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California and the Gold Rush of 1849 Essay

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"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 the California Gold Rush, was one of the most captivating happenings during westward expansion. The Gold Rush of 1849 is also a fundamental event that not only impacted California but the United States as a whole and individuals from throughout the world. Thus, despite laborious toilers and their small chance to improve their lifestyle, California is defined by its promise of industrial success and its acceptance and inspiration of obtaining the American Dream.
Before the Gold Rush of 1849, the initial people who lived in California were the Native Indians. California was the home to approximately 275,000 Native Californians, which included the Pomo, Chumash, Mojave, Karok, Yuma, Paitute, and Shoshone. Spain had decided to Colonize California, also known as the “Sacred Expedition,” which began in early 1769. This expedition was composed of two miniature ships carrying soldiers, missionaries, livestock, and supplies, known as the San Carlos and the San Antonio, while the other two groups traveled by land. Missionaries play a critical role in Californian history, for they had built the 21 missions along the coast of California and had converted the majority of Native Californians to Catholicism. As New Spain won its independence from Spain on September 1821, California, now part of the...


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Barbara Saffer, The California Gold Rush (Broomall, PA: Mason Crest Publishers, 2003) 49.
Barbara Saffer 49.
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United States. Cabinet of the United States. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Washington: GPO, 1848.
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William Weber Johnson, The Old West: The Forty-Niners (New York: NY: Time-Life Books, 1974) 106.
Margaret Rau 96.
Judy Monroe 36-38.
"California Gold Rush (1848–1858)." Harvard University Library Open Collections Program: Immigration to the United States, 1879-1930. N.p., n.d. 17 May 2014. .




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