Admission Day

The text above is a direct copy from the proceedings of the United States Congress from 1850, courtesy of the Library of Congress. This was the act which made California the 31st state in our federal union on September 9, 1850, 171 years ago yesterday.

The Library of Congress website, loc.gov , is a gold mine of information for researchers, but it can take a little digging which along with other tasks caused me to miss getting this post out on Admission Day itself. But hey, history tells us, quite literally, that folks in San Diego and elsewhere got this news rather belatedly as well. The written notice had to be hand-carried by horsedrawn wagons to a steamship that carried it down the Atlantic to the then-canal-less isthmus of Panama. There it had to be carried overland from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific Coast, then placed back on another steamship to be carried to the coast of California. It took over a month and a half, which was why it wasn’t until October 18, 1850, that the mayor and town council of the then-small town of San Diego, according to several historical accounts, “set aside $300 for a ball in honor of the admission of California into the Union.”

Happy Belated Admission Day!

In addition to the Library of Congress, sources for this post included the 1908 book, History of San Diego: 1542-1908, by William E. Smythe, and Patt Morriison’s article, “It’s Time to Celebrate California Admission Day! Wait, what’s Admission Day? in the Los Angeles Times three days ago.

2 thoughts on “Admission Day

  1. I guess communications moved very slowly way back then. Is this the same reason why Blacks in Texas were not told that Lincoln had declared the abolition of slavery until two years later, thus keeping them in servitude that much longer? Or did that silence have to do with a more nefarious purpose? Every Juneteenth I wonder about the same.

    • Thanks for the comment. Communication had improved a bit with the the development of telegraphy by the time of the Civil War. The two-year delay between the time of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the Union Army Commander’s declaration in Galveston in 1865 reflects more the fact that the Union Army wasn’t in control of Texas until then. Although Lee had surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant in April 1865 there were still other Confederate armies active in different parts of the South and many of them kept fighting until late 1865. The Union Army, along with the still not-fully recognized desertion of slaves to areas held by Union forces when they could, helped to turn the tide.

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