California Admission Day is observed on September 9 each year. It commemorates the day California was admitted into the Union as the 31st state in 1850 after it was ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848. California became one of the few states to become a state without first being an organized territory. California Admission Day is not a federal holiday. Rather, it’s a local observance in the state, which implies that businesses, schools, and government offices remain open. In times gone by it was celebrated with great pomp and ceremony with parades and pageantry. Though low-key now, the day still marks an important part of Californian history.
History of California Admission Day
The Mexican-American War began in May 1846 when the U.S. declared war on Mexico. American settlers who lived in the territory of California in Mexico revolted against the Mexican government in what is known as the Bear Flag Revolt. The Americans captured Sonoma, hoisted a Bear Flag in the area, and declared it the California Republic. On July 9, 1846, Navy Lieutenant Joseph Warren Revere arrived in Sonoma and replaced the Bear Flag in the territory with a United States flag. Lieutenant Revere officially declared California a possession of the United States. In February 1848, Mexico and the U.S. signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to end the war. This treaty meant that Mexico had to yield a large portion of its Southwest territory — including present-day California — to the U.S.
As of the signing of the treaty, California had a meager population that was not up to the 60,000-inhabitant benchmark a territory needed to achieve statehood. Earlier in January 1848, gold was discovered on the American River near Sacramento, and the territory witnessed a massive influx of immigrants looking for work and good fortune. Thanks to the Gold Rush, a huge increase in population and wealth followed, thus necessitating the need for civil government and local policies.
In 1849, Californians demanded statehood, and California became the 31st state on September 9, 1850. California joined the Union as a free, non-slavery state by the Compromise of 1850 in just about two years of the territory’s incorporation. Its first capital was in San Jose before it was moved to the city of Vallejo for lack of necessary facilities. The capital was later moved to Benicia, a small town, and subsequently to the riverside port of Sacramento in 1854.
California Admission Day timeline
American settlers in California stage a revolt against Mexican authorities.
The United States and Mexico sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to end the war between the countries.
The Compromise of 1850 is signed and California is admitted as the 31st state to the Union.
The California State Flag, based on the original Bear Flag, is adopted by the state legislature.
California Admission Day FAQs
Is California Admission Day a federal holiday?
California Admission Day is not a federal holiday. It’s a local observance in the state of California. Schools, businesses, and government offices remain open.
What are other names for California?
California is also known as ‘The Golden State, ‘The Land of Milk and Honey,’ ‘The El Dorado State,’ and ‘The Grape State.’
What is California famous for?
California remains one of the most popular destinations throughout North America. The state is especially famous for Hollywood, Disneyland, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Other unique landmarks in California include Coachella, Silicon Valley, the Wine Country, and Surf Culture.
California Admission Day Activities
Visit the Golden State
If you’re a history buff, today’s the perfect day to visit California. Museums around California offer various resources and artifacts to help you learn more about the state’s rich history. Take a day trip or make a holiday of it and travel to more than one.
Enjoy the special events
California Admission Day is observed with special events at schools, museums, and organizations throughout the state. Public officials often grant special addresses about its history and significance.
Take a trip to Sonoma
California Admission Day has been observed particularly in the Sonoma area since 1850. It would be nice to visit the area where it all began. Don’t forget to enjoy the state’s beautiful beaches, valleys, and mountains as you celebrate with them!
5 Fun Facts About California
Originally named “the Grizzly Bear State”
California has renamed the Golden State from its initial name “the Grizzly Bear State” as the bears went extinct.
The state motto is ‘Eureka!’
The Greek word means “I have found it!” and alludes to the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada.
Redwood is the official state tree
California’s official state tree is the redwood, as designated in 1937.
It’s called ‘The Grape State’, too
Over 300,000 tons of grapes are grown in California annually, and the state produces more than 17 million gallons of wine each year!
In 1873 blue jeans were imported for miners from Europe, making San Francisco the first place in the U.S. where jeans were worn.
Why We Love California Admission Day
Becoming a recognized state in the U.S.
This event celebrates the day California officially became a state in the U.S. It was a protracted struggle but thanks to the peace treaty that ended the Mexican-American War of 1848, it was a done deal.
A tribute to the war heroes
The struggle to acquire California as a possession of the U.S. was not an easy one. It took a war, diplomacy, protests, and legislation to make it possible. This day celebrates the memories of everyone who fought to make it possible.
The population boost that came with the Gold Rush
California’s low population would have hindered its prospects to become a state and admittance to the Union. Thanks to the Gold Rush, the territory was able to have the 60,000 inhabitants it needed to achieve statehood.
California Admission Day dates