1950 3¢ California Statehood Issue
Issue Date: September 9, 1950
City: Sacramento, California
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
Color: Yellow orange
U.S. #997 commemorates the 100th anniversary of California statehood. In 1848, the California territory was ceded to the U.S. in the Mexican-American War. That same year, it experienced a dramatic leap in population after the discovery of gold. The stamp pictures the gold miners who fueled California’s rapid growth, as well as other important resources like oil and citrus fruit.
Mexican forces in California were defeated in the Mexican-American War by the combined tactics of Army Captain John C. Frémont and Commodore Robert Stockton. They had a little help from the locals. A group of 30 American-born settlers seized the small Mexican garrison in Sonoma and took Mexican Commandante Mariano Vallejo prisoner. The settlers drew up their own flag (designed by Abraham Lincoln’s brother-in-law) – a red bar with a bear. The incident was called the “Bear Flag Revolt,” and lasted for about a month until Frémont took control.
Then John Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill, near present-day Sacramento.
When word trickled east, there wasn’t much reaction at first. But when reports came about how much gold there might be, the rush began. Within three years, California’s non-native population jumped from 18,000 to 165,000. The California Territory achieved national importance, and its population was large enough, so it applied for statehood.
U.S. President Zachary Taylor encouraged California’s statehood. But the admittance of California would disrupt the balance of slave vs. non-slave states in the Union, and there was bitter opposition from the South. Politicians Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster came up with the Compromise of 1850, which included admitting California as a free state. President Taylor was against the Compromise, but as the legislation was passing through Congress, he suddenly died. His successor, Millard Fillmore, signed the Compromise and California became the 31st state.
California’s First Civilian Settlement
On November 29, 1777, the first non-military settlement in California was established as El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe in Alta, California.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the Ohlone Native American tribes lived in the area of present-day San Jose. The first permanent European settlements then came in 1770 when Gaspar de Portolà and Junípero Serra founded the Presidio of Monterey and the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.
Then in 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza embarked on an expedition to California to find locations for two missions, a presidio, and a pueblo (town). During this trip, he chose the sites that would become the Presidios of San Francisco and the Mission San Francisco de Asís, the Mission Santa Clara de Asís, and the pueblo of San Jose. Though he didn’t personally found the settlements, he’s often recognized for his role in their creation.
Following Anza’s plan, José Joaquín Moraga officially established the town as the Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe on November 29, 1777. This name honored Saint Joseph and the Guadalupe River along which the town was settled. San Jose was the first civilian settlement in California.
Soon colonists arrived to establish a farming community, as the settlement’s sole purpose was to function as a granary since the presidios were not self-sufficient. By the following year, the population reached 68 people. Because the area was prone to flooding, San Jose was moved about a mile away in the 1790s.
In the coming decades, San Jose’s population continued to grow, reaching 900 people by 1845. After the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, California became a US territory. San Jose served first as the territory’s capital, and later as the state’s first capital after California joined the Union in 1850. It remained the capital until 1854 when the capital was moved to Sacramento.
Over the years, San Jose became a major center of innovation and mechanization, particularly for its agricultural and food processing equipment. During World War II, the city’s manufacturing capabilities were put to use in the war effort building tanks and other military vehicles. In the years since, San Jose became home to a large number of tech companies, leading to the city’s nickname, “Capital of Silicon Valley.”