Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Don Pedro Fages (1734–1794), nicknamed El Oso, was a Catalan soldier, explorer, and the second Spanish military Governor of New California (California Nueva, later Alta California) from 1770–1774, and Governor of the Californias from 1782–1791.
In 1767, lieutenant Fages left Spain with the Catalonian Volunteers for New Spain, to serve under Domingo Elizondo in Sonora. In 1769, Fages was selected by Viceroy José de Gálvez to lead the shipborn portion of the Gaspar de Portolá led expedition to found San Diego, California. Fages sailed from La Paz on January 10, 1769, aboard the San Carlos, and arrived at San Diego Bay on April 29, after sailing over 200 miles off course because of cartography errors. Fages accompanied both the 1769 and 1770 land expeditions to locate Monterey Bay. During this time he was promoted to captain.
After Portolá left California in 1770, Fages served as the somewhat independent military governor of New California, with his headquarters in Monterey. During this time, Fages explored by land San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, the Carquinez Strait, the San Joaquin River, and surrounding areas; and earned his nickname El Oso while hunting bears near San Luis Obispo. Fages quarreled with Father Junípero Serra, president of the California missions, and was replaced in 1774 by former Governor of the Californias Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada .
In 1777 Fages returned to Sonora to fight the Apaches, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1782 he was appointed Governor of the Californias, replacing Phlipe de Neve , and returned to Monterey, which had replaced Loreto as the capital of the Californias in 1777. He was promoted to colonel in 1789, and resigned his governorship in 1791.
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