Why do you think that people were willing to come to California?

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California was an unknown. The west was an unknown for so many peoples and for religious reasons, for economic reasons, it was perhaps a delightful thing that California was not a fully sanctioned part of the United States. It was this mysterious Russian, Mexican, Indian, far-away land full of riches, so I think it contributed to the wonderment of the Argonauts as they made plans to head west, this unknown land, this potential state, this part of the United States-- and it really feeds into this notion of manifest destiny. Are Americans destined by some higher power to head west, to rule the land from coast to coast, from ocean to ocean? Is the land opening itself up, all of its riches and wealth to the American citizen? Very much like the fulfillment of some dream, so that, too, spurred them on.


Interview with David Shayt, National Museum of American History, May 31, 2006.