This Day in History (5-Dec-1848) – U.S. President James K. Polk informs the US Congress there are large amounts of gold in California, launching the Gold Rush

The great California gold rush began on January 24, 1848, when James W. Marshall discovered a gold nugget in the American River while constructing a sawmill for John Sutter, a Sacramento agriculturalist. News of Marshall’s discovery caused the large influx of “’49ers,” as the gold prospectors were known. California’s overall population growth was so swift that it was incorporated into the Union as the 31st state in 1850—just two years after the United States had acquired it from Mexico.

One of the migrations stimulated by the discovery of gold was the internal westward movement of Americans from the eastern states who hoped to make fortunes in California. At first, there were only two routes. The first entailed a six-month sea voyage from New York around the tip of South America to San Diego or San Francisco. Rampant seasickness, bug-infested food, boredom, and high expense made this route unattractive for many would-be prospectors. The second route brought travelers over the Oregon-California Trail in covered wagons—over rugged terrain and hostile territory. This journey also averaged six months’ duration. By 1850, the length and difficulty of both routes had inspired the construction of the Panama Railway, the world’s first transcontinental railroad. Built across the isthmus of Panama by private American companies to speed travel to California, the railroad helped to shave months off of the long voyage around South America.

In addition to massive emigration from the eastern US, the California gold rush triggered a global emigration of ambitious fortune-seekers from China, Germany, Chile, Mexico, Ireland, Turkey, and France. The number of Chinese gold-seekers was particularly large. The influx of Chinese and other foreign laborers led to ethnic tensions in California, especially as gold grew scarce. Despite the ethnic tensions it engendered, the Gold Rush forever changed the demographic face of California by making it one of the most ethnically diverse states in the Union by the middle of the 19th century.


This Day in History (23-Nov-1889) – The world’s first jukebox begins playing tunes at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco

One of the early forerunners to the modern Jukebox as we know was the Nickel-in-the-Slot machine. In 1889, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold, placed a coin-operated Edison cylinder phonograph in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. It was an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph in an oak cabinet that was refitted with a coin mechanism patented by Glass and Arnold. This was the first Nickel-in-the-Slot. The machine had no amplification, thus the listener has to stand close to it to hear, and it can only play one cylinder, changed every day or so. In its first six months of service, the Nickel-in-the-Slot earned over $1000. The Palais Royal Saloon was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, thus its current location is still undetermined.

During the 1890s, recordings had become popular primarily through coin-in-the-slot phonographs in public places. In the decade 1910-20, the phonograph became a truly mass medium for popular music, and recordings of large-scale orchestral works and other classical instrumental music proliferated. In the mid-1920s, radio, which provided free music, developed, and this new factor, plus the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s, threw the phonograph industry into serious decline. During the 1930s, as the American companies relied mainly on dance records in jukeboxes to satisfy a dwindled market, Europe supplied a slow but steady trickle of classical recordings.

Manufacturers did not call them “jukeboxes”, they called them Automatic Coin-Operated Phonographs (or Automatic Phonographs, or Coin-Operated Phonographs). The term “jukebox” appeared in the 1930’s and originated in the southern United States. ‘juke’ was a slang for a brothel.

The first modern jukebox was created by Wurlitzer in 1934. It was a partially automated music-playing device, a coin-operated machine, which would play a patron’s selection from self-contained media. The classic jukebox has buttons with letters and numbers on them that, when entered in combination, are used to play a specific selection.


This Day in History (1-Nov-1913) – Gadar Movement started at San Francisco

In the United States, Har Dyal who had come from England after relinquishing his scholarship and studies at Oxford University inspired many students studying at the University of California at Berkeley. A meeting of some patriotic and enlightened Indians was called on April 23, 1913, in Astoria, Oregon, where Hindustan Association of the Pacific Coast was formed with a major objective to liberate India, just as Americans had done more than a century ago.

The headquarters of Hindustan Association of the Pacific Coast was established in San Francisco. A building was purchased with funds raised from the community, primarily Punjabi farmers and farm and lumber mill workers and was named Yugantar Ashram. The association began publishing a magazine, Gadar (revolt), for free distribution. The first issue of the Gadar was in Urdu and was published on November 1, 1913. An edition of the journal was brought out next month in Gurmukhi and in May 1914 a Gujrati edition of the journal was published. The Gadar publication exposed the British imperialism and called upon the Indian people to unite and rise up against British rule and throw the British out of India. The publication Gadar, over a period of time, became well known among Indians and the Hindustan Association of the Pacific Coast itself became known as the Gadar party. Special issues of Gadar were also printed in Nepali, Bengali, Pashto, as well as in many other languages.

The gadarites thought World War I as a golden opportunity for freedom. They began forceful campaign to mobilize overseas Indians to go to India and launch revolution. The Indian Revolutionary Society in Berlin had arranged for substantial financial aid from Germany. Several ships were commissioned or chartered to carry arms and ammunitions and batches of Indian revolutionaries, about 6000, to India. However British overpowered the ships. They also could not get the support of the leaders of India’s Freedom movement, who had already committed full co-operation with the British Indian Government for World War. Several Gadarites in India & US were imprisoned, many for life, and some were hanged. Although the movement did not achieve its stated objective, but it awakened the India and left a major impact on India’s struggle for freedom.



This Day in History (9-Sep-1915) – Bagha Jatin fought a battle with the British police at Kaptipada on the banks of the Buri Balang River in Orissa

Jatindra Nath Mukherjee was named ‘Bagha Jatin’ after he killed a tiger single-handed and without any arms. He joined as a stenographer in the government of Bengal. He came in contact with Aurobindo Ghosh. While working for the Yugantar as a main leader, he met Naren (Manabendra nath Roy). Several sources mention Jatin as being among the founders of the Anushilan Samiti in 1900, and as a pioneer in creating its branches in the districts. In 1908 with many revolutionaries implicated in the Alipore Conspiracy Case, Jatin took the charge of Yugantar activities. Jatin was arrested in the Hawra-Shibpur Conspiracy Case, and those who were arrested with him were given the common name ‘Jatin’s gang’. They were so ruthlessly tortured that some of them died and some went insane. Jatin, though acquitted in this case also for want of evidence, was dismissed from service. When in jail, Jatin and Naren made a long term programme to capture power through armed insurrection. They planned to unite different groups of patriots and with this intention Naren travelled extensively all over India as a Sanyasi and organised the revolutionaries in Bengal and elsewhere. The leaders of various groups gathered together and chose Jatin Mukherjee and Rashbehari Bose as leaders for Bengal and northern India respectively.

Attempts were made to organise the Indian revolutionaries outside India also. A Yugantar Ashram was formed at San Francisco and the Shikh community took active part in the struggle for freedom. With the outbreak of the First World War, the Indian revolutionaries of Europe gathered together in Berlin to form the Indian Independence Party and sought German assistance, to which the German government agreed. Jatin was the Commander-in-Chief of the entire revolutionary forces. Naren, leaving Jatin in hiding in Baleswar (Orissa), went to Batavia to negotiate a deal with German authorities there for the shipment of arms and financial help.

Police, however, learnt about the plan. With occasional skirmishes, the revolutionaries, running through jungles and marshy land in torrential rain, finally took up position in an improvised trench in undergrowth on a hillock at Chashakhand in Balasore. On 9 September 1915, after heavy exchange of fire, police found Jatin seriously wounded. In many ways, Bagha Jatin represented the best of the militant nationalist tradition in this country.




This Day in History (6-Jun-1850) – Levi Strauss make his 1st pair of blue jeans

It all started in 1847 when Loeb Strauss, an 18-year-old emigrant from Bavaria, Germany, came to New York with his mother and sisters. Strauss spent the first couple of years in New York where he worked for his two older brothers, who under the name J. Strauss Brother & Co. had opened a wholesale company that specialized in dry goods (textile products). Here, young Loeb quickly learned how to succeed in the industry and around 1850 he became known among family and customers as “Levi.” At the end of January 1853, Strauss received U.S. citizenship and in February 1853 he ravelled to San Francisco to seek his fortune in the wake of the Gold Rush. Originally conceived as a west coast branch of the family business, he started a company under his own name. He imported dry goods ranging from clothes, underwear, umbrellas to handkerchiefs and raw fabrics, and resold them to the many shops that had sprung up after gold miners’ arrival.

In 1863 the name was changed to “Levi Strauss & Co.” Not until the early 1870s did the company begin to produce the so-called “Riveted overalls”. Levi Strauss was approached by a tailor from Nevada named Jacob Davis, who got the idea to reinforce pockets and other exposed areas of the pants with copper rivets. They began manufacturing LEVI‘S brand overalls for the Populace of Miners, Muleskinners and Mercantile-Minders. People didn’t wear Belts in Those Days, it was Suspenders or even Rope or Whatever to hold your Britches Up, so Levi put Big ‘Ol Buttons on the Front & Back to Strap in. Levi had the stout, rough canvas made into Waist Overalls. Miners liked them, but complained that they tended to chafe. He substituted a Twilled Cotton Cloth from Nimes, France called “Serge de Nimes.” The fabric later became known as Denim and the pants were nicknamed BLUE JEANS.

Levi Strauss died in September 1902 and left no heirs. Earthquake in 1906 caused massive damage to Levi Straus & CO.’s headquarters and factories around the city Almost all archives, patent papers, factory equipment and photographs were lost.