1998 32¢ Spanish Settlement
Issue Date: March 19, 1998
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Die Cut 11.3
In 1598, Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate created the first European road in America – El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro – linking Mexico City to Spain’s northern territories in New Mexico. Later he established the first European settlement at San Gabriel. Built along the Rio Grande, this earliest of Spanish communities is a short distance from present-day Española. Oñate’s settlement predated the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia by nine years.
After settling in New Mexico, Oñate assumed the governorship until he fell out of favor with the Spanish government and resigned in 1607. The settlement at San Gabriel served as New Mexico’s first capital, until it was moved to Santa Fe in 1609. Santa Fe is still considered the oldest seat of government in the United States.
La Misión de San Miguel de San Gabriel, featured on the 1998 U.S. postage stamp, is fashioned after the original chapel built by colonists in 1598. Excavators discovered stone footings that were believed to be the chapel’s outline, but all other details of the building were unknown. For the first settlers, the chapel served as a place to hold religious services, as well as a gathering place. Today it is a community center.