The year was 1821 and Spain was losing its grip in the Americas. The Mexican War for Independence that began in 1810 came to an end in 1821. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Spain was facing huge debts and turned to its colonies in South and Central America to replenish its empty coffers. Obviously this wasn’t very popular on this side of the ocean and it led to a series of rebellions. In August of 1821, Mexico won its independence.
Simon Bolivar and his forces were also well on their way to liberating much of South America that had been under Spanish rule. In 1821, he defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Carabobo, freeing Venezuela and by the end of the year, Ecuador would be liberated as well, with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia now united as the territory of Gran Colombia.
Spain’s officially relinquished its last foothold in continental North America with the ratification of the Transcontinental Treaty in 1821, which ceded Florida to the United States. Following the Missouri Compromise of 1820, in August of 1821, Missouri was admitted as the twenty-fourth state in the Union.
Missouri became a launching point for those traveling west. Prior to 1821, the Spanish had not allowed trade with the U.S., but with Mexican independence all of that changed. In September 1821, Captain William Becknell left Missouri for Santa Fe, New Mexico, (part of Mexico at the time) on a trading expedition along a route that would become known as the Santa Fe Trail. More traders, and eventually settlers and gold seekers would follow the trail west in the years to come.
So where was your family? What were they doing?