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Data Regarding Don Gaspar de Portolá After He Left California

E. J. Molera

Portolá and Costansó sailed, on July 9, 1770, for Mexico, to give to the viceroy an account of their discoveries. Costansó remained in the capital and took part in several engineering works, among others, the map of the Valley of Mexico and its drainage. Diligent search instituted by the writer in Mexico and Spain regarding Portolá's further history, has so far discovered little beyond the fact that the commander's return to the capital was followed by promotion from Captain to Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Spanish Army, and his appointment as Governor of Puebla, February 23, 1777.

In the municipal archives of the city of Puebla, on page 33 of the folio covering the years 1776-1783, is the following description of Portolá's taking possession of the office as Governor of that city and state:

"Possession of Governor Portolá."

"In the session (meeting of February 23d, 1777), the council saw a royal title of Political and Military Governor of this city granted by his Majesty to Señor Don Gaspar de Portolá, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Army, and also a superior order of his Excellency the Viceroy, Governor, and Captain General of this New Spain, in which is stated that said title has been forwarded."

"The President of the Council, standing and uncovered, took the title in his hand and kissed it and put it over his head, being a letter from the king, our master, and said that he would obey and he did obey its contents and in its provisions it was ordered that Lieutenant-Colonel Don Gaspar de Portolá be given possession of said office, and for that purpose, said noble corporation went out with the heralds to bring him to this hail of sessions, and when he was in, a notary-public having certified to his identity, he swore to use faithfully and well the office of Governor, doing justice, punishing, and not burdening the poor with excessive taxes; to keep and cause to be kept, the rights, privileges, royal decrees and ordinances, etc."

"Having signed the oath, the president gave him the cane of Royal justice, by which the act of possession was completed."

In the same volume many decrees and ordinances are signed by Portolá as Governor of Puebla.

That in the year 1779, Portolá was still Governor of Puebla is proved by two original manuscripts in possession of the writer. One is a circular official notice to all the head authorities of Mexico, announcing the death of Viceroy Frey Don Antonio Bucareli y Ursua, and shown herewith; the other is a letter of Don Gaspar de Portolá, dated April 17th, 1779.

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