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THE GOLDEN STATE
Discovery of America—Earliest Colonization-Columbus' Voyages
-Spanish in South and Central America—Cortez in Mexico -Cabrillo and Drake in California-Behring, Cook, Vancouver, and other navigators-Jesuits-Acquisition of California-Discovery of Gold.
THE growth of civilization and colonization in what is termed the New World presents many striking features of interest; and the tedious march of progress in the early history of the country contrasts forcibly with the rapid strides of popular institutions, education, and the advancement of the present period.
Modern colonization in America, as it marches westward, subduing prairie and forest, spanning rivers and piercing mountains, establishing governments, founding states and cherishing civilization, is in hopeful contrast with the decay of many of the countries and governments of Europe, where a stagnation of ideas, stereotyped monotony, and general apathy of the people mark the decline of many of these countries, whose haughty rulers reigned in splendor centuries before America was known.
Colonization and civilization in America advanced with singular irregularity; often contending with most formidable natural obstacles, while vast regions, most inviting and possessing great natural attractions, were entirely neglected or unknown. Thus, while the seeds of our social and national existence were being sown in the east, the vast territory of California, with its rich soil, genial climate, and balmy atmosphere, lay wrapped in primitive solitude.
The first settlement and attempt at civilization on the western continent was made in Mexico, by the races of men whose origin is still a mystery. The Taltecs, who, in the year A. D. 700, first settled in this country, maintained a semi-civilization in Mexico for four centuries; from which period, for four additional centuries, (until 1521,) the Aztecs, and other tribes from the north, maintained a form of government, founded the city of Mexico, and erected the splendid temples and palaces from which the ambitious Spaniard, Cortez, in 1521, drove Montezuma and put an end to Aztec rule in Mexico.
Iceland, whose eternal glaciers stand sheer and cold, was the next part of America discovered, (if this dependency of Denmark can be called a part of America.) This event dates from the year 860, when the Norwegian pirate, Naddodr, was wrecked upon its shores. In 874 a colony of Naddodr's countrymen, seeking refuge from the tyranny of Harfager, founded a colony and established a republican government in these inhospitable regions; and with the introduction of Christianity in the year 1000, and the art of writing in 1057, the foundation of modern civilization was laid in the western world.
Greenland, discovered and settled about the same time as Iceland, had entered upon a career of civilization, and little doubt exists but that the Northmen, in making their voyages from Norway to Iceland and