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

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