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The gold rush of the 1850s symbolized Americas quest towards westward movement, challenges of life on the frontier, and the impact it had on Californias growth. As a result, the gold rush strongly influenced the shaping of American History. Many people that had heard of the gold rush in the 1850s moved right out there as fast as they could to get their hands on that gold. Once the people got out there they wouldnt return back to the east. As a result, the gold rush strongly influenced the shaping of American History. James W.
Marshalls finding of gold on January 24, 1848 led to the expansion of the West Coast and the beginning of a new state, California. Marshall discovered gold in a mill on the south fork of the American River, and seeing that it was John A. Stutters mill he wanted the gold kept quiet and the press kept out of it for a while, but by March it was revealed. By May the rush had started and men who headed for the streams flowing westward from the Sierra Nevada depopulated San Francisco, Monterey, San Jose, and other California communities. By the time summer was there, Californians joined by few men from Hawaii and Oregon were already in search for the gold without competition from the gold seekers who would soon descend on the gold country. By the time August came around the news had already hit the East when the New York Herald published a report. In December of that same year President James K.
Polk notified Congress of the gold discovery and the whole world realized that this was true. Gold fever broke out in the United States; thousands made arrangements to go the California in the spring. Some small gold seekers went west and planned to do the job on their own. Being able to share expenses, labor, and profits between just a small group of people benefited these workers. The small groups would not have to worry about being paid for their labor by companies. They would be able to keep what they had mined out and not have to worry about giving it to the companies and getting a smaller cut.
Many Americans on the eastern seacoast decided to travel by sea. Within a month after the presidents message, 61 ships left the Atlantic seaports for a voyage of 6 months around Cape Horn. They faced 15,000 or more miles of travel between the East Coast and San Francisco depending on how far their vessels had to swing into the Atlantic and Pacific. The travelers were mostly farmers and tradesmen who knew nothing or very little about the sea. One representative group, of the Hartford Union Mining and Trading Company, had 122 members, more than one third Married, with an average age of 27. The 23 farmers in the Group made up the largest occupational category, followed by 16 Joiners and 8 machinists.
Only 2 navigators and 6 seamen Were included in the number. (Marks, 83-84) And the journey to seek gold would finally end when the vessels hit land in the summer of 1849. By far the largest number of gold seekers traveled by land because it was a less expensive and shorter trip. Warm weather permitted because and early start across northern Mexico or New Mexico. There were not many easy trails to follow on the way to the rush. Men and women traveled many different trails, which were all difficult in search for the gold. Not only were trails difficult to follow in the quest for gold but there were also many challenges to survive on the frontier.
The danger of Indians was minimized although due to the number of people that traveled to get the gold. The heavy traffic exhausted the grass supply needed for animals and water holes along the trail were infected with Asiatic Cholera. The immigrants knew nothing about the traveling along the plains or over the mountains. Guides were scarce, and many guidebooks were misleading. This all caused many problems for immigrants throughout the journey. A relief society in Sacramento financed and delivered medical help and food supplies to people stranded on the desert, which saved many lives. People who wandered from the established routes encountered suffering.
One party leaving the Colorado River to strike west into California left most of its number in a valley now known as Death Valley (http://www.acusd.edu/~jross/goldrush.html) So many men came to California that the majority found it necessary to labor long hard hours to obtain the gold necessary to provide shelter and food. The weaker people could not survive and they died out quickly. Because of all the hard challenges throughout the gold rush the population began to wipe out and decrease. (http://www.acusd.edu/~jross/goldrush.html) Even though traveling by sea was safer than overland there were still problems. When vessels reached San Francisco the crews deserted it for the gold fields rather than continue providing transportation. As cholera and yellow fever, malaria and typhoid infested Panama City; gold-seekers jammed the beach, fighting for a place on a steamer, which would go straight through California. Most Panama travelers were happy to board anything that looked like it might reach San Francisco.
Meanwhile, those fortunate enough to secure a steamer passage expressed great relief, both at departing and at obtaining this mode of travel. (Marks, 87) All were so glad to leave this place, where they had experienced so much anxiety and impatience. (Marks, 87) When the gold rush had begun California had an estimated population of 14,000 and by the end in 1849 there was about 100,000 in the former Mexican area. (Marks, 87) Due to the gold rush it brought about California to become an independent state. The gold rush had a very strong impact on California and the United States. The gold rush prepared California for statehood right away. Delegates to a convention meeting at Monterey in 1849 adopted a free-state Constitution, and the document was approved which was a big step for California. California brought a lot of new people out to the western half of the United States.
It opened a lot of doors for the U.S. because of the money and it helped be able to get new things and better things to attract more people. From the 1850s to the 1870s California did very well with the mining and agriculture, although it did not do so hot in the 1870s. However in the 70s real estate boomed, mostly in southern California followed the distress of the 1870s. By the 1890s San Francisco was the largest city on the Pacific Coast and the commercial center of the world. The gold rush of the 1850s symbolized Americas quest towards westward movement, the challenges of life on the frontier, and the impact it had on Californias growth.
As a result, the gold rush profoundly influences the shaping of American History. Many people learned how to be independent and survive on their own through difficult challenges. Many people gained freedom by discovering new land, new jobs, and so on. Not only did the gold rush era change the lives of many people but it also made California and independent state. California benefited from the Gold Rush and became the largest city on the Pacific Coast. I learned that people had to defeat their fears and go through many hard struggles to achieve what they wanted. People wanted more than anything to find gold and they would do whatever they could just to get some.
They wanted this gold so bad because if they could find it they knew they would be rich because gold was such an expensive resource. In life things arent handed to you, you have to work to get what you want out of life. I feel that this was an important era in American History, which changed the lives of many people. It made people think about life in general and what they needed to do to achieve their pursuit of happiness. The gold rush made people work for what they wanted, made them fight for it, and fight for their freedom. Bibliography: WORKS CITED Lewis, Oscar. Sutters Fort: Gateway to the Gold Fields.
New Jersey: Prentice- Hall, Inc Magill, Frank. Great Events from History. New Jersey: Salem Press Inc. 1975. Marks, Paula Mitchell. Precious Dust. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
1994 Rose, Jennifer, http://www.acusd.edu/~jross/goldrush.html Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. New York: G.P. Putnams sons..
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