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.


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."

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"

An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (The Lamar Series in Western History)

By Benjamin Madley

Yale University Press
Paperback (712 pages)

An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (The Lamar Series in Western History)
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The first full account of the government-sanctioned genocide of California Indians under United States rule

Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Benjamin Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive and chilling history of an American genocide.
Madley describes pre-contact California and precursors to the genocide before explaining how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence against California Indians. He narrates the rise of a state-sanctioned killing machine and the broad societal, judicial, and political support for genocide. Many participated: vigilantes, volunteer state militiamen, U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. congressmen, California governors, and others. The state and federal governments spent at least $1,700,000 on campaigns against California Indians. Besides evaluating government officials’ culpability, Madley considers why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated using the methods presented in this groundbreaking book.

California History

By Amy Headley

Brand: Splash Publications
Perfect Paperback (103 pages)

California History
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Our California History unit was designed for teachers and homeschool parents searching for a California History unit aligned with California's Social Studies Standards.

California History features 7 reproducible teacher-created California History lessons.

Each lesson includes a balanced mix of lower and higher level California History activities that focus on California's Early Cultures, California's Explorers, California's Missions, California's Mountain Men, the Santa Fe, Gila, Oregon, Spanish, and California trails, the Mexican War, the California Territory, the Gold Rush, and California's Statehood.

Trees in Paradise: A California History

By Jared Farmer

W. W. Norton & Company
Hardcover (592 pages)

Trees in Paradise: A California History
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From roots to canopy, a lush, verdant history of the making of California.

California now has more trees than at any time since the late Pleistocene. This green landscape, however, is not the work of nature. It's the work of history.

In the years after the Gold Rush, American settlers remade the California landscape, harnessing nature to their vision of the good life. Horticulturists, boosters, and civic reformers began to "improve" the bare, brown countryside, planting millions of trees to create groves, wooded suburbs, and landscaped cities. They imported the blue-green eucalypts whose tangy fragrance was thought to cure malaria. They built the lucrative "Orange Empire" on the sweet juice and thick skin of the Washington navel, an industrial fruit. They lined their streets with graceful palms to announce that they were not in the Midwest anymore.

To the north the majestic coastal redwoods inspired awe and invited exploitation. A resource in the state, the durable heartwood of these timeless giants became infrastructure, transformed by the saw teeth of American enterprise. By 1900 timber firms owned the entire redwood forest; by 1950 they had clear-cut almost all of the old-growth trees.

In time California's new landscape proved to be no paradise: the eucalypts in the Berkeley hills exploded in fire; the orange groves near Riverside froze on cold nights; Los Angeles's palms harbored rats and dropped heavy fronds on the streets below. Disease, infestation, and development all spelled decline for these nonnative evergreens. In the north, however, a new forest of second-growth redwood took root, nurtured by protective laws and sustainable harvesting. Today there are more California redwoods than there were a century ago.

Rich in character and story, Trees in Paradise is a dazzling narrative that offers an insightful, new perspective on the history of the Golden State and the American West.

32 pages of illustrations.

A History of California: The Spanish Period

By Charles Edward Chapman

Andesite Press
Paperback (558 pages)

A History of California: The Spanish Period
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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

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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Product Description:
The California Gold Rush inspired a new American dream—the “dream of instant wealth, won by audacity and good luck.” The discovery of gold on the American River in 1848 triggered the most astonishing mass movement of peoples since the Crusades. It drew fortune-seekers from the ends of the earth, accelerated America’s imperial expansion, and exacerbated the tensions that exploded in the Civil War. 

H.W. Brands tells his epic story from multiple perspectives: of adventurers John and Jessie Fremont, entrepreneur Leland Stanford, and the wry observer Samuel Clemens—side by side with prospectors, soldiers, and scoundrels. He imparts a visceral sense of the distances they traveled, the suffering they endured, and the fortunes they made and lost. Impressive in its scholarship and overflowing with life, The Age of Gold is history in the grand traditions of Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough.

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