The California Gold Rush Of The Late 1840

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Sarah Kreeger History of California Midterm Take-Home Essay The Gold Rush of the late 1840’s and the Americanization of California is often romanticized in history. Miners flocking together from all over the world to strike it rich resulted in the highest migration in U.S. history. San Francisco became an instant city and in little over a year California became the thirty-first state. The economy boomed and a unique and extremely diverse population immerged. But along with this, Indians and native Californios quickly became a minority in what used to be their own land and underwent brutal prejudice. Foreigners coming in also were abused and discriminated against. Almost as soon as gold was found, it was claimed. The miners coming…show more content…
The workers in the mill were told to keep quiet about the discovery, and amazingly they did. Soon store owner Sam Brannan was being paid in gold dust and became suspicious. Later, on May 18, 1848, he showed the god to people in San Francisco and half of the population there followed him back to the American River to strike it rich. The news of the gold discovery slowly leaked out, but nobody took it too seriously except those who had seen in themselves, so the people of the 1848 gold rush were mostly locals. In 1848 there was an increase of 20,000 non-Indian peoples, but after President James Knox Polk confirmed the existence of gold the number increased to 100,000 in 1849 and 200,000 in 1852. Most of the migrants were young men n their twenties hoping to become rich and move back to their families in the East. With ninety percent of the population being men, a woman was an extremely rare sight to be seen. The men called women “petticoat astonishments” and could go weeks without setting eyes on one. A woman who went by the writing name Dame Shirley gave their unique perspective of mining life through twenty three letters she wrote back to her sister. Dame’s real name was Louisa Amelia Knapp Smith Clapp, an orphan descended from a prominent…show more content…
The Indians didn’t feel it was important and so it continued to be distributed through the streams. This type of gold is called Placer gold, and was taken straight out of the river. When Shirley arrived in 1852, the surface deposits of gold were almost gone and no longer were so easy to mine. New devices became necessary to uncover gold. It quickly went from an individual pursuit to organized enterprises. Shirley stated that “no man can work a claim alone.” Most of the Forty-Niners were inexperienced and special skills and machinery was needed. Shirley described a couple of the methods she frequently saw. One was the “Long Tom”, a machine with a gutter that several men would put dirt into and then washed down by a stream of water to the riddle, a thing made of sheet iron with large holes in it. A man uses a hoe to keep the soil inside the riddle in motion, and the dirt and gold goes onto another part, the riffle-box. The gold is so heavy that it sinks to the bottom while the dirt washes away. The Gold Rush of 1849 is the reason that California is the state it is today. Though it was a worldwide phenomenon, it wasn’t anything close to a glamorous life. Dame Shirley’s letters provided a wonderful insight to the mining towns and their conditions, the growing hostilities towards foreigners, and the new ways of finding gold that became
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