The first explorers and settlers of the California coast were the American Indians. The most extensive European colonization efforts were carried out by the Spanish. On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and his crew entered San Diego Bay, the first Europeans to visit California. The pressure for a settlement came from missionaries eager to convert Native Americans to Christianity, from the intrusion of Russian and British merchants, mainly in search of sea otter skins, and from the search for the Northwest Passage across the North American continent.
In 1769, the Spanish viceroy sent land and sea expeditions from Baja California, and the Franciscan friar Junipero Serra established the first mission in San Diego. Gaspar de Portolá established an outpost in 1770 in Monterrey. Colonization began after 1773 with the opening of a land supply route through the deserts of the southwest that was intended to link other Spanish settlements in what are the current states of Arizona and New Mexico with the coast. Not only were Californians allowed to trade with foreigners, but foreigners could also own land in the province once they had naturalized and converted to Catholicism.
The Central Pacific Railroad, the Pacific end of the railroad, largely handled almost all of the cargo across the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California. Three days later, on January 12, 1847, the last significant body of Californians surrendered to U.S. forces. Some 2,350 men from the California Column marched east through Arizona in 1862 to drive the Confederates out of Arizona and New Mexico.
Approximately half of the cost of the Alta California installation was covered by donations and the other half by funds from the Spanish crown. The Constitution of 1849 guaranteed the right to vote to all citizens of California, declared legal voters by this Constitution, and to all citizens of the United States, residents of this state on election day. Thanks to vigorous lobbying by the Anti-Chinese Workers' Party, led by Denis Kearney (an immigrant from Ireland), Article XIX, Section 4, prohibited corporations from hiring Chinese culis and empowered all California cities and counties to completely expel Chinese people or limit where they could reside. After the establishment of Misiones in Alta California after 1769, the Spaniards treated Baja California and Alta California as a single administrative unit, part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, with Monterrey as their capital.
Article IX encouraged education throughout the state and provided for a system of communal schools partially funded by the state and provided for the establishment of a university (University of California). By the 1890s, electric railroad construction had begun in California, and by the beginning of the 20th century, several systems existed to service California's largest cities. Before Europeans landed in North America, about a third of all natives of what is now the United States lived in the area that is now California. After the expedition to Portolá from 1769 to 1770, Spanish missionaries began to establish 21 missions in California on or near the coast of Alta (Alta) California, starting with the San Diego de Alcalá Mission, near the location of the current city of San Diego, California.
Once the California Gold Rush was confirmed, other paddle steamships soon followed on both Pacific and Atlantic routes. Prior to the Gold Rush, there was almost no infrastructure in California, except for a few small towns, secularized and abandoned missions, and some 500 large ranches (averaging more than 73 km) owned by Californians, who had mostly seized the Mission's land and livestock. Much of the population in California that referred to themselves as Spanish in the 18th and early 19th centuries was of mixed Spanish, African, and Native American descent. The first transcontinental railroad from Sacramento, California, to Omaha, Nebraska, was completed on May 9, 1869.