Women During The Gold Rush Essay

4302 words - 17 pages

Women During the Gold Rush

The Gold Rush was one of the most influential times in California History. During the four years from 1848-1852, 400,000 new people flooded into the state. People from many countries and social classes moved to California, and many of them settled in San Francisco. All this diversity in one place created a very interesting dynamic. California during the Gold Rush, was a place of colliding ideals. The 49ers came from a very structured kind of life to a place where one was free to make up her own rules.
“Freedom was in the very air Californians breathed, for the country offered a unique and seductive drought of liberty. People were free from censure, from Eastern restrictions, from societal expectations.”1
California society, and people as individuals, could not decide whether they relished their newfound freedom or despised it. Some people attempted to recreate the lives they knew at home, while many others threw off the shackles of their old proper lives. Victorian culture emerged in the 1820’s and 1830’s in America. At 1850, the time of the Gold Rush, it was at it’s high point. Anyone who came to California from the states, no matter what their position, would have come from a place influenced by the Victorian way of life. This included strict ideas about the roles of men and women, taboos on drinking and gambling, high value set on hard work, Christian ethics, and ethnic prejudices.2 People who came to California experienced something quite different.
“In the years which followed the gold discoveries, society was not stratified. Moral and religious principles were often disregarded, and all kinds of irregular situations could be found.”3
Americans who came to California had never lived with such freedom from the strict confines of traditional Victorian society. This freedom affected and changed all those people who experienced it. Letters, journals, and reminiscences written by adventurers during the Gold Rush vividly illustrate the internal struggle which people experienced.
This is especially true of the writing by women of the time. It is a long held myth that the gold rush was almost completely male. Yet, most trail diaries mention the presence of women.4 Still, they were quite a minority. The 1860 census reveals that in San Francisco that year, men outnumbered women three to two. Lopsided though this ratio may be, there were enough women in California to have quite an influence, and perhaps they struggled even more with their new freedom than the men. More restraint was expected from women, and it was their duty to keep their husbands and children proper. How they chose to deal with their new surroundings would have greatly impacted their families. Women offer an interesting perspective, as women were traditionally the epitomes of Victorian morality. Historian Lillian Schlissel writes that unlike the men, “...women did not always see the venture in the clear light of the...

Find Another Essay On Women During the Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush Essay

1461 words - 6 pages towns where the law was scarcely kept (“California Gold Rush”). San Francisco is a good example of the widespread impact the Gold Rush had. It prospered greatly by growing in economy and people. The city became the center of the whole rush. Many towns formed during the Gold Rush still exist in present day California. By the end of the Gold Rush in 1858, an estimated total of 500,000 had moved to California (“The California Gold Rush”). The many

The California Gold Rush Essay

6551 words - 26 pages fourteenth and fifteenth for Sutter's Fort, where all passengers had to disembark and set out on foot for the diggings. Sam Brannan's store was right at hand as they left the boats and Brannan had thoughtfully laid in a large stock of provisions and mining supplies. He was one of the first to demonstrate something that would be proved again and again during the gold rush: the surest way to prosper was to leave the mining to others

The California Gold Rush

898 words - 4 pages The California Gold Rush      The California Gold Rush of 1849 is one of the most interesting and exiting events of the United States. From the wild stories of men striking it big, to the heart wrenching tales of people losing everything, these are what make it so alluring. There are many aspects of the California Gold Rush; effects on California; individual stories of struggle; and effects on the United States as a

The California Gold Rush

1372 words - 6 pages to either why it’s famous or an explanation of its history. California’s state name is The Golden State, and going all the way back to 1849 is why this was such an influential time for California and all of America. This is the period of the Gold Rush. Reasons why this event was so impeccable, to the development of California, are the years leading up to the discovery, the first findings, the journey, and so much more. Americans, inspired by

The California Gold Rush

760 words - 4 pages to either why it’s famous or an explanation of its history. California’s state name is The Golden State, and going all the way back to 1849 is why this was such an influential time for California and all of America. This is the period of the Gold Rush. Reasons why this event was so impeccable, to the development of California, are the years leading up to the discovery, the first findings, the journey, and so much more. Americans, inspired by

The California Gold Rush - 3043 words

3043 words - 12 pages succeed and find wealth, many would dream of the glowing, yellow substance. Gold was a standard of wealth that all could aspire to. The astonishing fact about gold was that even a small amount of this substance could bring material happiness. Histories could be made of the search, as such was the case in the United states, in 1849.How did the Gold Rush start? In a nutshell, it was when Lumberman James Marshall inadvertently discovered the first

Gold Fever: The Klondike Gold Rush

2119 words - 8 pages In today’s world, gold is viewed as something that a person would put on their fingers, in their ears, or around their necks to show wealth. In the late 1800s, gold was used a lot differently than how it is today. Symptoms of gold fever were making their way around the United States at an extremely rapid pace. Everyone wanted to jump on the chance at possibly making more money than they would ever need on finding gold. These men and women

A History of the California Gold Rush

1569 words - 6 pages outside of mining for gold. The lack of women in California during the Gold Rush allowed the women there to make more money for their domestic skills. Woman washed clothes, cooked meals, even ran boarding houses to earn money (Levy). People from all different aspects of life began to realize that there was much money to be made serving to the minors. Many of the well-known names of today drifted to California during the gold rush. Levi

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

How California Changed With The Gold Rush

1063 words - 5 pages 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

The California Gold Rush in 1849

1134 words - 5 pages California was the foundation for technological progress and modern industrial development that continues today in the United States (Smith, Orsi, and Rawls 46). The mining companies that formed during the Gold Rush swayed the transformation of the modern corporate economy in the United States decades following the rush (Smith, Orsi, and Rawls 52). This can be identified by three developments: the rise of business corporations in the U.S

Similar Essays

Vigilantism During The California Gold Rush

2949 words - 12 pages one location created the right mix of hope, frustration, anger, and pride that would lead to chaos and even though “San Francisco had the most efficient, most professional police department in the United States [during the 19th century]” it could not quell the need for vigilantes to rise up and provide order amongst lawlessness. Types of Prospectors John Marshall ushered in the Gold Rush when he discovered it while building a lumber mill in

Gold Rush, History Of Australia During The 19th Century

1469 words - 6 pages during the first ten years of the gold rushes. Many of the effects of the gold rush years can be measured in money or number terms. Other effects, such as political and social changes are not as easy to analyze.The table below lists the effects of the the gold rushes in Eastern Australian.1.Population increases greatly.2.Wage rose and working condition improved.3.Imporovements in transport and communications.4.Living standards improved.5.Trade

The Klondike Gold Rush Essay

1646 words - 7 pages Klondike Gold Rush). Some people were lucky enough to be apart of the 6 billion dollars worth of gold found during the rush for gold in the Klondike (The Klondike Gold Rush). Most of these people probably didn’t do much of the work that it took to get the gold either. They were the profiteers and merchants who tricked people with the get rich method to have the miners invest with them and sell them out for less than they found or what the land was

The California Gold Rush Essay 1502 Words

1502 words - 6 pages The definition of a gold rush is simply a fast movement of people to a place where gold has been discovered. The California Gold Rush was one of the most significant events to ever happen in California. The Gold Rush brought people from all over the world to California in search for gold. These people were often known as the 49ers. The California Gold Rush was much more than just people trying to become rich off of gold; it was actually a major