California History

1. The gold rush began in California in the winter of 1848, when the U.S. sawmill operator and carpenter James W. Marshall discovered gold in the American River. At that time, he was constructing sawmill for the agriculturalist from Sacramento- John Sutter. Due to the discovery of gold, thousands of immigrants from the USA and other countries rushed to the state. The migration stimulated by this event was the internal movement of the U.S. citizens from the Eastern states, who wanted to get rich in California. In order to reach the state, gold seekers had to spend six months on a sea voyage from New York, passing South America, and then moving to San Francisco or San Diego. Thousands of gold hunters rushed to California, but, at that time, it was not easy to get out there. There were two ways to get to the state- by sea and land. Those individuals, who chose the sea route, travelled around South America (the journey lasted from five to eight months), or got to Panama, crossed it and waited for a passing vessel to the north. When travelling by land to California, gold seekers could reached the destination from Oregon or through Mexico. However, all these roads were difficult and dangerous to move on.

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The newspaper New York Herald informed the nation about the discovery of gold, thereby significantly accelerating the westward migration and rush for this scarce source. Migrants moved across the mountains and travelled by sea, passing Panama, Cape Horn, Pacific coast, and finally reached San Francisco. In addition to the emigration from the eastern states, the discovery of California gold rush boosted the global emigration of gold seekers from Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The majority came from France, Turkey, Ireland, Germany, Mexico, and China. The migration of Chinese laborers and foreigners caused significant ethnic tension among the locals, particularly, when the amount of gold substantially decreased, and the source became scarce. In 1850, the Californian legislators developed and introduced the Foreign Miners Tax that imposed a monthly tax ($20) on every foreign miner. The tax forced many Chinese migrants to stop searching for gold. This campaign provided white Americans with more opportunities in regard to the prospecting of gold and restricted the entry of foreign laborers into California and their ability to compete for decent wages and good jobs. In 1882, the Chinese immigration to California was significantly halted. The federal authorities passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which effectively restricted Chinese immigration for almost a decade and prohibited Asian from becoming American citizens. Despite the fact that the local and foreigners faced ethnic tensions, Gold Rush drastically changed the demographic situation in the state of California. As a result, it became the distinguished and ethnically diverse state in the Union by the 1850s.

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2. The establishment of the railroad through the West Virginia and New River Gorgewas a landmark event in forming the regions modern history. Once isolated land of farmsteads was transformed into the prospering areas of coal mines and established logging towns that supplied the natural resources to the manufacturers. At that time, the nation experienced the industrial revolution, and diverse groups of newcomers were responsible for the course of landmark events occurred at that time. The construction of railroad significantly changed the economy and life in the region. The commercial activity significantly increased the flow of new goods, including farm products that quickly found new markets. Farmers also provided food to the boarding houses and hotels that settle newcomers and tourists. Locals worked as drivers and waiters. The transcontinental railroad linked the country from east to west. Before its construction, the travel across the country cost almost $1,000 dollars. Afterwards, the travel price decreased to $150 dollars. Theodore Dehone Judah was the eminent civil engineer, and the major figure in the design, establishment, and promotion of civil railroad. Judah also found investors for this important task. A chief engineer surveyed the land to determine the best route. The U.S. President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act into law in 1862. This act enabled the federal authorities to construct the first transcontinental railroad. It was completed in 1869. The Big Four was the name given to eminent philanthropists, tycoons, and businessmen, who invested in the establishment of Central Pacific Railroad, passing by the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, Mississippi River, and the Pacific Ocean during the 1860s. The most eminent personalities of that time included Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis Potter Huntington, and Leland Stanford.


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3. The main hide and tallow traders were William Hartnell, Abel Stearns, Hugo Reid, and Thomas Oliver Larkin, who significantly contributed to the history of California. During the foreign penetration in California, Spain prohibited a direct contact with other countries. However, in the 1820-1830ss, the foreign trade increased in the United States, and hide and tallow traders started dominating on the Mexican market. The Mexican officials closely cooperated with the U.S. commercial agents. San Diego officials opened ports, thereby bringing many foreign residents to Monterey. In 1822, the eminent immigrant William Hartnell arrived in Monterey. The renowned figure played a pivotal role in the national history, and, particularly, in the history of California. In 1829, another famous figure, the trader- Abel Stearns opened the store in Los Angeles. He became a cattle rancher, major landowner, and the wealthiest citizen at that time. Hugo Reid was the early resident of Los Angeles County; he emigrated from Scotland to South America at a young age. He arrived in Los Angeles 1832, opened the store, and applied for citizenship. Another eminent figure was Thomas Oliver Larkin. He was not only engaged in business affairs, but also became the first consul to Mexican Alta California. He did not apply for Mexican citizenship, but lent money to Mexican civilians and officials, and succeeded in all his undertakings, related to the traded real estate and trading house.

4. Industrial oil production and large-scale production in California led to a sharp drop in oil prices, the squeezing of energy from coal and the conquest of consumers. Moreover, the countrys large-scale industrial development after the Civil War dramatically increased the need for lubricants for industrial machinery and equipment. Oil fever led to sharp leaps and frequent price collapse. In the late XIX century, the oil market experienced the first period of unstable prices. The modern oil industry was developed in Southeastern Texas. Everything changed in the 1900s. Native Americans were aware of oil infiltration for centuries and used the resin they found on the surface for treating various illnesses. In the late 1800s, Californian drillers produced insignificant amount of oil; however, in the course of time, they started exploiting and utilizing the scarce source more widely (hundreds of barrels per day). This event attracted oil companies not only in the state, but the whole world, and they used potential of the underground reservoirs. American citizens recognized the true potential of oil in the United States, and the necessity to effectively utilize vast resources and gain vast potential. Oil was widely used for lubrication and lamps; the citizens utilized petroleum as fuel for automobiles and airplanes. Previously, trains and ships run on the coal power; in 1890, enterprises switched to oil. They also convinced officials and public that there will be no shortage of fuel in the short-and long-term perspectives.

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5. Even before considering the state of California, the states of the slave-owning South of the US lobbied the question of giving Southern California independence, as a state with legalized slavery. Nevertheless, as a result of the adoption of a package of laws known as the Compromise of 1850 by the U.S. Congress, California became part of the US free state. During the Civil War in the United States, California acted on the side of the Northerners. Being far from military operations, the state did not create regular military formations, but many residents of the state took part in the hostilities voluntarily. In winter 1848, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty that finally ended the Mexican War and yielded a part of Southwest, including California, to the United States. The discovery of gold in the American River near Sacramento, and the consequent gold rush accelerated the admittance of California State to the Union. The gold rush increased the population and demonstrated the need for establishing civil government. In the 1850s, the residents of California sought statehood. After debate, disputes, and controversies among the congressmen in regard to the slavery issue, the state entered the Union as a non-slavery and free state. The introduction of Compromise in 1850 accelerated its entrance. California became the thirty-first state in September 1850. Since that time, the rich and remarkable history of the Golden State has been shaped by individuals of various ethnic backgrounds, who traveled to the United States seeking for educational and socio-economic opportunities, high quality of life, and other benefits. The first capital of California was San Jose. The city did not have necessary facilities to ensure its smooth functioning. Legislators expressed their dissatisfaction with the location, and the former state senator donated the land for the future capital.

I have chosen these five topics as I consider these events to be the most important and landmark ones for California. Their impact on the further development of the state is significant. Moreover, the chosen topics help every history enthusiast to make relevant conclusions and learn something valuable from the past to make the modern day even more prosperous.

Mar 4, 2021 in History
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