Essay on Gold: The Challenge of a Lifetime

Essay on Gold: The Challenge of a Lifetime

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“Farmers mortgaged their farms, workmen downed their tools, clerks left counting-rooms, and even ministers abandoned their pulpits.” (Garraty, 1989, 432) When news of the Gold Rush reached the East Coast of the United States it was just thought to be a rumor. It was the middle of 1848 and the Mexican-American war had just ended. The United States was in debt and many people were also. There were not very many options for young men in America. Then in 1849 President Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in California and the Gold Rush was on. Men, known as Forty-Niners left behind their families in the hope that they would be able to return in a year or less, set for life. They abandoned the jobs they knew how to do and set out to try and strike it rich. The reason so many people believed they would become rich is because at first that was true. Miners could practically just walk outside and pick up gold nuggets and dust. The only problem with this was that the “easy” gold didn’t last forever. The Forty-Niners encountered many challenges they never expected and weren’t prepared for, so for the average miner the Gold Rush really wasn’t worth it. The challenges confronted by the average miner were not only in the camps, but also existed along the different routes to the gold fields and ultimately in the social and lifestyle changes the miners faced after they arrived.
Once it was proven that the discovery of gold was not a rumor a problem presented itself to the people on the East Coast of the United States. The men who wanted to have this chance at riches were a whole country away. There were different ways to get to California depending on how many risks, how much money, and how long the miners were willing to take. ...


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...und Cape Horn, through Panama, or overland across the United States. Mining itself had many difficulties involved with it and could be very unsafe. The living situation of the miners was also unsafe but even more so it was unhealthy. The cost of housing and supplies was exorbitant. Miners’ relationships with their families back home and the other miners they had to relate with every day changed, often for the worse. With the excessive number of challenges and extravagant prices the Forty-Niners faced, most did not find enough gold to make the venture worthwhile. The California Gold Rush in 1849 brought miners from all over the world and the customs they brought with them have helped make California the great, diverse state that it is today. Although the Gold Rush was not worth it for the average miner, for the state of California it was a defining experience.

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