california and the amazon queen califia -- 8/19/19

Today's selection -- from The Big Ones by Dr. Lucy Jones. The history of California:

"California was claimed by Spain in the sixteenth century and named after a fictional island in a popular contemporary Spanish novel, a far-off place of abundance led by an Amazon queen, Califia. The reality of early California, before irrigation systems, was not nearly so bountiful. With three to four months of rain per year and pro­longed, dry summers, it couldn't support most crops. It had drawn just a few thousand European colonists by 1821, when a revolution transferred California from Spain to the Mexican Empire.

"Contrib­uting little to the tax base, California was largely ignored by the Mexican government. Most of the Californios (Spanish-speaking descendants of the original colonists) could be found in the south­ern part of the state, and the arrival of a few English-speaking set­tlers in the northern part went unprotested. When California was lost to the United States in the Mexican-American War in 1848, there were fewer than eight thousand white Hispanic residents and about fifty thousand Native Americans.

View of Sacramento showing the City Hotel

"This all changed when gold was discovered near Sacramento in 1848. Word spread quickly, and in 1849 settlers began pouring into California. The political leadership scrambled to handle this wave of migrants (the forty-niners), and California was quickly granted statehood in 1850. The first U.S. census that year showed just under ninety thousand residents; the population had ballooned to over four hundred thousand by 1860. In their quest to find gold and get rich quick, most failed. The more reliable path to success lay in sup­plying the human needs of the miners."




Dr. Lucy Jones


The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us




Copyright 2018 by Lucy Jones


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