If by chance, you got off at the Metro Red Line Station near Universal Studios today, you would have been near one of the most significant historical landmarks on one of the most important days in California’s history. One hundred and sixty two years ago, fighting between Mexican and U.S. forces ended as the two sides signed the Capitulation of Cahuenga at an adobe house on a ranch right off of what is presently Lankershim Boulevard. Los Angeles and California from this day on, ceased to be in control of Mexico on the signatures of Lt. Colonel John C. Fremont of the United States and General Andres Pico of Mexico.
Of course, better remembered is the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, but the informal agreement at Campo de Cahuenga paved its way a year before. California was the crown jewel of America’s westward imperial obsession. In effect, the articles signed on that day ‘manifested the destiny’ of the ‘sea to shining sea’ territorial ambitions of the U.S. even if it took a war of aggression based on a lie to obtain it.
Ok, with a history like that, who is up for some celebrating? Well, actually every year a reenactment is held at Campo de Cahuenga to mark the occasion. This year was no different as people gathered to see ‘fiesta dancers,’ the firing of the Horwitzer Cannon, and munch on two dollar tacos in between. In fact, this past weekend’s event at the site was the 60th such occasion.
Now, I’m in favor of preserving the Campo de Cahuenga landmark, even as new conquests of redevelopment have threatened it. I’m also in favor of remembering history as these words and my Subversive Historian audio columns clearly show. However, as we are in the midst of an occupation in Iraq due to a war of aggression based on lies, it seems like ‘reenactments’ of the history of the United States are sadly happening indeed…and many times without the two dollar tacos…