October 18th — California Admission Day

Wait a minute I hear you say, isn’t September 9th California Admission Day?

Yes it is. California officially became part of the Union on September 9th, 1850, when President Millard Fillmore signed the admission bill. The population of California had increased rapidly after the discovery of gold, and Americans in California were eager to become a state. After heated debate in the U.S. Congress arising out of the slavery issue, California was admitted to the Union as a free, non-slavery state by the Compromise of 1850.

But in California on September 9th, 1850 no one knew that California had just been declared a State of the Union. With no telegraph or any other means of swift communication, they had no way to get the news. In fact, they would not know it until October 18th, when the steamship Oregon sailed into San Francisco Bay. On board ship was John Bidwell, carrying the document that made California a state.


The city of San Francisco erupted in celebration. Cannons boomed and militias marched. Bands, bonfires, and balls kept the celebration going all night long.

admission-day-statueSan Francisco has a monument to Admission Day. It is located at the intersection of Market Street and Montgomery Street. Commissioned by Mayor James D. Phelan, it was unveiled on September 5, 1897.

It depicts a miner with an American flag in his hand, a pick over his shoulder, and a revolver by his side. The monument is crowned by an angel, and features a fountain in the shape of a bear head on the side.  I think that’s a squid under the basin.


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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