15 May 2006

Nothing Under the Sun Is New

Someone forwarded an e-mail to me yesterday that started out with the news that this week in 1850, California became a state. California was admitted to the Union in September and this is May, so things are off to a bad start.

Then it says that back then, the state had no electricity, no money, almost everybody in the state spoke Spanish, and there were gunfights in the streets. The e-mail continues by telling us that things are pretty much the same today as they were then but then points out that one real difference between now and then is that back then the men didn't hold hands.

I don't know if this e-mail is saying that California would be out of the 19th century were it not for deregulation, Prop. 13, and the National Rifle Association or if California should be given back to Mexico or what. Though I can't tell what the point of the e-mail is, I can check out some of the facts -- and you know I will.

The population of California in the 1850 census was 93,171. Of those, 6,440 were born in Mexico. For comparison, 10,301 were born in New York, over 5,000 in Ohio, and 4,300 in Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 were born in Germany and a bit more were from England. Though the census did not ask what languages people spoke, I wouldn't be surprised if more people knew German than Spanish.

Of the total population, less than 4,000 were women -- so who were all those men holding hands with?

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