California Facts and History

Abbreviated as CA, California is a western state of the United States. The tip of the peninsula was discovered in 1533 by F. de Grijalva. From the viceroyalty of Mexico the Spaniards gradually moved first to the Bassa, then to the Alta California, but colonization began very late. In 1697 the Jesuit missions were established there (mainly through the work of his father E. Chino), which, upon the expulsion of the Jesuits (1767), passed to the Dominicans. In the Upper California, the Spaniards settled only in 1769 and founded the first Franciscan missions (San Diego), which was followed by various others (including S. Francisco in 1770). The California, far from Mexico City, its political center, was not influenced by political upheavals and remained faithful to the Bourbons of Spain during the Napoleonic era and the Mexican revolution. In 1822 it became part of the federal state of Mexico; however its population, both white and indigenous, influenced by missionaries, opposed the republican regime. The rebellions, which began in 1828, continued for 20 years, while England, France, Russia and the United States tried to claim rights in the event of an eventual secession. This, finally begun in 1846, was concretized by the war between the United States and Mexico, which broke out on 7 July. For the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (February 2, 1848), the northern California was assigned to the United States, which thus reached the Pacific coast. The discovery of the first gold deposits caused a dizzying increase in population and spurred a huge increase in transcontinental traffic, leading to the construction of important railway lines. California, an anti-slavery state since 1850, was not troubled by the civil war, but rather from the strong resurgence of the “gold rush”, especially since it attracted an ever-increasing number of Chinese, unleashing the ire of the nativist movements. In 1879 their exclusion from political office was approved, and in 1892 and 1902 the block of future immigration. Similar issues arose regarding the Japanese (federal law of 1924). In the decade 1930-40 the California was the destination of a notable internal immigration. During and after the Second World War, industrial prosperity further increased the immigration flow, increasing the demographic and political weight of the state. Furthermore, the presence of Hollywood and later that of the so-called Silicon Valley made it possible for California to become one of the most important centers for the development of mass communications.


Spanish period. – Archaeological and hemographic researches have not yet been able to shed light on the events of the town prior to the discovery. It is not, perhaps, certainly to be excluded that in the century. VI d. C. had Buddhist monks come there, and that the Far East (China and Japan) had some notion of this part of the Pacific coast. Moreover, the discovery of the Europeans did not have any significant consequences for almost two centuries: serious attempts to colonize the country were not made, either by sea or by land, as an expansion of colonization in Baja California (see below). Moreover, this too proceeded slowly, and in the footsteps of the Italian Jesuit Eusebio Chino he preferred to go east along the Colorado. Penetration also occurs in Upper California, through the religious missions of Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans. With the former suppressed, their missions were taken over by the Franciscans, while, for purely political-military reasons, Spain decided to also occupy some of the points of the coast (S. Diego in 1769, Monterey in 1770, S. Francisco in 1776). But for now, these were points of no great importance to the country’s history, despite the efforts of the Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) Antonio Bucareli, the first who sensed the possibilities of California’s development. Life really came to the country from the Franciscan missions, especially thanks to the pious and energetic Father Miguel José Serra (known as Junípero Serra). The missions increased to twenty-one between 1769 and 1823; all scattered along the so-called “camino real”, from San Diego to San Rafael, north of San Francisco, all not far from the coast (the farthest, Soledad, was only 30 miles away); to them California owes its first colonization, the principles of its agriculture, of the household industry, its toponymy, the characteristic architecture of its churches and its agricultural houses, the civilization of the Indians, not very numerous, attempts to penetrate the interior; from 1804 shipments inside became more and more frequent, in 1808 they reached the shores of the Sacramento. the characteristic architecture of its churches and farm houses, the civilization of the Indians, which are not very numerous, and the first attempts to penetrate the interior; from 1804 shipments inside became more and more frequent, in 1808 they reached the shores of the Sacramento. the characteristic architecture of its churches and farm houses, the civilization of the Indians, which are not very numerous, and the first attempts to penetrate the interior; from 1804 shipments inside became more and more frequent, in 1808 they reached the shores of the Sacramento.

Peripheral region, very distant, given the media at the time, from the political center on which it depended, the city of Mexico, was affected very little by the political upheavals in Mexico: the white population (actually more often of mixed blood) was very scarce (calculations very approximate give about 600 Whites in 1780, 1200 in 1800, 3200 in 1820) and remained faithful to the Bourbon king of Spain both in the Napoleonic era and during the Mexican revolution. Only in 1822, and without the California Whites doing anything to provoke this decision, did the Spanish government admit that California was considered an integral part of the federal state of Mexico: and in fact California sent its representatives to the Mexican Congress. But in reality, all these years the

Mexican period. – Moving on to Mexico, California still remained essentially in the hands of the missionaries. But the republican government, referring to a 1813 law of the Cortes Spaniards which had never been applied in California, here too intended to put an end to the system of missions, to replace missionaries with secular clergy, to introduce a civil administration everywhere. Hence strong discontent, which from the missionaries, who saw their work of more than half a century falling into ruin, easily spread to the natives, white and colored, over whom the missionaries had great influence; further aggravated by the fact that among the Californians themselves there was already a certain rancor between those of the North and those of the South. Ideas and plans for separation from those “de la otra banda” were already maturing, by which name the Mexicans were designated. The rebellions began in 1828 and had no respite for twenty years: often the soldiers, poorly paid, made common cause with the natives,

Meanwhile, foreign powers, namely England, France, Russia and the United States, were trying, especially between 1840-48, to take advantage of the turbulent situation in order to claim some rights in the event of a secession. These intrigues were disguised under the guise of commercial interests and in part they were truly such: farms were built on the coasts, warehouses of merchandise, some consulate. The Russians had the broadest aims on the Californian trade: the Russian Fur Company had established, in 1811, a colony of its own in the bay of San Francisco, which disappeared in 1840. More energetic were the Americans, who had the advantage of being able to wrap California on the land side, coming from the Middle West. Of course JA Sutter, a citizen of the United States, was inside California, large purchases of land and a real fortress was built, from which he exercised extraordinary power over the country. The expulsions of these suspicious foreigners were of no avail; after all, the population did not see them with an evil eye, nor did they identify their patriotism with that of the rulers of Mexico. Moreover, the continuous flow of people of various origins contributed to deprive the white population of its primitive Spanish character.

There were also acts of real hostility, facilitated by the permanent tension between Mexico and the United States: in 1842 TAC Jones, commodore of the American navy, raised the flag of his nation for a few days in Monterey Bay for the false news of the war between the United States and Mexico. But it was a matter of time: the open hostilities between the starry republic and Mexico would undoubtedly break out. Meanwhile, the American government instructed its consuls to prepare a favorable environment in California, possibly ready for secession, and naval officers studied the places for landing. In fact, the war broke out and on July 7, 1846 the flag of the United States was raised in Monterey Bay; not the flag with the bear (California coat of arms), Bear Flag Revolt), now submerged in the greatest war.

California in the American Union. – The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, of February 2, 1848, granted California to the United States, which thus reached the Pacific coast. But this, which seemed primarily a political success, was immediately overwhelmed by a fact that highlighted the value of the purchase in a completely different light. The very year of the peace the first gold deposits were discovered in the Cañons of the Sierra Nevada, by an employee of the aforementioned JA Sutter; while, in 1850, California was admitted as a separate state in the Union, a crowd, seized by the thrill of wealth, poured into it from all sides, dramatically increased its male population, attracted elements, often impure, from all part of the globe, destroyed the incipient agricultural economy introduced by the missionaries, he made it a land of adventure and anarchy amidst unspeakable hardships, epidemics, hunger, wars with the Indians. As early as June 1848, three quarters of the houses in the San Francisco bay were abandoned by the inhabitants; by 1849, 230 ships loaded with people had come from the United States alone, not counting the migrants by land, and now the ships were wandering in the bay of San Francisco, abandoned even by their crews, taken by the same madness. After about twenty years, and in part already after the first five years, life gradually adjusted; with the decline of the hoped-for ready earnings in the mines, which even gave an average income of 60 million dollars in the first years, the most turbulent and less desirable elements disappeared, the activities turned back to the land and more than everything to the breeding of livestock. The slavery crisis had not very deeply disturbed the life of California (since 1850 a free state, that is, anti-slaver), having fallen in the years of the greatest gold rush; but it had attracted a large number of yellows (Chinese and Japanese) to the country and thus imposed on the country the burden, still very serious, of another problem compared to black people. It was not for nothing that the constitution of 1879, still in force, excluded the Chinese – then already more than a hundred thousand – from the protection of national law. On the other hand, the sudden transition from the agricultural economy to the mining economy and back to agriculture, allowed arbitrary land ownership transfers, real usurpations, the aftermath of which still today constitute one of the open problems of Californian life, next to that of the yellows. Against the Chinese, in 1892, the federal Congress passed a law of provisional exclusion of any new immigration, an exclusion which in 1902 became definitive. In 1906-07, a lively anti-Japanese agitation broke out in San Francisco, which aimed to exclude the Japanese from owning land in California; dealt with diplomatically, led to the accession of the Japanese government, which wanted to put a halt to the immigration of Japanese to California. Finally, the federal law of 1924 put an end to this question decisively. In recent years the problem of the fiscal and financial policy of the state has also become acute, the budget of which was seriously compromised especially by too lavish social legislation. In the elections of 1926, the party opposed to this costly policy won.

Bibl.: RE Cowan, A bibliography of the history of California and the Pacific West, 1510-1906, San Francisco 1914; for sources see the list in Ch. Chapman, History of C., The Spanish Period, New York 1921, Appendix, p. 488 ff. Among the more recent general histories, besides Chapman’s quoted (continued by RG Cleland, History of California, The American Period, New York 1922), v. H. Bancroft, History of C., Vols. 7, San Francisco 1884-90; ZS Elredge, History of California, vols. 5, New York 1915. For the Spanish period and the missions: JB Richman, California under Spain und Mexico 1535-1847, New York 1911; Z. Engelhardt, The Missions and Missionaries in California, vols. 4, San Francisco 1908-15; GW James, In and out of the old Missions of California, Boston 1922. For the mining period GG Foster, Gold Regions of California, 1884; H. Bancroft, Popular Tribunals, vols. 2, San Francisco 1887; J. Royce, California. A study of American Character, 1846-56, Boston 1886.

Baja California.

Peninsula of North America (AT, 147), between 32 ° 42′52 ″ and 22 ° 52′50 ″ of lat. N., about 1100 km long. and wide on average 140, with over 3000 km. of coasts and 144,000 sq. km. of surface. It is washed to the east by the Gulf of California or the Vermilion Sea (see below) and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. In the southern part of its internal coast, which is not very articulated, is the Bahía de La Paz, facing the Espíritu Santo island. The outer coast is more complex, especially in the central part, where the Bahía de Sebastián Vizcaíno is, limited to the West by the Isla Cedros, and in the southern one, where the Bahía Magdalena opens, one of the best natural ports, on the Pacific, off the coasts of North America. The peninsula of Baja California is crossed in its entire length by a chain of mountains, consisting mainly of granite, on which Mesozoic limestones often rest, which takes various names (Sierra de la Trinidad, Calamajuley, de San Boejas, de Santa Clara, de la Giganta) and which reaches 3390 m. in the Pico Santa Catalina. Here and there, especially on the eastern side, there are volcanic rocks, indeed, in the group of Las Tres Virgenes (1995 m.), Various active solfataras.

Most of the peninsula has a very hot and arid climate, a desert climate similar to that of northern Mexico. The annual amount of rainfall is mostly less than 100 mm.; only the southern part, which has a subequatorial climate with a dry season, receives up to 300-360 mm. at sea level, double in the elevated parts. northwest winds blow for eight months a year, cold during the winter, always violent and dry. Vegetation is scarce and mostly xerophilic. In places where there is some water, palm trees (Washingtonia Sonorae) also grow. The aridity of the climate does not allow for perennial streams, with the exception of the Río de Todos Santos, and perennial springs are also very rare.

A country of scarce economic resources that is easy to exploit, Baja California has few inhabitants (about 63,000 in 1921) and is one of the most depopulated areas of Mexico (dens. 0.4 inhabitants per sq. Km.). Agriculture and livestock are subordinated to the existence or constitution of water reserves. Where irrigation is possible, plant life, and consequently also animal life, manifests itself luxuriantly: date palms, figs, olives, vines, garnet, citrus fruits, sugar cane thrive there.. The subsoil is very rich (gold, oil and above all copper: 6550 tons of this were exported in 1922). Along the coasts of the Vermilion Sea, pearls have been fished since ancient times.

Administratively, Baja California forms two territories of the Mexican Republic: Baja California Norte, with 70,028 sq km. of surface, 23,500 residents, chief town Mexicali (6800 residents); Baja California Sur, with 74,066 sq. Km., Pop. 39,300, capital La Paz (pop. 7300), the most important center and port of considerable traffic.

The colonization of Baja California began only at the end of the century. XVII, by the Jesuits and the father Eusebio Chino (v.). In 1697 the Loreto mission was founded. Up to 1822 Baja California (established in 1804 as a separate province) remained in Spain; in that year it passed to the federal state of Mexico, with which it remained united even when Upper California entered (1848) the confederation of the United States.

California Facts and History

Gulf of California.

Great gulf, also called the Vermilion Sea (AT, 147) that the Pacific Ocean forms on the coasts of America, between the peninsula of Baja California (see) and the continental mass of Mexico. It is 1200 km long. and about 150,000 sq. km. It has mostly high coasts, descending for long stretches with steep cliffs; in the southern part it is more than 2000 m deep. There are various islands, even of considerable size: Tiburón (963 sq km), Angel de la Guardia, Carmen, San José, Espíritu Santo, Cerralvo, etc. Main ports, those of La Paz on the west coast, and of Guaymas on the east coast.

San Diego

San Diego is a city in the state of California (United States), the county seat of San Diego; stands on the bay of the same name, just over 16 km. from the border with Mexico. Founded in the second half of the century. XVIII, has a temperate climate (16 °, 1 of average annual temperature), with warm winters (12 °, 2), hot summers (21 °, 1) and scarce rainfall (255 mm. Per year). The population has risen from 731 residents in 1860 to 17,700 in 1900, to 74,361 in 1920, to 147,995 in 1930 (aggregation of neighboring centers). Opposite San Diego, on the narrow and very elongated peninsula that closes the bay to the west, is Coronado (5425 residents In 1930). The indigenous white element born of partially and totally foreign parents is equal to 79.5%; the foreign white element at 11.1% (21,999 individuals: Canadians, English, Germans, Swedes, Italians [1251], etc.); numerous the color element with 9266 Mexicans. Large industry employed 3836 workers in 1929: the industries related to the processing of fishery products prevail, which is one of the main activities of the city. The port is of great importance and is accessible in all seasons: it is the first landing place in the United States coming from the Panama Canal on the Pacific: a 400-500 m wide channel, with depths of 9-10 m., Allows entry at the port, equipped with piers, docks, docks. San Diego is also a very important US naval base for the Pacific fleet; it is served by the lines of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe, San Diego and Arizona Eastern (Southern Pacific) Railways and is the terminus of the major airlines (American Airways; United Air Lines) coming from New York via Dallas and Chicago and the Pacific coast, coming from Seattle to Sacramento-San Francisco-Los Angeles. The city is home to San Diego State College, numerous libraries, scientific and literary societies.

The city consists of the old city, called Cosoz by the natives, and the modern city, which is located a little further to the south-east. On the hill near the old city is Presidio Hill, home of the mission of S. Diego de Alcalá (1769), the oldest of the missions founded in California by the Spanish Franciscans. The mission in 1774 was transported to Mission Valley on the San Diego River. While the second church was demolished by the Indians, the others prospered, and recently the remains of the facade and side walls of a church designed by Father Sánchez and consecrated in 1813 were excavated. The facade with its beautiful curved pediment inspired that of the modern church of the Immaculate Conception, built in the city. Thirty-five miles north of S. Diego there are the beautiful terraced bell tower and the highly decorated mortuary chapel of the San Luis Rey de Francia mission, founded in 1798, surpassed in beauty only by that of the San Juan Capistrano mission. Ramona’s house was raised by D. José Estudillo in 1823, and restored in 1913; now it houses a museum. Among its treasures, one should be remembered Black Madonna coming from the Monserrato, a St. Francis of Assisi by Pascual Pérez and a Spanish reliquary from the early century. XII. The new city consists of an urban district and a residential district built around Balboa Park. In the park is a reconstruction of an Indian “pueblo” and the Archaeological Institute with remarkable collections of ancient American art, architecture and anthropology. The Palace of Fine Arts is the work of WT Johnson. The most beautiful buildings in Balboa Park are those built on the occasion of the Panama-Californian International Exposition held in San Diego in 1915. Berram G. Goodhue, the architect in charge of the exhibition project, managed to harmonize the buildings with the climate and with the historical traditions of the country. The California mansion, designed in the Spanish Baroque style, built in stucco and colored tiles, it is reminiscent of the Balvanera chapel of St. Francis in Mexico City. The California palace is reached by crossing a straight bridge that crosses a deep gorge. The landscape decoration of the Laguna de Las Flores is wonderfully adapted to the environment. Rapp and Rapp’s New Mexico palace, in the style of Indian pueblos, harmonizes nicely with the dominant Spanish Baroque. The Santa Fe railroad station, designed by Bakewell and Brown, is also in the style of Spanish Renaissance missions. The landscape decoration of the Laguna de Las Flores is wonderfully adapted to the environment. Rapp and Rapp’s New Mexico palace, in the style of Indian pueblos, harmonizes nicely with the dominant Spanish Baroque. The Santa Fe railroad station, designed by Bakewell and Brown, is also in the style of Spanish Renaissance missions. The landscape decoration of the Laguna de Las Flores is wonderfully adapted to the environment. Rapp and Rapp’s New Mexico palace, in the style of Indian pueblos, harmonizes nicely with the dominant Spanish Baroque. The Santa Fe railroad station, designed by Bakewell and Brown, is also in the style of Spanish Renaissance missions.


About the author