Chapter 2: Spanish San Diego
3. Were these first settlers Spanish?
The leaders of the founding expedition, Padres Serra and Vizcaíno and Captain Portolá were Spaniards of different ethnic stocks. This has led some to suppose that the whole expedition was composed of fair-skinned Spanish conquistadors. Notwithstanding the practical impossibility of determining the ethnicity of the surviving soldiers, there is evidence to suggest that the majority of them were probably of mixed blood, mestizos and mulattoes.
A number of historians have argued that a large number of Spanish-speaking pioneers in the present day Southwest, were not Spaniards at all but mixed-blood, castas and Hispanicized Indians. The first evidence we have of the ethnicity of the surviving colonists in San Diego is the Spanish census taken in 1790. It counted 190 persons. Of the ninety-six adults, forty-nine were españoles but only three had been born in Europe. The rest had probably been "whitened" (on the frontier, people could "pass," depending on their wealth and occupation) to meet Mexico City's requirements that most of the soldiers be español. The census listed the balance of the soldiers as:
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