California: A History Robert Wesley Bridger Jr History 141, 71154
Queen Calafia’s Island The Story Behind The Infatuation Spanish writer Garci Ordonez de Montalvo published a book titled Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Deeds of Esplandian). In this book he brought the idea of a mystic and far away island called California rulled by a beautiful Queen called Calafia. They were a race of black Amazons who rode griffins and fought with golden weapons. They were said to be rich in gold and other precious stones. This, in addition to the story, would be a big attraction to those who truly believed they had found the island of California.
Queen Calafia’s Island The Discovery Of California In 1533, Hernan Cortes led a group of Spanish explorers west from Mexico and landed on what they believed to be an island. By 1539 it was called California after the fantasy island of Montalvo’s book. It wasn’t until 1539/1540 when the Spanish realized their mistake. California was a peninsula, not an island. It would be another 230 years before the Spanish would find themselves able to settle this region.
Queen Calafia’s Island The Creation Of California Approximately 30 million years ago, tectonic action detached a large landmass from southern Baja California and moved it north to where it re-attached with the continent, yet would remain distinctly different from its neighboring lands. The re-attachment to the continent would push up over forty mountains in a area four hundred miles long and eighty miles wide known as the Sierra Nevada. Of these mountains, Mount Whitney, at 14,496 feet, is the largest in the continental United States. Four primary California harbors were naturally created as recently as thirty thousand years ago when mountains along the shore collapsed and the ocean filled the new location. Of these harbors, San Francisco Bay is one of the world's three finest natural harbors on the planet.
Striking It Rich From Mexico To The United States The United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. This treaty would relieve all the Mexican territories north of the Rio Grande to the United States for $15 million cash and $3.25 million for payment to Mexican citizens. When California began to file for territorial status there began a conflict in congress on rights to slavery. This conflict would hold California in a type of purgatory, not being an official territory yet being part of the United States. Many, to include the citizens of California, wanted to see the land split into two territories. One north to be free, and south to be slave. This was very realistic due to the vast differences between the two areas.
Striking It Rich The Gold Rush Captain John Augustus Sutter was a land owner who held a large estate just inland from the Sacramento River. There he built stores, leased land, and contracted labor. The future would turn his sprawling town into the capital of California, Sacramento. Sutter commissioned carpenter James Wilson Marshall to build his town a lumber mill. During the build Marshall, along with a few discharged Mormons from the Mormon Battalion, and a handful of Indians he began construction. January 24, 1848, Marshall noticed what was later to be confirmed as gold in the riverbed. December 5, 1848 President Polk messaged congress concerning the gold and made it official. Then began the regional gold rush of 1848 followed by the international gold rush of 1849.
Striking It Rich Great Spike In Immigration Within a year of the President's announcement, non Indian population had almost reached 100,000. Within three years it had jumped to 255,000. In addition to this San Francisco had sprung up and was a leading metropolis of California. The gold rush had jumped California past territory status and into statehood.
Regulation, Railroad, and Revolution Mexican-Spanish Land Grant Titles To break the monopoly of unused land held by only a few individuals, the Senate created a three member Board of Land Commissioners to work out of San Francisco and assess the validity of all land-grant claims in California. This process would often times take close to two decades, during which the land owner would pay lawyers and debt by giving land and money. In the end many of them would lose much of what they had. This resulted in the redistribution of land and money in California, making it possible for the state to grow.
Regulation, Railroad, and Revolution Separatist Efforts From the time of its integration to the United States California had desired for separation into two territories. These two areas were the far north with the San Francisco Bay area (Urban center) and the vast mining districts, and the other being the central-southern regions where agriculture and ranch life was predominate. The one thing that would quell the separatist efforts was the upcoming Civil War of 1861
Regulation, Railroad, and Revolution Transcontinental Railroad Engineer Theodore Judah argued for months to build a continental railroad, connecting the East and West, yet these arguments went nowhere until the outbreak of war in April of 1861. The Civil War had made the Union realize the usefulness of a continental railroad. It would bring them both gold and silver to support war efforts, be a shield with quick access incase of attack on its western state, and keep California feeling connected to the Union and not so distant. The Pacific Railway Act of 1862 granted the Union Pacific to build westward from Omaha and the Central Pacific to build eastward from Sacramento. These companies received federal loans, cash, bonds, and land grants in return for their services. In 1864, a second act increased the amount of land that the companies would receive during their build. These two companies would later become the largest landowners in the West.