In 1830, California and Texas owned


There have always been enough reasons to come to California: the gold rush, the citrus plantations, the oil or today Silicon Valley. The result is a colorful mixture of cultures that still makes California something very special today.

The Spaniards are making their first claims

In search of gold and spices, the Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo, who sailed for the Spanish crown, landed on the coast of what is now California (in the Bay of San Diego) in 1542. He claimed the Island of California for himself.

As early as 1493, the Spaniards had many missions in what was then Mexico to promote the colonization of these areas. But it was not until the end of the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) that the next advance in the direction of California was made.

In addition to colonization, settlements were founded by Spanish missionaries between 1774 and 1791. The missions were directly involved in pushing back and decimating the indigenous population of California.

California as a Mexican province

After the eleven-year Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), Mexico had successfully liberated itself from Spain. California then became a Mexican province.

In order to control the Californian population, the Mexican government also initially relied on the mission system. The Californian cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco later formed around these missions. Hence the religious origin of their names (Los Angeles for the Virgin Mary, San Francisco goes back to St. Francis of Assisi).

California becomes a state of the USA

From 1844 onwards, James K. Polk, President of the USA, claimed Texas and California for himself, which inevitably led to clashes with Mexico.

A revolt by American settlers in the Sacramento Valley in June 1846 proclaimed the California Republic. The United States was asked for protection from Mexico.

However, independence was already over after 24 days when California was assigned to the United States of America on instructions from Washington - in 1848 the assignment of Upper California was contractually established.

The gold rush and its consequences

One event changed everything: On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered a few pieces of gold in the river while building a mill. Within a year, more than 50,000 people came to California from Mexico, Chile, China, but mainly from Europe.

In 1852 there were 16 times as many people in California as in 1848. If the yield was good, the laborious panning for gold earned up to 20 times more than a worker on the east coast.

With the completely overpriced life in the gold rush towns, there was usually not much left of it. For example, an egg cost around one dollar (in relation to this would be around 20 dollars today) and a newspaper ten dollars.

The quick end of the gold rush

The Indians in particular suffered from the gold rush - half of them died of the diseases brought in by white people due to a lack of body's defenses.

The gold rush subsided quickly. Hand panning for gold was no longer profitable, and there was too much competition from gold discoveries in Colorado and Alaska.

Nevertheless, the gold rush had a major impact on US history. After California was annexed to the United States, slavery was banned there, which further exacerbated the dispute between the north and the south. That in turn led to the American Civil War - California officially sided with the northern states.