Lat/Long: 37.0000, -119.0000
Originally a large territory on the Pacific coast of North America loosely controlled by the Spanish Empire, California became part of Mexico after Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. The northern part of that territory, Alta California, occupied a large region of the current southwestern United States, including the eventual state of California. It rebelled against Mexico in 1846 and designated itself the Republic of California. However, Californian independence ended when the United States occupied the region during the Mexican War and annexed it as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. That same year, the California Gold Rush began, which peaked the following year and substantially increased the region's population. Disputes over California's boundaries and slave status persisted until the Compromise of 1850 allowed it to skip the territorial phase and achieve immediate statehood on September 9, 1850. The compromise also outlawed slavery in California. The state remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War.
California's capital moved several times. Under Mexican rule it was at Monterey but moved to Los Angeles in 1845. After achieving statehood, the capital moved from San Jose to Vallejo to Benicia before the state government finally selected Sacramento as its permanent home.
J. S. Holliday, Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California (Berkeley: Oakland Museum of California and University of California Press, 1999); Malcolm J. Rohrbough, Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); "An Act for the Admission of the State of California into the Union," 9 September 1850, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):452-53.