California Gold Rush Essay

1495 words - 6 pages

There have been many discoveries that have shaped our nation as a whole. Discoveries have allowed our country to thrive and become one of the most powerful nations in the world. When we look back at our nation's rich history, it is clear to see that there was one discovery in particular that had a vast impact on the United States; the discovery was gold in California. It was in this vastly unoccupied territory that the American dream was forever changed and California emerged as a powerful state busting at the seams. The California Gold Rush shaped California into the state that it is today. California is defined by its promise of entrepreneurial success and its acceptance and encouragement of obtaining the American Dream.
During the late 1840's California did not show much promise or security. It had an insecure political future, its economic capabilities were severely limited and it had a population, other than Indians, of less than three thousand people. People at this time had no idea of what was to come of the sleepy state in the coming years. California would help boost the nation's economy and entice immigrants to journey to this mystical and promising land in hopes of striking it rich.
In 1839 a man by the name of John Sutter arrived in California. Sutter appeared to be somewhat of a drifter, and had failed to establish himself before arriving in California. However, in the land of great promise, he planned to establish an empire for himself. Sutter was granted eleven square leagues, or 50, 000 acres, in the lower Sacramento area. This was a common land grant for the times. Sutter got to work and began to improve his land. He went on to build a fort, accumulated over 12,000 cattle and hired hundreds of workers to help maintain his land. However, Sutter was plagued with debt and was unsure that his vast agricultural empire would ever take shape.
As the years went on, more and more Americans began moving to California. Sutter was enthused and saw them as opportunities to enhance his kingdom. Sutter had no idea that this was just a glimpse of the migration that was soon to come. Encouraged by the skill level of the new Americans, Sutter decided to become a mill and lumberman. Now, he just had to find the right location and a talented craftsman.
In 1845 a man by the name of James Marshall moved to California. He was a carpenter who excelled at all things mechanical. However, similar to Sutter, he had never had great success on his own ventures. Marshall knew that Sutter was looking for a site to build a mill, so he set forth to discover the perfect location. He traveled forty-five miles away from the fort and discovered a valley that appeared to be the perfect location. He knew that the spot could produce enough water power to power the mill, and it had ample amounts of timber located in close proximity. Sutter inspected the site, approved it, and began a partnership with Marshall on August 27, 1847.
The work began on the mill...

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