History in Cali

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Cali , an industrialized city in western Colombia, has a rich history from Spanish colonization to the modern day.  

Sebastián de Belalcázar and Conquering Cali 

Sebastián Moyano de Belalcázar was a conquistador from Spain who is thought to have first sailed to the New World on the third journey of Christopher Columbus in 1498 when Sebastián was about 20 years-of-age. He proceeded to assist in exploring the Americas with various expeditions until, in 1534, he used his accumulated pay to set off with the intent of conquering Quito. He entered the valley of the Cauca River in 1535 and moved to the southwest of Colombia. En route he encountered the Timbas, who deserted their lands before the threatening invaders arrived, leaving towns of gold for the Spaniards. Other tribes did not surrender without a fight. Nonetheless, the Spaniards pushed onward, and on July 25, 1536, Sebastián de Belalcázar founded Cali, what is now the third largest city in Columbia.

Spanish Colonization  

The Spanish colony was originally located elsewhere from the present day location, but in 1537, Sebastián de Belalcázar ordered that the settlement be moved to its modern day location. Once the move was carried out, mass was celebrated and Sebastián pronounced Padro de Ayala the first municipal authority. Cali was initially the capital of the area, but in 1540, Sebastián changed the capital to a location with more favorable weather, so until the late 1700s, Cali was mainly a trading town for cattle and sugar cane plantations. These plantations were largely farmed by slaves who made up a noticeable proportion of the population, while the farms themselves were owned by nobles.  

Revolution of Independence  

Following the example of the former British colonies in North America, on July 3, 1810, Santigo de Cali refused to recognize the ruling authority of Spain. Although the governor organized an army to squash the uprising, the surrounding areas rallied to defend themselves, forming the “Confederated Cities of the Cauca valley.” They declared governmental independence on February 1, 1811, but they temporarily continued to recognize Ferdinand VII as the overall head of state. Battles proceeded between royalists and local militia, until Napoleon released Ferdinand VII, who restored royalist rule by using a huge army against the rebels in 1816, but in 1819 the royalist army was defeated in the battle of Boyacá.  

Cali served as an important military outpost, and in the 1800s, Santiago de cali became the capital of the state of Cauca .
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