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Calif. had perhaps 150,000 Indians in 1500. In 1769 European settlement began with the first of 21 California missions. Mexicans founded Los Angeles in 1781. By 1800, the Spanish-speaking population numbered about 4,000 in three towns and four garrisons. Russians from Alaska placed a temporary colony at Fort Ross in 1812. When it passed to the US by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the Spanish-speaking population was about 8,000. By 1850, the California gold rush had increased its non-Indian population to over 100,000. It entered the Union on 9 September 1850 by the Compromise of 1850. In 1860 it ranked 26th among states, with 379,994 people, of whom 1 percent were black and 38 percent were foreign-born; it stood 26th in the value of its farmland and livestock and 7th in manufacturing and mining. Calif. furnished 15,725 USA troops in the Civil War.
In-migration remained heavy over the California Trail until 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed. The only significant Indian disturbance was the Mariposa War. Miners disrupted land resources needed by Indians for food, and infected remote groups with lethal diseases. Indians declined from 100,000 in 1845 to 15,377 in 1900. In 1900 Calif. was the 21st state in size, with 1,485,053 residents (91 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Indian, 1 percent black, 3 percent Chinese, and 1 percent Japanese), of whom 48 percent were rural and 25 percent foreign-born; it ranked 14th in agricultural goods and 12th in products manufactured or mined.
Heavy Chinese and Japanese immigration produced resentment among whites, who demanded federal reaction by the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Gentlemen's Agreements (see Japanese immigration), and (in World War II), Japanese relocation. In 1911 decades of political domination by railroad interests were swept aside by Progressive Era reformers led by Hiram Johnson, who left Republicans so politically dominant that no Democrat was elected governor until 1938. The Great Depression added perhaps 400,000 Okies to the state's population. Under the Bracero Program, large agriculturalists stimulated the beginning of a large Mexican immigration. About half of all boat people eventually came to Calif. The oil, aerospace, and entertainment industries fanned rapid population growth after 1900, and Calif. became the most populous state in 1964. In 1990 Calif. had 29,760,021 residents (57 percent white, 26 percent Hispanic, 7 percent black, 9 percent Asian, 1 percent Indian) of whom 96 percent were urban and 21.7 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing and mining employed 24 percent of workers.