Historic Milestones



1492 Christopher Columbus makes his first voyage of westward exploration, on behalf of a newly unified Spain. In the wake of Spain’s initial conquests, Pope Alexander VI decrees that Spain and Portugal have the right to exploit the resources of the New World, so long as the inhabitants are converted to Catholicism
1513 Núñez de Balboa sights the Pacific Ocean.
1519 Hernán Cortés enters Mexico; defeats Aztecs by 1521.
1521 Fernão de Magalhães (Fernando Magellan), sailing on behalf of Spain, reaches the Philippines.
1532 Francisco Pizarro ente Prseru; defeats Incas by 1533
1539 Hernando de Soto explores portions of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana.
1540 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado ventures north of Mexico in a futile search for gold, said to be held in the legendary Gran Quivira and Seven Cities of Cibola; explores from Gulf of California to present-day Kansas.
1541 Pedro de Valdivia enters Chile.
1548 Discovery of a large silver vein in Zacatecas, Mexico, renews Spanish expectations of finding valuable minerals in the north.
1565 Spain completes its conquest of the Philippines. Spaniards establish a trade route for goods from East Asia, shipping them on Manila Galleons to the west coast of Mexico. The goods are then carried overland for sale within the Americas, or are brought to the east coast to be shipped to Europe
1595 King Philip II grants Juan de Oñate permission to explore the territories beyond Mexico’s northern frontier.
1598 Juan de Oñate’s forces stop on the banks of the Rio Grande at a Tewa pueblo, Ohke, which they name San Juan de los Caballeros and designate as capital of the province of Nueva México.
1599 Juan de Oñate’s expedition moves across the Rio Grande and establishes a new capital, San Gabriel del Yunque.
1608 Oñate is removed as governor and sent to Mexico City, to be tried for mistreatment of Indians and abuse of power. Juan Martínez de Montoya and then Bernardino de Ceballos serves as governor of New Mexico. A new capital, at Santa Fe, may be established as early as this date.
1610 Under their new governor, Pedro de Peralta, the Spaniards establish the Casas Reales (known today as the Palace of the Governors) in Santa Fe.
1630 By this date, the Franciscans have constructed some 50 mission churches throughout the New Mexican pueblos.
1680 Several thousand pueblo residents rebel. They burn the mission churches, kill the Franciscans and Spaniards on outlying ranches and converge on Santa Fe, where they besiege the Casas Reales. The surviving Spaniards escape, fleeing on foot to present-day El Paso.
1693 The newly appointed Spanish governor Don Diego de Vargas attacks the Casas Reales and re-occupies Santa Fe. Spain solidifies control of the northernmost part of its empire
1706 The city of Albuquerque is established. A new musical tradition called Inditas, combining Spanish and Indian elements, begins to develop around this time.
1720-58 Anonymous artists create the earliest surviving paintings on hide from New Mexico, known as Segesser I andSegesser II.
1751 Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, the earliest known Spanish artist in New Mexico, begins to work in Santa Fe.
1786 The anonymous, influential artist known as the Laguna Santero begins to work, presumably training apprentices and developing a workshop.
1816 The Santuario de Chimayó is completed; the santerotradition flourishes in New Mexico.
1821 Mexico achieves independence from Spain.
1822 The Santa Fe Trail is opened, linking New Mexico with Anglo North America.
1841 Troops from the Republic of Texas attempt to claim New Mexico and are thwarted.
1846 United States forces occupy New Mexico.
1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican-American War. Under the treaty’s terms, New Mexico (including present-day Arizona, southern Colorado, southern Utah and southern Nevada) becomes a United States territory in 1850.
1854 The Gadsden Purchase from Mexico adds 45,000 square miles to the new U.S. territory.
1863-68 Thousands of Native Americans die of starvation and disease while being forceably relocated to Bosque Redondo on the “Long Walk”; the survivors are eventually allowed to return to their homelands.
1878 The railroad reaches New Mexico, making the Santa Fe Trail obsolete.
1886 Geronimo surrenders, marking the end of Native American hostilities in the Southwest.
1902 The United States achieves victory in the Spanish-American War; claims the Philippines and Puerto Rico as possessions and establishes hegemony over a newly independent Cuba.
1912 New Mexico is admitted to the Union as a state.


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