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The California Gold Rush’ History Essay


The gold rush changed the history of California. The primary purpose of the paper is to discuss the peculiarities of the gold rush and the impact it had on people’s life.

On January 24, 1848, James Marshall, built a sawmill for John Sutter on the American River in California (Friedman 34). He found the gold nugget. He told about his discovery Sutter, who tested samples and confirmed that it is almost pure gold.

John Sutter wanted to keep everything in secret; he realized that the discovery of gold would cause a stir and prevent him on his way towards developing of the agricultural settlement New Helvetia. He allowed his employees to take gold, but he asked not to inform the world regarding the discovery of precious metal. Very soon the news spread, due to a businessman and journalist Samuel Brennan.

On August 19, 1848, the newspaper The New York Herald published the first report on the discovered gold in California and the gold rush transformed to the global stage (Friedman 61). Thousands of immigrants from around the world traveled to California in search of gold. The period from 1848 till 1855 is considered to be the most famous gold rush (Maxwell-Long 81).

The majority of the residents of San Francisco gave up their jobs and moved to the American River. Thousands of people aimed to get to California; however, it was not so easy those times. There were two ways to get to California, namely by sea or be land. Those treasure seekers, who decided to come to California by sea, were called the Argonauts. They had to either go around South America (journey lasted from five to eight months) or get to the Isthmus of Panama, cross it and wait for the ship to go to the North. By land people travelled through the California trail, from Oregon or Mexico, however, it is worth noting that these roads were difficult and dangerous.

Among those who arrived in California at the end of 1848 or at the beginning of 1849, there were a couple of thousand of Americans, who came from the Northwest of the United States, many Latin Americans (including people from Mexico, Peru, and Chile), residents of Hawaii and China (Maxwell-Long 73). People from all over the world traveled to California. It is believed that by the end of 1849 in California came about ninety thousand of people, and by 1855 more than three hundred thousand.

Not so many people became rich due to the gold rush. Simple and relatively easy production of gold was possible only in the beginning of the gold rush when the precious metal could be collected with ease. Because of this fact, the revenues dropped significantly despite the discovery of additional gold fields.

Gradually, technologies of production became more sophisticated; the expensive equipment was an essential factor. By about mid-fifties of the XIX century, the prospectors who used primitive equipment realized that it is impossible to obtain the goal using old techniques. It stimulated the development of technologies that improved and advanced the production of gold. Later such technologies were used in gold rushes in Colorado, Montana, and Alaska (Maxwell-Long 101).

It is believed that many more people in California made impressive amounts of money during the gold rush, engaged in trade rather than just gold mining. Clothes, equipment, and houses were very expensive. Merchants who sold clothes were popular.

It is commonly believed that the gold rush stimulated the invention of jeans. Jeans are the part of clothes that is the most popular nowadays. It is difficult to imagine life without jeans now, and not so many people know that jeans were invented due to the gold rush. In March 1853, Levi Strauss came to California (Lusted 82). He successfully sold clothes in New York, however, was sure that California would offer new opportunities for his business.

In 1848, son of John Sutter founded Sacramento on the territory where the first Californian gold was found. Within a few years the new city became one of the economic and transportation centers in California, and in 1854, the city became the capital of the state.

Free from immigrants who aimed to become rich and were obsessed with the gold rush, the city developed rapidly. New roads, houses, churches, hotels, and shops were built with impressive speed. In the rapidly growing California legislature was convened and adopted a constitution, and on September 9, 1850, California became the thirty-first state of the USA (Lusted 25). There are still people in California who aim to find gold. However, nowadays it is related to the entertainment and hobbies.

During the period of the gold rush, more than one hundred and twenty-five million ounces of gold (nearly four thousand tons) valued at more than 50 billion of dollars was produced in California. The biggest gold nugget found in California had a weight 195 pounds (Lusted 43).

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that it was a gold rush that has transformed California from a distant and little-known region in one of the richest states in the United States, laying the foundation for its future prosperity.

Works Cited

Friedman, Mel. The California Gold Rush. New York: Children’s, 2010. Print.

Lusted, Marcia. The California Gold Rush: A History Perspectives Book. Ann Arbor: Perspectives Library, 2015. Print.

Maxwell-Long, Thomas. Daily Life during the California Gold Rush. Santa Barbara: ABC CLIO, 2014. Print.

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