Zoom Lecture, Saturday, March 27, 2:00 PM, San Francisco Bay Area: Borderlands Between Russian and Spanish Empires

Sonoma Valley Historical Society presents a Zoom lecture by Marie Duggan

San Francisco Bay Area: Borderlands Between Russian and Spanish Empires

To register for this Zoom Lecture Email to: info@sonomavalleyhistory.org

In 1774, pilot Juan Perez thought the limit to the Spanish empire was 55 degrees. By 1792, most agreed the border had moved South to Nootka Sound. But by 1806, Russia had an outpost at Bodega Bay, which implies that the border between Spain and Russian empires was San Francisco Bay. The Arguello family controlled SF Bay through Presidio San Francisco, but had no ships to patrol the waters. A compromise was reached: Russians could hunt on the Farallons with the Aleuts they had impressed, leaving the shoreline hunting to Christian Ohlone who sold the pelts to Presidio soldiers who brought them to Arguello. In 1810, crisis in Spain’s empire ended Presidio pay. In this new situation, Arguello negotiated to sell foodstuffs to the Russians, and this was the context in which Missions San Rafael and Sonoma were built north of SF Bay in “Russian” territory in 1817 and 1823. This arrangement may have provided funds for the Presidio, but it increased workload on Ohlone and Miwok in the SF Bay Area, perhaps contributing to the 1827 Revolt of Estanislao.


Marie Christine Duggan has taught economics at Keene State College in New Hampshire for 20 years. She received a PhD in economics from the New School for Social Research in 2000. Prof. Duggan uses archives of business documents in Mexico, Spain and Santa Barbara to explore how Hispanic commercial interests in Mexico, Spain, Lima and Manila influenced California’s development.