204 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
GALL AND RODRIGUEZ CERMENHO: EXPLORATION
CHARLES E. CHAPMAN
Drake's voyage to the Pacific in 1579 awakened Spain to a reali-
zation of the danger she ran of losing large portions of her empire.
Never before had she encountered competition along the western
shores of the Americas, and her only thought there had been to
extend her domain in the direction of lands that promised quick
returns in wealth. To be sure, Rodriguez Cabrillo and other lead-
ers had sought the mysterious though actually non-existent north-
ern strait called "Anian" in order to forestall foreign occupation,
but the principal ideal during most of the first century after the
discovery of America had been that of remunerative conquest,
rather than defence. The expedition of Drake may fairly be said
to have caused a change in Spanish colonial policy and the intro-
duction of a new spirit which was to be the dominant note for
another two hundred years. Henceforth Spain indeed sought
rich lands, though more and more inclined to insist on proof be-
fore undergoing the expense of conquest, but fear of foreign danger
began to take the principal place in her calculations for an ex-
tension of the sphere under her control. Expansion in order to
insure the safety of her already occupied dominions, the policy of
what may be termed the "aggressive defensive," became the key-
note in Spain's activities along her colonial borders.
No region that she then possessed was so valuable to her as the
kingdom of New Spain and none of the mainland countries was
so exposed to European attack. Spain learned, thus early in her
career, that the Californias, extending down through the eight
hundred-mile peninsula to Cape San Lucas, constituted a grave
danger if they should fall into the hands of an enemy, for they
lay conveniently near a great part of the west coast of New Spain.
It was natural, therefore, that she should wish to occupy the Cali-
fornias, even though the effort should occasion considerable ex-
pense and though the expected riches should not develop.
The Spanish ambassador in England sent home reports about
Drake's project for a second voyage to the Pacific. What action
the Spanish government took has not yet been revealed, but it is
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101075/. Accessed May 30, 2015.