What happened when california became a state in 1850?

In 1849, Californians sought statehood and, after a heated debate in the United States Congress that arose from the issue of slavery, California entered the Union as a free and non-slave state by the Commitment of 1850. California became the 31st state on September 9, 1850. Ships after 1848 provided easy and inexpensive connections between California's coastal cities and the routes that led there. The ranches produced the largest business of cowhide leather (called California greenbacks) and tallow in North America by killing and skinning their livestock and cutting their fat.

California became the 31st state in the United States in the 1850 Commitment and played a small role in the American Civil War. The two groups traveling on foot from Baja California had to cross some 300 miles (480 km) of the very dry and rugged Baja California Peninsula. California gold proved to have more impact on the Union than any contingent of California soldiers during the conflict. While the surge in population played a role in the original argument for including California in the Union, gold was too convenient to ignore.

The remoteness and isolation of California, the lack of large organized tribes, the lack of farming traditions, the absence of domestic animals larger than a dog, and a food supply composed mainly of acorns (unpleasant for most Europeans) meant that missions in California would be very difficult to establish and maintain and make the area unattractive to most potential settlers. Mexico's Colonies Act of 1824 established rules for applying for land grants in California; and in 1828, rules for establishing land concessions were codified in Mexican Regulations. The ship Isabella sailed from Philadelphia on August 16, 1847, with a detachment of one hundred soldiers, and arrived in California on February 18, 1848, the following year, around the same time that the ship Sweden arrived with another detachment of soldiers. Once the California Gold Rush was confirmed, other paddle steamships soon followed the Pacific and Atlantic routes.

Suddenly, the quiet cities of California were filled with “forty-nine” and travelers from all over the world in search of gold. Since California chose to be a state of the Union, the representatives of the southern state saw this as the north accumulating their numbers. Their grief could have been much heavier if they had known that gold had been discovered at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California, nine days before they signed the peace treaty. Rumors of fabulously rich cities located somewhere along the California coast, as well as a possible Northwest Passage that would provide a much shorter route to the Indies, provided an incentive to explore further.

In addition, several Europeans and Americans were naturalized as Mexican citizens and settled in early California. Francisco de Ulloa explored the west coast of present-day Mexico, including the Gulf of California, demonstrating that Baja California was a peninsula, but despite his discoveries, the myth persisted in European circles that California was an island.

Wade Rueckert
Wade Rueckert

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