Map of the Discoveries Made of the Northwest Coast of North America


Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa (1717‒79) was born in Seville, Spain. He served as captain general of Cuba from 1766 to 1771 and as viceroy of New Spain from 1771 to 1779. He reorganized the Spanish military units in the viceroyalty and strengthened and rebuilt fortifications along the Pacific coast and on the Gulf of Mexico, with the objective of forestalling encroachments by other powers. Bucareli took a keen interest in the northern reaches of New Spain. He fought Indian insurrections, invested in fortifying presidios and Spanish and Indian settlements, and sent expeditions to explore and settle the whole coastal area of California and to monitor Russian incursions. Under Bucareli’s direction, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Cuadra (1743‒94) sailed from Mexico along the coast of California and explored and mapped the San Francisco Bay area in 1775. Proceeding further north, he took possession of the Alaska coast for Spain, including Prince of Wales Island, at a place that still bears the name of Viceroy Bucareli (Bucareli Bay, southeastern Alaska). After the death of Juan Pérez, Bodega y Cuadra’s pilot, other members of the crew became ill with scurvy, and the expedition was unable to map the new regions it had explored. Spain failed to publicize its findings in maps, and there was no international recognition of its claim. This pen-and-ink map shows the discoveries made by the Spanish on the coast of North America. It is a 1792 copy of an original map depicting the Pacific Coast from the Aleutian Islands to Acapulco and westward to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands). The map includes coastlines, settlements, presidios (fortifications), and missions.

Last updated: January 27, 2016