California History - the history of California
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Vacation 2 USA   >   California   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   California History


California History

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, California was inhabited by many distinct groups of Native Americans.

The Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo reached San Diego Bay in 1542, and claimed the area for Spain. From 1565, Spanish traders are known to have made visits to the area, and the English explorer, Sir Francis Drake visited the region in 1579. Spain began to colonize the territory beginning in 1769, with the establishment of fortresses (presidios) and missions.

When Mexico became independent from Spain as a result of the Mexican War of Independence (1810 to 1821), the territory became part of Mexico. Following a brief revolt by US settlers (the Bear Revolt - from which California gets its flag) in 1846, California first became an independent republic, and then soon after was annexed by the United States.

In 1849, gold was discovered in the region, a huge number of immigrants arrived. California was admitted as the 31st state of the Union on September 9th, 1850. Following the establishment of transcontinental railroads and highways, migration to California continued and accelerated, a pattern that has to the present day, making the state into the most populous in the Union.

California played a relatively minor role in the American Civil War (1861 to 1865). While it is true that the state was home to some Confederate sympathizers, they were not allowed to organize and their newspapers were closed, and hence the state remained peaceful. The main involvement of California during the war, was that California Column, a force of 2,000 Union volunteers who marched across New Mexico and Arizona (at that time both part of the New Mexico Territory) into western Texas, engaged in some skirmishes with the Confederates, and spent most of the war fighting Apaches.

In the 20th century, California continued to grow both in population and economic important. When oil was discovered in southern California it was, for a time, the most important industry in the state. California also became an important center of movie-making and the entertainment industry more generally. During World War II, the state produced massive amounts of armaments for the Allied war effort. In more recent years, California became a key location in the new computer and high technology industries.

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California: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)

By Kevin Starr

Starr, Kevin
Released: 2007-03-13
Paperback (416 pages)

California: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)
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California has always been our Shangri-la–the promised land of countless pilgrims in search of the American Dream. Now the Golden State’s premier historian, Kevin Starr, distills the entire sweep of California’s history into one splendid volume. From the age of exploration to the age of Arnold, this is the story of a place at once quintessentially American and utterly unique.

Arguing that America’s most populous state has always been blessed with both spectacular natural beauty and astonishing human diversity, Starr unfolds a rapid-fire epic of discovery, innovation, catastrophe, and triumph.

For generations, California’s native peoples basked in the abundance of a climate and topography eminently suited to human habitation. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early sixteenth century, there were scores of autonomous tribes were thriving in the region. Though conquest was rapid, nearly two centuries passed before Spain exerted control over upper California through the chain of missions that stand to this day.

The discovery of gold in January 1848 changed everything. With population increasing exponentially as get-rich-quick dreamers converged from all over the world, California reinvented itself overnight. Starr deftly traces the successive waves of innovation and calamity that have broken over the state since then–the incredible wealth of the Big Four railroad tycoons and the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the emergence of Hollywood as the world’s entertainment capital and of Silicon Valley as the center of high-tech research and development; the heroic irrigation and transportation projects that have altered the face of the region; the role of labor, both organized and migrant, in key industries from agriculture to aerospace.

Kevin Starr has devoted his career to the history of his beloved state, but he has never lost his sense of wonder over California’s sheer abundance and peerless variety. This one-volume distillation of a lifetime’s work gathers together everything that is most important, most fascinating, and most revealing about our greatest state.

From the Hardcover edition.

California: On the Edge of American History

By Ronald Genini

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (626 pages)

California: On the Edge of American History
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With its borders spanning almost the entire western coast of the United States and its size dominating most other states in the country, it’s no wonder California has long fascinated pioneers and scholars alike. With such a long history, it could feel overwhelming to try to gain a comprehensive understanding of the state’s full history—until now.

California: On the Edge of American History is a stunning survey of a state many people call home, yet few truly understand. Based on masterly historical research, this is a book that immerses you in the full evolution of one of the country’s most electrifying places.

This book approaches some of the most important parts of California’s story with honesty, compassion, and rigorous research. Whether you hope to gain more insight into the native tribes of the state, the Mexican War of Independence, the Donner Party, or what life was like during World War II, California: On the Edge of American History fearlessly exposes every light moment and every dark shadow with astute vision.

A place of innovation, cultural immersion, and geographical beauty, California has stories hiding in every shadow of her landscape. With this book, you can learn them all.

California History for Kids: Missions, Miners, and Moviemakers in the Golden State, Includes 21 Activities (For Kids series)

By Katy S. Duffield

Chicago Review Press
Paperback (144 pages)

California History for Kids: Missions, Miners, and Moviemakers in the Golden State, Includes 21 Activities (For Kids series)
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The story of California is the story of dreamers—explorers, gold miners, immigrants, ranchers, moviemakers, farmers, and everyday Americans who headed west for a fresh start. The first native inhabitants arrived 9,000 years ago, ancestors of the tribes who would greet the Spanish in the 1700s. Father Junípero Serra later established a chain of missions along the coast, expanding European and Mexican influence. But when gold was discovered in 1848, the rush was on, and two short years later California became a state. After the gold ran out, other rushes followed, from agriculture to industry, Hollywood to Silicon Valley.

            California History for Kids includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and Web resources for further study. And to get a better idea of the scope of California history and the lives of its citizens, readers can:

* create a Chumash rock painting

* play the Miwok Hoop-and-Pole game

* bake and eat hardtack like a gold miner

* design a cattle brand

* decode a railroad cipher

* immortalize their handprints in plaster

* assemble an earthquake preparedness kit

* and more

            Author Katy Duffield tells the rich story of the men and women who, despite challenges and occasional hardships, settled and built the vibrant cities and bountiful farms, ranches, and orchards of the Golden State.


California: A History

By Andrew Rolle

Paperback (456 pages)

California: A History
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The eighth edition of California: A History covers the entire scope of the history of the Golden State, from before first contact with Europeans through the present; an accessible and compelling narrative that comprises the stories of the many diverse peoples who have called, and currently do call, California home.

  • Explores the latest developments relating to California’s immigration, energy, environment, and transportation concerns
  • Features concise chapters and a narrative approach along with numerous maps, photographs, and new graphic features to facilitate student comprehension
  • Offers illuminating insights into the significant events and people that shaped the lengthy and complex history of a state that has become synonymous with the American dream
  • Includes discussion of recent – and uniquely Californian – social trends connecting Hollywood, social media, and Silicon Valley – and most recently "Silicon Beach"

California: An Interpretive History

By James J Rawls Instructor of History

McGraw-Hill Education
Paperback (576 pages)

California: An Interpretive History
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Now in its tenth edition, this best-selling text continues to provide an up-to-date survey of California history and offers original interpretations of the major challenges faced by the nation?s most populous and economically powerful state.

The California Gold Rush (True Books)

By Mel Friedman

Childrens Pr
Paperback (48 pages)

The California Gold Rush (True Books)
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Would you brave blizzards, starvation, unknown territories, and Indians to build a better life for yourself and your family? Journey west with America's pioneers on foot, on horseback, and in covered wagons-from the Mississippi River to the Oregon Trail-in these true stories of courage and survival that shaped our nation.

Pacific Eldorado: A History of Greater California

By Thomas J. Osborne

Paperback (434 pages)

Pacific Eldorado: A History of Greater California
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  • Wiley-Blackwell
Product Description:
Osborne's work is the first history text to explore the sweep of California's past in relationship to its connections within the maritime world of the Pacific Basin.
  • Presents a provocative and original interpretation of the entire span of California history
  • Reveals how the area's Pacific Basin connections have shaped the Golden State's past
  • Refutes the widely held notion among historians that California was isolated before the onset of the American period in the mid-1800s
  • Represents the first text to draw on anthropologist Jon Erlandson's findings that California's first human inhabitants were likely prehistoric Asian seafarers who navigated the Pacific Rim coastline
  • Includes instructor resources in an online companion site:

The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream (Search and Recover)

By H. W. Brands

Released: 2003-10-14
Paperback (592 pages)

The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream (Search and Recover)
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  • Paperback with scene of pioneers and hills. 4x 10 inces
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Publisher: Anchor

The History of California

By Franklin Tuthill

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (400 pages)

The History of California
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This is a comprehensive 19th century history of California, from its early times up to the Gold Rush. From the preface:  "The following book was written because there seemed to be a demand for a History of California which should sketch the main events of the country from its discovery to the present time. The pioneer, under whose observation the most exciting of these events have occurred, confesses the need of such a book. The thousands who have entered the State since it assumed its present peaceful aspect, complain of the lack of a succinct story of what had to be done here to make the land so pleasant a home. The material for a history of California is abundant. The log-books of ancient mariners who visited the coast—the voluminous, if not well-kept archives of the Government, while the territory was under Spanish or Mexican rule—the official reports and Congressional documents about the transfer to the United States—the files of newspapers since the land was Americanized—the scores of books of intelligent travellers, who have put their impressions on record, and the oral evidence of natives, and early immigrants, who mingled in all the affairs most interesting to us—from these sources may be drawn ample details of life in California, from dates as far in the past as any but enthusiastic antiquarians care to retire to."

The Associates: Four Capitalists Who Created California (Enterprise)

By Richard Rayner

W. W. Norton & Company
Paperback (240 pages)

The Associates: Four Capitalists Who Created California (Enterprise)
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"A first-rate look at the little-known story behind the creation of America's first continental railroad…Entertaining and well written." ―Publishers Weekly

One hundred forty years ago, four shopkeepers in Sacramento, California, rose to become the force behind the American transcontinental railroad, achieving along the way wealth beyond measure. To build influence and maintain power, they lied, bribed, and, when necessary, arranged for obstacles, both human and legal, to disappear. Their names were Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins, and they were known as "The Big Four" or "The Associates." Their drive for money―nothing more, nothing less―was epic. Their legacy is a university, public gardens, museums, mansions, banks, and libraries―and to a large degree, California itself. A captivating chronicle of a crucial period in American urban expansion, The Associates is a true-to-life tale of ruthless ambition, staggering greed, and the making of a nation.

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