California Before the Rush

by: Mere Marcum

The Original California

Before the rush, California was populated with 150,000 Native Americans and 8,000-12,000 settlers of Spanish descent. One of these Spanish descent settlers was Mariano Vallejo. Mariano Vallejo owned 250,000 acres of land, proud of his people. He was also commander of Northern California when it belonged to Mexico. At this time, Mexico had owned California and feared American immigration. John Sutter was an exception. He persuaded the Mexican governor to grant him 50,000 acres in Sacramento Valley. Everything was going well in John Sutter’s life until he sent James Marshall, Sutter’s carpenter, to build a sawmill. One day he saw something shining in the water, and when he reached down, he found a small particle of shiny rock. Soon news of this tiny rock spread everywhere. Thus the gold rush was born.