By Donald C. Cutter
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On the other hand, the viceroy was pointing out the importance of having the manuscript in as good a shape as possible so that it might compare favorably with others that probably would soon be published. Oddly, there is no mention of Cardero at any place in the official ''Relación,'' nor of the artistic efforts that he had carried out with regularity on the Northwest Coast. This is hard to understand. He was later elevated to the rank of a commissioned officer on the basis of his contributions to the voyage of the Sutil and Mexicana to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and with the enthusiastic recommendation of his commanders.
The Count of La Pérouse, George Vancouver, Georg von Langsdorff, and other noteworthy visitors left us glimpses of the past, and we are endebted to them. As outsiders they saw things with alien eyes. Each visitor picked up details that escaped inclusion in military reports, in mission documentation, and in administrative records. Each visiting group had special points of view. La Pérouse compared the missions to the slave plantations of Santo Domingo. Vancouver was dubious of the Page 14 ability of the California military to mount even a token defense in case of attack, and Langsdorff pointed out the economic debility of a province without trade.
A supporting move was establishment of a naval base and shipbuilding facility at the unpleasant location of San Blas on the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. Ships from that home port were used not only to support the new colonization effort but also to explore the coast some 1,500 additional miles northward to Alaskan waters. Page xiii To legitimize Spanish claim, acts of possession were frequent along the coast. Attention was given to map making and to keeping detailed journals of exploration. As a final step, Spain established two posts in northern latitudes: one at Nootka Sound in 1789 and a second of brief duration at Núñez Gaona at Neah Bay in what is today the state of Washington.