Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Another Word Before Leaving Coquimbo

We have written a lot about Coquimbo Bay as the landing site of the Lehi Colony, and perhaps it might be of interest to know a little more about this very unique area. It might also be of interest to know why Frederick G. Williams or Joseph Smith would not have known anything about this area to justify even a wild guess as to this being the place of Lehi’s landing (30º south latitude) as was written on the sheet of paper often discussed here of late. 
   Originally, and until 1818, this area was called the New Extrenadura, and then as Indian Flanders (Flanders of the Indies), what we now know as Chile was the Capitania General de Chile (General Captaincy of Chile), sometimes referred to as the Gobernacion de Chile, a colony of the Crown of Castile (Spanish Empire). Where other South American areas were given the title of Kingdom by the Spanish, Chile was plagued with constant wars between the Mapuche and the Spanish, and had to be ruled by a military enclave and not a nobleman like a viceroy, thus it was a captaincy and not a viceroyalty.
The Mapuche occupied most of southern Chile and Argentina at the time of the Spanish arrival—mapu meaning “earth” and che meaning “people,” or “People of the Earth,” whom the Spanish called Araucanos
    In the period from 1810 to 1831, during the midst of the war of independence, there were numerous conflicts involving coup d’états, mutinies, politically motivated trials, banishments and imprisonments and finally an outright civil war. Consequently, from 1810 to 1826, Chile was involved in uniting the provinces; 1829 to 1830, the Chilean Civil War saw the defeat of the Pipiolos, with the Pelucones (Bigwigs) enforcing the Chilean Constitution of 1833, which favored the upper-class.
Under the command of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, a British Navy captain hired by Chile to organize their Navy, the Chilean Squadron sails off for Peru from Coquimbo Bay, where it normally anchored,especially during inclement weather and high seas. Early in the century, Chile helped Peru defeat the Spanish
    The War of the confederation followed from 1836 to 1839, then the Chilean Revolution of 1851, when Manuel Montt became the first civilian President of Chile, and was elected twice (1851-1861). A series of military campaigns followed this period, from 1861 to 1883, when the Chilean army invaded Mapuche territory, and eventually incorporated Araucania into Chilean national territory.
    During this time, and when the United States was embroiled in their Civil War, from 1862 to 1864 Spain, under the command of Admiral Luis Hernandez Pinzon (a descendant of the Pinzon brothers who accompanied Columbus), covertly entered South American waters in three war ships, with the clandestine purpose of reinforcing the financial and legal claims of Spanish citizens residing in the Americas. After a Peruvian civil disturbance, Pinzon reentered Peruvian waters with political demands and was snubbed by Peru.
Left: The Chincha islands of Peru being occupied by invading Spanish sailors on April 14,1864; Right: Light Green-Ecuador; Dark Green-Peru; Yellow-Bolivia; Orange-Chile. A-Opening battle on the offshore Chincha Islands; battles followed up and down the coast: 1-Papudo, 2-Valparaiso, 3-Abtao, and 4-Callao
    This led to the Spanish-Chilean War from 1864 to 1866, where Pinzon seized the guano-rich Chincha Islands, and blockaded principal Peruvian ports, disrupting commerce and fostering a high level of resentment throughout Latin America. A series of coastal and naval battles between Spain and its former colonies of Peru (which Spain had never recognized as being independent) and Chile followed, which led to President Ulysses S. Grant, in his 1870 State of the Union Address, subtly reiterated the Monroe Doctrine, reminding European powers that the former Spanish possessions in the Americas were free and should remain that way.
Left: In the War of the Pacific, the Chilean ground forces nearly exterminated the defending Peruvian Army. Here General Bolognesi, a Peruvian war hero, is on the ground as the dark uniformed Chileans wipe out his command; Right: After the war, Bolivia and Peru ceded to Chile the entire area between Chile and Peru that was once held by Bolivia (Green hash lines) and Peru (White hash lines); Bottom Left: Conquering Chilean forces march down streets of Lima, Peru, before burning the city to the ground; Bottom Right: The country boundaries before (left) and after (right) the war
    However, with Europe then out of the picture, the former allies went to war with one another, and the War of the Pacific, from 1879 to 1883, saw Chile defeating Peru and Bolivia, and adding territory to their northern lands. It was also at this time that the Mapuche resistance in the south ended and Chile added territory all the way to Terra del Fuego. In this defeat of Peru, Chilean forces occupied Lima and the surrounding area, burning it to the ground, as well as haciendas throughout the area—it was a devastating time and no passenger ships or tourists visited the area, not even from Europe.
    Consequently, it is not difficult to say that the U.S. from the very beginning had little to do with the countries of Peru and Chile, first because they were controlled by Spain, second because they were European centers in the Americas, and third, because they were embroiled in wars, first for independence, then among each other for territory, and finally against Spain once again.This went on throughout the entire 19th century. The chances that two people, one educated the other not, in a rustic farm house in the 1830s, first in Palmyra, New York, then Kirtland, Ohio, and later in Far West, Missouri, would know anything about the west coast of South America is about as likely as us knowing any details today about the surface of the newly discovered planet Kepler.
Left: Charles Darwin’s drawing of Coquimbo Bay (his ship Beagle in foreground); Right: The port today with a cruise ship docked
    Keep in mind that it was not until the conclusion of the Chilean War of Independence in 1826, that Coquimbo was even recognized as a port, with the city of Coquimbo not founded until 1850, and not until November 16, 1863 that the port’s side street off the dock was created, also known as the shopping street, which began to draw European tourists and the docking of passenger ships. Parallel to this, a new area was established, running north to south, and named after Don Juan Melgarejo, the mayor of Coquimbo between 1840 and 1851, for his personal contribution to the development of the city.
    Thus in small stages, the area of Coquimbo and La Serena grew. In 1886, the population  was 6,000, and had only 190 properties that housed local and European traders, carpenters, tobacconists, beer brewers, barbers, foundry hands, a printer, engineers, a lawyer, musicians and a sculptor, including a number of  builders, grocers, sawyers, wagon drivers, confectioners, party organizers, farmhands, clerks,  servants, blacksmiths, tinsmiths and boatmen. It was at this time, in the late 1860s that Coquimbo and La Serena began to grow significantly, yet the best known shops were still European: Ireland and Co., Palessie and Lasté, Virgilio, Barón, Tiffoue and Co, A. Stell and Co., Robert John and Jenkins and Co.—all established and run by Europeans.
    The city imported mules, rice, refined sugar, gas for lamps, iron rods, bricks, wood and English garden railings. Exports consisted of minerals like manganese, copper and silver and reached mainly the English and French markets.
    As for the knowledge of these areas in the United States, it might be of interest to note that of all the maps now extant between 1513 and 1910, of which I have access to a few, there is much distortion of South America in the early maps, very little detail, and La Serena (usually written Serena), and Coquimbo Bay (always written Coquimbo), are not shown on any map prior to the 1830s, and then usually only one or the other. As an example, on an 1842 map by Auguste-Henri Defour’s (Adolphe Hippolyte Dufour, a Paris based map and atlas publisher of the late 19th century) there is fairly good detail, but no listing of Coquimbo or La Serena at all.
And Julius Lowenberg’s 1846 map (A German-Jewish printer, geographer, and author in Berlin during middle part of 19th century) is limited in detail with only one west coast location listed, and no indication of La Serena or Coquimbo. Not until the 1860s do we find maps showing any detail at all of this area around the 30º south latitude of Chile. The one notable exception to this was Charles Darwin’s map drawn during the voyage of the Beagle 1832 to 1836, however, the map was not published until 1846 in London by Stewart and Murray.
Top Left: Joseph Smith lived in this house from 1819 to 1829, where the translation of the Book of Mormon commenced; Top Right: Joseph and his wife, Emma, lived in the middle section of this house (yellow arrow) 1827-1830; Bottom Left: Joseph lived here in Kirtland, Ohio, 1834 to 1838; Bottom Right: Joseph and Emma’s farm house in Navuoo (when only the lighter colored structure to the right existed) from 1839 to 1843
    It should be obvious, then, that outside of some in Europe, a few U.S. naval commanders, and a handful of salty mariners, the West Coast of South America was unknown to those in the United States, especially those in the “backwoods” of western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. Once again, how Frederick G. Williams came to write down that “Lehi sailed from Arabia on a southeast course and landed at the 30º south latitude on the coast of Chile” has to be one of the amazing guesses of all time, unless, after all, it was an inspired understanding of Lehi’s landing site.

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