Success in the United States is largely defined by material wealth. Americans choose paths that will help their families to lead comfortable, happy lives. Sometimes this means following crazy opportunities to a new part of the country, which can be both exciting and risky at the same time. This was seen during the California Gold Rush of the 1840’s. The Gold Rush was a significant event in our nation’s history for many reasons, including its impact on Westward Expansion and its ability to establish America as the land of opportunity. Americans migrated west in pursuit of gold, prosperity, and the American Dream.
Gold was discovered in 1848, and spread across the country. John Sutter, a Swiss imigrant, arrived in California in 1839. He became a Mexican citizen and received a 50,000 acre land grant in Sacremento Valley. John built Sutter's Fort at present day Sacremento. There he developed farming and other businesses. Immigrants and travelors would go to Sutter's Fort to rest. In 1847, John Sutter hired James Marshall to build a saw mill at his site named Coloma. While working James Marshall picked up a piece of metal that looked like gold. James and John took it to be tested, and confirmed that it was gold. John was afraid that finding the gold was going to start a riot. He was also concerned that it would bring prospectors to his land. He asked Marshall to keep the discovery a secret, but word got out. Word of the gold spread across the country, in 1848("How It Started" NP).
Several people, from across the country, came to Califonia to search for gold. On December 5, 1848, President James Polk confirmed the discovery to the Congress. It then became national news. By 1849, the gold rush was on. From all over the world, people were coming to California. Many people hoped of striking it rich, and expected the rivers to be overflowing with gold. All the riverbank's were full of miners making it hard to look for gold. Most people were former storekeepers, cooks, carpenters, teachers, farmers, before going to Caifornia to search for gold("How It Started" NP). In April 1847, the town consisted of 79 buildings including shanties, framed houses and adobes. By December 1849, the population grew to 100,000 people(California Gold Rush" NP).
The gold discovery severly hit San Francisco, almost destroying it in the process. San Francisco soon became cluttered with deserted ships, abandoned jobs, and both San Franscisco's Newspapers had shut down. The New York Herald printed news of the discovery in, August 1848. The gold rush accelorated into a stampede("The California Gold Rush" NP). Many of the people made their money selling imported goods and farming equipment to miners, rather than actually searching for gold.
People did anything to get their hands on gold, even if it risked their lives. In the mid-1850's gold began to be difficult to find. But that didn't stop them many people came by wagon to California. They crossed the desert and climbed the mountains with their wagons, mules, and oxens. Most travelers left early so they wouldn't get caught in the Sierra Mountains during the winter. Travelers, who came by wagon, had more room to pack a lot of gear, cooking stoves, plates, cups, and forks and knives. And they would carry food that woud last for 6 months. The food was usually bacon, ham, rice, dried fruits, bread, flour, sugars, molasses, butter, coffee and tea("How It Started" NP).
The impact of the gold rush greatly helped California, making it a state. Because of the massive growth of population the Mexican Province became a state in the union("California Gold Rush" NP). In 1853, Hydraulic mining was created, whiched brought loads of profits in, but destroyed much of the Regions landscapes("Gold Rush" NP). Before the gold rush California was mainly populated with Missionaries and Native Americans("How It Started" NP).
Living became difficult for most miners when gold began to diminish,...