The Negative Impacts Of California Gold Rush History 17 A Research Paper

1961 words - 8 pages

Question #4

The Negative Impacts of California Gold Rush

For thousands of years, people have looked for ways to get rich quick. From marketing

schemes to falling for the various Nigerian email scams, there have been some crazy ways to get

wealthy without putting in the proper work. That is exactly what happened in California in 1848

when a man discovered a few tiny nuggets of gold along the American River in the northern part

of the state.1 Right then, the California Gold Rush became one of the most interesting and

transformational events in American history. In terms of America’s demographics, California was

the most attractive destination at that time for people who came from Mexico, France, China,

Germany, Russia, Ireland, Italy, the West Indies, Australia, in addtition to the 250,000 American

immigrants who moved there desperately in search of gold.2 The abundance of gold in California

and the economic contribution that gold mining helped the American economy during the 19th

century expand westward into areas that were considered by the country to be part of its Manifest

Destiny after only three years as a territory.3 From a social history perspective, Californians

developed an identity based on materialim because their sole motivation for moving out west had

been to get rich off of gold – the ultimate symbol of wealth.4 However, paying for prosperity of

American economy, Californians had incurred the necessary consequences of the gold rush that

left the state forever changed. The negative impacts of gold rush on Californians include three

main categories such as disorder in social growth, devastating effects on the state’s environment

and political issues.

Nguyen 2

The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, in the Sacramento Valley.5 The first

sight of gold rush nuggets found during the Gold Rush was located in the American River near

Coloma, by James W. Marshall, who worked for Sutter Fort on Sutter’s land.6 Although the two

attempted to keep the discovery quiet, word quickly spread and the gold rush began. This event

attracted immigrants around the world and brought the largest mass immigration in U.S. history

that changed the nation forever. Typically, before the gold rush in 1848, the state’s population was

estimated was less than 1,000 people.7 Within one year, the non-native population had jumped

tremendously to approximately 100,000 people. After two more years, total California’s

population had passed almost 250,000 immigrants including businessmen, families, and miners,

had traveled to California in hopes of discovering gold.8 By 1850, more than 300,000 gold questers

assailed California and by the end of the decade, the state’s population was 380,000.9 Therefore,

to accommodate the needs of the prospector, gold mining towns such as San Francisco had sprung

up all over the region,...

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