It was the obstacle that the California-bound pioneers feared the most: crossing the formidable Sierra Nevada. Stretching from just below Lassen Peak in the north to Tehachapi Pass in the south, the Sierra is a single mountain range about 400 miles long, varying in width from 40 to 80 miles. Except for the angle of Continue reading Crossing the Sierra
The Mexican-American War began in May, 1846, following a formal Declaration of War by the United States. The issue was the Texas Republic’s request for annexation to the United States, compounded by a dispute over international boundaries. Mexico had never recognized the Lone Star Republic’s independence from Mexican ownership ten years previously, and now vehemently insisted that the boundary was not the Rio Grande, but the Rio Nueces farther north. President James Polk very much wanted Texas for the Union, and California as well. Leaving nothing to chance, he sent naval warships into California waters. The war ended in Mexico City in September 1847, with the United States victorious. The formal treaty to end hostilities was signed February 2, 1848 at Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico—granting the future states of California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and the disputed Texan regions, to American sovereignty for a payment of $15 million dollars in gold and silver.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821—in general (though the specifics were different) for much the same political and economic reasons our Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. The new Republic of Mexico acquired Spain’s former conquests extending from coastal Continue reading Mexico Acquires California
Mary Frances Sherwood (or Frances, as her husband always called her), and her bridegroom Mark Hopkins, departed New York by ship for California just hours after their wedding ceremony. Frances was 36 on her wedding day September 20, 1854—an age considered quite old for a bride—although presumably they had Continue reading Pioneer Women: Frances Hopkins
Although they owned a successful mercantile in Indiana, and were a bit older than the average gold-rusher, Margaret and her husband Ledyard were just as excited by the California gold discovery as everyone else. Despite the foreboding of friends and family, the couple purchased a custom wagon with storage Continue reading Pioneer Women: Margaret Frink