On January 24, 1848, the California Gold Rush began at Sutter’s Mill near Coloma. While building a lumber mill for John Sutter, James W. Marshall was the first to find gold in the American River. Soon after word got out, approximately 300,000 people flocked to California to strike it rich. The California Gold Rush brought people from the U.S. and around the world to California, stimulated California’s economy, created new technologies for finding gold, and caused environmental harm.
Taking many different routes, people of different races and ethnicities arrived in California from all around the world. These new arrivals led to a very diverse population which increased tremendously between 1848 and 1855. The masses arrived from North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia (http://www.fold3.com/page/1281_california_gold_rush/). If traveling by land, the most common route was the California Trail which took approximately five months to a year. If arriving by sea, the 20,000 mile journey took five to eight months and usually went through the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco. With multiple racial and ethnic groups coming together, certain groups were targeted by white miners.
Racial prejudice in the mining fields was very common and had negative effects on certain racial groups. The native Indian population was approximately 150,000 before the start of the gold rush (http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~earlb/GoldRush.htm). Targeting, by whites, led to the Indian population decreasing dramatically, examples of this were villages being burned, families being murdered, and many tribes losing their land. Survivors of these attacks were often sent to Indian reservations. The decline in the indian population was influenced negatively by gold mining because miners polluted the water which killed the main food source, fish, and miners brought foreign diseases that the indians had never come into contact with. Often times, the Indians were cheated by whites when cashing in gold. The Chinese were also targeted, during the gold rush, and endured the same harsh attitudes from miners.
When the California Gold Rush began, Southeast China was suffering from famine, poverty, and rebellion; this led to approximately 20,000 Chinese immigrants migrating to California (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goldrush/peopleevents/p_chinese.html). Most Chinese immigrants thrived off basic jobs that provided for the miners such as cooking, doing laundry, and farming. Chinese miners often mined in areas abandoned by whites and were unfairly taxed by whites. (http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~earlb/GoldRush.htm). As the gold became sparse, hatred increased towards the Chinese and kept them from voting and going to school, by whites. This targeting caused the Chinese to have separate camps away from white people and because of this move away from the whites those who gained from Chinese’s work increased racial hatred towards them. With all the miners coming, the tools and...