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The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a
gold rush cut the travel time from New York to San Francisco in seven months to four months in the 1849 California Gold Rush, Gold Rush. A gold rush or gold fever is a discovery of gold—sometimes accompanied by other precious metals and rare-earth miner ...

gold rush
that began on January 24, 1848, when
gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

gold
was found by
James W. Marshall
James W. Marshall
at
Sutter's Mill Sutter's Mill was a water-powered sawmill A sawmill (saw mill, saw-mill) or lumber mill is a facility where logs are cut into lumber Lumber, also known as timber, is wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in ...

Sutter's Mill
in
Coloma, California Coloma (formerly Colluma and Culloma) is a census-designated place A census-designated place (CDP) is a Place (United States Census Bureau), concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. CDPs ...
. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into the money supply reinvigorated the American economy, and the sudden population increase allowed California to go rapidly to statehood, in the
Compromise of 1850 The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850 that defused a political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of Mexican Cession, territories acquired in th ...
. The Gold Rush had severe effects on Native Californians and accelerated the Native American population's decline from disease, starvation and the California Genocide. By the time it ended, California had gone from a thinly populated ex-Mexican territory, to having one of its first two U.S. Senators,
John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
, selected to be the first presidential nominee for the new
Republican Party Republican Party is a name used by many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have similar ideas about polit ...
, in
1856 Events January–March * January 8 Events Pre-1600 * 307 – Emperor Huai of Jin, Jin Huaidi becomes emperor of China in succession to his father, Emperor Hui of Jin, Jin Huidi, despite a challenge from his uncle, Sima Ying. * 8 ...
. The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. Whole indigenous societies were attacked and pushed off their lands by the gold-seekers, called "forty-niners" (referring to 1849, the peak year for Gold Rush immigration). Outside of California, the first to arrive were from
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...
, the Sandwich Islands (
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
), and Latin America in late 1848. Of the approximately 300,000 people who came to California during the Gold Rush, about half arrived by sea and half came overland on the
California Trail The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, th ...
and the
Gila River The Gila River (; O'odham ima Keli Akimel or simply Akimel, Quechan language, Quechan: Haa Siʼil) is a -long tributary of the Colorado River flowing through New Mexico and Arizona in the United States. The river drains an arid watershed of nea ...
trail; forty-niners often faced substantial hardships on the trip. While most of the newly arrived were Americans, the gold rush attracted thousands from Latin America, Europe, Australia, and China. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers.
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (dis ...

San Francisco
grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a
boomtown A boomtown is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct from the term " unit of obser ...
of about 36,000 by 1852. Roads, churches, schools and other towns were built throughout California. In 1849 a state constitution was written. The new constitution was adopted by referendum vote, and the future state's interim first governor and legislature were chosen. In September 1850, California became a state. At the beginning of the Gold Rush, there was no law regarding property rights in the goldfields and a system of "staking claims" was developed. Prospectors retrieved the gold from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning. Although
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occu ...
caused environmental harm, more sophisticated methods of gold recovery were developed and later adopted around the world. New methods of transportation developed as
steamship A steamship, often referred to as a steamer, is a type of steam-powered vessel Steam-powered vessels include steamboats and steamships. Smaller steamboats were developed first. They were replaced by larger steamships which were often ocean-going. ...

steamship
s came into regular service. By 1869,
railroads Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transport, transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on Track (rail transport), tracks. In contrast to road transport, where the vehic ...
were built from California to the eastern United States. At its peak, technological advances reached a point where significant financing was required, increasing the proportion of gold companies to individual miners. Gold worth tens of billions of today's US dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few, though many who participated in the California Gold Rush earned little more than they had started with.


History

The
Mexican–American War The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the (''U.S. intervention in Mexico''), was an armed conflict between the United States and Second Federal Republic of Mexico, Mexico from 1846 ...

Mexican–American War
ended on February 3, 1848, although California was a de facto American possession before that. The
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ( es, Tratado de Guadalupe Hidalgo), officially titled the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic, is the peace treaty A peace treaty i ...

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
provided for, among other things, the formal transfer of Upper California to the United States. The California Gold Rush began at
Sutter's Mill Sutter's Mill was a water-powered sawmill A sawmill (saw mill, saw-mill) or lumber mill is a facility where logs are cut into lumber Lumber, also known as timber, is wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in ...

Sutter's Mill
, near Coloma.For a detailed map, se
California Historic Gold Mines
, published by the State of California. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
On January 24, 1848,
James W. Marshall
James W. Marshall
, a foreman working for
Sacramento ) , image_map = Sacramento County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Sacramento Highlighted.svg , mapsize = 250x200px , map_caption = Location within Sacramento ...

Sacramento
pioneer
John Sutter John Augustus Sutter (February 23, 1803 – June 18, 1880), born Johann August Sutter and known in Spanish as Don Juan Sutter, was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suiss ...
, found shiny metal in the
tailrace A water wheel is a machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perform an action. Machines can be driven by animals and people A people is a plurality of person A person (pl ...

tailrace
of a lumber mill Marshall was building for Sutter on the
American River , name_etymology = , image = American River CA.jpg , image_size = 300 , image_caption = The American River at Folsom, California, Folsom , map = Americanrivermap.png , map_size = 300 ...

American River
.Bancroft, Hubert (1888)
pp. 32–34
Marshall brought what he found to John Sutter, and the two privately tested the metal. After the tests showed that it was gold, Sutter expressed dismay: he wanted to keep the news quiet because he feared what would happen to his plans for an agricultural empire if there were a mass search for gold.


Discovery announced

Rumors of the discovery of gold were confirmed in March 1848 by San Francisco newspaper publisher and merchant
Samuel Brannan Samuel Brannan (March 2, 1819 – May 5, 1889) was an American settler, businessman, journalist, and prominent Mormon who founded the '' California Star'', the first newspaper in San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn f ...

Samuel Brannan
. Brannan hurriedly set up a store to sell gold prospecting supplies,Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 60
and walked through the streets of San Francisco, holding aloft a vial of gold, shouting "Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!" On August 19, 1848, the ''
New York Herald The ''New York Herald'' was a large-distribution newspaper based in New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and medi ...
'' was the first major newspaper on the East Coast to report the discovery of gold. On December 5, 1848, US President
James K. Polk James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849) was the 11th president of the United States, serving from 1845 to 1849. He previously was Speaker of the House of Representatives (1835–1839) and Governor of Tennessee (1839–1841). ...

James K. Polk
confirmed the discovery of gold in an address to
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
.Starr, Kevin (2005)
p. 80
As a result, individuals seeking to benefit from the gold rush—later called the "forty-niners"—began moving to the Gold Country of California or "Mother Lode" from other countries and from other parts of the United States. As Sutter had feared, his business plans were ruined after his workers left in search of gold, and
squatters Squatting is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not Land ownership and tenure, own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use. The United Nations estim ...

squatters
took over his land and stole his crops and cattle. San Francisco had been a tiny settlement before the rush began. When residents learned about the discovery, it at first became a
ghost town A ghost town or alternatively deserted city or abandoned city is an abandoned village, town, or city, usually one that contains substantial visible remaining buildings and infrastructure such as roads. A town often becomes a ghost town because ...
of abandoned ships and businesses, but then boomed as merchants and new people arrived. The population of San Francisco increased quickly from about 1,000Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 51
"800 residents"
in 1848 to 25,000 full-time residents by 1850.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 187
Miners lived in tents, wood shanties, or deck cabins removed from abandoned ships.Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 126


Transportation to California

In what has been referred to as the "first world-class gold rush,"Hill, Mary (1999), p. 1 there was no easy way to get to California; forty-niners faced hardship and often death on the way. At first, most s, as they were also known, traveled by sea. From the East Coast, a sailing voyage around the tip of South America would take four to five months,Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 103–121
/ref> and cover approximately . An alternative was to sail to the Atlantic side of the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Kara ...
, take canoes and mules for a week through the jungle, and then on the Pacific side, wait for a ship sailing for San Francisco.Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 75–85
Another route across
Nicaragua Nicaragua (; ), officially the Republic of Nicaragua (), is the largest Sovereign state, country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean Sea, Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and th ...

Nicaragua
was developed in 1851; it was not as popular as the Panama option. Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 252–253
There was also a across Mexico starting at
Veracruz Veracruz (), formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave (), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave ( es, Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave), is one of the 31 states which, along with Me ...
. The companies providing such transportation created vast wealth among their owners and included the U.S. Mail Steamship Company, the federally subsidized
Pacific Mail Steamship Company The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was founded April 18, 1848, as a joint stock company under the laws of the State of New York by a group of New York City merchants. Incorporators included William H. Aspinwall, Edwin Bartlett (American consul at ...
, and the
Accessory Transit Company The Accessory Transit Company was a company set up by Cornelius Vanderbilt and others during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, to transport would-be Prospecting, prospectors from the east coast of the United States to the west coast. At the t ...
. Many gold-seekers took the overland route across the continental United States, particularly along the
California Trail The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, th ...
.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 5
Each of these routes had its own deadly hazards, from shipwreck to
typhoid fever Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a disease caused by ''Salmonella ''Salmonella'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living an ...
and
cholera Cholera is an infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of tissues to the infectious agents and the s they produce. An infectious disease, also known as a transmissible disea ...

cholera
.Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 101p. 107
In the early years of the rush, much of the population growth in the San Francisco area was due to steamship travel from
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
through overland portages in
Nicaragua Nicaragua (; ), officially the Republic of Nicaragua (), is the largest Sovereign state, country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean Sea, Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and th ...

Nicaragua
and
Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several ...

Panama
and then back up by steamship to San Francisco.Stiles, T. J. (2009) While traveling, many steamships from the eastern seaboard required the passengers to bring kits, which were typically full of personal belongings such as clothes, guidebooks, tools, etc. In addition to personal belongings, Argonauts were required to bring barrels full of beef, biscuits, butter, pork, rice, salt. While on the steamships, travelers could talk to each other, smoke, fish, and other activities depending on the ship they traveled. Still, the dominant activity held throughout the steamships was gambling, which was ironic because segregation between wealth gaps was prominent throughout the ships. Everything was segregated between the rich vs. the poor. There were different levels of travel one could pay for to get to California. The cheaper steamships tended to have longer routes. In contrast, the more expensive would get you to California quicker. There were clear social and economic distinctions between those who traveled together, being that those who spent more money would receive accommodations that others weren't allowed. They would do this with the clear intent to distinguish their higher class power over those that couldn't afford those accommodations.


Supplies and goods needed

Supply ships arrived in San Francisco with goods to supply the needs of the growing population. When hundreds of ships were abandoned after their crews deserted to go into the goldfields, many ships were converted to warehouses, stores, taverns, hotels, and one into a jail.Starr, Kevin (2005)
p. 80
As the city expanded and new places were needed on which to build, many ships were destroyed and used as landfill.


Northern California strikes

Within a few years, there was an important but lesser-known surge of prospectors into far Northern California, specifically into present-day Siskiyou, Shasta and Trinity Counties. Discovery of gold nuggets at the site of present-day
Yreka Yreka ( ) is the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central administration of a Township, commune ...
in 1851 brought thousands of gold-seekers up the
Siskiyou Trail 350px, Siskiyou Trail from Portland, Oregon, to San Francisco, California The Siskiyou Trail stretched from California's Central Valley to Oregon's Willamette Valley The Willamette Valley () is a long valley in Oregon Oregon () is a ...

Siskiyou Trail
Dillon, Richard (1975)
pp. 361–362
/ref> and throughout California's northern counties.Wells, Harry (1881)
p. 60-64
Settlements of the Gold Rush era, such as Portuguese Flat on the
Sacramento River The Sacramento River ( es, Río Sacramento) is the principal river of Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state ...
, sprang into existence and then faded. The Gold Rush town of Weaverville on the Trinity River today retains the oldest continuously used
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of c ...
temple in California, a legacy of
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
miners who came. While there are not many Gold Rush era ghost towns still in existence, the remains of the once-bustling town of Shasta have been preserved in a
California State Historic ParkList of California State Historic Parks — a division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, for historic sites in California. List *Anderson Marsh State Historic Park *Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park *Bale Gris ...
in Northern California.The buildings of , the best-known ghost town in California, date from the 1870s and later, well after the end of the Gold Rush. Gold was also discovered in
Southern California Southern California (sometimes known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the southern portion of the U.S. state of California California is a in the . With over 39.3million resi ...

Southern California
but on a much smaller scale. The first discovery of gold, at
Rancho San Francisco Rancho San Francisco was a land grant A land grant is a gift of real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this n ...
in the mountains north of present-day
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...
, had been in 1842, six years before Marshall's discovery, while California was still part of Mexico.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 3
However, these first deposits, and later discoveries in Southern California mountains, attracted little notice and were of limited consequence economically.


Indigenous peoples driven out

By 1850, most of the easily accessible gold had been collected, and attention turned to extracting gold from more difficult locations. Faced with gold increasingly difficult to retrieve, Americans began to drive out foreigners to get at the most accessible gold that remained. The new
California State Legislature The California State Legislature is a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social beh ...
passed a foreign miners tax of twenty dollars per month ($ per month as of ), and American
prospectors Prospecting is the first stage of the geological analysis (followed by exploration Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it ...
began organized attacks on foreign miners, particularly
Latin American Latin Americans ( es, Latinoamericanos; pt, Latino-americanos; ) are the citizenship, citizens of Latin American countries (or people with cultural, ancestral or national origins in Latin America). Latin American countries and their diasporas a ...
s and
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 9
In addition, the huge numbers of newcomers were driving
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
out of their traditional hunting, fishing and food-gathering areas. To protect their homes and livelihood, some Native Americans responded by attacking the miners. This provoked counter-attacks on native villages. The Native Americans, out-gunned, were often slaughtered.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 8
Those who escaped massacres were many times unable to survive without access to their food-gathering areas, and they starved to death. Novelist and poet
Joaquin Miller Cincinnatus Heine Miller (; September 8, 1837 – February 17, 1913), better known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) ...

Joaquin Miller
vividly captured one such attack in his semi-autobiographical work, ''Life Amongst the Modocs.''Miller, Joaquin (1873).


Earlier discoveries of gold

The first gold found in California was made on March 9, 1842. Francisco Lopez, a native of California, was searching for stray horses. He stopped on the bank of a small creek in what later was known as Placerita Canyon, about east of the present-day
Newhall, California Newhall is the southernmost and oldest community of Santa Clarita, California. Prior to the 1987 consolidation of Canyon Country, California, Canyon Country, Saugus, California, Saugus, Newhall, Valencia, Santa Clarita, California, Valencia and ...
, and about northwest of
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles
. While the horses grazed, Lopez dug up some wild onions and found a small gold nugget in the roots among the onion bulbs. He looked further and found more gold. Lopez took the gold to authorities who confirmed its worth. Lopez and others began to search for other streambeds with gold deposits in the area. They found several in the northeastern section of the forest, within present-day
Ventura County Ventura County is a county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction ...
. In 1843 he found gold in San Feliciano Canyon near his first discovery. Mexican miners from
Sonora Sonora (), officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora ( en, Free and Sovereign State of Sonora), is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City Mexico City ( es, link=no, Ciudad de México, ; abbreviated as CDMX; nah, Āltepētl Mēx ...
worked the placer deposits until 1846 when the Californios began to agitate for independence from Mexico, and the
Bear Flag Revolt The California Republic ( es, La República de California), or Bear Flag Republic, was an List of historical unrecognized states#Americas, unrecognized breakaway state from Mexico, that for 25 days in 1846 militarily controlled an area north ...
caused many Mexicans to leave California.Blakely, Jim (1985)


Forty-niners

The first people to rush to the goldfields, beginning in the spring of 1848, were the residents of California themselves—primarily agriculturally oriented Americans and Europeans living in
Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. Spanning the state's northernmost 48 counties, its main population centers incl ...

Northern California
, along with
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
and some ''
Californio Californios are Hispanic The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano) refers to people, cultures Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (Brit ...
s'' (
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
-speaking Californians).Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 43–46
These first miners tended to be families in which everyone helped in the effort. Women and children of all ethnicities were often found panning next to the men. Some enterprising families set up boarding houses to accommodate the influx of men; in such cases, the women often brought in steady income while their husbands searched for gold.Moynihan, Ruth B., Armitage, Susan, and Dichamp, Christiane Fischer (eds.) (1990)
p. 3
Word of the Gold Rush spread slowly at first. The earliest gold-seekers were people who lived near California or people who heard the news from ships on the fastest sailing routes from California. The first large group of Americans to arrive were several thousand Oregonians who came down the
Siskiyou Trail 350px, Siskiyou Trail from Portland, Oregon, to San Francisco, California The Siskiyou Trail stretched from California's Central Valley to Oregon's Willamette Valley The Willamette Valley () is a long valley in Oregon Oregon () is a ...

Siskiyou Trail
.Starr, Kevin (2000), pp. 50–54 Next came people from the Sandwich Islands, and several thousand Latin Americans, including people from
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organi ...

Mexico
, from
Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = Seal (device), National seal , national_mott ...

Peru
and from as far away as
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern ...

Chile
,Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 48–53
both by ship and overland.Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), pp. 50–54. By the end of 1848, some 6,000 Argonauts had come to California. Only a small number (probably fewer than 500) traveled overland from the United States that year. Some of these "forty-eighters",Caughey, John (1975)
p. 17
/ref> as the earliest gold-seekers were sometimes called, were able to collect large amounts of easily accessible gold—in some cases, thousands of dollars worth each day.Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 197–202
Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 63
Holliday notes these luckiest prospectors were recovering, in short amounts of time, gold worth in excess of $1 million when valued at the dollars of today.
Even ordinary prospectors averaged daily gold finds worth 10 to 15 times the daily wage of a laborer on the East Coast. A person could work for six months in the goldfields and find the equivalent of six years' wages back home.Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), p. 28. Some hoped to get rich quick and return home, and others wished to start businesses in California. By the beginning of 1849, word of the Gold Rush had spread around the world, and an overwhelming number of gold-seekers and merchants began to arrive from virtually every continent. The largest group of forty-niners in 1849 were Americans, arriving by the tens of thousands overland across the continent and along various sailing routesStarr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), pp. 57–61. (the name "forty-niner" was derived from the year 1849). Many from the
East Coast East Coast may refer to: Entertainment * East Coast hip hop, a subgenre of hip hop * East Coast (ASAP Ferg song), "East Coast" (ASAP Ferg song), 2017 * East Coast (Saves the Day song), "East Coast" (Saves the Day song), 2004 * East Coast FM, a rad ...
negotiated a crossing of the
Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (nor ...

Appalachian Mountains
, taking to riverboats in
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, poling the
keelboats Barges twice: A long cigar-shaped keelboat passing a " flatboat" on the Ohio River.">Ohio_River.html" ;"title="flatboat" on the Ohio River">flatboat" on the Ohio River. A keelboat is a riverine cargo-capable working boat, or a small- to mid-sized ...
to
Missouri River The Missouri River is the longest river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its ...
wagon train ''Wagon Train'' is an American Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in A ...

wagon train
assembly ports, and then travelling in a wagon train along the
California Trail The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, th ...
. Many others came by way of the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Kara ...
and the steamships of the
Pacific Mail Steamship Company The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was founded April 18, 1848, as a joint stock company under the laws of the State of New York by a group of New York City merchants. Incorporators included William H. Aspinwall, Edwin Bartlett (American consul at ...
. AustraliansBrands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 53–61
and New Zealanders picked up the news from ships carrying Hawaiian newspapers, and thousands, infected with "gold fever", boarded ships for California.Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), pp. 53–56. Forty-niners came from Latin America, particularly from the Mexican mining districts near
Sonora Sonora (), officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora ( en, Free and Sovereign State of Sonora), is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City Mexico City ( es, link=no, Ciudad de México, ; abbreviated as CDMX; nah, Āltepētl Mēx ...
and Chile. Gold-seekers and merchants from Asia, primarily from China,Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 61–64
began arriving in 1849, at first in modest numbers to ''Gum San'' (" Gold Mountain"), the name given to California in Chinese.Magagnini, Stephen (January 18, 1998
Chinese transformed 'Gold Mountain'
, ''The Sacramento Bee''. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
The first immigrants from Europe, reeling from the effects of the
Revolutions of 1848 The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Springtime of the Peoples or the Springtime of Nations, were a series of political upheaval A political revolution, in the Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch o ...
and with a longer distance to travel, began arriving in late 1849, mostly from France,Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 93–103
with some
Germans Germans (, ) are the natives or inhabitants of Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas ...
,
Italians Italians ( it, italiani ) are a Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong att ...

Italians
, and
Britons The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mix ...

Britons
. It is estimated that approximately 90,000 people arrived in
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
in 1849—about half by land and half by sea.Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), pp. 57–61. Other estimates range from 70,000 to 90,000 arrivals during 1849 (''ibid.'' p. 57). Of these, perhaps 50,000 to 60,000 were Americans, and the rest were from other countries. By 1855, it is estimated at least 300,000 gold-seekers, merchants, and other immigrants had arrived in California from around the world.Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), p. 25. The largest group continued to be Americans, but there were tens of thousands each of Mexicans, Chinese, Britons, Australians, French, and Latin Americans,Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 193–194
together with many smaller groups of miners, such as African Americans,
Filipinos Filipinos ( fil, Mga Pilipino) are the people who are citizens of or native to the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Re ...
,
Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to the ancient Vascones and Aquitania ...

Basques
Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), p. 62. and Turks.Neary, J. (2015), pp. 226–248 People from small villages in the hills near Genova, Italy were among the first to settle permanently in the
Sierra Nevada foothills:''See Sierra Nevada for general information about the mountain range in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily loc ...
; they brought with them traditional agricultural skills, developed to survive cold winters.Freguli, Carolyn. (eds.) (2008), pp.8–9. A modest number of miners of African ancestry (probably less than 4,000)Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 5
Another estimate is 2,500 forty-niners of African ancestry.
had come from the
Southern States Southern States may refer to: *The independent states of the Southern hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ...
,African Americans who were slaves and came to California during the Gold Rush could gai
their freedom
One of the miners was African American Edmond Edward Wysinger (1816–1891), see also Moses Rodgers (1835–1900)
the Caribbean and Brazil.Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), pp. 67–69. A number of immigrants were from China. Several hundred Chinese arrived in California in 1849 and 1850, and in 1852 more than 20,000 landed in San Francisco.Faragher, John (2006), p. 411 Their distinctive dress and appearance was highly recognizable in the goldfields. Chinese miners suffered enormously, enduring violent racism from white miners who aimed their frustrations at foreigners. To this day, there has been no justice for known victims. Further animosity toward the Chinese led to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and Foreign Miners Tax. There were also Women in the California Gold Rush, women in the Gold Rush. However, their numbers were small. Of the 40,000 people who arrived by ship in the San Francisco harbor in 1849, only 700 were women (including poor women, wealthy women, entrepreneurs, prostitutes, single women and married women). They were of various ethnicities including Anglo-American, African-American, Hispanic, indigenous peoples of the americas, Native, European, Chinese people, Chinese, and Jewish. The reasons they came varied: some came with their husbands, refusing to be left behind to fend for themselves, some came because their husbands sent for them, and others came (singles and widows) for the adventure and economic opportunities.Moynihan, Ruth B., Armitage, Susan, and Dichamp, Christiane Fischer (eds.) (1990)
p. 3-8
On the California Trail, trail many people died from accidents,
cholera Cholera is an infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of tissues to the infectious agents and the s they produce. An infectious disease, also known as a transmissible disea ...

cholera
, fever, and myriad other causes, and many women became widows before even setting eyes on California. While in California, women became widows quite frequently due to mining accidents, disease, or mining disputes of their husbands. Life in the goldfields offered opportunities for women to break from their traditional work.


Social history and impact


Gender practices

As the California Gold Rush brought a disproportionate population of men and set an environment of experimental lawlessness separate from the bounds of standard society, conventional American gender roles came into question. In the large absence of women, these migrant young men were made to reorganize their social and sexual practices, leading to cross-gender practices that most often took place as cross-dressing. Dance events were a notable social space for cross-dressing, where a piece of cloth (such as a handkerchief or sackcloth patch) would denote a 'woman.' Beyond social events, these subverted gender expectations continued into domestic duties as well. Though cross-dresssing occurred most frequently with men as women, the reverse also applied. Many men were 'found out' to be female-bodied--often after death--and reported in local newspapers. These miners and merchants of various genders and gendered appearances, encouraged by the social fluidity and population limitations of the Wild West, shaped the beginnings of LGBT culture in San Francisco , San Francisco's prominent queer history.


Legal rights

When the Gold Rush began, the California goldfields were peculiarly lawless places.Young, Otis (1970)
pp. 111–112
When gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, California was still technically part of Mexico, under American military occupation as the result of the
Mexican–American War The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the (''U.S. intervention in Mexico''), was an armed conflict between the United States and Second Federal Republic of Mexico, Mexico from 1846 ...

Mexican–American War
. With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, treaty ending the war on February 2, 1848, California became a possession of the United States, but it was not a formal "organized territory, territory" and did not become a state until September 9, 1850. California existed in the unusual condition of a region under military control. There was no civil legislature, executive or judicial body for the entire region.Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 115-123
Local residents operated under a confusing and changing mixture of Mexican rules, American principles, and personal dictates. Lax enforcement of federal laws, such as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, encouraged the arrival of free blacks and escaped slaves. While the treaty ending the Mexican–American War obliged the United States to honor Mexican land grants,Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 235
almost all the goldfields were outside those grants. Instead, the goldfields were primarily on "Public land#United States, public land", meaning land formally owned by the United States government.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 123125
However, there were no legal rules yet in place, and no practical enforcement mechanisms.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 127
There were fewer than 1,000 U.S. soldiers in California at the beginning of the Gold Rush.
The benefit to the forty-niners was that the gold was simply "free for the taking" at first. In the goldfields at the beginning, there was no private property, no licensing fees, and no taxation in the United States, taxes.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 27
The miners informally adapted Mexican mining law that had existed in California. For example, the rules attempted to balance the rights of early arrivers at a site with later arrivers; a "land claims, claim" could be "staked" by a prospector, but that claim was valid only as long as it was being actively worked.Clay, Karen and Wright, Gavin. (2005), pp. 155–183.Clappe, Louise (1922)
pp. 207–221
"Dame Shirley" was the name adopted by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe as she wrote a series of letters to her family describing in detail her life in the Feather River goldfields. The letters were originally published in 1854–1855 by ''The Pioneer'' magazine.
Miners worked at a claim only long enough to determine its potential. If a claim was deemed as low-value—as most were—miners would abandon the site in search of a better one. In the case where a claim was abandoned or not worked upon, other miners would "claim-jump" the land. "Claim-jumping" meant that a miner began work on a previously claimed site. Disputes were often handled personally and violently, and were sometimes addressed by groups of prospectors acting as arbitrators. This often led to heightened ethnic tensions. In some areas the influx of many prospectors could lead to a reduction of the existing claim size by simple pressure.Information Sharing During the Klondike Gold Rush, p. 13–14.
Douglas W. Allen, Simon Fraser University


Development of gold-recovery techniques

Four hundred million years ago, California lay at the bottom of a large sea; underwater volcanoes deposited lava and minerals (including gold) onto the sea floor. By tectonic plates, tectonic forces these minerals and rocks came to the surface of the Sierra Nevada,Hill, Mary (1999), pp. 169–173. and erosion, eroded. Water carried the exposed gold downstream and deposited it in quiet gravel beds along the sides of old rivers and streams.Hill, Mary (1999), pp. 94–100. The forty-niners first focused their efforts on these deposits of gold.Hill, Mary (1999), pp. 105–110. Because the
gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

gold
in the California gravel beds was so richly concentrated, early forty-niners were able to retrieve loose gold flakes and nuggets with their hands, or simply "gold panning, pan" for gold in rivers and streams.Brands, H. W. (2002)
pp. 198–200
Panning cannot take place on a large scale, and industrious miners and groups of miners graduated to placer mining, using "Cradle (mining), cradles" and "rockers" or "long-toms" to process larger volumes of gravel. Miners would also engage in "coyoteing", a method that involved digging a shaft deep into placer deposits along a stream. Tunnels were then dug in all directions to reach the richest veins of :wikt:pay dirt, pay dirt. In the most complex placer mining, groups of prospectors would divert the water from an entire river into a sluice alongside the river and then dig for gold in the newly exposed river bottom.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 90
Modern estimates are that as much as 12 million ounces (370 metric ton, t) of gold were removed in the first five years of the Gold Rush.Hayes, Garry
Mining History and Geology of the California Gold Rush
, Modesto Junior College (accessed September 20, 2018).
In the next stage, by 1853, hydraulic mining was used on ancient gold-bearing gravel beds on hillsides and bluffs in the goldfields.Starr, Kevin (2005)
p. 89
In a modern style of hydraulic mining first developed in California, and later used around the world, a high-pressure hose directed a powerful stream or jet of water at gold-bearing gravel beds. The loosened gravel and gold would then pass over sluices, with the gold settling to the bottom where it was collected. By the mid-1880s, it is estimated that 11 million ounces (340 t) of gold (worth approximately US$15 billion at December 2010 prices) had been recovered by hydraulic mining. A byproduct of these extraction methods was that large amounts of gravel, silt, heavy metals, and other pollutants went into streams and rivers.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 32–36
many areas still bear the scars of hydraulic mining, since the resulting exposed earth and downstream gravel deposits do not support plant life.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 116–121
After the Gold Rush had concluded, gold recovery operations continued. The final stage to recover loose gold was to prospect for gold that had slowly washed down into the flat river bottoms and sandbars of California's California Central Valley, Central Valley and other gold-bearing areas of California (such as Scott Valley in Siskiyou County). By the late 1890s, dredging technology (also invented in California) had become economical,Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 199
and it is estimated that more than 20 million ounces (620 t) were recovered by dredging. Both during the Gold Rush and in the decades that followed, gold-seekers also engaged in "hard-rock" mining, extracting the gold directly from the rock that contained it (typically quartz), usually by digging and blasting to follow and remove veins of the gold-bearing quartz.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 36–39
Once the gold-bearing rocks were brought to the surface, the rocks were crushed and the gold separated, either using separation in water, using its density difference from quartz sand, or by washing the sand over copper plates coated with mercury (element), mercury (with which gold forms an amalgam (chemistry), amalgam). Loss of mercury in the amalgamation process was a Mercury contamination in California waterways, source of environmental contamination.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 39–43
Eventually, hard-rock mining became the single largest source of gold produced in the Gold Country. The total production of gold in California from then until now is estimated at 118 million ounces (3700 t). Gullgraver 1850 California.jpg, Forty-niner panning for gold Wooden gold sluice in California between 1890 and 1915..jpg, Sluice for separation of gold from dirt using water Gold seeking river operations California.jpg, Excavating a riverbed after the water has been diverted Quartz Stamp Mill.jpg, Crushing quartz ore prior to washing out gold California gold miners with long tom (cropped).jpg, California gold miners with long tom, circa 1850-1852 Mining on the American River near Sacramento, circa 1852.jpg, Mining on the American River near Sacramento, circa 1852 River mining, North Fork of the American River, California (cropped).jpg, River mining, North Fork of the American River, circa 1850-1855 Hydraulic mining in Dutch Flat, California, between 1857 and 1870.jpg, Excavating a gravel bed with jets, circa 1863


Profits

Recent scholarship confirms that merchants made far more money than miners during the Gold Rush. The wealthiest man in California during the early years of the rush was
Samuel Brannan Samuel Brannan (March 2, 1819 – May 5, 1889) was an American settler, businessman, journalist, and prominent Mormon who founded the '' California Star'', the first newspaper in San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn f ...

Samuel Brannan
, a tireless self-promoter, shopkeeper and newspaper publisher.Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 69-70
Brannan opened the first supply stores in Sacramento, Coloma, and other spots in the goldfields. Just as the rush began he purchased all the prospecting supplies available in San Francisco and re-sold them at a substantial profit. Some gold-seekers made a significant amount of money.Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 63
On average, half the gold-seekers made a modest profit, after taking all expenses into account; economic historians have suggested that white miners were more successful than black, Indian, or Chinese miners. However, taxes such as the California foreign miners tax passed in 1851, targeted mainly Latino miners and kept them from making as much money as whites, who did not have any taxes imposed on them. In California most late arrivals made little or wound up losing money. Similarly, many unlucky merchants set up in settlements that disappeared, or which succumbed to one of the calamitous fires that swept the towns that sprang up. By contrast, a businessman who went on to great success was Levi Strauss, who first began selling denim overalls in San Francisco in 1853. Other businessmen reaped great rewards in retail, shipping, entertainment, lodging,James Lick made a fortune running a hotel and engaging in land speculation in San Francisco. Lick's fortune was used to build Lick Observatory. or transportation.Four particularly successful Gold Rush era merchants were Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Jr., Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker, Sacramento area businessmen (later known as the The Big Four (Central Pacific Railroad), Big Four) who financed the western leg of the First Transcontinental Railroad, and became very wealthy as a result. Boardinghouses, food preparation, sewing, and laundry were highly profitable businesses often run by women (married, single, or widowed) who realized men would pay well for a service done by a woman. Brothels also brought in large profits, especially when combined with saloons and gaming houses.Johnson, Susan (2001)
pp. 164–168
By 1855, the economic climate had changed dramatically. Gold could be retrieved profitably from the goldfields only by medium to large groups of workers, either in partnerships or as employees. By the mid-1850s, it was the owners of these gold-mining companies who made the money. Also, the population and economy of California had become large and diverse enough that money could be made in a wide variety of conventional businesses.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 52–68pp. 193–197
/ref>


Path of the gold

Once extracted, the
gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

gold
itself took many paths. First, much of the gold was used locally to purchase food, supplies and lodging for the miners. It also went towards entertainment, which consisted of anything from a traveling theater to alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes. These transactions often took place using the recently recovered gold, carefully weighed out.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 212–214
These merchants and vendors, in turn, used the gold to purchase supplies from ship captains or packers bringing goods to California.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 256–259
The gold then left California aboard ships or mules to go to the makers of the goods from around the world. A second path was the Argonauts themselves who, having personally acquired a sufficient amount, sent the gold home, or returned home taking with them their hard-earned "diggings". For example, one estimate is that some United States dollar, US$80 million worth of California gold (equivalent to US$ billion today) was sent to France by French people, French prospectors and merchants.Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 90
A majority of the gold went back to
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
brokerage houses. As the Gold Rush progressed, local banks and gold dealers issued "banknotes" or "drafts"—locally accepted paper currency—in exchange for gold,Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 193–97pp. 214–215
and private mints created private gold coins.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 214
With the building of the San Francisco Mint in 1854, Gold as an investment, gold bullion was turned into official United States California gold coinage, gold coins for circulation.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 212
The gold was also later sent by California banks to U.S. national banks in exchange for national paper currency to be used in the economic boom, booming economy of California, California economy.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 226–227


Near-term effects

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of new people in California within a few years, compared to a population of some 15,000 Europeans and ''Californios'' beforehand,Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), p. 50. Other estimates are that there were 7,000–13,000 non-Native Americans in California before January 1848. See Holliday, J. S. (1999)
p. 26p. 51
had many dramatic effects.Historians have reflected on the Gold Rush and its effect on California. Historian Kevin Starr stated that for all its problems and benefits, the Gold Rush established the "founding patterns, the DNA code, of American California", and quotes from ''The Annals of San Francisco'' in 1855 that the Gold Rush advanced California into a "rapid, monstrous maturity". ''See'' Starr, Kevin (2005)
p. 80
and Starr, Kevin (1973)
p. 110
A 2017 study attributes the record-long economic expansion of the United States in the recession-free period of 1841–1856 primarily to "a boom in transportation-goods investment following the discovery of gold in California."


Development of government and commerce

The Gold Rush propelled California from a sleepy, little-known backwater to a center of the global imagination and the destination of hundreds of thousands of people. The new immigrants often showed remarkable inventiveness and civic-mindedness. For example, in the midst of the Gold Rush, towns and cities were chartered, a state constitutional convention (political meeting), constitutional convention was convened, a California Constitution, state constitution written, elections held, and representatives sent to Washington, D.C. to negotiate the admission of California as a U.S. state, state.Starr, Kevin (2005)
pp. 91–93
Large-scale agriculture (California's second "Gold Rush"Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 243–248
By 1860, California had over 200 flour mills, and was exporting wheat and flour around the world. ''Ibid.'' a
278–280
) began during this time.Starr, Kevin (2005)
pp. 110–111
Roads, schools, churches,Starr, Kevin (1973)
pp. 69–75
and civic organizations quickly came into existence. The vast majority of the immigrants were Americans. Pressure grew for better communications and political connections to the rest of the United States, leading to statehood for California on September 9, 1850, in the
Compromise of 1850 The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850 that defused a political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of Mexican Cession, territories acquired in th ...
as the List of U.S. states by date of statehood, state of the United States. Between 1847 and 1870, the population of San Francisco increased from 500 to 150,000. The Gold Rush wealth and population increase led to significantly improved transportation between California and the East Coast. The Panama Railway, spanning the Isthmus of Panama, was finished in 1855. Steamships, including those owned by the
Pacific Mail Steamship Company The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was founded April 18, 1848, as a joint stock company under the laws of the State of New York by a group of New York City merchants. Incorporators included William H. Aspinwall, Edwin Bartlett (American consul at ...
, began regular service from San Francisco to
Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several ...

Panama
, where passengers, goods and mail would take the train across the Isthmus and board steamships headed to the East Coast. One ill-fated journey, that of the SS Central America, S.S. ''Central America'',S.S. Central America information

Final voyage of the S.S. Central America
Retrieved April 25, 2008.
ended in disaster as the ship sank in a hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas in 1857, with approximately three tons of California gold aboard.Hill, Mary (1999), pp. 192–196.Another notable shipwreck was the steamship Winfield Scott (ship), ''Winfield Scott'', bound to Panama from San Francisco, which crashed into Anacapa Island off the
Southern California Southern California (sometimes known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the southern portion of the U.S. state of California California is a in the . With over 39.3million resi ...

Southern California
coast in December 1853. All hands and passengers were saved, along with the cargo of gold, but the ship was a total loss.


Impact on Native Americans

The human and environmental costs of the Gold Rush were substantial. Native Americans, dependent on traditional hunting, gathering and agriculture, became the victims of starvation and disease, as gravel, silt and toxic chemicals from prospecting operations killed fish and destroyed habitats. The surge in the mining population also resulted in the disappearance of game and food gathering locales as gold camps and other settlements were built amidst them. Later farming spread to supply the settlers' camps, taking more land away from the Native Americans. In some areas, systematic attacks against tribespeople in or near mining districts occurred. American Indian Wars#California, Various conflicts were fought between natives and settlers. Miners often saw Native Americans as impediments to their mining activities. Ed Allen, interpretive lead for Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, reported that there were times when miners would kill up to 50 or more Natives in one day. Retribution attacks on solitary miners could result in larger scale attacks against Native populations, at times tribes or villages not involved in the original act.While the Bloody Island Massacre occurred during this time period, it did not occur in the Gold Rush era mining districts. During the 1852 Bridge Gulch Massacre, a group of settlers attacked a band of Wintu Indians in response to the killing of a citizen named J. R. Anderson. After his killing, the sheriff led a group of men to track down the Indians, whom the men then attacked. Only three children survived the massacre that was against a different band of Wintu than the one that had killed Anderson. Historian Benjamin Madley recorded the numbers of killings of California Indians between 1846 and 1873 and estimated that during this period at least 9,400 to 16,000 California Indians were killed by non-Indians, mostly occurring in more than 370 massacres (defined as the "intentional killing of five or more disarmed combatants or largely unarmed noncombatants, including women, children, and prisoners, whether in the context of a battle or otherwise"). According to demographer Russell Thornton, between 1849 and 1890, the Indigenous population of California fell below 20,000 – primarily because of the killings. According to the government of California, some 4,500 Native Americans suffered violent deaths between 1849 and 1870. Furthermore, California stood in opposition of ratifying the eighteen treaties signed between tribal leaders and federal agents in 1851. The state government, in support of miner activities funded and supported death squads, appropriating over 1 million dollars towards the funding and operation of the paramilitary organizations. Peter Burnett, California's first governor declared that California was a battleground between the races and that there were only two options towards California Indians, extermination or removal. "That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected. While we cannot anticipate the result with but painful regret, the inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power and wisdom of man to avert." For Burnett, like many of his contemporaries, the genocide was part of God's plan, and it was necessary for Burnett's constituency to move forward in California. The Act for the Government and Protection of Indians, passed on April 22, 1850 by the California Legislature, allowed settlers to capture and use Native people as bonded workers, prohibited Native peoples' testimony against settlers, and allowed the adoption of Native children by settlers, often for labor purposes. After the initial boom had ended, explicitly anti-foreign and racist attacks, laws and confiscatory taxes sought to drive out foreigners—not just Native Americans—from the mines, especially the Chinese people, Chinese and Latin American immigrants mostly from Sonora, Mexico and
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern ...

Chile
.Starr, Kevin and Orsi, Richard J. (eds.) (2000), pp. 56–79. The toll on the American immigrants was severe as well: one in twelve forty-niners perished, as the death and crime rates during the Gold Rush were extraordinarily high, and the resulting vigilantism also took its toll.Starr, Kevin (2005)
pp. 84–87


World-wide economic stimulation

The Gold Rush stimulated economies around the world as well. Farmers Chilean wheat cycle, in Chile, Australia, and
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
found a huge new market for their food; British manufactured goods were in high demand; clothing and even prefabricated houses arrived from China.Rawls, James J. (1999)
p. 286
The return of large amounts of California gold to pay for these goods raised prices and stimulated investment and the creation of jobs around the world.Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 287–289
Australian prospector Edward Hargraves, noting similarities between the geography of California and his home country, returned to Australia to discover gold and spark the Australian gold rushes. Preceding the Gold Rush, the United States was on a Gold standard#Bimetallic standard, bi-metallic standard, but the sudden increase in physical gold supply increased the relative value of physical silver and drove silver money from circulation. The increase in gold supply also created a monetary supply Shock (economics), shock. Within a few years after the end of the Gold Rush, in 1863, the groundbreaking ceremony for the western leg of the First Transcontinental Railroad was held in Sacramento. The line's completion, some six years later, financed in part with Gold Rush money,Rawls, James J. (1999)
pp. 278–279
united California with the central and eastern United States. Travel that had taken weeks or even months could now be accomplished in days.Historians James Rawls and Walton Bean have postulated that were it not for the discovery of gold, Oregon might have been granted statehood ahead of California, and therefore the first "Pacific Railroad might have been built to that state." ''See'' Rawls, James, J., and Walton Bean (2003), p. 112.


Longer-term effects

California's name became indelibly connected with the Gold Rush, and fast success in a new world became known as the "California Dream." California was perceived as a place of new beginnings, where great wealth could reward hard work and good luck. Historian H. W. Brands noted that in the years after the Gold Rush, the California Dream spread across the nation: Overnight California gained the international reputation as the "golden state". Generations of immigrants have been attracted by the California Dream. California farmers,Starr, Kevin (2005)
p. 110
"[A]griculture dominated the post-Gold Rush sequence of development, employing more people than mining by 1869 ... and surpassing mining in 1879 as the leading element of the California economy."
oil drillers,''See, e.g.,'' Signal Hill, California, Bakersfield, California; History of Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles, California movie makers,20th Century-Fox, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Paramount, RKO, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and United Artists are among the most recognized entertainment industry names centered in California; ''see also'' Film studio Aircraft industry, airplane builders,Douglas Aircraft, Lockheed Corporation, Lockheed Aircraft, Hughes Aircraft, North American Aviation, Convair, and Northrop Corporation, Northrop were among the complex of companies in the aerospace industry which flourished in California during and after World War II. computer and microchip makers, and Dot-com bubble, "dot-com" entrepreneurs have each had their boom times in the decades after the Gold Rush. Included among the modern legacies of the California Gold Rush are the California state motto, "Eureka (word), Eureka" ("I have found it"), Gold Rush images on the Seal of California, California State Seal,Gold Rush images on the state seal include a forty-niner digging with a pick and shovel, a pan for panning gold, and a "long-tom." In addition, the ships on the water suggest the sailing ships filling the
Sacramento River The Sacramento River ( es, Río Sacramento) is the principal river of Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state ...
and San Francisco Bay during the Gold Rush era.
and the state nickname, "The Golden State", as well as place names, such as Placer County, California, Placer County, Rough and Ready, California, Rough and Ready, Placerville, California, Placerville (formerly named "Dry Diggings" and then "Hangtown" during rush time), Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, Whiskeytown, Drytown, California, Drytown, Angels Camp, California, Angels Camp, Happy Camp, California, Happy Camp, and Sawyers Bar. The 1925 California Diamond Jubilee half dollar featured a Gold Rush-era prospector panning for gold. The San Francisco 49ers National Football League team, and the similarly named athletic teams of California State University, Long Beach, are named for the prospectors of the California Gold Rush. In addition, the standard route shield of state highways in California is in the shape of a miner's spade to honor the California Gold Rush. Today, the aptly named California State Route 49, State Route 49 travels through the Sierra Nevada (U.S.), Sierra Nevada foothills, connecting many Gold Rush-era towns such as Placerville, Auburn, California, Auburn, Grass Valley, California, Grass Valley, Nevada City, California, Nevada City, Coloma, Jackson, California, Jackson, and Sonora, California, Sonora. This state highway also passes very near Columbia State Historic Park, a protected area encompassing the historic business district of the town of Columbia, California, Columbia; the park has preserved many Gold Rush-era buildings, which are presently occupied by tourist-oriented businesses.


Cultural references

* The literary history of the Gold Rush is reflected in the works of Mark Twain (''The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County''), Bret Harte (''A Millionaire of Rough-and-Ready''),
Joaquin Miller Cincinnatus Heine Miller (; September 8, 1837 – February 17, 1913), better known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) ...

Joaquin Miller
(''Life Amongst the Modocs''), and many others.Watson, Matthew (2005) looks at Bret Harte's notion of Western partnership in such California gold rush stories as "The Luck of Roaring Camp" (1868), "Tennessee's Partner (short story), Tennessee's Partner" (1869), and "Miggles" (1869). While critics have long recognized Harte's interest in gender constructs, Harte's depictions of Western partnerships also explore changing dynamics of economic relationships and gendered relationships through terms of contract, mutual support, and the bonds of labor. * The Asian-American, Indigenous, and genderqueer experiences of the California Gold Rush is captured in C Pam Zhang's debut novel, ''How Much of These Hills Is Gold''. * A number of animated cartoons satirized the California Gold Rush, including ''Gold Rush Daze'' (Warner Bros., 1939), ''14 Carrot Rabbit'' (Warner Bros., 1952) and ''Barbary Coast Bunny'' (Warner Bros., 1956).


See also

* Barbary Coast, San Francisco, Barbary Coast * California Mining and Mineral Museum * Colorado Gold Rush * Klondike Gold Rush * Witwatersrand Gold Rush


Notes


References

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * * * * * Heinrich Lienhard, Lienhard, Heinrich. ''"Wenn Du absolut nach Amerika willst, so gehe in Gottesnamen!", Erinnerungen an den California Trail, John A. Sutter und den Goldrausch 1846–1849.'' Herausgegeben von [edited by] Christa Landert, mit einem Vorwort von [foreword by] Leo Schelbert. Zürich: Limmat Verlag, 2010, 2011. * * * *
online edition
* * *Witschi, N. S. (2004). "Bret Harte." ''Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature.'' Ed. Jay Parini. New York: Oxford University Press. 154–157. *


Maps


Ord, Edward Otho Cresap, Topographical sketch of the gold & quicksilver district of California, 1848.
from loc.gov accessed October 4, 2018.
Lawson's Map from Actual Survey of the Gold, Silver & Quicksilver Regions of Upper California Exhibiting the Mines, Diggings, Roads, Paths, Houses, Mills, Missions &c. &c by J.T. Lawson, Esq. Cala. . . . New York, 1849.
from raremaps.com accessed October 4, 2018. Lawson's map of the Gold Regions is the first map to accurately depict California's Gold Regions. Issued in January 1849, at the beginning of the California Gold Rush, Lawson's map was produced specifically for prospectors and miners.
A Correct Map of the Bay of San Francisco and the Gold Region from actual Survey June 20th. 1849 for J.J. Jarves. Embracing all the New Towns, Ranchos, Roads, Dry and Wet Diggings, with their several distances from each other, James Munroe & Co. of Boston, 1849
from raremaps.com accessed October 4, 2018. One of the earliest maps of the gold region made from personal observation, Jarves' map states on it that it was the result of a survey of the diggings made for him on June 20, 1849.
George Derby, Sketch of General Riley's Route Through the Mining Districts July and Aug., J. McH. Hollingsworth, New York, 1849
from raremaps.com accessed October 4, 2018. *
The Sacramento Valley from The American River to Butte Creek, Surveyed & Drawn by Order of Gen.l Riley ... by Lt. George H. Derby,... September & October 1849, Washington, 1849
from raremaps.com accessed October 4, 2018. Map by Lt. George H. Derby, from Tyson's Information in Relation to the Geology and Topography of California.
Jackson, William A., Map of the mining district of California, Lambert & Lane's Lith., 1850.
from loc.gov accessed October 4, 2018.
Map of the Gold Region of California taken from a recent survey By Robert H. Ellis 1850 (with early manuscript annotations), George F. Nesbitt, Lith., New York, 1850
from raremaps.com accessed October 4, 2018. A later 1850 map showing the growing settlement in the goldfields and in that vicinity of the state.


External links

*

at The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

at the website of United States Geological Survey
Gold Country Museum
in Placer County, California
"California as I Saw It:" First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849–1900
Library of Congress American Memory Project

*[http://www.library.ca.gov/goldrush/index.html California State Library, ''"California As We Saw It": Exploring the California Gold Rush'', online exhibit]
Map of North America during the California Gold Rush at omniatlas.comLewis B. Rush diary, diary of a gold rush miner, MSS SC 161
at L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University *hdl:10079/fa/beinecke.goldrush, Gold Rush Collection. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. {{Featured article California Gold Rush, Pre-statehood history of California 1848 in California 1849 in California 1850 in California History of mining in the United States History of United States expansionism Maritime history of California Hydraulic engineering 1840s economic history 1850s economic history