Just prior to 1865, the United States experienced a fantastic immigration boom that brought in ethnic and religious backgrounds from all over the world. At the exact same time, the Industrial Revolution was aligning to set the stage for America’s economic breakout from the rest of the world. Settlements all over America were becoming increasingly successful in their breakout periods. It is here I decided to take a look at the comparison of land prices in California and Ohio. There was much legislation that had been enacted to pave the way for extraordinary settlement. Americans were looking for success and could only meet this goal by starting at its foundation: land and a home.
I chose to pull two resources that related to each other by way of American settlement out in California via Ohio. Here I methodically compare the pricing and costs of both territories covering 1870. The two resources I found to cover this topic are critical. The first two resources are located at HathiTrust.org which offers an analytical report on Immigration and land buying. The second resource is located within an article written by John B. Weaver, Associate Professor of History, Sinclair Community College, Ohio.
In 1870, California’s population sat at 560,285 with a land area of 120,947,840 acres. Ohio’s population sat at 2,665,012 with a land area of 25,576,960. Ohio residents were pouring out of the state and headed out west to California where rumors of quick riches and new opportunities were abounding. In Ohio, to buy an acre of unimproved on farmland, it would cost anywhere from $5 to $20 an acre in Adams County. In the more populated areas, prices could reach $75 to $200 an acre of woodland because of Ohio being full in territorial population.
In California, rural counties would cost anywhere from $5 to $20 in places like Shasta, Tehama, and Lassen for an acre of unimproved land. Humboldt County seemed to be the most expensive of the rural areas given their export of Redwood, Tan Oak, and Douglas Fir—sitting at $30 to $35 per acre. People also seem to forget the Trinity Gold Rush of 1848 at Reading Bar near Douglas City. This was California’s seemingly “lost Gold Rush.” It was this that made these areas pricey for speculators, given the resources and competitive business. San Bernardino (Southern California) would cost $1.50 to $10, and Los Angeles would go between $10 to $20 an acre (with no lumber).
As we can see, natural and raw resource availability, population factors and the overall marketplace demand would set the prices down for any future land speculators. Land was separated in a variety of ways for pricing efforts, on improved small farms and unimproved land. There were also other factors to consider, such as prices of commodities. Of course as we all know, one does not settle a region without having the fiscal ability to make these important and crucial purchases such as food, supplies, and private property. Many of these factors would be based on governmental legislation and their future actions toward immigration, industry, and written laws.
In March of 1869, Congress passed the Public Credit Act with the signature of the President, making good on his campaign promise. James Garfield was excited: “After the fullest debate ever had on any great question of national politics, in a contest in which the two parties squarely and fairly joined issue on this very point, it was solemnly decided by the great majority which elected General Grant that repudiators should be repudiated, and that the faith of the nation should be preserved inviolate.” Of course, this is just one example of many in how legislation could be an actor in California and Ohio land speculation—that is, buying and selling.
Daniel L. Smith,
 "Special Report on Immigration : Accompanying Information for Immigrants Relative to the Prices and Rentals of Land, the Staple Products, Facilities of ..." HathiTrust. Accessed May 29, 2021. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044024335481&view=1up&seq=211&q1=humboldt.
 "Special Report on Immigration : Accompanying Information for Immigrants Relative to the Prices and Rentals of Land, the Staple Products, Facilities of ..." HathiTrust. Accessed May 29, 2021. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044024335481&view=1up&seq=59.
 "Douglas City California." Western Mining History. Accessed May 29, 2021. https://westernmininghistory.com/towns/california/douglas_city/.
 Weaver, John B. "Green, Gold, or Silver: The Money Question in Ohio Politics, 1865 – 1900." OAH Proceedings, 2003. https://www.ohioacademyofhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/2003Weaver.pdf.