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Military bases have been an enduring feature of the American West, beginning with Spain's establishment of presidios (from the Latin presidium, meaning a garrisoned town or fortress) in the Southwest and along the California coast during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Presidios protected settlers from marauding natives and guarded the imperial frontiers against foreign incursions. Although each presidio had its own rancho del rey, or “king's farm,” which furnished pasturage for the garrison's horses, military demand for local goods and services also caused nearby civilian communities to thrive. When Mexico achieved independence from Spain, Mexican troops occupied many of the presidios. After Mexico ceded most of the Southwest to the United States in 1848, the U.S. Army took over at least two California presidios founded ...

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