California Dream

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With the many images portraying California as place with endless coasts, oceanic ports, mountain ranges with fields of agriculture, and a new frontier with opportunities to strike it rich with the swing of a pick ax. These images and stories inspired people to take a chance and risk everything, making California a beacon of hope for a new life. As people flocked to California, from around the globe, they found that there was not much truth to the notion of living the California Dream. Instead, they returned home with little or nothing to show for their time, some never made it home at all. Although, the many images of California were exaggerated and romanced, the hardships and struggles of the miners in pursuit of the California dream founded and shaped this state, allowing for a continued legacy of that dream.

The discovery of gold at Sutter’s mill in January of 1848 brought a vast change to the territory and set the stage for era of the California dream. Prior to the news of the gold rush the American creed was more along the lines of working hard every day, plugging away to achieve success. With many American’s settling for tending to the family farm, or traditional occupations carried on through generations. News of gold free for the taking inspired many to risk everything for a shot at instant wealth. According to an unnamed author of, Going to California: “Forty-Niners and the Gold Rush” word quickly spread through California, the rest of America, and eventually the world flocked to California to make their fortune. (Ukn Abt) The stories of success in the early discoveries of gold, and the images of the men holding large nuggets of gold were not a reality for all the forty-niners (See Fig. 1).

According to Kathy Wieser author of, “The California Gold Rush,” for many minors the cost of supplies and daily living demanded that they find an ounce of gold a day just to break even. The earliest minors did well, even with the crudest of mining tools. All...
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