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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > “California as I Saw It”

[Detail] Emigrants Crossing the Plains. 1869.

Historical Issue-Analysis

Students can use the collection to explore the issues of race relations and citizenship issues in early California history. The core of these materials is the Report of the Debates of the Convention of California, which includes the California Constitution as well as a record of the proceedings which shaped that document. Students can study the debates regarding who would be represented by the new government. For example, the proceedings report Representative Kimball H. Dimmick's argument:

As to the line of distinction attempted to be drawn between native Californians and Americans, he knew no such distinction himself; his constituents knew none. They all claimed to be Americans. They would not consent to be placed in a minority. They classed themselves with Americans, and were entitled to be considered in the majority. No matter from what nation they came, he trusted that hereafter they would be classed with the American people. The Constitution was to be formed for their benefit as well as to that of the native born Americans. They all had one common interest at stake, and one common object in view: the protection of government.

From the Report of the Debates of the Convention of California, p. 23

A Corner in Los Angeles

Between New and Old:--A Corner in Los Angeles, p. 97 Old Californian Days, James Steele, 1889

Students can search on ethnic groups to find accounts of the relationships and prejudices amongst the different inhabitants of California. For example, these opposing opinions concerning the Chinese immigrants in the early history of the new state can be found in the collection:

...they are trustworthy and skilful in whatever they engage, and strive to give their employers satisfaction. In this they seldom fail.

Harvey Rice, Letters from the Pacific Slope, Letter IX, p. 74

and

Will they discard their clannish prepossessions, assimilate with us, buy of us, and respect us? Are they not so full of duplicity, prevarication and pagan prejudices, and so enervated and lazy, that it is impossible for them to make true or estimable citizens?

Hinton R. Helper, The Land of Gold, Chapter VII, p. 92

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