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Recruiting Immigrants to California in the Late 1800s—Propaganda Poster

Propaganda posters are made to convince people to do something. Studying old propaganda posters can help us understand what was important to people at the time. The poster below was made in 1885 to convince people to move to California.


Primary Source

There is a photo of a propoganda poster

Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.


Background

In the late 1800s, California needed more farm workers. At the same time, many immigrants were moving to the United States. The government of California wanted these immigrants to settle in the Golden State and work in its agricultural industry. To attract newcomers, the government began to advertise using posters and propaganda pamphlets to spread the word. These colorful items told people around the country and the world about the benefits of moving to California. In this poster, the California government uses a popular image of the day to attract farmers. The cornucopia, a cone-shaped horn filled to overflowing, is used to symbolize wealth and an endless supply of resources. (In folklore, the cornucopia became full of whatever its owner desired.) The advertisement's words and images were carefully chosen to have the biggest impact, much as today's newspaper, radio, and television advertisements are.