Poster advertising the Transcontinental Railroad, 1869; courtesy the Orange Public Library, Orange, California
From Western Outpost to Powerful American State, 1850s – WWI (1914-1918)
California became the 31st state in the union in September 1850. Over the next half century the state and its people would become woven tightly into the fabric of the nation.
The American Frontier Closes
In 1890 the United States Census announced that the American frontier had officially closed. This meant that the country had come to occupy its outermost continental borders, and that there was no longer a clear line of westward settlement. The idea of Manifest Destiny, first presented in the 1840s, had become a reality. California was no longer at the far edge of the frontier. The state now played a strong political and economic role in the nation.
Millions of Immigrants
Between 1850 and 1920 millions of immigrants came to the United States. By 1910, nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born. The growth of the population coincided with the rise of the cities and industry. In 1850 the U.S. was largely a rural nation, but by 1910 most Americans lived in cities.