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As one element of the hotly contested Compromise of 1850, California became the 31st state to join the Union on September 9, 1850. California’s first two senators, John C. Fremont and William Gwin, took office on September 10, 1850. California’s longest-serving senators include Hiram Johnson (1917-1945) and Dianne Feinstein (1992-present). Among those who rose to leadership positions are William F. Knowland, who became Republican floor leader, and Thomas Kuchel, who served as Republican whip.