Dr. P. Dreyfus



Ever since the first Europeans set sight on California, the region has held an almost mythic attraction to generations of migrants from throughout the world. Choosing California has almost always represented a hope for more – more power, more land, more riches, more freedom, more comfort. As is the case everywhere else, however, generations of Californians have found themselves constructing real lives, not dreams, and therefore have always been forced to accommodate their expectations to the social and economic realities of the land.

Such adjustments have been fraught with excitement and frustration, creating, for better or worse, a dynamism for which California appears to be famous even today. With a history characterized by continual immigration, rapid economic growth, mindless environmental degradation, frequent bouts of social violence, and the extraordinary accumulation of wealth, California may be one of the most American of American places. Its history is unique while at the same time reflecting and condensing the larger national experience of the United States.

This course will survey the history of California from its pre-European roots to the present day. We will address the regionís unique and general attributes by examining the relationship between economic change, inter-ethnic conflict and accommodation, and politics.


                        Rice, et al, The Elusive Eden



Students will be responsible for two midterm examinations and one 6-page word-processed take-home examination at the end of the semester.  This final exam will involve analysis of documentary evidence.  Each of the three exams will be weighted equally in determining final grades.

A late take-home exam will automatically be discounted by one full grade level (10%). In addition, university policy requires students who wish to receive a grade of "incomplete" to file a formal petition with the instructor. These petitions are available in department offices. Any student who has not completed the course assignments for this class and has not filed a proper petition will be assumed to have withdrawn without authorization and will receive a grade of "F". Please be careful to follow proper administrative procedures so that you don't waste your efforts and ruin your grade.



Topics: Regional ecology, Native American life, significance of animistic belief system.

                                       Readings: Rice, ch. 2-3

                  Film: Rock Paintings of the Chumash. AV#80913


Topics: European/Native contact, imperial politics, mechanisms of colonial control, the mission system, the creation of gente de razon

Readings: Rice, ch. 5-6

Don Pedro Fages' Diary (1773)

Father Font among the Yumas (1775)

Week of Tues. 2/12     MEXICAN CALIFORNIA & U.S. CONQUEST 

Topics: The rise of the Californios, the Mexican class system, the basis of American interest, Manifest Destiny, the Bear Flag Revolt.

                  Readings: Rice, ch.7-9

                    Vallejo on the Bear Flaggers (1846)

                                       Film: The Dream of Don Guadalupe AV#88361

Week of Tues. 2/19    GOLD RUSH

Topics: Gold fever, migration, ethnic conflict, environmental consequences of mining technology, statehood and early state politics.

                  Readings: Rice, ch.11-12 

                    Daniel Woods, Sixteen Months at the Gold Diggings (1851)

                    A Letter from a Gold Miner, Placerville (1850)

Week of Tues. 2/26  GOLD RUSH, Cont'd & MIDTERM REVIEW

                                        Film: The Story of the Gold Rush AV#86176

Week of Tues. 3/5  RAILROAD ERA

Topics: Post-gold economic development, The Big Four, transportation monopoly and state politics.

                  Readings: Rice, ch.13-14

                      MIDTERM EXAMINATION  on Tuesday, March 5

Week of Tues. 3/12   GILDED AGE

Topics: Urbanization and industrialization, San Francisco machine politics, Sinophobia and the Workingmen’s Party.

                  Readings: Rice, ch.15-16

                   Denis Kearney, Workingmen's Party (1878)

                   Harper's Weekly on the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)

                  Film: Carved in Silence  AV#82942

Week of Tues. 3/19    PROGRESSIVISM

Topics: The rise of the "progressive" middle class, the Union Labor Party struggle, anti-monopoly, female reformers, the life of Katherine Philips Edson.

Readings: Rice, ch.17-18

Week of Tues. 4/2   PROGRESSIVISM, Cont'd, WATER WARS 

Topics: John Muir and the Hetch Hetchy controversy, Los Angeles takes the Owens Valley.

Readings: Rice pp.287-92, 370-1, 396-8.

Week of Tues. 4/9     MIDTERM EXAMINATION  on Thursday, April 11

                                        Film: Thirsty City.  AV#88362

Week of Tues. 4/16    BOOM & BUST, 1920s-1930s

Topics: Roaring Twenties California-style, autos and oil, culture wars, the depression of 1929, Upton Sinclair’s EPIC campaign.

Readings: Rice, ch.20-21

Upton Sinclair on the EPIC Plan (1934)

Film: The Great Depression: We Have a Plan.  AV#85549

Week of Tues. 4/23    WWII & AFTERMATH 

Topics: California and the Pacific War, African-American migration, Japanese-American internment, the onset of the Cold War, anti-Communism.

                  Readings: Rice, ch.22-24

                    Japanese-American Internment, National Archives Selected Docs.

Film: Unfinished Business  AV#68316

Week of Tues. 4/30   THE SIXTIES

Topics: The resurgence of dissent, collapse of Cold War consensus, youth movements and the university.

                   Readings: Rice, ch.25-26

                                     DISTRIBUTION & DISCUSSION OF TAKE-HOME ESSAY QUESTIONS   

Week of Tues. 5/7    THE SIXTIES, Cont’d.

Topics: Reaganism, the anti-war movement, the Black Power movement, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee.

Readings: Rice, Ch.27

Mario Savio on the Free Speech Movement (1965)

Black Panther Party Program (1966)

Film: Berkeley in the Sixties  AV#84817

Week of Tues. 5/14   CALIFORNIA SINCE THE 70s

Topics: The changing face of California, the meaning of diversity, coalition politics, environmentalism, California budget politics.

Readings: Rice, ch. 29-30

Film: First to Worst  AV#66661

                                        TAKE-HOME ESSAYS DUE THURSDAY MAY 16 IN CLASS