Glimpses of Early California History – Though the plan of this work deals with today rather than with the struggles of yesterday, there is an irresistible temptation to delve into the past sufficiently to get a clear idea of the “beginnings of things” historical. And when one looks backwards in California history he is carried to the stirring times of the old Spanish freebooters. The Genoese mariner had scarcely made his great discovery known to the world when bold adventurers began to quarrel over unknown lands and to partition the distant parts of the earth among themselves.
It is the purpose of this chapter to present some of the vital truths about northern California, its climate, soil, resources, and general characteristics. The truth is more remarkable than any Aladdin-like tales that might be woven from the author’s imagination. This is perhaps the reason that the early legends that reached Spain attributed supernatural powers to the women of this land, which was supposed to be a living Eden, a sort of fulfillment of Shakespeare’s picture of fairyland, as portrayed in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The truth was added to by the early navigators until none could say where fiction and fact were blended.
By President David Starr Jordan, of Stanford University California is still very young and has most of her ahead of her. What in time she will do for civilization will make a great volume when its story is written. What she has already done, if adequately treated, will demand more knowledge than any one man can possess, and more space than this volume can give. All that can be attempted here is to give some slight analysis of the elements of which California’s past contribution consists. First we may consider those contributions independent of man made by sheer virtue of
First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849 to 1900. The collection covers the dramatic decades between the Gold Rush and the turn of the twentieth century. It captures the pioneer experience; encounters between Anglo-Americans and the diverse peoples who had preceded them; the transformation of the land by mining, ranching, agriculture, and urban development; the often-turbulent growth of communities and cities; and California’s emergence as both a state and a place of uniquely American dreams.