Sir Francis Drake ‘first set foot on US soil in San Francisco Bay area’ US government lays 433-year historical controversy to rest by designating Point Reyes peninsula as Drake’s landing point
OK, he was NOT surfing the water, rather he was exploring the world. Is there really any difference? The US government has apparently ended a 433-year-old historical controversy by determining that Sir Francis Drake came ashore in what is now a county in the San Francisco Bay area when he claimed California for England.
For years, some historians and scholars said Drake had landed on the Point Reyes peninsula, in Marin County, north of San Francisco. But others pointed to what they considered evidence that Drake had landed in locations ranging from San Francisco Bay to Alaska.
The US interior secretary, Ken Salazar, has now designated Point Reyes as the point where Drake came ashore, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Saturday.
There was never any dispute that Drake had sailed his ship, the Golden Hind, north along the Pacific coast of the US. When he came ashore on 17 June 1579 to repair his ship, his crew nailed a plate of brass to a tree claiming the land for Queen Elizabeth I.
The descriptions of the harbour where Drake landed, however, were vague and sparked debates among historians. Some claimed he landed as far north as Alaska, while others suggested Oregon, British Columbia or other sites along the California coast.
The Drake Navigators Guild, a California historians’ organisation, said it had more than 50 detailed clues about Drake’s landing, including 16th-century reports, identifying Drakes Cove, an inlet near Drakes Bay on the Point Reyes peninsula.
Source: Associated Press Published: Sunday, 21 October 2012
The great seafarer has been credited with discovering the state during one of his epic sea voyages.
If California had become an English colony it would have become the jewel of the British Empire, a dominion awash with gold and other natural riches.
Drake’s claim to California has long been suspected, but exactly where he landed along America’s Pacific coastline has never been accurately pinpointed.
Historians have argued for centuries over the exact spot that the man, who went on to defeat the Spanish Armada, landed on June 17, 1579, and is said to have ordered his crew to nail a brass plate to a tree, claiming the land for England.
Descriptions of the natural harbour where his ship laid anchor were so vague that some academics claim he landed as far north as what is now Alaska, while others argued that the area he described was as far south as San Diego. Twenty nine other points along America’s Pacific coastline and even Canada’s British Columbia have been suggested over the years by historians as his first point of entry into the New World.
The Point Reyes claim simply had more evidence than any other possible site
John Dell’Osso, chief of interpretation at Point Reyes National Seashore
A five-year study by experts from the California-based Drake Navigators Guild has concluded that Drake landed on the Point Reyes Peninsula, north of the city of San Francisco.
The Guild’s report to the US government cited more than 50 historical facts to support its findings, including detailed 16th century reports that tally with the topography of the area.
John Dell’Osso, chief of interpretation at Point Reyes National Seashore and an avid Drake historian, said: “The Point Reyes claim simply had more evidence than any other possible site.”
The new official Drake landing site has now been named by the US government as one of 27 sites that are national historic landmarks, but no one will have to conjure up a new name for it.
Mr Dell’Osso said: “Those convinced in the past of his landing site had already named Drake’s Cove, an inlet near the larger Drake’s Bay as the unofficial precise landing site in Point Reyes. That’s very fortunate, because it’s now official.”
For all of Drake’s endeavour, it was Spain that was to exert the major influence.
Almost 30 years after Drake made landfall, Sebastian Vizcaino explored and mapped the coast of California in 1602 and was followed by Spanish missionaries who founded the state’s great cities, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.