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The California Gold Rush Essay

1461 words - 6 pages

The California Gold Rush
Before the 1840’s, California was a mysterious, frontier land no one knew much about.
With many small towns in the middle of nowhere, few people showed interest in such a place until the winter of 1848. When tons of gold was discovered, it brought on one of the biggest migrations the United States had ever seen. The Gold Rush started as a small discovery on the banks of the American river and quickly escalated to be a huge impact on America’s economy. It changed the country forever.
The year was 1848. James Marshall and his work crew were camped along the bank of the American River at Coloma, California near Sacramento. The area was located in the Sacramento Valley ...view middle of the document...

The reaction to the news was effective everywhere. Thousands of poor and bourgeois people suddenly had the hope of instant riches and they could not pass up such an appealing opportunity. One man ran through the streets of San Francisco holding up a container of the precious metal and exclaiming the exciting news. The announcement soon reached the corners of America and even other countries close by. It was the start of an enormous migration and a new, unique society (“More about the film”).
Shortly after James Marshall discovered gold in Coloma, the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February second, ending the war with Mexico. The treaty took the California territory away from Mexico and gave it to the United States. California was a major reason for the Mexican war, as many people suspected that it contained a great deal of gold. When James Marshall found gold on January twenty-fourth, no one involved in the war knew about it. California still remained a territory after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, California’s hopes of being a state became a question of when, not if. Thousands of new people flooding into California undoubtedly sped up the state’s admission into the Union (History Staff).
The Gold Rush was a monumental event of the nineteenth century. Just weeks after the first discovery, thousands of people were in the mines looking for a quick and easy profit. For many impoverished and bourgeois people, the rush offered an appealing opportunity of quick riches they could not pass up. The population of San Francisco in 1848 was a meager one thousand. By the end of 1850, the population had skyrocketed to twenty-thousand (“California Gold Rush”). At the end of 1849, the non-native population of the whole state was 100,000. It had been less than one thousand before. There were so many new, avid prospectors pouring in the area that they earned themselves the nickname “49ers.” By mid-June, three-fourths of San Francisco’s male population was at the mines. By August 1848, four thousand total people were at the mines (History Staff). The first migrants came from places accessible by boat. People from Oregon, The Sandwich Islands (later Hawaii), Mexico, Chile, Peru, and China came to invest their savings in the precious metal. The different ethics molded a new, unique society the world had not yet seen. Then, people from the east coast started to migrate (“California Gold Rush”). At first, they were skeptical. There had been many false reports of gold findings before and it wasn’t until December of 1848 that President James K. Polk confirmed the Gold Rush publicly to the country (“Gold Discovered in California”). Many people, mostly men, risked everything to move out west. There were two main routes people took to get to California: by boat around the tip of South America or by the Oregon Trail, a long and winding trail across the Midwest. Both ways were very difficult to travel and took about six months...

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