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Prelude to War and the Bear Flag Revolt
By the 1840s, a majority of what is now California was under the control of the Spanish colony of New Spain. Most settlers in California were white and from the United States. These white settlers were undermined by the Spanish government in terms of land rights. Thus, they desired a free republic. In Sonoma in 1846, William B. Ide declared California to be a republic. This started the so-called Bear Flag Revolt. However, these rebels were very ill-equipped and untrained. Nevertheless, Spain violently put the rebellion down. The only thing that remained in Sonoma after the townspeople fled was a flag with a bear on it. The Spanish troops didn't take it down as they left the town, making it a rebellious symbol.
California War of Independence
After the brief revolt in 1846, the Spanish Army began a crackdown on possible rebels in California. Their guns (and sometimes land) were taken away. Over time, the Californians became very unsettled. On June 14th, 1852, the old William B. Ide yet again appeared; this time in Sacramento. At a rally, he presented to the Californian people the very same flag that waved at Sonoma. The locals were inspired, and a republic was yet again declared. The California War of Independence had begun. This time, the Californians had allies. Native Americans living in Spanish territory felt mistreated, and desired freedom as well. Louisiana, feeling sympathetic to the settlers (as they also won their freedom via rebellion), sent arms and funds to the rebels. However, the Louisianan government also wanted lands in the west the Spanish held monopolies on. The rebels first attacked the town of Monterrey just a week later, shockingly defeating the Spaniards. But the victory was short-lived; the rebel stronghold of Los Angeles fell and 14 settlers were massacred at Dominguez Rancho. It seemed this revolt would yet again be brought down quickly. However, the Californians rebounded by with victories in the San Pasqual Valley and Rio San Gabriel. Los Angeles was under rebel control by September. Meanwhile, New Spain's viceroy (General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna) was struggling to keep power for many reasons. Troops were sporadically taken out of California to aid against a coup. By November, most Spanish troops were out of California. The few that remained near the Texan border were largely defeated at Tucson. On December 7th, Santa Anna (on the brink of an overthrow) ceded certain lands to the Californians and surrendered. He fell out of power for a 10th time. California was free at last.
The Republic Grows
California was sparsely populated, but news of freedom brought once hesitant settlers in the U.S. wanting to settle in California after all. Ide died 12 days after independence, a national hero. A California National Assembly was established to declare a leader (Robert F. Stockton), but decreed that there would be elections in a year. John C. Fremont won these elections. Meanwhile, Louisiana took large part of eastern California for itself. The small and ramshackle Californian Army could do nothing. The Fremont government countered using diplomacy. Backed by the U.S. (who were sending immigrants in droves to settle in California), Fremont negotiated a border line that gave only a portion of land to Louisiana. This earned Fremont a lot popularity. Meanwhile, settlers in nearby Texas (in a similar situation as the Californians were) rebelled against the Spanish. Fremont supported the rebels, and recognized the (even though many didn't recognize California either). California expanded its land into once wild and Indian land. Many Native American groups, including those who fought alongside the rebels, were very angry with this. Thus, in 1855, Fremont issued the Indian Lands Act, which gave parcels of the Californian countryside to Native Americans. The Navajo, for instance got a large amount of landing agreeing peacefully. But groups like the Apache did not, thus setting the stage for the Californian Indian Wars. However, the act surprisingly did not favour the settlers or Native Americans. This lead to a loss in popularity for Fremont. In 1857, the second Californian elections were held, with Fremont was re-elected.
California Gold Rush and the Indian Wars
In 1859, James W. Marshall found gold northeast of Sacramento. Within months, prospectors were pouring into California. The second population sprout had begun. Many arrived in the port of San Francisco, making the town very important (and also the largest in the country). The California Gold Rush resulted in an economic boom in the young country. It is generally said to have lasted until 1866. However, prospectors were coming into conflict with Native Americans over land with gold. Though some Indians actually used this to their advantage and prospected themselves, many either fought back or moved off. In 1860, members of the Apache tribe attacked a settlement named San Carlos. The Californian Army fought back with force. Unlike the United States, the Californian military wasn't as well equipped or large to easily defeat the Indians like the Americans did. California remained at odds with the Apache for 20 years. Elsewhere, the Indian Land Act became harder to enforce and Fremont dropped out of the presidential race in 1861. The young John McDougall was elected instead. He decided to not enforce the land act as much, and Indians who were easily defeated couldn't get land. But those that were successful in defeating the army would get land grants. Thus, it was a literal fight for land. McDougall was re-elected in 1865, but died 4 months later. His Vice President Peter Hardeman Burnett took over. In the end, the California Gold Rush had both good and bad effects depending on who you were.
Trouble Down South (and Around the World)
In Europe 1864, the major powers dwelt into World War I. California stayed neutral, but soon the conflict would be coming closer to home. South of the border, Mexico (who also won their independence from Spain) was falling into a civil war. Yet again, California remained neutral. McDougall ordered the borders patrolled, but many Mexican refugees fled into California. They were taken in, as the government was feared the Mexican Civil War would spill into their country. It thankfully didn't, and the refugees established the first Mexican immigration into California.
The Mormon War
While dealing with the Native Americans over land was negotiable (and sometimes very smooth), the Mormons who settled around Salt Lake in the north were very different. They refused to give up land, claimed a large portion of California as the god-given nation of Deseret, but never actually fought. By 1868, Burnett and his government were failing to stop further Mormon settlement. California was mostly Roman Catholic, but many people believed in freedom of religion. In fact, William B. Ide himself was a Mormon. Californians just couldn't understand why Native Americans and not Mormons were treated as equal (to an extent). That year, Burnett authorized military action against Mormon settlers. The Mormon leader Brigham Young decided to establish the Holy Army of Deseret. Fighting mostly took place in the north of California, and Native American tribes took sides. Fighting was very limited after the Mormons, proving terrible soldiers, fled back to their stronghold in Salt Lake City. Burnett gave Young an ultimatum: give up your arms and renounce your claims, and we will give you some land. But the Mormons were unhappy with the small amount of land that Burnett proposed. Negotiations stopped when the Mountain Meadows Incident occurred. On September 8th, 1868, a Californian patrol was fired upon by Mormon settlers. The soldiers responded by burning the small town of Mountain Meadows down and raping the local women. The war had re-erupted. Yet again, the Mormons were quickly defeated with little Californian casualties. This time, Burnett decided to be more stern; threatening an assault on Salt Lake City. Brigham Young shockingly refused. Salt Lake City was bombarded on October 7th by the Californian Army. Mormons, along with young, fled north to the border with Canada. The Second Mormom Exodus had begun. However, some Mormons stayed behind. Thus, the St. George Massacre occurred. On December 2nd, a small group of Mormons in St. George were found praying at the ruins of a Mormon church. When refusing to leave (as they were in prayer), the police brutally attacked and killed the 21 Mormons inside the church. After, the last of the Mormons left California for Canada. This served as a major blow to Burnett, who lost the 1869 election to Milton Latham. He was about to lead California to many changes.
Age of Reform (The Milton Latham Presidency)
Two very important laws were brought forth by Latham in his first year in office. First was the Electoral Reform Act. At the time, California had absolutely no subdivisions; people simply voted at the nearest town with a polling station. Thus, despite his overwhelming unpopularity, Burnett still managed to capture 46% of the vote. Latham noticed this, and suspected vote fraud. On January 8th, 1870, residents of California became part of 7 new provinces. These were further divided into counties and electoral districts. Gubernatorial elections to elect governors were first held in May. Also, on August 13th, the California National Assembly passed the Congressional Act. The National Assembly became the lower house of the new California Congress, with the Senate as the upper house. Members of the National Assembly were elected every 2 years; Senators every 4 coinciding with the presidential elections. "Latham the Reformer" also encouraged people to settle further east; 80% of California's population lived on the Pacific Coast. This worked to an extent. Though there was some during the Gold Rush, Chinese immigration skyrocketed in the 1870s. Latham did nothing to counter this, despite opposition. Nevertheless, he was re-elected in 1873. Shortly before, Latham fell out of favour for his liberal leanings and left the Republican Party (the only party in all of California) and ran as an Independent. This set the stage for the Republican Party Schism some years later. In 1874, Latham denounced the military's and government's actions during the Mormon War. Those who had participated in the crimes at St. George and Mountain Meadows were brought to justice at the Salt Lake City Trails. Burnett was acquitted of not only his actions in the Mormon War, but also for vote fraud. He fled to exile in the United States. Mormons were now allowed to return, but didn't. Brigham Young (now based in Oregon) told his followers they must fight for their territory of Deseret. This was the decree that influenced Mormon fundamentalism years later. Still, Latham officially incorporated freedom of religion into the California Constitution. He retired instead of running again in 1877: one of the most famous elections in California's history.
Republican Party schism and aftermath
Before the 1853 elections, John C. Fremont established the first political party in California: the Republican Party. For two decades, it would also remain the only one. All non-Republican members of the National Assembly simply ran as Independents. The Republicans always had right-wing, conservative leanings (though Fremont sometimes showed signs of centrism). However, Milton Latham stood against that. He openly exhibited liberal views, and many citizens liked him because of it. The party wasn't too fond of Latham's ways, and threatened to kick him out of the party (Latham was even banned from attending the 1873 Republican National Convention despite being their candidate for that year's election). Latham responded by simply leaving the party and running as an Independent. His victory in 1873 helped expose factions within the Republican Party; with veteran conservatives and the younger liberals. In 1874, the Republican Party endured a full-on schism. The liberal factions, feeling threatened, left to form the Liberal Republican Party. Those who stayed behind rebranded themselves as the National Republican Party. Latham retired before the 1877 election, which would pit these 2 new parties against each other. In the end, the LRP's Romulado Pacheco (a landowner of Mexican/Spanish descent) defeated the NRP's Leland Stanford (a corporate tycoon who later founded Stanford University). Pacheco was not white, and his victory was very close (51.7% of the vote). He went on to pass laws prohibiting racial discrimination, becoming a champion of civil rights. Chinese and Mexican immigrants (the latter of which there was very little at the time) were finding California very homely indeed. These laws set the stage for the mass immigration and diversity that defines California today. Pacheco, however, failed to get re-elected. National Republican (and general) George Stoneman won the 1881 election.
California's Industrial Age
Stoneman had two things on his mind when he entered the Presidential House in Sacramento: industrialism and the military. A retired general, Stoneman desired to expand the Californian Army. He established the Provincial Guard in all the provinces, and expanded the navy. Stoneman founded the California Army Academy at Merced in 1883. He also struck a major deal with the American and Louisianan governments. At the time (and years before), both the United States and Louisiana were expanding by rail. In 1878, these railroads reached Texas. Canada was also in the process of building a transcontinental railroad. The idea of one which stretched coast-to-coast had yet to hit California, though. Stoneman (who had served briefly as Ambassador to the United States) used his contacts to open that possibility up. In 1882, the Californian government struck a deal to expand the Union American Railroad into their country. Thousands of workers (many of them immigrants) were sent to work on it, with intention to reach San Francisco in 10 years. Factories were set up to build the tracks, and many towns were built along this new railroad. Stoneman was re-elected in 1885 as California was facing a large industrial upheaval (with some bad effects). Controversies surrounding the financing of the railroad sprung up in 1886. California was hit by a labour strike in 1888. The LRP were rising in popularity yet again. In 1889, Robert Waterman was elected President of California. He set out to end the labour strikes by setting up unions, introducing socialism to California. This led to the founding of the Socialist Party of California in 1890. Sadly, Waterman died in 1891; he was replaced by Vice President James Budd. He in turn presided over a major land gain in 1892. The Budd Purchase led to the acquisition of 29,670 sq mi area south of Arizona. This became the province of Montezuma, California's 10th. Budd was re-elected in 1893 as California's industrial capacity grew. Their economy was beginning to rival other North American nations. That same year, the golden spike was driven into the ground in San Francisco: the Union American Railroad had become transcontinental. Trade with Louisiana and the United States boomed, and the economy continued to soar. Budd was re-elected in 1897 (first president to serve during 3 terms), and was about to witness a whole new century.
The Turn of the Century
Budd failed to get re-elected in 1901, losing to Nationalist Republican Theodore Roosevelt. Meanwhile, the Socialists got their first seats in the National Assembly. California celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1902 with grandour. Several foreign diplomats attended the occasion on the invite of Foreign Affairs Minister Edward O. Wolcott. In 1904, the Chinese Limitation Act was put into effect. Controversially, a certain number of Chinese were allowed into the country. The Roosevelt presidency marked breakthroughs in foreign relations. Embassies were set up in the Mexican Empire and Saguaro Republic, Japan, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Roosevelt believed California needed to be exhibited on the world stage. California joined the League of Nations in 1905, the same year Roosevelt got re-elected. However, tragedy struck the very next year. A large earthquake hit San Francisco, destroying homes and infrastructure. Many residents turned refugees abandoned the city for places like Los Angeles and San Diego (thus growing those populations). However, the government was praised for their swift recovery process and rebuilding. Meanwhile, the new railroads and trade opportunities helped the economy flourish. California's large agricultural sector led to the trade of many crops. California was becoming more prosperous by the day. Roosevelt was re-elected in 1909, just as trouble up north was stirring up.
See main article: Oregon War (Rise of Roses)