The California gold rush drastically changed America in numerous ways. It facilitated economic growth and prosperity in the west. In addition, it “inspired perhaps the largest mass movement of people in world history. ‘Neither the Crusades nor Alexander’s expeditions to India (all things considered) can equal this emigration to California,’ wrote one forty-niner.” (Gillon, n.d.) Despite dramatic changes that occurred due to the Gold Rush, one outcome of the Gold Rush –California’s constitution– significantly instigated even more remarkable change, especially when considering how long each actually took to complete. October 13, 1849: The signing of California's Constitution
After the explosion of people to the west, demands for statehood began to become more insistent and frequent. In California, forty-eight delegates met in Monterey for a constitutional convention called for by Brigadier General Bennett Riley, head of the established military government. Thirty-six of the men were born in the US; six were native-born Californios, and the remaining came from Europe. Their backgrounds varied, but law, ranching and merchandising predominated. The constitution was signed on October 13, 1849. (City of Monterey, n.d.) A unanimous vote proclaimed California as a free state, “Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State.” (California Const. art. 1, § 18) This decision was of vital importance to the balance of power between the slave-owning states and those, which stood against slavery. (City of Monterey, n.d.) The question of slavery in new territories would push the nation closer to civil war even after the Compromise of 1850, which was a series of five bills that were intended to stave off sectional strife and to deal with the spread of slavery to territories in order to keep northern and southern interests in balance, temporarily decelerating the crusade to civil war. (Kelly, n.d.-a) The signing of the California constitution, which insisted on entering the Union as a free state, initiated the march to Civil War.
June 21, 1964: Freedom Summer: Eliminated
Freedom Summer was a highly publicized campaign in the Deep South to register blacks to vote during the summer of 1964. The murders of three civil rights workers- Michael “Mickey” Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney- made headlines all over the country, and provoked an outpouring of national support for the Civil Rights Movement. This movement eventually led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act and federal legislation that among other things outlawed the tactics Southern states had used to prevent blacks from voting. Freedom Summer also instilled among African Americans a new consciousness and a new confidence in political action. (Freedom Summer, n.d.) However, the events surrounding the death of Emmett Till had had arguably more radical repercussions. August 28, 1955: Kidnapping and Murder of Emmet Till
In 1955, Emmet Till, went to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi. Emmet was abducted from his great-uncles home, tortured and murdered by two white men for allegedly saying “bye, baby” to a white women. Horrified by the mutilation of her son's body yet determined that it would not happen again, Mamie Till made a stunning decision -- Emmett would have an open casket funeral. "I think everybody needed to know what had happened to Emmett Till," she said. (PBS, n.d.) His murder and the subsequent trial of his accused killers became a lightning rod for moral outrage, both at the time and to this day. Historian...