How would California evolve if it had not become part of the US ?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jfoul, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. Jfoul Well-Known Member

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    So in OTL California became part of the US in 1848 after beforehand claiming independence from Mexico because of, from what I understand, a steady influx of US migrants. So a few possibilities spring to mind.

    1) Could California have remained independent, being squeezed between Mexico, US and (barring Oregon) Canada?

    2) Could California have remained part of Mexico, or was the demographic change leading to an inevitable secession? How would a Mexican California have evolved?

    3) Following on 2, was the demographic change in itself inevitable? Could have Mexico/Spain have had a settling and migration policy of their own? How would Mexican and American settlers mix if there remained a Mexican majority, or a 50/50 ratio ?
     
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  2. brickhouse The Town Weirdo

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    If california was to gain indepedece during the mexican american war whether or not they fail as a nation and are absorbed into mexico or the usa dependeds on 2 things 1) Can they hold themselves to gether before the mass influx of cash called the gold rush and 2) when does that gold rush happen
     
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  3. Jfoul Well-Known Member

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    On one hand it could depend on the demographic makeup on the region up until the gold rush. If there are more Hispanic Californians around when it happens, there might be less of an American takeover. It may also trigger stronger immigration from Mexico.

    So perhaps pushing back the discovery of gold a few years along with a stronger influx of Mexican population would change the demographic and power balance between Latin and Anglo Saxon populations. Though eventually the question is whether one of those two will eventually outgrow the other.
     
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  4. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    There's also the possibility of a strong Asian-American influx. As I noted in a different thread recently, Hawaii saw major immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of a shortage of working population in its agricultural economy. While some of this included Portuguese and other European groups, the largest portion was Asian, which is why Hawaii has an Asian-American plurality in its population, rather than a white plurality. I could very well see the same thing occurring in California, particularly if it becomes oligarchically dominated by major businessmen, especially large-scale farmers who are likely to be hungry for cheap labor such as you might find in several East Asian countries at the time. Alternatively, if it stays with Mexico immigrants from China, Japan, and other Asian countries might with good justification be seen as more politically reliable and assimilable than Americans, causing Mexico to encourage or at least not bar the former while putting barriers to the latter, again tending to encourage an East Asian element in California. This would be particularly the case if there was some reason for the Mexican government to want to populate California, for example to build up a population base to resist American takeover. Mexico itself was somewhat underpopulated at the time, from what I recall, so it might want to reach out beyond itself for people to populate large, sparsely settled areas like California.

    In essence, this would be an intensification of the OTL migration of Chinese (as well as Japanese, Koreans, etc.) to the state, amplified possibly by the more complex racial situation of an independent or Mexican California and perhaps, depending on the political structures of the state, by barriers to the construction of populist racist opposition to Asian migration that IOTL restricted Asian migration to the state severely in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If we follow the Hawaii parallel a bit farther, encouraged by general Latin American ideas about "race mixing" and the fact that mixed-race marriages between Asians and whites have been comparatively less controversial in the United States than other types of matches, it's fairly plausible that the result could be a "new mestizo" triracial mixture of Mexicans, whites, and Asians forming the bulk of independent California's population, with Mexicans probably being the second largest group due to the constant intercourse across the state's border (as we see today with Tijuana). The same might be true of a California that remains with Mexico, too, although in that case you would probably expect, perhaps a bit counterintuitively, less intense contact between California and Mexico proper (i.e., no Tijuana, because there's no reason for someone to live south of the border and commute north--it's the same country, so they can just move)
     
  5. Blorg Credit to comics I post is SMBC Gone Fishin'

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    It would become a north american rump state.
     
  6. Milo Posh Geordie Donor

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    Polk before the war worried that California would become a British defacto colony if it was inderpendent, so might be a client state.
     
  7. Aqua817 Eternally Exhausted

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    I'm gonna guess that an independent California would be a novohispanic state with strong Asian influences, kind of like Peru today but without the powerful native cultural framework.
     
  8. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    Maybe, although I think that the United States is going to exert its own cultural gravity to make it not quite like Peru, either. And lacking a strong native population is a pretty big difference itself!
     
  9. Aqua817 Eternally Exhausted

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    That's fair. But I'm seeing a solid 25% Asian, 45% Novohispanic and 30% Anglo-saxon mix, especially if there's no Asian immigration restriction.
     
  10. DocJamore Well-Known Member

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    I like how we've conveniently forgotten that California had a over 200,000 strong native population at the time. Their removal was the largest single act of genocide ever committed on US soil. If the genocide doesn't happen, there could be major implications on Californian demographics and a large percentage of the population would be indigenous.
     
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  11. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    My tacit assumption, which I apologize for not making explicit, was that an independent or Mexican California would be likely to commit genocide as well to "clear the land," especially in the scenario I laid down of a major land baron element in the ruling class. I would be interested to hear about scenarios where this doesn't happen, though!
     
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  12. Aqua817 Eternally Exhausted

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    I mean, Californian natives both 1.) Were heavily divided and 2.) Were on some of the best farmland in the US and also gold deposits. The genocide might not be as utterly thorough as otl and california native population might be higher but unless you fundamentally change white preception of native americans at this time I dont see things boding well for Native Americans
     
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  13. elkarlo Banned

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    As a descendant of one of the original families, no way. California had a low Mexican population at that time. The Indians were also on the brink as well. They would have to find a way to bring in a populace that could be integrated easily and would be productive. Just not seeing it. As too many Americans and California is another Texas
     
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  14. Greg Grant Well-Known Member

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    Anything would have been pretty much possible except Nixon selling used steam cars. California was wide open and open to weird stuff happening to it given the location, time and instability of the region and the population density. But, I think as soon as gold is discovered, California would not last as an indy state. It would have been co-opted by someone with more firepower and resources, or would become a puppet regime and a banana republic.
     
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