How William T. Sherman Helped Create California

And How His Golden State Past Influenced the Civil War General’s Most Famous Decision

This month, as California celebrates Admission Day—a legal holiday in honor of our officially joining the United States on September 9, 1850—we should give ourselves an overdue present:

A founding story of our statehood starring someone we can be proud of, both as Californians and Americans.

Even after 166 uneasy years in the American empire, the state of California doesn’t have a pithy origin story it can share with other states in an elevator. Like too much else in California, the narrative of our statehood is sprawling and complicated; it’s usually …