. His name was bestowed upon a boulevard in Marin County and San Francisco’s premier hotel at Union Square. In 1916, the California legislature passed a resolution commemorating the man who “landed on our shores and raised the English flag at Drakes Bay.”

In 1937, a leading historian at the University of California, Berkeley, Herbert Bolton, announced the discovery of Drake’s “Plate of Brasse” at a site not far from Drakes Bay. The sensational find, etched with words claiming Nova Albion—New England—for Elizabeth, included Drake’s name. Dated June 17, 1579, the plate reads in part, “BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND IN THE NAME OF HERR MAIESTY QVEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND AND HERR SVCCESSORS FOREVER, I TAKE POSSESSION OF THIS KINGDOME ….”

The discovery made headlines across the country, and turned Bolton into a national figure. The Berkeley professor, however, authenticated the rectangular plate and heralded it as physical proof of Drake’s landing north of San Francisco before conducting detailed historical and metallurgical tests. Though some historians expressed doubts about the plate’s legitimacy at the time, the university raised $3,500 to buy it, and the piece of tarnished metal became a cherished artifact still displayed at Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. For California’s elites, “the plate was not just a metal document or a valuable antique. It was the holy grail—a venerable Anglo-American, Protestant, religious relic,” writes Bolton’s biographer, Albert Hurtado.

Four decades later, however, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab subjected the plate to rigorous testing and concluded that California’s most famous artifact was made using modern material and techniques. It was, without question, a forgery, as many historians had long suspected. But other evidence, including the 1940s discovery of a cache of 16th-century Chinese pottery—thought by some archaeologists to have been purloined by the Hind—still pointed to Drake’s presence in northern California.

In a new scholarly book, Thunder Go North, to be published next week, Melissa Darby, an archaeologist from Portland State University, argues that Drake likely never made it to California at all—and that he wasn’t simply a privateer. Instead, she points to official English documents that show he was on a secret government mission of exploration and trade. She also cites Drake’s own writings that say that after raiding the Spanish to the south, he went far out to sea before heading back to the coast. Darby analyzes wind currents in that time of year—late spring—and contends that this would have put the Hind far to the north, likely in present-day Oregon.

Thunder Go North: The Hunt for Sir Francis Drake's Fair and Good Bay

Thunder Go North unravels the mysteries surrounding Drake’s famous voyage and summer sojourn in this bay.

She also highlights an overlooked contemporary document in the British Library that says Drake was seeking the Northwest Passage as a way to return to England—that would naturally have led to a more northerly course—and mentions a latitude consistent with central Oregon. As for the Chinese porcelain, she notes that a 2011 study concluded it all came from a 1595 Spanish shipwreck. In addition, Darby contends that anthropological evidence, such as plank houses and certain indigenous vocabulary, points to Drake meeting Native Americans living in the Northwest rather than on the California coast.

Because the vexed question [of where Drake landed] has largely been in the domain of rancorous proponents of one bay or the other, the question has become a quagmire that professional historians and archaeologists have largely avoided,” writes Darby of her book. “This study is a necessary reckoning.”

Her most explosive assertion, however, implicates Bolton, one of California’s most distinguished historians and a man heralded as a pioneer in the study of colonial Spanish America, in the hoax of Drake’s brass plate, one of the country’s most infamous cases of forgery.

“He was a flim-flam man,” Darby tells Smithsonian magazine. “It is almost certain that Bolton himself initiated the ‘Plate of Brasse’ hoax.”

Drake's Landing in New Albion, 1579, engraving published by Theodor De Bry, 1590 (Wikicommons)

Though the laboratory analysis revealed the plate as fake in 1977, who was behind the deception and their motive remained a mystery until 2003, when a team of archeologists and amateur historians published a paper in the journal California History concluding that the plate was a private prank gone awry. They told reporters that the episode “was an elaborate joke that got terribly out of hand.”

A highly respected academic, Bolton also served as Grand Royal Historian of the Clampers, a men’s satirical club that sought to keep the ribald pioneer life of California alive and was “dedicated to protecting lonely widows and orphans but especially the widows.” The team failed to find a smoking gun but drew on published material and personal recollections. They concluded that the object was fabricated by a group of prominent San Franciscans, including one Clamper, and was “found” north of San Francisco as a prank to amuse Bolton, who had previously asked the public to keep an eye out for what Drake had left behind. By the time the news went viral, the prank had spun out of control and the hoaxers remained silent. Bolton, according to the researchers, was the butt of the joke.

But in her book, Darby contends that Bolton was far more likely to be a perpetrator rather than a victim of the hoax. She tracks how Bolton and other prominent California men sought for decades to ignore and discredit scholars who opposed the story of Drake as a rogue pirate landing on the shores of Drakes Bay. For example, he blocked Zelia Nutall, a respected anthropologist, from publishing a paper suggesting Drake landed north of California. Darby also describes a pattern of deception going back to his early years as an academic.

“A thief does not begin his career with a bank heist,” she writes. “The plate was not Bolton’s first attempt at pulling the wool over the eyes of the public.”

Darby details how Bolton was often associated with a host of scams and schemes relating to Spanish or pirate treasure. In 1920, he publicly authenticated a 16th-century Spanish map pointing to a rich cache of silver and gold in New Mexico that set off a media frenzy. It proved a fake, but gave Bolton his first taste of national renown.

The next year Bolton claimed to have translated an old document that gave clues to an ancient trove of nearly 9,000 gold bars hidden near Monterrey, Mexico. When he declined a spot in the expedition organized to find it and a share in the profits, he again made headlines by turning down the offer because of his pressing academic duties (󈬂 Million Spurned by U.C. Teacher” read one another said “Bolton Loses Share in Buried Treasure”). No treasure ever surfaced.

In other instances of old documents and lost treasure, he brushed off accusations of fudging the truth.

“This was Bolton’s method,” writes Darby. “Create a good story for the gullible public, and if it was exposed, call it a joke.” In participating in the Drake plate hoax, she adds, he could reap not just media attention but draw new students to his program, which suffered during the depths of the Depression.

She suspects another motive as well. “The plate enabled Bolton to trump up the find and turn his sights to the largely white and Protestant California elites, who embraced Drake,” says Darby, because it “served to promote an English hero and stressed a white national identity of America.” Leading Californians of the day included members of men’s clubs like the Native Sons of the Golden West, which fought for legislation to halt most Asian immigration and to restrict land rights to many of those already in the state. “Bolton orated in front of the Native Sons, and they provided scholarships for his students,” Darby adds.

Bolton’s biographer, Hurtado, an emeritus historian with the University of Oklahoma, acknowledges that Bolton was “careless” in giving his stamp of approval to the plate without conducting adequate analysis. “There’s no question he was a publicity hound,” he adds. But he is skeptical that Bolton would actively risk scandal in the sunset of his career, when he was nearly 70 and highly esteemed. “He had no need to create a fraud to gain an international reputation. This risked his reputation.”

Members of the Drake Navigators Guild, a nonprofit group championing the Drakes Bay theory, soundly reject Darby’s assertion about Bolton. “The idea of a conspiracy doesn’t work,” says Michael Von der Porten, a financial planner and second-generation member of the guild whose father was part of the 2003 team that studied the hoax. He also dismisses her conclusions about a landing north of Drakes Bay. “This is yet another fringe theory, a total farce.”

Michael Moratto, an archaeologist who has been digging around Drakes Bay for decades, agrees. “I’ve spent 50 years listening to all sides of the debate, and for me it is settled.” Darby favors an Oregon landing site for parochial reasons, he adds, and “is twisting all of this to suit her own purposes.” He still maintains that some of the Chinese porcelain found at the bay came from Drake’s cargo.

Others find Darby’s arguments persuasive. “[Darby] did a superb job of mustering evidence and deciphering it,” says R. Lee Lyman, an anthropologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “And it is highly likely Bolton was perpetuating a subterfuge.” Nevertheless, he says that it will be an uphill struggle to alter the prevailing narrative, given the deep emotional resonance that Drake continues to have for many in the Golden State.

Darby says she expects pushback, particularly from the guild, which she characterizes as “an advocacy organization not an academic organization.” She adds that her conclusions about Bolton “will be a deep shock, and their denial is understandable.” But Darby is also confident that they will be swayed by careful study of her evidence. Lyman is not so sure. “The historical inertia placing Drake in California is so great,” says Lyman. “You get wedded to an idea, and it is hard to question it.”


The Plate of Brass

Once the repairs to the Golden Hind were completed, Drake claimed the land for England by setting up a stout post to which he nailed a metal plate engraved with his declaration and a sixpence and named the land Nova Albion. In 1936, a brass plate was found in Marin County at Limantour Beach. Historians believed that this plate, which carried a similar text as recorded from Chaplain Fletcher's diary, was final proof that Drake landed in Marin.

However, the plate did not withstand the tests of time or science. Modern testing confirmed that the plate could not have been manufactured with the technology available to sailors in the late 1500s and must have been created much later. It wasn't until 2002 that the origin of the fake plate was finally uncovered. Today, the plate can be found in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley as an object lesson in how hoaxes can be accepted as fact.


Sir Francis Drake claims California for England - HISTORY

California has been inhabited for thousands of years. When Europeans first arrived there were a number of Native American tribes in the area including the Chumash, Mohave, Yuma, Pomo, and Maidu. These tribes spoke a number of different languages. They were often separated by geography such as mountain ranges and desserts. As a result, they had different cultures and languages from the Native Americans to the east. They were mostly peaceful people who hunted, fished, and gathered nuts and fruit for food.


Golden Gate Bridge by John Sullivan

A Spanish ship captained by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first to visit California in 1542. Several years later, in 1579, English Explorer Sir Francis Drake landed on the coast near San Francisco and claimed the land for England. However, the land was far away from Europe and European settlement didn't really begin for another 200 years.

In 1769, the Spanish began to build missions in California. They built 21 missions along the coast in an effort to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. They also built forts called presidios and small towns called pueblos. One of the presidios to the south became the city of San Diego while a mission built to the north would later become the city of Los Angeles.

When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, California became a province of the country of Mexico. Under Mexican rule, large cattle ranches and farms called ranchos were settled in the region. Also, people began to move into the area to trap and trade in beaver furs.


Yosemite Valley by John Sullivan

By the 1840s, many settlers were moving to California from the east. They arrived using the Oregon Trail and the California Trail. Soon these settlers began to rebel against Mexican rule. In 1846, settlers led by John Fremont revolted against the Mexican government and declared their own independent country called the Bear Flag Republic.

The Bear Republic didn't last long. That same year, in 1846, the United States and Mexico went to war in the Mexican-American War. When the war ended in 1848, California became a territory of the United States. Two years later, on September 9, 1850, California was admitted into the Union as the 31st state.

In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California. This started one of the largest gold rushes in history. Tens of thousands of treasure hunters moved to California to strike it rich. Between 1848 and 1855, over 300,000 people moved to California. The state would never be the same.

Even after the gold rush ended, people continued to migrate west to California. In 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad made traveling west much easier. California became a major farming state with plenty of land in the Central Valley for growing all sorts of crops including apricots, almonds, tomatoes, and grapes.

In the early 1900s, many major motion picture companies set up shop in Hollywood, a small town just outside of Los Angeles. Hollywood was a great location for filming because it was close to several settings including the beach, the mountains, and the desert. Also, the weather was generally good, allowing for outdoor filming year round. Soon Hollywood became the center of the filmmaking industry in the United States.


Los Angeles by John Sullivan


Sir Francis Drake claims California for England - HISTORY

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Detail - 1579

June 17, 1579 - Francis Drake claims the lands of California for Great Britain and Queen Elizabeth I, landing in Drake's Bay and naming it New Albion. Drake is on his voyage around the world in the ship, the Golden Hind.

Francis Drake was not Magellan, the first to circumnavigate the globe, but he was the second, and during his voyage from England and back, his discoveries in the Americas and Orient sometimes get overlooked. That overlook includes his short foray along the coast of what is today's California, and his friendly meeting with the Indians of northern California, in an area he called Drake's Bay or Nova (New) Albion. Yes, he claimed that area for Great Britain, but did not try to subjugate the natives. There was no slavery or altercation during the six weeks near what would become San Franciso. The exploration gave gifts to the Indians they gave some back. Unfortunately, this was not the normal occurence for many of Drake's adventure where friendly relations with natives did not occur.

Drake was thirty-seven years old when he left on November 15, 1577 from Plymouth, England on his circumnavigation trip. He had been to the Americas before, battled the Spanish on the Isthmus of Panama, and was considered a hero in England. The Spanish did not think the same they thought pirate. After a month of trouble at sea around the English isles, Drake's expedition plied the Atlantic Ocean with six ships, including his flagship Pelican (later renamed the Golden Hind) and one hundred and sixty-four men. His official reason for the trip from the Queen an expedition against the Spanish on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. He reached the coast of Argentina at San Juilian and stayed the winter by winter's end he was down to three ships upon entering the Straits of Magellan.

It was September of 1578 when he reached the Pacific. Now down to one ship (one destroyed in a storm, the other returning to England), the Pelican (now Golden Hind) and Drake's crew attacked Spanish ports, towns, and ships. One ship contained 25,000 pesos of Peruvian gold and L7 million pounds of Spanish money. He pursued other treasure ships thought to be returning from Manila to Acapulco, but did not find them, instead landing in northern California on June 17, 1579.

The New Albion (Nova Albion) Landing

Reaching the 38th parallet, Drake lay port in what would be termed Drake's Bay, claiming the land for Great Britain, and calling it Nova Albion (New Britain). He met the Coast Miwok Indians, established friendly relations, and reportedly stayed six weeks, leaving on July 23. Just where was New Albion? In 2012, the United States Department of the Interior recognized the landing location in Drakes Bay with the establishment of a National Historic Landmark at Point Reyes, part of Point Reyes National Seashore.

Excerpt from original account by Drake's Chaplain Francis Fletcher.

"The next day, after our comming to anchor in the aforesaid harbour, the people of the countrey shewed themselues, sending off a man with great expedition to vs in a canow. Who being yet but a little from the shoare, and a great way from our ship, spake to vs continually as he came rowing on. And at last at a reasonable distance staying himselfe, he began more solemnely a long and tedious oration, after his manner : vsing in the deliuerie thereof many gestures and signes, mouing his hands, turning his head and body many wayes and after his oration ended, with great shew of reuerence and submission returned backe to shoare againe. He shortly came againe the second time in like manner, and so the third time, when he brought with him (as a present from the rest) a bunch of feathers, much like the feathers of a blacke crow, very neatly and artificially gathered vpon a string, and drawne together into a round bundle being verie cleane and finely cut, and bearing in length an equall proportion one with another a speciall cognizance (as wee afterwards obserued) which they that guard their kings person weare on their heads. With this also he brought a little basket made of rushes, and filled with an herbe which they called Tahdh. Both which being tyed to a short rodde, he cast into our boate. Our Generall intended to haue recompenced him immediatly with many good things he would haue bestowed on him but entring into the boate to delitier the same, he could not be drawne to receiue them by any meanes, saue one hat, which being cast into the water out of the ship, he tooke vp (refusing vtterly to meddle with any other thing, though it were vpon a board put off vnto him) and so presently made his returne. After which time our boate could row no Avay, but wondring at vs as at gods, they would follow the same with admiration."

By the 21st of June, the Golden Hind was brought closer to shore for repairs, forts and tents were contructed for protection, and the relationship continued with the Miwok Indians. It was suggested that the natives thought of the explorers as Gods. In another excerpt, the General (Francis Drake) claimed the land for Great Britain.

"This country our Generall named Albion, and that for two causes the one in respect of the white bancks and cliffes, which lie toward the sea the other, that it might haue some afiinity, euen in name also, with our own country, which was sometime so called.

Before we went from thence, our Generall caused to be set vp a monument of our being there, as also of her maiesties and successors right and title to that kingdome namely, a plate of brasse, fast nailed to a great and firme post whereon is engrauen her graces name, and the day and yeare of our arriuall there, and of the free giuing vp of the prouince and kingdome, both by the king and people, into her maiesties hands : together with her highnesse picture and armes, in a piece of sixpence currant English monie, shewing itselfe by a hole made of purpose through the plate ', vnderneath was likewise engrauen the name of our Generall, etc."

New Albion and It's Later Import

Drake and the crew of the Golden Hind would head west across the Pacific Ocean after leaving New Albion, traverse that sea, explore the Indonesian archipelago, then return to England in September of 1580. The establishment and claim at New Albion would be used to establish English colonial charters for the next two centuries on a sea to sea American continent, first at Roanoke in 1584 and Jamestown in 1607. Later it would be used by English explorers and colonists, including George Vancouver, in their claims of territory in Oregon and Canada.

Image above: Engraving of Sir Francis Drake, Date Unknown, W. Hall. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Indians greeting Francis Drake in California, 1599, Theodr De Bry's Historia Americas. Courtesy Library of Congress. Source info: Library of Congress drake.mcn.org, "Francis Drake in Nova Albion" by Oliver Seeler "The World Encompassed" based on the notes of Francis Drake's Chaplain, Francis Fletcher, 1628 Archive.org Wikipedia.

History Photo Bomb


"Coronado's March," drawing by Frederic Remington, 1897. Courtesy Library of Congress.


Sir Francis Drake

Born in 1540, Sir Francis Drake went to sea at about age 12. After Spaniards attacked an English trading fleet, including his ship, at San Juan de Ullua in Mexico, Drake began raiding Spanish ships and coasts. In a quarter-century career, Drake attacked Panama, the west coast of South America, the Caribbean, and the coast of Spain. He was second in command of the English fleet during the Spanish Armada Campaign. Drake was knighted in 1581 for his voyage of circumnavigation and died at sea on January 27, 1596.

Queen Elizabeth challenged the world dominance of Spain's King Philip II in the late 16th century. Excluded from New World trades by the Spaniards, the Queen's mariners enriched their country and themselves in state-sanctioned raiding efforts. Drake was an instrumental figure in this campaign.

In 1578, Drake sailed into the Pacific to raid the west coast of South America. The flagship was the Golden Hind, a small war galleon owned by Drake. He captured a treasure ship off Ecuador and then sought the Northwest Passage.

Finding no strait in Oregon, he turned south and landed at Drakes Bay to prepare to cross the Pacific and to claim the land for England. In September 1580, Drake and his remaining crew members returned to England with the riches they had gathered during their expedition.

Born in 1540, Sir Francis Drake went to sea at about age 12. After Spaniards attacked an English trading fleet, including his ship, at San Juan de Ullua in Mexico, Drake began raiding Spanish ships and coasts. In a quarter-century career, Drake attacked Panama, the west coast of South America, the Caribbean, and the coast of Spain. He was second in command of the English fleet during the Spanish Armada Campaign. Drake was knighted in 1581 for his voyage of circumnavigation and died at sea on January 27, 1596.

Queen Elizabeth challenged the world dominance of Spain's King Philip II in the late 16th century. Excluded from New World trades by the Spaniards, the Queen's mariners enriched their country and themselves in state-sanctioned raiding efforts. Drake was an instrumental figure in this campaign.

In 1578, Drake sailed into the Pacific to raid the west coast of South America. The flagship was the Golden Hind, a small war galleon owned by Drake. He captured a treasure ship off Ecuador and then sought the Northwest Passage.

Finding no strait in Oregon, he turned south and landed at Drakes Bay to prepare to cross the Pacific and to claim the land for England. In September 1580, Drake and his remaining crew members returned to England

with the riches they had gathered during their expedition.

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Exploration &bull Wars, Non-US. A significant historical date for this entry is January 27, 1596.

Location. 37° 56.683′ N, 122° 30.527′ W. Marker is in Larkspur, California, in Marin County. Marker can be reached from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 101 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Larkspur CA 94939, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Golden Gate Ferry (here, next to this marker) The Golden Hind (here, next to this marker) Green Brae Brick Kiln (approx. 0.2 miles away) Greenbrae Brickyard Superintendent's Cottage (approx. 0.2 miles away) Marin (approx. 2.3 miles away) Mission San Rafael Arcangel (approx. 2.3 miles away) The Gate House (approx. 2.4 miles away) The Belrose Theater (approx. 2.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Larkspur.

More about this marker. The marker is mounted to the outside wall of the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.


States Stake Claim On Sir Francis Drake's Landing

Sir Francis Drake became the first British explorer to make contact with Native Americans.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

Oregon and California are locked in a dispute over something that happened 433 years ago, when Sir Francis Drake became the first British explorer to make contact with Native Americans.

It happened on what is now the American West Coast. The question is where? Oregon or California? The National Park Service is now poised to officially recognize one state's claim.

Drake was the prototypical swashbuckling British ship captain. It took him three years to circumnavigate the world. In 1579, he spent five weeks repairing his ship and interacting with West Coast tribes. Amateur historian Garry Gitzen believes that happened near his house overlooking Nehalem Bay on the northern Oregon coast.

The shelves of Gitzen's basement library are lined not only with books about Sir Francis Drake, but also with what he says is evidence the British explorer dropped anchor near his home.

Gitzen points to a photo of an old survey marker chiseled into a rock.

"This is what he signed," Gitzen says. "You know, the only person who could do something like that was Francis Drake."

Gitzen is writing a book called Oregon's Stolen History. In it, he refutes the generally accepted claim that Drake landed in California, just north of what is now San Francisco. He says it matters because it's the truth.

"Otherwise, we're living a bunch of lies," he says. "Is that really what we want to do? I don't think so. If that's the case, why don't we just keep saying the sun is revolving around the Earth and the Earth is still flat?"

Ed Von der Porten heads a society of history buffs in California's Bay Area. As far as he's concerned, scholars settled the question long ago of where Drake first encountered West Coast tribes — in California's Drake's Bay. Most recently, he says, the National Park Service put that claim through not one but two scholarly commissions to see if there were any other alternative.

"The answer came back, as it always has, a resounding no," Von der Porten says.

There is still another possibility, however, for Drake's landing: Whale Cove in southern Oregon. That's where archaeologist Melissa Darby is studying. Darby says that as a scientist, she doesn't trust anyone who's 100 percent sure of something that happened more than four centuries ago.

"We don't know where he landed," Darby says. "Just the evidence that there are so many arguments about it tells me that it's not a done deal."

The Hunt Continues

For now at least, the National Park Service has accepted the petition to officially designate 17 locations around Drake's Bay in California as a national landmark. But that's not quite the end of the story.

National Park Service archaeologist Erika Martin Seibert says the point of this landmark is to recognize the first contact between the British and Native Americans.

"At this time, current scholarship supports this area as the landing sight of Drake's Bay," Seibert says. "But that doesn't mean we can't continue to look at other places."

Seibert says the reason people will keep studying Drake's circumnavigation of the world is because it was the "moonshot" of its time.

"He was a rock star. He did something that many people thought was impossible," she says.


Watch the video: The Drake Plate: Sir Francis Drake Claims California for Queen Elizabeth I and England - was it real (January 2022).