Talk:History of California before 1900

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Introduction, Table of Contents and Tiny Picture[edit]

Under the "Labor politics and the rise of nativism" section, it said that the Chinese were "expelled from the gold fields." I was wondering why. The sentence is just dropped in there. It is interesting, but it raises more questions. At least another sentence or two would be nice to fill out this point.

The beginning of this article is unattractive and is a complete disappointment.

The Table of Contents is very long and the picture is almost invisible. The Table of Contents is askew in relation to the picture. Most of the page displayed is blank! This looks very, very bad and is a waste of space.

To remedy this, a slight bending of Wiki conventions should be made. Since the content of the article is obvious from the title, a familiar topic, the first paragraph ought to be placed under the picture, not at the top. This would allow more of the blank page to be filled.

Hi, sorry, i was trying to get to your talk page to discuss the change I made and then I had browser problems and then I had system problems and then... but you don't want to hear about that. I'm back logged in. I much prefer having text display when I'm in an encyclopedia, and I suspect (although I have no surveys to back me up) that others do, too. So having a huge picture appear at the top, followed by a huge TOC, is very disconcerting. Then having another heading after that made me think I had missed something and maybe it was hidden behind the illustration (which, BTW, is what happened to the TOC on a smaller screen with the huge image)... ANYway, if we could shorten the TOC, I think it would help some, but the only way we're going to do that is by chopping the article into multiple articles--which might not be a bad idea, it's so long, but it'll be hard to figure out what new article titles we want. OK, I like the image below the text & alongside the TOC, but it can't be any bigger because (again in a smaller screen) it squishes the TOC too narrow as well as hiding some of it. Oh, BTW, the two images side-by-side in Twentieth Century section do really weird squishy/gappy things to text inbetween as the window narrows. Looks cool on a wide screen with smaller resolution but not everyone has that, so they probably need to be vertical also. It's hard to do the perfect graphical layout when everyone is seeing something different and you have to accommodate them! Elf | Talk 01:22, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Alta v Baja California[edit]

Question: What is the relevance of the section "Island of California?" This section is really about Mexican California, ie, "Baja." Upper California -- the modern American state -- was never part of the legend. This does explain where the name came from, but it conflates two different and distinct regions. American California borrows its name from Mexican California, to which this legend refers, and indeed Baja almost is in island...

Yes indeed it does apply. The distinction between Baja and Alta was made only later. I understand what you are trying to say, but it is incorrect. The Spanish gave the name "California" to the entire coast, during the time when the geography was still ambiguous. Part was later Baja (lower),and part was later called Alta (upper), once the geography was settled. If you look at the maps of the supposed island, the island in fact covers almost the entire west coast of North America. Even after Alarcon, the idea of the island persisted, even to the Spanish, and was not disproven completely until the middle of the next century by Pino. Saying that only Baja and not Alta was the "Island" they were looking for is irrelevant, since the Island does not in fact exist. Yes, on a map it seems like Baja is closer to being "Island" they were looking for, but that is only because we know the geography much better than they did at the time. Identifying the "island" as the peninsula is a very modern perspective that is not what the Spanish did. In fact, even after Ulloa, Cabrillo was still looking for the Strait of Anian, which they believed existed perhaps at the north end of "California", as way of reaching the Atlantic Ocean. Also I'm not quite sure what your statement means about the modern U.S. state being named after the Mexican one. That is simply in error of course, as Alta California bore the name California from the earliest Spanish explorations on through Mexico. The region of the U.S. state of California was "California" to the first Spanish who arrived, and the name came from the legend, at time when it was still current. :) -- Decumanus 04:08, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I've rewritten the opening in a way that better suits the way the Spanish "saw" California. Perhaps that helps clarify things. :) -- Decumanus 04:40, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

You are quite right in saying there was some confusion about the "Island of California" up through the end of the eighteenth century -- outside California. Nonetheless, the section still seems rather to continue the confusion than to clear it up. For example, what is "the entire coast?" The Spanish had never left the peninsula until 1769. Until then "California" was the peninsula. Another example: who were "the earliest explorers?" Only Cortes is mentioned in the paragraph, but he never came close to Alta California, which had not been discovered by any European. Cabrillo later sailed further north along the coast, but from the information he left, no one can be sure just how far. He claimed the lands south of San Diego, but that was not even founded until 1769. Thus, until the Portola Expedition of 1769, "the entire coast" was the peninsula. Alta California did not exist.

Indeed, in 1747, Ferdinand VII of Spain issued a royal edict declaring California as part of the mainland, and soon after that insular California finally disappeared from the map. This was before "Alta California" came into existence in 1769.

The paragraph on the "Island" implies that there was one California on the coast of North America which was later split. This is not the case. Alta California was added later. Bad maps are apparently the source of this confusion.

Once the Spanish missionaries went north from New Spain, they explored much of the new country. They called the new region by its own name "Alta California." Thus, Alta California was named after Baja California. California proper then became "Baja California." The Spanish explorer ventured inland far enough to know that Alta California was neither an island nor a peninsula. Geographically, the new lands of Alta California were distinct from Baja California.

Politically, Alta California (like the "Kingdoms" of New Mexico and Texas) was not even a part of New Spain. It was new land. It was a huge territory of fewer than 21 missionary outposts run by the Church. It had its own governor. It never shared its governor or seat of government with Baja California. Unlike the terms "northern California" and "southern California," these were official names for different, but bordering, regions. Politically, the new lands of Alta California were separate from Baja California.

The problem lay not with the Spaniards who lived there, but with the mapmakers. They often showed a huge island of the west coast of North America, because they knew so little about the region. Some maps do not even show a coastline north of New Spain. Mapmakers of the eighteenth century and even later were often grossly inaccurate and inconsistent when it came to latitude. Perhaps they were still enamored with the legends of Queen Califia. It must have been easy to connect the sides of a skinny peninsula with the quick stroke of a pen. The mapmakers did the best with the information they had. If 4,000 was the largest population Alta California had, then it is doubtful many people came out to tell the mapmakers in Europe that they were wrong.

Thankfully, bad old maps are not the only primary resource we have on Alta California. But, we don't need to be confused today.

Now, your paragraph does introduce a very interesting phrase about "the idea of California" existing before its actual discovery. But this apt phrasing was given in the context of Cortes' visit to what later became known as "Baja California," before "Alta California" existed. The paragraph also does not fit with the chronological organization of History of California. Therefore, I moved the section to Baja California.

I know very many Mexicans who insist that the American California is not the real "California," but "Baja" is. ;-)

In sum:

  • "California" applied originally only to what is now Baja California.
  • Alta California and Baja California were never politically nor geographically united or split.
  • Maps of the world up to 1747 were not as accurate as today.
  • California (ie, Baja) does not appear as an island after 1747, twenty-one years before Alta California was founded.

Therefore, this section is erroneous.

--Wighson 01:53, 2004 Apr 1 (UTC)

There were so many factual errors in the paragraphs about water history, I just deleted them. I'll try to do careful research and write something more sane.


  • Best farming country in California was not flooded by Colorado River. Hoover Dam did not fix this.
  • Yosemite National Park founded in 1890, Hetch Hetchy dammed in 1923. The latter did not cause the Sierra Club to agitate for the former. The Sierra Club's major activity was not trail building.
I believe the Sierra Club did lobby against the Hetch-Hetchy. Strongly. --Wighson 04:40, 2004 Feb 28 (UTC)
  • The California Aqueduct runs from the Sacramento River Delta, not from the Colorado River. The water wars were over Owens Valley water, not Mono Lake. LADWAP stole the water from the creeks that flowed into Mono Lake, not from the Lake itself.

In general, this article looks like it needs some TLC. It's a big mess. -- hike395 06:53, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

compromise of 1850[edit]

During the negotiations of the Compromise of 1850, was it ever proposed that California be cut in half, along the Missouri Compromise 36'30" line? That would have allowed another northern (free) state and another southern (slave) state to be admitted. Kingturtle 20:59, 1 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I don't know for sure, but before Henry Clay suggested the Compromise, Californians had already drawn up an anti-slavery constitution. Check out] for an article written about this in 1900.
Cutting a state in half would be a clear violation of the Constitution, since states are not provinces of a central Supreme Government. This would have been an incredibly touchy issue in 1850. It is doubtful that California would have gone for that, had it been negotiated.
Granted, both Texas and California had modifications made to their territories before admission. But, these only affected borders already in dispute. For this reason, the drawing of California's eastern border away from New Mexico did not bring any controversy; however the reduction of Texas' borders came after considerable protest and was made by Congress in its deal with Texas as a condition to its admission.
That said, somebody should research the proposed state of Colorado (not the current state), which some settlers of southern California had proposed to create about the time of admission.
--Wighson 04:40, 2004 Feb 28 (UTC)

Legend has it... A prominent marriage between a leading californio family and an imperial noble almost caused Russian trade to advance into Southern California. The scion from Russia died of disease while crossing Siberia to get a dispensation to marry a Catholic from the Eastern Orthodox Elders. His would-be bride entered a convent after his death. No names of course... but I especially enjoy the use here of 'almost:' 'Almost' history. A good opera libretto? Wetman 07:52, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

This article is a big pile of junk that got moved from the main California article.. It really needs attention, I just don't have the time to spare. -- hike395 23:05, 11 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I've moved the contents of this page to History of California/Temp, where it will get a major rewrite in the next few days/weeks. Any help would be appriciated. Gentgeen 08:58, 15 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I didn't know about the Temp, so I just rewrote it -- but I kept some of the blurb on Russia for color. (In fact, Russians did venture far south in trade.) Anyway I had to rewrite it, it was just such a mess. I have incorporated my emendations with the existing changes in the /Temp
--Wighson 04:40, 2004 Feb 28 (UTC)

Suez Canal?[edit]

The article talks about increased links between East and West Coast using the Transcontinental Railroad (correct) and the Suez Canal (incorrent). I think it means the Panama Canal. This should probably be edited...

It's probibly right, as before the Suez Canal opened it took 9 months to get from New York to San Francisco by boat (compaired to 3 from Canton) through the Drake Passage or the Straight of Magellan, which could only be used during the summer; going through the Suez Canal probibly reduced this to about 5, and the voyage could be undertaken at any time. The Panama Canal wasn't opened until much later than the time the paragraph is talking about. Still, the railroad was a much bigger contributer to California being "atached" to the east than the Suez canal was, so it could be removed. Gentgeen 00:59, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Oh, forgot to mention that we're rewriting the article on the temp page anyway, so feel free to jump in there. Gentgeen 00:59, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
There is no way it's the Suez Canal. Look on a map -- on a map of Africa. --Wighson 04:40, 2004 Feb 28 (UTC)
I know precisely where the Suez Canal is. A trip from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn (South America) took 9 -12 months by sailing ship. Around the Cape of Good Hope (Africa) took 12-15 months. Going through the Suez Canal and all the way around the world took only about 5 months, so the Suez Canal (between Africa and Asia) greatly shortened the time it took to go from one side of the US to the other by sea. Gentgeen
The circumference of the earth (perfectly straight around, over land and water) is about 25,000 mi, the distance around Cape Horn is about 10,000 mi. I'm not sure I understand.
--Wighson 10:28, 2004 Feb 28 (UTC)

Moved this paragaph to Talk. Central valley is not "wet". It's not a tropical place.[edit]

Actually it was. Left to nature, the whole thing would flood every hundred years and stay that way for months or a couple of years. As recently as a thousand years ago (or sooner) it was always under water, and some Indian legends recall this. Until the 1970's, there was Lake Tulare, which had been year-round the largest freshwater lake in any state. It was known for malaria. This paragraph was so bad as to be misleading, though. I incorporated this all in my total re-write. --Wighson 04:40, 2004 Feb 28 (UTC)

During this time, the low-lying, wet, and hot Great Central Valley of California remained relatively unpopulated. The lack of frost fostered reservoirs of mosquito-borne disease, notably yellow fever and malaria. The discovery of vector control strategies made large settlements possible in the 20th century. Control of disease vectors such as mosquitos and fleas remains a major duty of local public health organizations.

California (in red)

When looking at a map of California, the southern border does not run straight east to west, as other borders in the western U.S. do. Rather, it runs at an angle from Arizona to just south of San Diego Bay. American claims dating to colonial times and back to Sir Francis Drake, only went as far as south Point Loma — just north of the Bay's mouth. San Diego Bay is the only natural harbor in California south of San Francisco, 500 miles to the north. To claim all of this strategic Bay, the border was slanted to include it. Likewise, New Mexico was never part of any American claim. However, it lay sandwiched strategically between the republics of California and Texas, so it too was included. In an unusual step, the U.S. diplomatic team offered to pay Mexico a handsome sum for the lands already theirs by prior claim and conquest.

I included the map to show that the southern border runs east-west.
The Gadsden purchase was for lands west of the Rio Grande, and could have included Baja California but did not to save money. Mexican Cession has a nice map of the Gadsden purchase.

Bravo on the update. jengod 21:53, Mar 3, 2004 (UTC)

In one paragraph Drake's plaque is declared a fake then a couple of paragraphs later the claim that he left it is repeated - which is true? Bob Palin 23:17, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)

southern border[edit]

"When looking at a map of California, the southern border does not run straight east to west, as other borders in the western U.S. do. Rather, it runs at an angle from Arizona to just south of San Diego Bay."

Why? I've always wanted to know. Kingturtle 05:50, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Weird paragraph[edit]

I don't understand what the point of this paragraph is, or why exactly it is under a heading entitled "High-tech expansion" (wouldn't it make more sense for the first sentence to be under the "Victim of its own success?" heading?):

"By 2004, it seemed that many of the coveted high-tech jobs are either "offshored" to India at ten percent of the labor costs in the U.S., or "onshored" by recruiting newcomers from among the billions in India and China. New laws have removed caps to visas, especially since the adoption of NAFTA. Tens of millions of people from the third world have entered the U.S. since 1960, settling at first mainly in California and the Southwest, but now throughout the continent. In 1960 (when the birth rate nearly equaled the replacement rate) the population of the U.S. was 180 million; in 2000, it was 280 million. By 2010, Hispanics might well be the majority of the population residing in California alone. This is perhaps the greatest population change in world history."

Why is the U.S. population mentioned in an article about California history, and why is a 55% increase over 40 years the "greatest population change in world history?" (A bit hyperbolic there?) There are also a number of errors here. This paragraph wrongly implies that American population growth is fueled by immigration; actually only about one-third of it is, while the rest comes from births. Also, it is highly unlikely that Hispanics will be a majority in California in 2010, as they made up only 32% of the population in 2000. (They might, however, constitute a *plurality* of the population in 2010.) Finally, it is untrue that NAFTA has resulted in the removal of visa caps; that change took place in 1965, long before NAFTA ever was proposed.

First state capitol[edit]

I reverted change of first state captiol from Monterey back to san jose--first, if you want to talk about the constitutional convention held in monterey, then you also need to add a description of that city and why it didn't become the state capitol; the current description of the first state capitol (muddy streets etc) applies to San Jose, not Monterey. Secondly, I don't believe that Monterey was every the capitol of the *state*. As I said, the first constitutional convention was held there, and it was the *territorial* capitol, but at the CC they decided to make the *state* capitol SJ. [1], [2] , [3] (scroll down), [4]("Although Monterey was designated the Monterey County seat for a time, San Jose was the city chosen to become California's first state capitol.") , to cite a few. Elf | Talk 15:03, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for the information. But I suppose you mean capital, the city and not capitol, the building. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 02:52, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

New large chunk of text in civil war section[edit]

This reads like a chunk directly out of a textbook (not all necessarily directly related to the current article, not summarized) and indeed a book is cited as primary source. Have left question on user's talk page trying to confirm whether this is an exact copy. If it is, it needs removal. If it's not, it needs a lot of paring down IMHO. Elf | Talk 15:10, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The section on the Civil War seems to be related to California for the most part. If it's copyvio, it just needs to be rewritten. — J3ff 06:41, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Whatever the source, it is a bit long. -Willmcw 07:34, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Writer says he summarized info from book in his own words. I still agree that it's way too long and rambles a bit in terms of direct info about history of CA vs history of nation in general.
Regarding inserted comment about origin of Orange County name, OC web site says city of Orange *might* have been named for Virginia location, but that the county was definitely named for orange groves. Elf | Talk 02:22, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Speaking of long, is Frances Drake really worth over 500 words in this article? The significance of his visit to California is very small in the scheme of things. There's great content there, but it should be in his article. Upton Sinclair and Earl Warren each had much greater impacts on California, just for example. Unless I hear an objection, I'll merge most of that material over to Frances Drake. -Willmcw 07:34, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)

OK by me. A brief mention is probably fine. Elf | Talk 18:02, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Ditto...Drake's not much in the scheme of the overall California history, I can think of more influential folks / events that were much greater in impact.. 16:20, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

History of Blacks in CA[edit]

6.5% of Californians are black. I've always wondered-- when and under what circumstances did blacks come to California. I don't think California was ever a slave state, so I don't imagine they were brought by slave trade. Did they accompany the original california settlers? was there a separate later mass migration after the civil war? and in general-- the current figure is 6% of the population-- what would that numbe have looked like 50,100,and 150 years ago?--Alecmconroy 12:40, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Most of them probably came the same time that most white people did -during and after World War II. -Willmcw 13:22, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Spanish influence[edit]

I know that California was part of Argentina for a short time (a week of so), round 1818, conquered by Hippolyte de Bouchard but i dont know THAT much about it, just giving a tip to make the article better -Argentino 18:58, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Reading just our own article, I'd say it was a pirate raid rather than a conquest. It's an interesting tidbit, but of less significance than the activities of other bandits, like Vasquez. -Willmcw 19:46, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

comment on Eurocentric bias[edit]

hi. The article as it stands now is rather biased.

  1. Several names of Europeans are highlighted, but no non-European person is featured similarily.
  2. The prehistory is inadequate. Considering the large number of peoples/nations that inhabited this area for a period of time longer than any of the peoples/nations that currently inhabit Europe, I would expect more to be mentioned in the article.
  3. Which peoples/nations were here? (there is many more than the 7 mentioned)
  4. What were the relationships between nations? (that is, between non-European groups, between non-Europeans and Europeans, and between European groups)

Thus, this article would more appropriately be titled "European history of California".

Something to work on. peace – ishwar  (speak)

None of the names should have been bolded, so I've removed that formatting. I agree with your other points. The "prehistory" section should be longer, and perhaps should also be renamed. -Will Beback 21:57, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Did my bit to remove the Eurocentrism by reworking the second graf. Natives weren't "found" by explorers; they, the natives, knew exactly where they were, I suppose. Yours in good faith, GeorgeLouis 11:16, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Size of the Bear Republic[edit]

Did the Bear Republic consist of (roughly) the modern state of California or the whole of Alta California? Or was there not time for Nevada, Utah etc. to come into question? 12:44, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

it only consisted of Sonoma and surrounding area. Rjensen 13:36, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
  • The "Bear Republic" was more of a martyristic scheme to appeal to Anglo-American immigrants in Alta California, and give rouges like Fremont an excuse to scope out the area for future individual opportunities....30 or so shiftless, drunkin untouchables, who would have revolted over anything, since they migrated from US territories that had zero opportunities for them.. 16:33, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Changing just for the sake of changing[edit]

Dear fellow editors:

There seems to be a great number of "experts" working on this page. We are supposed to be editing, not writing. I just reverted a change that seemed to be made only because the changer did not agree with the philosophy or the interpretation in the changed paragraph. That's not kosher. If a substantive change is to be made, then there should be a citation to back it up, preferably within the text of the article.

Anyway, that is my opinion; so what do you other editors think?

Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 07:47, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I mistakenly put the Rice citation on the wrong paragraph--my apologies. But I did not change the old paragraph for the fun of it. It was full of inaccuracies. I read up on the subject in Rice and several other books and think the new version has much more information (and follows the Rice textbook account): new: In 1847-49 California was run by the U.S. military; Californios continued to serve as alcades (mayors) in most places. Bennett Riley, the last military governor, called a consitutional convention to meet in Monterrey in September 1849. Its 48 delegates were mostly pre-1846 American settlers; 8 were Californios. They unanimously outlawed slavery and set up a state government that operated for 10 months before California was given official statehood by Congress on September 9, 1850 as part of the Compromise of 1850. [3] The old version left out the new Constitution, and was mistaken on several points: It was not "Nominally a free republic" (it was part of US ruled by a US Army officer), and note true that: "One senator agreed to support the slave states to maintain the political balance of the Senate." Rjensen 08:38, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Thank you, Rjensen, for making those corrections, which, as a non-expert, I will certainly accept. If the original author or some other editor wants to contest your changes, that would be his or her right. I did, however, make some trims to maintain the same length as the section replaced, the theory being that the article may be growing a bit too lengthy as more and more changes are made. I am confident that the California Constitutional Convention will be covered at some time in WikiP and what we have on our current page here will be just the highlights. Perhaps you would like to do the honors?

Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 10:58, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Good point regarding length. I trimmed away some local details on various towns that belong in the town articles and redid the Civil war section. Rjensen 11:07, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Changing History of Calif article titles[edit]

Title of the California history articles We will have to rename the two sections of the California history articles. Any suggestions?

Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 11:19, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Is there a WPedia reason for the "History of California" format as opposed to "California History"? Should we just keep the titles simple like "California History (to 1899)" and "California History (1900 to present)"? The blue category box already uses these terms. NorCalHistory 17:11, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
There was a major discussion some time ago and consensus reached for across-the-board consistency for these types of articles, which is why they now begin with "History of ..." I believe if you go back far enough on the edit history that you will find the article was, at one time, entitled "California History."--Lord Kinbote 17:37, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Interesting - thank you. Should these two articles then simply be re-titled to "History of California (to 1899)" and "History of California (1900 to present)"? Again, as noted the blue box with the poppy already uses these terms. NorCalHistory 19:05, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that makes the most sense, with History of California then becoming a disambiguation page.--Lord Kinbote 19:18, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Hearing no objections, there seems to be consensus that the articles should be re-titled. Lordkinbote or GeorgeLouis, would you like to do the honors? NorCalHistory 19:33, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Done.--Lord Kinbote 21:32, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Capitalization of era?[edit]

Normally era is not capitalized, although I have seen Vietnam Era, which is an accepted chronological term, like Age of Reason or the Gay Nineties. I don't believe Mexican Era falls into the same category. A quick Google search shows that era is capitalized in headlines and in some body type on various sites, but not in many other sites, including the carefully edited page, where it is not capitalized. WikiP itself does not have a preference, if you do a search. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 18:07, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Many Editors[edit]

Thanks to Rjensen and GeorgeLouis for all their pitching in to make this read more like an article that flows and connects from section to section, rather than simply being a collection of disjointed facts. I'm going to let it sit here for a bit, and then plunge back in with needle and thread, to continue our process of stitching sections together coherently!NorCalHistory 00:51, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

"Pre-Columbian" section title[edit]

I'm not sure that "pre-Columbian" is really the best title here, because it has an ambiguous use and meaning. For example, according to the WPedia entry: "The term pre-Columbian is used to refer to the cultures of the Americas in the era before significant European influence. While technically referring to the era before Christopher Columbus, in practice the term usually includes indigenous cultures as they continued to develop until they were conquered or significantly influenced by Europeans, even if this happened decades or even centuries after Columbus first landed in 1492 CE." Hence, it has a dual meaning - before 1492 and before European contact. In addition, as the WPedia entry goes on to say, it normally is used to refer to the great empires of the Aztecs, Mayas, etc. So while not an incorrect usage here, I would suggest a title that doesn't have this dual meaning. "Pre-History" worked for me, but if we looking for an alternative, how about "Native American Inhabitants" or "Before European Contact." NorCalHistory 17:11, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree. "Before European contact" makes sense (lower-case c.) GeorgeLouis 03:56, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
"Prehistory" is used in History of Alaska (and actually links to a separate article), FYI.--Lord Kinbote 04:00, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
That makes it seem as if Native Californians had no history. I believe their history can be deduced from their artifacts and from what white people (and Ishi) have said about them. Anyway, read WikiP entry at prehistory. The term seems to be ambiguous at best. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 04:15, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

New materials[edit]

Fellow Editors -

These first sets of changes are the first in what I hope to be a series - changing the article from a collection of facts to something more like an encyclopedia article. That is, with intros and conclusions, contextual statements and summaries. I'll try to space these changes at least several days apart (or even a week or more) to allow others to make edits. When this article is finished, I propose doing the same to the History of California 1900 to present. All comments, corrections and changes cheerfully accepted!

NorCalHistory 21:03, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

These revisions seem to add entirely too much detail and speculation for the average fact-seeker and encyclopedia visitor. I couldn't see that there were sources for most of the new material. The additions are very well written, but it appears that there is a great deal of Original Research in there. The revisions also result in the lengthening of an already long article.
An editor's contribution to these essential introductory history pieces about California, then, might be to pare them down to their core and, when possible, link them to sources and to other sections within Wikipedia.
Most editors are not historians so they rely upon the experts among us to provide the facts — and the citations. If an editor can't find the source by doing a quick Internet search, then he or she might have to assume that a source does not exist. Of course, printed sources are normally the best kind anyway, so if the historians among us know what they are, they should mention them (preferably within the body of the article) and naturally an editor would have to take their word for it.
Yours in good faith, GeorgeLouis 16:37, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
There is no original research in the article--everything appears in the standard histories. Is there too much detail? Not for such a large and complex area. Is there anything that should be drastically condensed or removed? If anything the article needs much more coverage of 1880-1899 period. Rjensen 16:49, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments thus far. To encourage additional comments, I'll post both versions of the introductory overview below.
Proposed Introductory Section
"Geographically separated by rugged mountains along its northern and eastern borders, by deserts to the south and southeast, and by a rocky and fog-bound coastline, California has long been difficult to reach. Yet, with its often-temperate climate, rich resources, and striking natural beauty, it has been a destination for immigrants for more than 10,000 years.
Successive waves of humans, starting perhaps as early as 13,000 years ago, have swept in from all directions, altering the landscape and displacing earlier inhabitants. The most recent influx of people, beginning with the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, has had the most extensive impact.
At the end of the period covered in this article, the state was largely agricultural and rural. With some 1.4 million inhabitants, it had about the same population as Kansas or Arkansas at that time. However, even then, California had already acquired a reputation as a place to begin again, where the best and brightest would come, a place where dreams might be fulfilled."
Current Introductory Section
"The article tells the story of California from the time that immigrants from Asia began arriving some 13,000 years ago, and perhaps earlier. It tells of the exploration of the coasts and inland valleys by European explorers, the rapid influx of fortune-hunters and adventurers beginning with the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, and ends in 1899 with a largely agricultural and rural California with a population of some 1.4 million people."
Reactions from anyone else as between these two? NorCalHistory 15:22, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Version 1 talks about topics that is not in the article (eg the boundaries, fog,; stuff about Kansas and Arkansas). Version 2, more pedestrian, is more accurate. However mention should be made of politics--control by Spain, Mexico, USARjensen 15:50, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
I plead guilty to accuracy, but pedestrianism? Oh, well. Anyway, the Intro should be just that: an introduction to the article. Details later. Keep reading. Et cetera. My theory is if you add 10 words in one secction, then you should subtract 10 words somewhere else. This article is way long. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 18:23, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
If the article is too long, we can cut it at 1846 very nicely. Rjensen 18:39, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Dividing California history into 3 parts?[edit]

If the article is too long, we can cut it at 1846 very nicely. Rjensen 18:39, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I believe this should be done. GeorgeLouis 18:54, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
The same thought occured to me. Excellent idea - I concur! NorCalHistory 21:38, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

peer review requested - California Gold Rush[edit]

Peer review has been requested for the California Gold Rush article. All comments and suggestions are being accepted, with an eye towards possible nomination of that article as a Featured Article. NorCalHistory 07:03, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

FA nomination for California Gold Rush[edit]

The California Gold Rush article has been nominated for Featured article status. If you would like to comment on this nomination, please go here to leave your comment. To leave a comment on that page, click the [edit] link to the right of the title California Gold Rush.NorCalHistory 20:04, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Removed "Other Spanish expeditions" material[edit]

I have removed the following material: ===Other Spanish expeditions=== * 1610: [[Tomas Cardova]] * 1632: [[Francisco Ortega]] * 1636: Francisco Ortega * 1642: [[Luis Cestin de Canas]] * 1644: [[Porter y Casanate]] * 1667: [[Bernal de Pinadero]] * 1683: [[Ysidro Otondo]]

The only source I can find that refers to these redlinked names is here. This very old source refers to these names with regard to Baja California, which is beyond the scope of this article. If anyone has any information which would provide further information about these names, or any connection to (Alta) California, please supply the source here. NorCalHistory 23:36, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

California - 1542 to 1848[edit]

  • California was a Spanish claimed territory, from 1542, from the tip of Baja, to the Russian River north..attempting to segregate Baja's history form your esoteric view of Alta California's history, is a POV and convolutes historical fact...please don't attempt to alter history into American modern pop culture.. 16:42, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Revisionism as usual. The fact is that Sir Francis Drake claimed California for Queen Victoria of England in 1579. He called it Nova Albion (New Britain) at the time. In 2012 this was confirmed when historians found a plague left by Sir Drake's Party near San Francisco at was some people now call Point Reyes and others call Drake's Cove. Drake's presence in that area predates the Spanish presence in the same area. This shows there was already a British presence in the northern half of California long before the 19th century.

Further, Russian explorers had reached what is now called the San Fernando Valley where they built a church, at the direction of the Tsar, in the year 1796.

The actual border between the Spanish claims and the claims of other European powers was in the area of San Diego. British claims went as far south as San Francisco until the 19th century when Russia began to contest those claims.

The area of California between San Francisco and San Diego was subject to disputed claims until the United States settled the disputes by taking possession of the territories after the Mexican American War. Prior to this, both the Russians and the British had settled with the Americans recognizing American soveriegnty over California. That left an intransigent Mexico and was one of the reasons of the war between the two.

I should note that while we are talking about California being disputed territory during much of its modern history, we should not leave out the original claimants, the Native Americans who violently resisted the seizure of their lands first by the Spanish and then by the Mexicans. They were not exactly ready to recognize Spanish/Mexican sovereignty, let alone anyone elses.

The situation from San Diego on down to the tip of Baja was different from that north of San Diego.

[1] [2] [3]

Article length not an issue yet[edit]

People have occasionally expressed concern about the length of this article, and there was an earlier agreement to split the article at 1846. However, looking at this guideline on "Article size," it appears that we are not near an issue about article size for this article.

What that guideline says is:

  1. "an edit warning is displayed when a page exceeds 32 KB of text in total, to act as a reminder that the page may be starting to get too long" (emphasis added)
  2. "there remain stylistic reasons why the main body of an article should not be unreasonably long"
  3. however, "only the main body of prose (excluding links, see also, reference and footnote sections, and lists/tables) should be counted toward an article's total size"
  4. "Readers may tire of reading a page much longer than about 6,000 to 10,000 words, which roughly corresponds to 30 to 50 KB of readable prose."

Hence, as I am reading this guideline, articles may be in the range of "30 to 50 KB of readable prose" (take a look at the size of recent Featured articles, for example).

Next, the guideline provides a method to do a quick check on the size of the "readable prose" (as opposed to the "text in total"):

"Specifically, for stylistic purposes, readable prose excludes: External links, Further reading, References, Footnotes, See also, and similar sections; Table of contents, tables, list-like sections, and similar content; and markup, interwiki links, URLs and similar formatting. To quickly estimate readable prose size, click on the printable version of the page, select all, copy, paste into an edit window, delete remaining items not counted in readable prose, and hit preview to see the page size warning."

When I performed this exercise just now, the amount of "readable prose" was lower than 32 KB - no warning came up (if anyone else gets a different result, please let us know).

Hence, as I understand the guideline, the focus is on the size of readable prose, and the amount of readable prose may be in the range of 30 - 50 KB. Here, this article is under 32 KB of readable prose, and we have significant breathing room to make this more like an article, and less like simply a list. NorCalHistory 13:23, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Wars of Extermination against Native American Californian peoples[edit]

I know it's a blind spot in your state's history and conception/awareness of itself, but I'm truly shocked to see little mention of the deliberately genocidal "wars" carried out against the Native American peoples of California after Mexican rule ended. The article numbers how many Californios and their families there were vs how many others, but no mention of the very large native population in the same period goes with that; and as you read through the various Mex-Am War and subsequent sections there's nothing at all about the wars with Native American peoples (too many to list, from the Miwok and Modoc to the Hupa the Yurok and so on); kind of odd given that California had one of the densest concentrations of Native American populations prior to the genocide; reason I dropped by was to find the section-title to link to the California Indian Wars on Indian Wars (under Wars of the West timeline section). I would have thought a History of California page would be the first (not last) place I could look to find the details.Skookum1 18:22, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

You're correct (you'll find some of the material you're referring to in the California Gold Rush article). This topic would really have to start with the effect of the missions, the great malaria epidemic of the early 1830s, cover the attacks during the Gold Rush, the move to reservations during early statehood, the Modoc Wars, etc.
I've been hesitating to do the expansion and fleshing-out that this article needs (on a number of topics), because of old concerns about article length. I'd like to hear some comments to the topic above (Length of article not an issue yet) before undertaking what is available to be done (of course, if there's an extended period of silence, I suppose that could be understood as non-opposition!)NorCalHistory 22:36, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
My personal opinion is that the basics need to be covered in this article, but it also deserves its own article. BlankVerse 23:32, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Lets get real here, the facts are, the Spaniards had a vision of civilizing the native population, teaching them how to cultivate the land and live in diversity beginning with the missions.., along with teaching them religion as most of the European world knew it...the real devistation to the native populations of not only California, but in all of America, north and south, came from the Anglo American immigrants who flooded in during the gold's a documented fact that the white man NEVER coexisted with the Indians, or attempted to establish any policy to help them with anything (other than paper treaties) and either killed them or marched them from their lands to the deserts of unincorporated territories... 16:55, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Article length not an issue yet[edit]

Among the proposals thus far: additional information on the California Native American population, and the effect of the European and American arrival on the Native Americans, additional information on each of the explorers and events itemized thus far in the article, a greater attention to context (that is, the historical and geographic influences on the early history of California) . . . any other topics/issues that could be added to this article, or current topics that may benefit from being supplemented? (Naturally, many of these proposed topics/issues could also easily be an extended daughter article, in addition to its more abbreviated treatment here.) The format and approach taken by FA History of Alaska, FA History of Arizona, and FA History of New Jersey are interesting. NorCalHistory 15:57, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

nav box at top right ugly as sin[edit]

Hi. I don't really feel comfortable changing the colors on the yellow and cyan navigation box for "history of california", but it's truly garish. Someone should replace the colors with darker, less saturated variants. Thanks. -- 03:06, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Anyone have any reactions? NorCalHistory 05:46, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
you can add my assent! though the goldenrod is's that iridescent amateurish cyan that makes you want to yak up your breakfast. i made an attempt at changing it, but only an administrator is permitted. any colour combination recommendations? --emerson7 | Talk 07:18, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

The Portolà expedition is not "ironic"[edit]

The otherwise quite good section on the Portolà expedition contains the following statement: ...On October 31, de Portolà's explorers became the first Europeans known to view San Francisco Bay. Ironically, the Manila Galleons had sailed along this coast for almost 200 years by then...

This is a very casual (though I admit, frequent) misuse of the word "ironic" that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia. It's not ironic that the ships had already been sailing along the California coast. It certainly is an important fact that no settlements were made though the sea-route was frequently used for centuries. If people agree, let's correct this. Fixifex 04:31, 9 May 2007 (UTC)


I added the California Wikiproject to this article's talkpage, as it could use some input on the role/experience of Kanakas in California; I only know about their presence there from a Canadian-written book, Kanaka by Tom Koppel (not Ted). The Kanaka article was originally written only from an Australasian/South Pacific standpoint, where the term is derisive and associated with plantation slavery; in BC and California it's associated with the gold rush and, earlier, the fur trade. Not sure how much Californian-Kanaka history there is, but I know there's some; the Kanaka placenames in California (see List of Chinook Jargon placenames under "k") must have stories associated with them, maybe some worth articles also. Koppel's book, which I no longer own, has some stats on how many Hawaiians there were in gold rush California, and other details...I'll post this also on the project's talkpage.Skookum1 (talk) 13:34, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Russian trappers[edit]

Exploration by Europeans is mentioned but nothing about Russian trappers hunting sea otter pelts. Binksternet (talk) 07:13, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

One early division of SoCal and Norcal from 1889[edit]

At the Oakland Museum, I saw an old map of California from 1889 which clearly shows a line at the 35th parallel dividing northern and southern California. This line is fairly south of most other interpretations, making SoCal smaller in relation. The 35th parallel starts in the middle of the Colorado River near Fort Mohave where Nevada, Arizona and California all touch—Nevada's southernmost point and the start of California's straight-line diagonal eastern border. It extends west to the Guadalupe oil fields near Nipomo, Guadalupe and Pismo Beach.

I have not found a digitized version of this map online, or a description of it, which leave me without a good reference. Binksternet (talk) 03:29, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Summary Article[edit]

This is a summary article. One or two paragraphs at most on each topic. Details are to be placed and found in the main articles that this summary article points to. Hmains (talk) 03:00, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Proposed move[edit]

I propose moving this article to "History of California through 1899", and making changes to relevant internal language and navboxes, per my comments at Template talk:California history § To vs. through. Comments? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 01:16, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

"through" is ambiguous (actually wrong) for anyone but speakers of American English - even in AE, it is wrong here: you need points A and B to use "through", you can't just have "through B", it must be "A through B". And as I said, that is understood only by speakers of American English. Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 09:07, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
I disagree with your points above. Until and through have specific meanings, particularly with respect to concrete things like time. Can you cite a (non-American-English) dictionary definition to support your statements? If you tell someone "drive until Broadway Tunnel", you have told them to drive until they reach the entrance of "Broadway Tunnel", and said nothing about going further than that. Similarly, if you say "drive through Broadway Tunnel", you have told them to drive through the tunnel to its end. There's a discussion about this subject somewhere in the MOS, but I can't seem to find it at the moment.
My proposal sat here for quite a while before I acted on it, without comment. The move turned out to be fairly involved. Did you think about discussing it with me or someone else before reverting it. Or mentioning it to me? Did you actually revert all the changes in the other articles? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 15:07, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
I re-read your statement above and see that I may have misunderstood, and that the only problem you have with my naming is the failure to specify a starting date. Are you saying that the title would be correct if it were "History of California from 14500 B.C. through 1899"? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 17:42, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Hi AlanM1

Firstly, yes, I should have involved you. As you pointed out, your proposal sat here for quite a while without any interest from others, so I felt that given that apparent lack of interest, it was no big deal. But I could and should have been considerate to you, as the one who was involved with it. My apologies for not doing so. As for the use of "through", yes, if it has a starting point, then it will make sense to other speakers of English. To just say "through 1899" to many users would mean from January 1 to December 31 of the year 1899. As an aside, I worked as a Portuguese/ English trainer for ExxonMobil in Angola and the Angolan staff often pointed out that I was teaching them British English and they sometimes struggled to understand their US managers. Without wanting to be belabour the point, but just out of linguistic curiosity, your example using the tunnel makes sense, but ONLY because the tunnel is a significant element in an otherwise long featureless road, with a tunnel at the end - traversing or not traversing the tunnel would make all the difference. So, if this argument was about the next section of the history of California, it would be pertinent to be sure of whether a period UNTIL 1948 included or excluded the year 1948 (1948 would be the tunnel), which was a key point in history. In this section, 1899 appears to be an arbitrary cutting point, which could just as well have been 1900.

Seeing that this is the first period in the series, perhaps the correct preposition should in fact be "before" - "History of California before 1899" or "History of California before 1900". Personally I would go for the latter. Regards, Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 07:18, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
The current construction, "until 1899", implies that this history stops at January 1, 1899. I assume the intention is to include 1899 and reject 1900, which means the wording should be "before 1900", "until 1900" or "through 1899". All of the latter choices are better (more accurate) than the current name. I think 1900 should be the date put in the title, not 1899. Binksternet (talk) 14:28, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
"History of California before 1900" D'oh! Why didn't I think of that? @Rui: I can see that "through 1899" could be taken to mean just the year 1899. A better example than the tunnel would be calling a store and asking when they close. If they say "we're open until 6", the correct inference is that they lock the doors at 6, not some time (like an hour) after 6. I was just focused on fixing the incorrect implication of the end time, since the beginning was so far in the past. "before 1900" suits me fine, and three of us sounds like a resounding consensus (Face-wink.svg)), so I'll implement it here and propose it in the surprisingly small handful of other places I found.(I spent time in Africa, too, sometimes being told that my English sounded too British to be an American, as I was over-compensating. So, I am sensitive to such issues.Face-smile.svg) —[AlanM1(talk)]— 15:05, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Orphaned references in History of California before 1900[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of History of California before 1900's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "bandini":

  • From Alta California: José Bandini, in a note to Governor Echeandía or to his son, Juan Bandini, a member of the Territorial Deputation (legislature), noted that Alta California was bounded "on the east, where the Government has not yet established the [exact] border line, by either the Colorado River or the great Sierra (Sierra Nevada)." A Description of California in 1828 by José Bandini (Berkeley, Friends of the Bancroft Library, 1951), 3. Reprinted in Mexican California (New York, Arno Press, 1976). ISBN 0-405-09538-4
  • From The Californias: José Bandini, in a note to Governor Echeandía or to his son Juan Bandini, a member of the Territorial Deputation (legislature), noted that Alta California was bounded "on the east, where the Government has not yet established the [exact] border line, by either the Colorado River or the great Sierra (Sierra Nevadas)." A Description of California in 1828 by José Bandini (Berkeley, Friends of the Bancroft Library, 1951), 3. Reprinted in Mexican California (New York, Arno Press, 1976). ISBN 0-405-09538-4

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 00:22, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

Spanish/Mexican California considerations[edit]

Thanks for working on articles relating to the Spanish/Mexican Californias. There are many still in need of attention. Before changing established, consistent naming conventions, however, I ask that you consider the following: while there existed political entities that were provinces/territories/departments at various times, the English names "Alta California Province" and Baja California Province" do not exist as proper names in published sources. Your insistence on using these names is therefore original research and not allowed on Wikipedia. Please stop changing the wording that has been worked out over many years. WCCasey (talk) 22:53, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

I am not insisting. You are insisting on false links to Baja California. Eldizzino (talk) 23:01, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Ranchos section - messed up Comment[edit]

The section on Ranchos has no sources, and doesn't even address the secularization and proliferation of private grants during Mexican rule. The Dissident Aggressor 00:30, 23 September 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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