California And The Gold Rush Of 1849

1865 words - 8 pages

"Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!" said Samuel Brannan, as he ran through the streets of San Francisco waving a bottle of gold dust in the air that he purchased from John Sutter’s Fort. The encounter of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 triggered one of the most crucial occurrences to influence American history during the beginning of the 19th century, the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush of 1849 (1848–1855), also known as the California Gold Rush, was one of the most captivating happenings during westward expansion. The Gold Rush of 1849 is also a fundamental event that not only impacted California but the United States as a whole and individuals from throughout the world. Thus, despite laborious toilers and their small chance to improve their lifestyle, California is defined by its promise of industrial success and its acceptance and inspiration of obtaining the American Dream.
Before the Gold Rush of 1849, the initial people who lived in California were the Native Indians. California was the home to approximately 275,000 Native Californians, which included the Pomo, Chumash, Mojave, Karok, Yuma, Paitute, and Shoshone. Spain had decided to Colonize California, also known as the “Sacred Expedition,” which began in early 1769. This expedition was composed of two miniature ships carrying soldiers, missionaries, livestock, and supplies, known as the San Carlos and the San Antonio, while the other two groups traveled by land. Missionaries play a critical role in Californian history, for they had built the 21 missions along the coast of California and had converted the majority of Native Californians to Catholicism. As New Spain won its independence from Spain on September 1821, California, now part of the Republic of Mexico, remained mainly as a solitary region occupied by native tribes, Mexican ranchers, called Californios, and a few American and European settlers that have been given land grants by the Mexican government. Moreover, the Mexican government had ordered padres, or Spanish priests, to leave California and mission lands were given or sold to the rancheros. As land all over California was given away, the rancheros grew wealthier, not from gold, but from cattle and the size of their land; this era was known as the “golden years” of the ranchos. Mexico’s land grant plan was to secularize the Franciscan missions so the government could take control of the missions away from the Catholic Church, thus offering the land and livestock to Californians and converted Native Americans. As more Americans came to California in the mid- and late 1830s, organized wagon trains of American settlers began to develop, called parties to prevent danger while migrating to California. The Donner Party contained 81 men, women, and children, plus George and Jacob Donner, left their homes to set out to California in April 1846. After facing numerous difficulties, from starvation and cannibalism to unfortunate weather, the 48...

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