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California

State History

Native Americans

California has been inhabited for thousands of years. When Europeans first arrived there were a number of Native American tribes in the area including the Chumash, Mohave, Yuma, Pomo, and Maidu. These tribes spoke a number of different languages. They were often separated by geography such as mountain ranges and desserts. As a result, they had different cultures and languages from the Native Americans to the east. They were mostly peaceful people who hunted, fished, and gathered nuts and fruit for food.


The Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge by John Sullivan

Europeans Arrive

A Spanish ship captained by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first to visit California in 1542. Several years later, in 1579, English Explorer Sir Francis Drake landed on the coast near San Francisco and claimed the land for England. However, the land was far away from Europe and European settlement didn't really begin for another 200 years.

Spanish Missions

In 1769, the Spanish began to build missions in California. They built 21 missions along the coast in an effort to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. They also built forts called presidios and small towns called pueblos. One of the presidios to the south became the city of San Diego while a mission built to the north would later become the city of Los Angeles.

Part of Mexico

When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, California became a province of the country of Mexico. Under Mexican rule, large cattle ranches and farms called ranchos were settled in the region. Also, people began to move into the area to trap and trade in beaver furs.


Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Valley by John Sullivan

The Bear Republic

By the 1840s, many settlers were moving to California from the east. They arrived using the Oregon Trail and the California Trail. Soon these settlers began to rebel against Mexican rule. In 1846, settlers led by John Fremont revolted against the Mexican government and declared their own independent country called the Bear Flag Republic.

Becoming a State

The Bear Republic didn't last long. That same year, in 1846, the United States and Mexico went to war in the Mexican-American War. When the war ended in 1848, California became a territory of the United States. Two years later, on September 9, 1850, California was admitted into the Union as the 31st state.

Gold Rush

In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California. This started one of the largest gold rushes in history. Tens of thousands of treasure hunters moved to California to strike it rich. Between 1848 and 1855, over 300,000 people moved to California. The state would never be the same.

Agriculture

Even after the gold rush ended, people continued to migrate west to California. In 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad made traveling west much easier. California became a major farming state with plenty of land in the Central Valley for growing all sorts of crops including apricots, almonds, tomatoes, and grapes.

Hollywood

In the early 1900s, many major motion picture companies set up shop in Hollywood, a small town just outside of Los Angeles. Hollywood was a great location for filming because it was close to several settings including the beach, the mountains, and the desert. Also, the weather was generally good, allowing for outdoor filming year round. Soon Hollywood became the center of the filmmaking industry in the United States.


Los Angeles Skyline
Los Angeles by John Sullivan

Timeline More US State History:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming


Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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