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California History: 6 Events That Shaped the State

California History: 6 Events That Shaped the State
Francis Drake and California State Map and Flag. (Dollarphotoclub)

By    |   Monday, 23 February 2015 11:31 PM

California's history is about more than the Gold Rush that occurred in the 1800s, although that might be the defining event for many who live outside the state.

But while the Gold Rush may be an important part of the Golden State's history, California has had numerous important events that helped define the state, here are six:

1. Captain Francis Drake explored the California coast and claimed the area for England in 1579, although Spain had been exploring and settling there. In the 1600s, Spaniards began to establish missions in the lower part of the state, according to The Robinson Library, creating a tug of war between Spain and England for the territory. In 1821, New Spain (Mexico) became independent of Spain, and the next year, California became part of New Spain. Within a few years, American explorers reached the area and by 1841, American settlers were beginning to come to California. In 1846, American rebels established the California Republic in Sonoma and the U.S. forces were victorious in the state during the Mexican War.

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2. The Gold Rush began in 1849, an event that was "arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century," says History.com. Thousands of people traveled to the San Francisco area and about $2 billion worth of gold was pulled from California.

3. California became the 31st state of the union on Sept. 9, 1850.

4. California, specifically Hollywood, became the filmmaking capital of the United States after producers and actors began to move there to escape strict regulation from Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Co., according to the United States History. Since Edison owned most of the moving picture patents, companies in the East were constantly being sued by him to stop their movies. So filmmakers came west, arriving in Los Angeles and eventually settling in Hollywood. "If agents from Edison's company came out west to find and stop these filmmakers, adequate notice allowed for a quick escape to Mexico," says the United States History. The first motion picture studio was built in Edendale, near Hollywood, in 1919 and they gradually began to spring up everywhere.

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5. The building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the late 1800s opened California up to the rest of the country. Initially transporting bulk commodities like coal, the railroad would eventually add refrigerator cars, says the California State Railroad Museum Foundation. "Refrigerator cars had an enormous impact on California, allowing the state to become the nation's number one agricultural producer ... In 1924, when the Museum's Fruit Growers Express Company car No. 35832 was built, over 150,000 similar ice-cooled refrigerator cars were in service."

6. The United Nations charter was signed in 1945 during a San Francisco conference. "There were 850 delegates, and their advisers and staff together with the conference secretariat brought the total to 3,500," says History of the United States. "In addition, there were more than 2,500 press, radio and newsreel representatives and observers from many societies and organizations. In all, the San Francisco Conference was not only one of the most important in history but, perhaps, the largest international gathering ever to take place."

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California's history is about more than the Gold Rush that occurred in the 1800s, although that might be the defining event for many who live outside the state.
California History, Gold Rush, Golden State
Monday, 23 February 2015 11:31 PM
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