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History of California
When the first Europeans arrived, in the early 16th century, the region of California was inhabited by a relatively sparse Indian population, scattered in many small, fairly independent groups hat lived mainly as hunter-gatherers. Among the Indian groups were the Hupa, Pomo, Wishosk, and Yuki, in the north; the Costano, Miwok, Salinan, and Yokut, in the center; the Mono and Panamint, in the east; and the Chumash, Serrano, and Diegueno, in the south.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator exploring for Spain, was probably the first European to see California. Sailing north from presentday Mexico he visited San Diego Bay in September 1542, before continuing on past San Francisco Bay, which he did not see. The next major voyage along the coast was made by the English navigator Sir Francis Drake, in 1579. He discovered San Francisco Bay and claimed the region of northern California, which he called Nova Albion, for England. Fearing English takeover, the Spanish sent several coastal expeditions, including that of Sebastian Vizcaino to Monterey Bay in 1602-03.
But no European settlements were established until Captain Gaspar de Portola, the Spanish governor of Baja California, led an expedition north in 1769-70, partly in order to offset Russian activity. During the journey, forts were established at San Diego and Monterey, thus asserting a minimum of Spanish control. Father Junipero Serra went along on the expedition, and in 1769 he founded a Franciscan mission, San Diego de Alcala, near modern San Diego. This was the first of a string of 21 missions, ranging to Sonoma (north of present-day San Francisco), founded by the Franciscans during the next 54 years. The Indians felt the economic and social presence of the Europeans mainly through the missions, as the Spanish officials tended to neglect California. The missions controlled much land, and, using Indian labor, they produced large quantities of cattle hides and fruit and vegetables.
The Indians living at the missions were forced to work hard and received few economic rewards; they were given instruction in Christianity, however, and were taught some new skills.
During the 1840s a few hundred U.S. citizens moved into California to farm, hunt, and trade. They were aided by John A. Sutter, a Swiss who held a vast tract of land at present-day Sacramento. In 1843-46 Captain John C. FremontT led two U.S. government surveying expeditions into California. In May 1846, the United States went to war with Mexico over Texas
The following month, before news of the outbreak of war had reached California, a group of U.S. citizens under the influence of Fremont captured the Mexican presidio at Sonoma and raised a flag with one star, a picture of a grizzly bear, and the words "California Republic. This short lived event is known as the Bear Flag Revolt. On July 7, 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat claimed California for the United states by raising the U.S. flag over Monterey. This episode was followed by the easy conquest of California by Commodore Robert F. Stockton, General Stephen Watts Kearney, and other U.S. soldiers. California was officially transferred to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe hidalo, signed Feb. 2, 1848.
On Jan. 24, 1848, a few days before the treaty was signed, gold had been found at a sawmill on the South Fork of the American River, at Coloma. News of the discovery spread rapidly, and a gold rush was soon underway, bringing thousands of"forty-niners" to stake claims in northern California. San Francisco grew as a gateway to the area. From 1848 to 1850 the state\'s population more than tripled, to 93,000 inhabitants. After heated discussions in the U.S. Congress concerning the spread of slavery, California was admitted to the Union as a nonslavery state on Sept. 9, 1850 it was the country\'s 31st state. California\'s first capital was San Jose; the capital was moved later to Vallejo and
then to Benicia before Sacramento became the permanent capital in 1854. Although proslavery sentiment was considerable in southern California, the entire state remained in the Union during the Civil War, a war that had little direct effect on Californians.
Gold production had peaked in 1852 and thereafter declined rapidly. During the 1860s agriculture grew in importance as
productive fruit- and grain-producing farms were developed
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California, The Californias, Hispanics and Latinos in California, Demographics of California
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