Sacramento, CA History
Sacramento, CA had a vast history before becoming the capital of the most populated state in the United States. It has changed hands several times and faced many hardships, but it has now established itself as the sixth-largest city in California.
Early Beginnings in CA
The Nisenan subset of the Maidu people were the first known inhabitants of the Sacramento Valley area. They were hunter-gatherers who did not engage in farming. When the arrival of the Europeans came, the Spanish were the first to explore the area and it became part of the Alta California province of New Spain. Many of those explorers overlooked the Sacramento, CA area as a viable place for settlement so it was not fully colonized until 1840. However, prior to that, a Spanish officer by the name of Gabriel Moraga named the main river in the region the Sacramento in only of the Most Holy Sacrament or the Eucharist.
John Sutter’s New Helvetia in CA
Sutter was a Swiss citizen who left financial hardship to seek opportunities in the New World. When he got there, he implored the newly formed Mexican government to give him lands in present-day Sacramento. The governor yielded to his request on the condition that he become a Mexican citizen. Sutter immediately set to work building Fort Sutter and the settlement of New Helvetia. Although Sutter’s property was within Mexican territory he wielded a great deal of autonomy and power. However, this power began to falter in 1841 when he backed an unpopular governor who was then overthrown. It took another hit during the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846 in which American settlers in the area were retaliating for Mexican hostilities. Eventually, these skirmishes led to the Mexican American area which was concluded in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo which annexed this land to the United States.
The Gold Rush
As John Sutter tried to return to normal productivity he had James W. Marshall construct a sawmill in the neighboring city of Coloma in 1847. The following year gold was discovered at that mill which led to a frenzy of outsiders coming up from San Francisco to get rich. This influx of prospectors destroyed the town’s economy and structure. Sutter was devastated by this and left the governing of the settlement to his son, John Sutter Jr.
Development of the City
The future city grew up around the Sacramento and American rivers at the Embarcadero wharf. John Sutter Jr. and Sam Brannan laid a city plan in this area and named it after the Sacramento River. It developed into an important port and transportation hub as well as the endpoint for the Pony Express. Several floods and fires in 1850 and the year’s following hurt the town’s growth, but it was able to bounce back. California was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1850 and Sacramento began to serve as its capital from 1854.
Since then Sacramento has remained the state capital and the city has experienced steady growth and prosperity through the years to become the great city it is today.
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