California, San Jose, California

The Santa Clara Courthouse Was Built To Persuade The State Legislature To Return The State Capital To San Jose, California

The Santa Clara County government proposed establishing a courthouse, which was designed by Levi Goodrich, one of the husbands of the first American Governor of California Peter Hardeman Burnette, as a move to convince the state legislature to move the state capital from Sacramento back to San Jose, California. In 1867, construction of the Santa Clara County Courthouse was completed but new courthouse failed to convince the legislature to move the state capital back to San Jose.

California, California Gold Rush, San Jose, California

The Home Of Samuel Hensley – The Man Who Delivered The Papers Ratifying California As The 31st

In 1850, Samuel J. Hensley delivered the papers ratifying California as a state to the new state capital building in San Jose, California.

Photograph of Samuel J. Hensley.

Samuel J. Hensley has built a home nearby the site of the former California State Capital.

Currently, the Samuel J. Hensley house is part of the Hensley Historical District that was established in the 1990s.

Arizona, Battle of Stanwix Station, California, California Gold Rush, Edward Dickinson Baker

California During The Civil War

California soldiers during the Union counter charge at Cedar Creek.

Before the start of the Civil War, and after North Carolina left the Union, confederate sympathizers sought to have California join the Confederacy. California ended up siding with the Union despite attempts to change the allegiance of the state. Abraham Lincoln’s friend, Oregon Senator Edward Dickerson Baker, trained the California Brigade in Pennslyvania.

Photograph of California secessionist Daniel Showalter.

Daniel Showalter was a California Southern sympathizer who lobbied for funds to invade California and other western states. Daniel eventually left the state of California and joined the Texas Confederate forces. On March 30, 1862, the Battle of Stanwix Station, the westernmost battle of the U.S. Civil War, occurred which led to a confederate eastward retreat to Tuscon, Arizona. Captain Sherod Hunter managed to get rangers to take over the town of Tucson. While Civil War battles did not occur in the state of California, a regiment of California Union soldiers were sent to Tucson, to find out of their western plans, and to prevent Confederates from taking over Arizona and Southern California. On April 15, 1862, the Battles of Picacho Pass and Picacho Peak led to a further Confederate retreat of the western front. The Confederacy would not try to invade California again after Battle of Picacho Peak. However, Confederates planned various schemes to interfere with the Union effort in California. Ashbury Harpending schemed to steal a ship transporting gold from San Francisco to the Panama Canal and in 1865 the English-built confederate cruiser Shenandoah, a sister ship of the Alabama, maintained attacks on various New England whaling vessels. Even when the Civil War ended, the captain of the Shenandoah planned to conduct an attack in San Francisco in August 1865, because he had not gotten word that the war was over. Eventually, when the captain finally received news of Robert Lee’s surrender and the capture of President Jefferson Finis Davis, the San Francisco attack was called off.

In 1913, the reunion of veterans of the California Regiment at the site of Pickett’s Charge.

Many of the fifteen thousand California Union volunteers devoted time to reunions after the end of the war. Most notably, fifty years after the Battle at Pickett’s Charge, California Union veterans returned to the site of the battle for a reunion.


The Former State Capitals Of California

The capital building in Monterey, California.

Monterey was the first capital of California from 1774 to October 13, 1849. Monterey was the capital from the era of Spanish rule, the brief period of Mexican rule after the Mexicans gained independence, up to the the period right before statehood. The California State constitution was drafted in Monterey and later accepted by the U.S. Congress. The state capital was in Pueblo de San Jose from December 15, 1849 to May 1, 1851.

Historical marker indicating the site of the former state capital in Pueblo de San Jose.

Then the capital moved to Vallejo from January 5, 1852 to January 12 1852. After that, the Capital was at Sacramento from January 16, 1852 to November 2, 1853. Vallejo was the capital a second time from January 3rd 1853 to February 4, 1853. Benicia served as the capital from February 11th 1853 to February 24th 1854. Sacramento was the final capital location from February 28, 1854 to present, for part of that time Benicia, San Francisco and Vallejo were the capitals at the same time.The legislature, during the gold rush was indecisive on where the capital should be, thus creating a period of movement between the 1850s and the 1860s.

Sketch of the state capital in Sacramento.

Author’s Note:

The California State Library has a list of the former state capitals of California. The capital building moved five times within the 31st state of the United States.

Andrés Pico, California, Californios, The Pico Act

The Pico Act – A Former Plan To Split Southern California Into A Separate Pro-Slavery State

Photograph Andrés Pico in the 1860s.

In 1859 Andrés Pico, a veteran of the Mexican-American War whom faught in the Battle of San Pascual, worked with an alliance of Mexican Californios and proslavery southerners to formulate “The Pico Act”. Many Californios were concerned that their tax dollars were going to mining efforts in Northern California, and they wanted a separate state that would focus on more agricultural interests.

A meeting of the California State Legislature, in Sacramento, passed “The Pico Act”. However, Southern and Northern Congressman and senators disagreed on whether to expand slavery to the pacific coast, since Northern politicians did not believe the Missouri Compromise should expand to the westernmost part of he United States. Southern politicians wanted to have a pro-slavery State in the south so that they would have a stronger representation in the Senate. The approval of “The Pico Act” was stalled due to stark political disagreements between members of the United States federal legislature and members of the Republican Party, Northern Democrats, Southern Democrats and the Union Party members during the Presidential Election of 1860. Hence, after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and the secession of southern states, “The Pico Act” became a moot issue in the U.S. Congress.

California, Indian Law of 1850

California’s Indian Law Of 1850 – Created Legal Servitude In A “Free State”

On April 22, 1850, two years after a large piece of gold was discovered within Sutter’s Mill and the same year California was admitted as a State by Congress, the first session of the California State Legislature passed the Indian Law of 1850.

Painting of Sutter’s Mill in California.

The act allowed the indentured servitude of any Native American who was found off of a reservation and seemed as a vagrant. Indian girls could be kept as servants until the age of 25, Indian boys could be kept as servants until the age of 30 and Indian adults could be forced to work for 10 years. This system of servitude, which was similar to how Indians were treated under Mexican rule, continued until the end of the U.S. Civil War.

Author’s Note:

Not only were Native Americans forced into indentured servitude after the passage of the India Law of 1850, but about 16,000 Native Americans were killed in the years after statehood. In fact, in 1851, the first American California Governor, Peter Hardeman stated that he supported genocide of Native Americans by writing:

“That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races, until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected”.

Author’s Note:

Richard Hurley’s book, “California and the Civil War” goes more in depth in regards to the white supremacists that supported the servitude and genocide of Native Americans in the 1800s.

California, California Gold Rush

The Discovery Of Gold Expedites California’s Admission As The 31st State

The discovery of gold in Los Angelos and soon a larger discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, near Sacramento, led to an expedited call to admit California as a state. Slave supporters tried to add southern California as a slave state, while having northern California as a serrated free state, and to extend the Missouri Compromise to the Pacific Coast. However, with the pro slavery southern states threading to secede in 1850, the northern states did not want California added as a slave state and succeeded.

On September 9th, 1850, San Jose native Samuel Hensley delivered the papers admitting California as the 31st State of the United States.