Spanish Colonization (jan 1, 1769 – sep 16, 1810)
The history of California prior to the Gold Rush is one of neglect. In the early years of the 18th Century, Spain claimed massive portions of North America as part of their colonial Empire, extending as far north as Valdez in Alaska. Their actual control was tenuous at best, only truly beginning when Father Junípero Serra began establishing a series of what would become 21 Missions for the purpose of evangelizing the natives to Catholicism in 1769. At this time, the United States of America were only 7 years away from declaring independence from the United Kingdom.
The true level of Spain's control over what would later come to be called "California" tended to be tenuous at best. Given its distance and remoteness even from Mexico City, much less Madrid, California in some ways acted autonomously. It was during this time that the seeds for what would become many of California's major cities would be established, such as the small town of Yerba Buena that would later become the city of San Francisco and the settlement of Pueblo de Los Ángeles that would grow into modern Los Angeles.
At this time, the settlers of California under Spanish and later Mexican rule were known as Californios, an epithet that in the modern day is applied solely to those who descend from the original settlers. The largest amount of Hispanics in modern California are either descended from later immigrants or became part of California when the Baja California Peninsula and Sonora Norte were annexed. Still, the presence of Hispanic Californians was firmly established at this time.
Added to timeline:
An alternate history of the California Republic. Currently i...