California and the Dream Seekers
This four part series documents the story of the birth and founding of the “Golden State.” From the first explorers who ventured across the seas from Spain in search of El Dorado to those who came afterward, spurred by hopes of freedom and opportunity, California has remained the ultimate expression of the American dream. This program is suitable for all grade levels and can be used in history, environmental science, African-American history, archeology, Spanish, economics, geography, and literature.
Part One begins with discovery of California by the Spaniards and the settlement of “New Spain.” We first visit San Diego and the archeological site of the first presidio built by the Spanish in 1776. Then we follow the path of the Spanish up the coast of California to San Francisco. As we journey up the coastline we will stop at a ranch in Santa Barbara to see how a real rancho is operated. Our next stop is Monterey, where California became part of the United States and then we head up to the American River, where gold was found in 1849. We visit an actual gold mine and discover the “instant” city of San Francisco.
This program is suitable for all grade levels and can be used in history, environmental science, African-American history, archeology, Spanish, economics, geography, and literature.
Explorers in the 15th century believed California was an island with gold and pearls. Using a map of the world, locate Spain and California and highlight the different routes you might have taken to reach this island. How long do you think it would have taken to arrive? As an explorer, what arrangements/provisions would you have made/brought?
California was just being settled in 1776; the Spaniards built their first presidio in that year. What were the reasons for building the presidio in San Diego? What was happening in the eastern part of North America at that time? Create a time line of events taking place during 1776 in both the east and the west. Compare and contrast the two timelines highlighting the building of the first presidio and the events leading to American Independence.
It is said that California was settled for political, not religious reasons. Explain the difference between the two and determine why, if Spain was politically motivated to settle here, they would send the Franciscans. Pick one or two other countries that you believe were settled for political reasons and present your findings to the class (this may be done in groups). Were you correct in your assumption? What data supports/opposes your view?
In Santa Barbara we visit a rancho that is two centuries old. The workings of the ranch have been passed down from generation to generation. Is there anything (story, heirloom, tradition) that has been passed down through the generations in your family? If not what might you wish to pass on to your family to maintain the family history? Why is it important for us to maintain traditions and remember those before us? Illustrate your family tree (going as far back as you can) and share with the class one of your family traditions.
In what year did the United States take control of California from Mexico? Explain the sequence of events that led to this and the creation of the state of California. How soon after the United States of America became an independent country did this occur? Discuss some of the reasons why the United Sates wanted to gain California and make it part of the union. Determine why you think the Mexicans gave up California without confrontation.
Gold was discovered in a river in northern California. What is the name of that river? Where is it located? Explain how the discovery of gold changed the course of history in California.
Examine the role of women, African Americans and Chinese immigrants in California during the Gold Rush. How did their experience here differ from their compatriots in other parts of the country? What type of opportunity existed here that did not in other parts of the United States? Discuss why or why not you would come to California during the Gold Rush. What would have been the benefits/drawbacks?
Gold is still mined in California today. Compare the techniques used during the rush of 1849 to those used today. How do they differ/remain the same? List some modern tools used to uncover gold hidden in the earth and explain how they are used. If you were a miner, how you would go about determining where to dig for gold? Are these techniques used in the search for other precious/rare materials? List five ways gold is used today and discuss.
List some of the successful San Francisco immigrants and the products/services they provided. In your opinion, what made them successful? Explain. If you were an immigrant living in the new city of San Francisco, what products/services might you develop (remember this is a new city in the mid 1800s). Develop an ad campaign to market your product to the citizens of San Francisco. After you develop your idea, illustrate the steps you would take to create and maintain your business.