United States

California history

Brief History of California Abridged

A brief overview of the history of California, a state on the West Coast of the United States.

California in the early days

Humans have lived in California since 10,000 BC When Europeans arrived in the 16th century, the natives lived in small towns. They lived on acorns and hunted animals such as deer and rabbits. They also fished. The indigenous peoples made baskets, some of which were so well woven that they could hold water.

Europeans arrived in 1542 when the Spanish Juan Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay. In 1579 Francis Drake anchored near San Francisco and claimed California for England. Then, in 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno explored the California coast. However, European colonization did not begin until the 18th century.

Franciscan monks built a series of missions in California about 30 miles away (a day’s ride on horseback). The first mission was built in San Diego in 1769. A town or city was founded in Los Angeles in 1781.

Then, in 1821, Mexico became independent from Spain. California became a territory of the new country. Unfortunately, the Europeans brought diseases to which the natives had no immunity. They were decimated.

In 1834 Mexico secularized the missions. That meant taking their land and selling it. In 1846 most of the land was owned by a small number of ranchers. From 1846 to 1848 the US and Mexico fought a war. When the war ended in 1848, Mexico formally surrendered California and it became a United States territory.

Shortly thereafter gold was discovered at Sutter’s mill. Gold prospectors flocked to California and its population grew as a result. On September 9, 1850, California became the 31st state in the union. That same year, Los Angeles was incorporated, and in 1854 Sacramento became the state capital.

In 1859, after the gold rush, silver was discovered in California. Then, in 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed, making transportation to and from the East much easier. Beginning in the 1870s, the orange industry in California boomed as it could now be easily shipped to other states.

Meanwhile, as more and more settlers arrived in California, many battles were fought against the Native Americans. They were forced to make reservations and their numbers dwindled drastically.

Modern California

In the early 20th century, the oil industry boomed in California. The film industry also grew. Meanwhile, in 1913 the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built. During the Depression of the 1930s, large numbers of “Okies” fleeing the dust bowl fled to California. Meanwhile, the Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1937.

During World War II, California grew again. After the war, many returning soldiers settled in California and suburbs sprang up around Californian cities. The 1950s were a prosperous decade for California. Both industry and agriculture flourished, and the state’s population grew rapidly.

In 1962, California was the most populous state in the United States. The 1960s were a time of protest. In 1969 Native Americans occupied Alcatraz Island. Then in 1989, California was hit by another earthquake. Yet another earthquake struck the state in 1994.

Today, California has a larger economy than most countries. Today, the population of California is 39.5 million.

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