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  • 1. CALIFORNIA: A HISTORY
    Ryan Rhoads
  • 2. Queen Calafia’s Island Ch:1
    In 1510 a Spanish writer named Garci Ordonez de Montalvo wrote a sequel to his novel Amadis de Gaula which was published in 1508. The sequel was titled Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Deeds of Esplandian.) The novel followed the story of a hero named Esplandian who launches a siege on Constantinople in the late 13th to early 14th century. One of Esplandian’s allies in the siege is a mythical race of black Amazons under the command of Queen Calafia. The author Montalvo describes California itself as an island of precious stones and gold filled with riches and as “an island on the right hand of the Indies…very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise.” Montalvos two novels remained best sellers up until the 16th century. In 1533 a Spanish exploration ship landed on what they thought had been an island in the recently discovered Pacific. Around 6 years later they began to call the place California, after the mythical place in Montalvo’s novels. Soon after the Spanish learned that California was not an island but a peninsula that was part of the huge landscape of North America.
    Interestingly California earned its name as a mistake by Spanish explorers who had believed it to be an island, an island that shared the characteristics of a mythical tale of riches and splendor.
    Montalvo’s Calafia Island
    Mythical Queen Calafia
  • 3. Unspoiled California CH:1
    California is a unique and dynamic landscape with some of the finest natural harbors in the world, the highest mountains and the lowest valleys in North America and a range of volcanic mountains. At one time a woodland of Oak trees stretched four hundred miles in length down the state and was also home to the most ancient living entities on the planet, giant trees named “Sequoia Sempervirens” and their first cousins, “ Sequoiandendron Giganteum.) It was home to Eagles, Ospreys, Hawks, Buzzards, and the mighty Condor. Hundreds of thousands of Tule Elk roamed the states coastal range and Central Valley. California’s mountainous terrain made it ideal for a booming bear population and for a time the grizzly bear was at the top of the food chain in California.
    California’s uniqueness as an island-on-the-land has led for its many indigenous plants which grow throughout North America to have been transformed by California’s climate and geographical nature, the bird population has even taken on diverse transformations with bird populations changing drastically from one another in close proximities of mountainous terrain and coastal regions.
  • 4. The Native People’s of California CH:1
    With California’s landscape having so much to offer it is no surprise that at the time when Europeans first made contact with the land in 1492 that nearly one third of all Native Americans living within the present day continental U.S. likely around three hundred thousand, are estimated to have been living within the present day boundaries of California. Anthropologists describe the Native American culture as belonging to twenty-two linguistic families in which of these categories were some 135 separate languages.
    Located in the mountainous, stream-rich northwest were the fishing peoples: the Yuki, the Tolowa, Karok, and Yurok, the Hoopa, Wiyot, Mattole, and Wailaki.
    To the west were the people: the Wintun, the Shasta, and the Yana.
    To the coastal south were the Pomo, the Maidu, the Lile’ek, and the Wappo.
    Many tribes could also have been found in present day Orange county, San Francisco and just north of that in Marin county, San Joaquin Valley and to the east along the mountains and plains of San Bernardino.
  • 5. Spanish Exploration CH:2
    In 1513 a young adventurer named Vasco Nunez de Balboa led an expedition from the eastern edge of Panama into the interior. In September 1513 Balboa and his men made the discovery of the Pacific Ocean yet his discovery would remain unknown to the Spanish for a decade as Balboa had been fleeing creditors and was avoiding any contact that might send them his way.
    A Spanish sailing expedition led by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan had hoped to find a new quick path to the riches of the Indies. He set sail on September 20, 1519 with 5 vessels and 265 men. By January he had reached South America, rounded the tip of the continent and on November 28, 1520 he reached the Pacific Ocean. He continued on a northwest course reaching the Marianas on March 6, 1521, and the Philippines ten days later where he was killed on April 27, 1521 while trying to arbitrate a dispute between the natives. One of his ships continues on the journey to cross the Indian Ocean and reach Europe on September 6, 1522. Magellan’s expedition had successfully completed the first circumnavigation of the globe and linked Spain, the Atlantic, the Caribbean, South and Central America, and Mexico, the Pacific, and the Philippines “into a continuum that would hold its unity until the collapse of the Spanish empire in the early 1800s.” Located at the center of this continuum was Mexico from which the eventual exploration and settlement of California would be launched.
    Ferdinand Magellan
  • 6. Sacred Expedition CH:2
    In 1768 three Spaniards named Father Serra, Inspector General Galvez, and Captain Portola began planning for the settlement of Upper California. The trio named their enterprise “the Sacred Expedition.” The men decided that four parties would make up the expedition, two by land and two by sea. They planned to meet at the shores of San Diego Bay and set up a base camp there from which a land expedition led by Captain Portola would travel to the Bay of Monterey where a second base camp would be established. By January 9, 1769 three newly constructed ships set sail for La Paz, and two land parties began their journey on March 24th from Baja to Alta California. One of the ships was lost at sea on its journey to San Diego, another took fifty-four days to reach the San Diego Bay and the third ship took twice that long and most of its crew was dead, starving or diseased. The land parties also faced extreme challenges crossing the hostile terrain of deserts and mountains. On July 1, 1769 when the land and sea parties had both reached their destination only half of the sacred expedition was still alive. About October 1st 1769 Portola who had led a small party onward north reached the Bay of Monterey and did not find what he had expected and he pressed on further north. On November 1st they reached the San Francisco Bay
  • 7. Native Americans CH:2
    Spanish settlers, both Franciscan missionaries and soldiers alike had problematic encounters with the Native American populations of California. The Franciscans viewed there mission for coming to California as “saving the souls” of the natives, which of course came with harsh judgment and violent “intrusion into the culture and human rights of the indigenous peoples.” Native Americans were often forced to leave their homes and adapt to mission life where they were commonly beaten and treated as children. Spanish soldiers and settlers sexually exploited Native American women causing increasing moral tensions between the Natives and the Spaniards as well as introducing diseases to the Native population which would cut the Native population in half by the end of the Spanish-Mexican era.
    Native Americans resisted Spanish control and occupation burning down one of the first missions constructed in California just a few months after its completion. Native American vengeance did strike fear into many Spanish settlers and dissuaded further settlement for some decades.
  • 8. Dividing the Land…Or Not CH:5
    California’s early history was riddled with confusion and strife, mostly in part due to the question of who truly owned the land of California. In the last five years of Mexican governance, many land grants had been issued in a rush which were quite vague and unpredictable. On April 13, 1849 the U.S. Secretary of State was commissioned to asses the situation and the validity of many the land grants held by people of California. By the following year tensions turned violent when riots broke out when authorities attempted to evict ,any of the people they deemed to be “squatters” on land they declared to no longer be the property of the grant holders.
    Although further attempts to process the claims of grant holders were being taken many landowners in southern California worried that the situations arising in the state would not be beneficial to them and proposed to separate into a territory of their own. Bills to divide the state were introduced in the legislature in 1851, 1852, 1853, 1855, 1858, and 1859. By the time of the Civil War efforts by the separatists were set aside and the subject of dividing the state was no longer a major issue to be debated.
  • 9. The Railroad CH:5
    It had become National policy by the mid 1800s to extend the railroad across the continent linking the East to West Coast and by 1860 more than thirty thousand miles of track had been laid. It was in March of 1853 when congress directed for a commission to be set into place a report by the Topographical Corps of the U.S. Army to prepare a report recommending the five best routes for a transcontinental railroad line. A three volume survey titled Pacific Railroad Reports were presented in 1855. In California Oliver Wozencraft who was a member of the constitutional convention of 1849 and engineer by the name of Theodore Judah were separately on track to find a way to link the state of California with the rest of the continent via railroad.
    Theodore Judah traveled to Washington to lobby for federal support for the construction of the railway which would link the west coast with the rest of the nation. After months of failed attempts to win support for his cause he found a winning argument that it was paramount for the security of the nation for there to be a continental railroad linking the two coast in the event of an invasion of a foreign invader so that military forces could quickly and effectively reach the west coast to defend the territory. He also suggested that there was a possibility of dissension between the western territories that were so disconnected from the rest of the union and how would the rest of the nation get along without the gold, silver, and grain from the west.? Judah had gathered the support he needed and the pacific railway Act of 1862 was passed and in 1864 a second act was passed allotting more funds and land grants to the railway making the Central pacific and the Union Pacific the two largest landowners in the Far West.
    Theodore Judah
  • 10. Chinese Labor CH:5
    When the construction of the railway was leading through difficult terrain such as the Central Pacific over the mountainous terrain of the Sierra Nevada there were not enough Californian men willing to do such hard labor for the amount of money the railway was paying. Construction Chief Charles Crocker recognized that there were thousands of Chinese in the state who had been marginalized out of mainstream employment and who he believed to be dedicated and hard workers. In 1865 he hired a group of fifty Chinese men as an experiment to see how they would fair on the jobsite, over the next four years he hired ten thousand to complete the epic feat of laying railway over and through the impossible terrain of the California Rockies. On May 10, 1869, ceremonies were held at promontory point Utah to join the tracks for the first transcontinental railroad. Despite their significant contribution and death toll for the national project, U.S. Dignitaries did not invite Chinese workers to the ceremony.