Essay on California Gold Rush Of 1849

Essay on California Gold Rush Of 1849

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Would you travel, live, and work under harsh conditions for months to fulfill a dream? Thousands of gold hunters from all corners of the world did so in hopes of striking rich after an abrupt discovery of gold in the American territory of California. This huge worldwide flock of people became known as The California Gold Rush of 1849. The Gold Rush granted riches to only a handful of miners, but provided Americans as well as many foreigners a new homeland and life.

At the start of the 1830 decade, about 500 people resided in California. One of these settlers was John Sutter (Boyer 336). Sutter was a Swiss immigrant who came to California in 1839 intending to build his own private empire. On 24 January 1848, James Marshall, an employee of Sutter, was assisting with the construction of a lumber mill on the American River in the Sacramento Valley. A bright glint in the river caught Marshall’s eye. It appeared to be a bright, soft metal. In disbelief, Marshall and Sutter tested this metal and concluded it to be gold. Sutter made a pact with Marshall and his employees to keep the discovery covert due to the fact that gold hunters will get in the way of constructing the lumber mill. However, the promise was broken and the word was leaked out to the public (“The Gold Rush” 2).

The word of a gold discovery eventually reached the ears of Sam Brannan, a San Francisco merchant. Brannan set the Gold Rush into motion by planning hype. He ran through the streets of San Francisco with a bottle of gold dust shouting about Marshall’s discovery. However, just before he did this, Brannan had purchased every pick, axe, pan, and shovel in the region. A metal pan that was available for twenty cents from a general store was sold for...


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... humanity.” Nevertheless, the Gold Rush resulted in many people finding opportunity and new life.

Works Cited

Andrist, Ralph K. The California Gold Rush. New York: American Heritage, 1961.
Boyer, Paul, ed. American Nation: The Rush to California. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2005.

“Gold Rush of 1849” Encarta Reference Library Premium. 2005. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft. 2005.

Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America: Gold Rush. Narr. Zachary Drake. History Channel. 11 April 2006.

“The Gold Rush.” Boettcher/Triklein Inc. 2002. 12 March 2007.

“The West – Events from 1840-1850.” The West Film Project. 2001. 19 March 2007.

“The West – Events from 1850-1860.” The West Film Project. 2001. 30 March 2007.

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