In 1848, before the gold rush in California, that state's native population is estimated to have been 150,000. In 1870, after the gold rush, only about 31,000 were still alive. " Over 60 percent of these indigenous people died from disease introduced by hundreds of thousands of so-called 49ers. However, local tribes were also systematically chased off their lands, marched to missions and reservations, enslaved and brutally massacred. " 12 The price paid for a native scalp had dropped as low as $. Native historian, Jack Forbes, wrote:
Furthermore, most scholars accepted Ptolemy 's estimate that Eurasia spanned 180° longitude , rather than the actual 130° (to the Chinese mainland) or 150° (to Japan at the latitude of Spain). Columbus, for his part, believed the even higher estimate of Marinus of Tyre , which put the longitudinal span of the Eurasian landmass at 225°, leaving only 135° of water. He also believed that Japan (which he called "Cipangu", following Marco Polo ) was much larger, farther to the east from China ("Cathay"), and closer to the equator than it is, and that there were inhabited islands even farther to the east than Japan, including the mythical Antillia , which he thought might lie not much farther to the west than the Azores . In this, he was influenced by the ideas of Florentine astronomer Toscanelli, who corresponded with Columbus before his death in 1482 and who also defended the feasibility of a westward route to Asia.