Connecting California

Section IV: California’s Mexican Rancho Era, 1822–1848

Ramona- A Novel of Mexican California

Ramona entails a description of the early Spanish and Indian life in California. Ramona herself is half-Indian and Half-Scot, has been raised by a Spanish mother figure and eventually falls in love with an Indian (Gastil & Harris, 2013, p. 157). I have learnt that Ramona displays the different cultures within California in the early 19th Century; shortly after the Mexican-American War and the hardships that were facing mixed race cultures. When Ramona and Allesandro go through numerous instances of losses, one comes to the realization that these individuals are endangered due to their mixed racial identity. For instance, they lose all their property, land, and even dignity as a result.

All these losses are attributable to the government’s negligence on advancement of policies that would discourage American settlers from seizing land belonging to the Indians; distancing these individuals; Allessandro and Ramona, from their cultural heritage. I have thus come to the realization that not only were Africans colonized through hardships, but Native Americans also underwent the same severe inhuman treatment from the American settlers and eventually transforming a cultural rich society into a wavering culturally-famished community. It was however, not purely the settlers fault, as the government policy at the time could be faulted.

When these segregated communities were tired of these derogatory behaviours, they agitated for their rights, and were eventually emancipated from this archaic treatment. This created precedence towards other regions that with the enactment of proper laws, they could overcome segregation. Consequently, other regions sought their freedom and promotion of equal rights.

 I came to the realization that numerous American immigrants showed little or no respect for the Hispanics of California hence these new settlers from the Midwest and the North belittled every aspect of the natives’ culture, essentially establishing Californian Elitism since the settlers used the Natives as laborers to their large tracts of land. Hence, elitist behaviors began via oppression of the weak within the American Society, in fact, the Natives together with Africans, established the Modern American Society as we know it today.

Spanish Colonial or Adobe Architecture of California by Donald R. Hannaford and Revel Edwards

From this chapter, I have understood California’s journey of growth and development, as a city, from its establishment until present. It is evident that the city commenced with a predominant population of Hispanics; mostly Mexicans in 1781 (Gastil & Harris, 2013, p. 147). However, this observation does not disregard the fact that there were a mix of cultures, tribes, and races within the city. In fact, since 1910, Mexican American Natives had a dominant presence as their immigration was motivated by the booming industrial revolution within Los Angeles between 1910 to1960. Other cultures within the region were the Spanish, Native Indians, and few African Americans. This cultural mix initiated an intermarriage which led to the development of mixed races which is predominant within California. Additionally, the industrial development in Los Angeles led to huge revenue collection, a core factor in the establishment of Hollywood. The prime location for film production, Hollywood has had major economic successes within the region since its establishment. The majority of actors within the early 20th Century were white or Latino, implying that the diverse US culture in California, which was eventually reflected across almost all US states in the 21st Century, was a pertinent factor towards this occurrence. In a 2015 study, statistics showed that California is culturally-diverse with a 73% White population, 7% African American, 2% Native, and 14% Asian, among others (Gastil & Harris, 2013, p. 107). Hollywood’s diversity also reflects the cultural and racial diversity within California, and the US in general; 71% White, 14% Black, 6% Asians, 3% Hispanics, among others. These two comparisons depict a close relationship implying that the racial diversity in California has been replicated into Hollywood.

These readings therefore enable me to develop faster mental growth and understanding of the global historical contexts. For instance, the understanding that Native Americans underwent colonization, similar to Africans and other citizens from different parts of the world, gives me insight that colonization disrupted people’s way of life, leading to conflict but eventually improving these people’s way of life.

Section V: Americanization of California: The Gold Rush Era, 1840–1850

The California Land Act of 1851

The United States had just ended the Mexican-American War through the ratification of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe (Gastil & Harris, 2013, p. 191). The Guadalupe Treaty expressed that all property rights would be respected for all Mexicans in territories the US had acquired from Mexico. However, some articles of the treaty which pledged allegiance to the honor of present land grants to the Mexicans and the Spanish were revoked. In fact, I came to realize that they had to prove receipt of land grants to the same government that had issued them.

It is therefore sad that the US unjustifiably took Mexico’s land and unsettled the Mexicans who legitimately owned the land, giving it to European immigrants. Hence, contrary to most people’s perspective of the US as a land of equal opportunity, not all individuals had equal chances to success. For some, it was even more difficult to hold on to a little of what the wealthy had already accumulated via false methods. Hence, if all rights had been protected from the onset, the disparity levels between the White US population and Mexican-Americans in terms of economic success and education would not be at the advanced levels it is today. In fact, Mexicans among other disenfranchised societies could have economically empowered their children with the economic resources taken from them, consequently providing Mexican-Americans with a proper grounding to start life, which could have major impacts on California. Unfortunately, the unfair implementation of laws such as the California Land Act of 1851 has impoverished Mexican-Americans by undermining their livelihoods and existence; a situation they have been trying to escape since 1848.

The Impact of the Gold Rush 1849, by Walter Colon

I have learnt that the US Gold Rush was not an exaggeration of facts as people really went berserk in search of the gold. Almost everyone was interested in this rare commodity; hence, at the San Francisco Bay Area, the port was filled with abandoned ships as all crew members sought more revenue from gold. Additionally, the miners’ population within the region was 624 miners among 1000 individuals, depicting a 62.4% interest in gold within the Californian population (Gastil & Harris, 2013, p. 197). Eventually, thousands of workers left their factories in search of gold to the dismay of their bosses, and most of them made better income at the gold mines. Therefore the US gold rush had a tremendous impact towards the growth of California as the high financial capital exhibited by miners and other stakeholders in the mining industry led to further investments. For instance, some individuals sold mining equipment while others shipped clothing and food. Individuals such as Atherton and Larkin doubled their income within a few months time of investments becoming part of the richest individuals within California. Consequently, I learn that these individuals were bright businessmen who realized that the gold exploits might come to an end, hence built their business based on the model of providing essential services. San Francisco developed into a modern city with an expanding population as a result of business development. Another individual who became famous within this period was Levi Strauss, who sold jeans with riveted pockets to miners, and since then, Levi’s Jeans have become globally popular.

The Californian Gold Rush therefore shaped modern California as a result of the universal demand for the commodity. The Gold Rush presented every individual regardless of class or education, an opportunity to make money. In fact, only the miners made meager wages while painters, tailors, and even bakers made over $200000, while an onion farmer made approximately $150000 in 1849, hence were coined the 49ers (Gastil & Harris, 2013, p. 198). From this article, I learn that one does not necessarily have to directly deal with the product leading to a bubble; in this case the gold, as Faxon Atherton provided auxiliary services to gold trade while in Chile yet he made millions of dollars. Moreover, the Gold Rush also influenced the establishment of the banking industry hence without it, civilization and industrialization as we know it today would have been incomplete. The Panama Railway and the Transcontinental Railway were developed to transport gold and other essential commodities across the US, eventually developing inter-state trade routes, situations that spurred more growth and development to California influencing modern civilization.




Gastil, G., & Harris, B. M. (2013). Connecting California: Selections in early American history, volume 1. San Diego, CA: Cognella.



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