*Includes contemporary accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents
The history of California is one that witnessed the rise and fall of several nations and peoples. From the first natives to settle the fertile lands to the encroaching foreigners from the south, east, west, and north, the land that eventually became the Golden State received them all. From across oceans, mountains, plains, and deserts, people came to take advantage of the region’s natural resources.
In the mid-19th century, the battles would culminate with a young republic claiming the land in its endeavor to stretch from sea to shining sea. Given that Americans were still mostly on the East Coast, the early settlers and prospectors who came west would find a land rich in resources and people but without the means and ability to properly tap those resources. Thus, the land would change hands several times, with the natives stuck in the middle, as they so often were in colonial struggles.
One of the most important and memorable events of America’s westward push across the frontier came with the discovery of gold in the lands that became California in January 1848. Located thousands of miles away from the country’s power centers on the east coast at the time, the announcement came a month before the Mexican-American War had ended, and among the very few Americans that were near the region at the time, many of them were Army soldiers who were participating in the war and garrisoned there. San Francisco was still best known for being a Spanish military and missionary outpost during the colonial era, and only a few hundred called it home. Mexico’s independence, and its possession of those lands, had come only a generation earlier.