Roaring Camp Handout: The Basics

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Roaring Camp Handout
The Basics
During Week 14 (4/13‒4/19) there will be a special discussion forum on Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush, by Susan Lee Johnson. Participation in this discussion forum is mandatory. Your term paper on Roaring Camp is due by 10 PM on Monday 5/6 and is worth 100 points. Under no circumstances will I accept a late term paper. There is also an extra credit assignment based on Roaring Camp .

Reading the Book & Focus Questions for the Week 14 Discussion Forum Below are a number of focus questions, arranged by chapter. I wrote these questions with the goal of helping you to identify key arguments in the book as you read. These questions will also serve as the focus questions for the Week 14 discussion forum. Remember that your answers on the Week 14 forum should demonstrate that you have done the reading so discuss specific events, people, and ideas from the book in detail. In addition, make sure to give page references for your quotes and for your specific references to the book. Prologue, “Joaquín Murrieta and the Bandits” 1. Who was Joaquín Murrieta? (Hint: That is not a simple question! We can try to reconstruct the “historical” Joaquín Murrieta, but there is also the Joaquín Murrieta of the San Joaquin Republican, the Joaquín Murrieta that emerges from the pages of John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Joaquín Murrieta whose memory was preserved by the Murrieta family of Sonora, Mexico, the Murrieta of Chicano writers during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, even the Murrieta of the Hollywood movies starring Antonio Banderas!) Chapter 1, “On the Eve of Emigration” 2. What types of people flooded into California generally, and the Southern Mines in particular, during the Gold Rush? (Think about their economic and social, as well as their ethnic/national, backgrounds.) What conditions in their native lands made these people willing to make the move the California? 3. Who was already living in the area that would become known as the Southern Mines when the Gold Rush began? Chapter 2, “Domestic Life in the Diggings” 4. Using specific examples from Roaring Camp, explain what Johnson means when she writes: Race, like gender, is a changing set of ideas about human difference and hierarchy, and a relation in which those ideas are put into practice. In Gold Rush California, its meanings pulsed through everyday life like an erratic heartbeat. For instance, the way that certain tasks, such as cooking or laundry, came to be associated with particular groups of non-Anglo American men demonstrates how constructions of race could be mapped onto constructions of gender in the diggings. (p. 101)

5. Describe the division of labor between male and female Miwok. How did non-Miwok view these labor divisions? HIST 29 Dr. Schaffer

2 Chapter 3, “Bulls, Bears, and Dancing Boys” 6. What was the expected life-trajectory for a white male in mid-nineteenth-century America? How did the lives of white men in the placers of the Southern Mines differ from that expected trajectory in the late 1840s and 1850s? What accounts for these differences? 7. How did white men characterize the women they met in the Southern Mines? Chapter 4, “Mining Gold and Making War” 8. There were a number of labor systems practiced during the California Gold Rush, among them “Latin American peonage, North American slavery, and, later, Chinese indentured labor” (p. 186). Describe the occurrence of each of these in the Southern Mines. 9. What was the effect of the California Foreign Miners’ Tax (1850)? 10. What was the Mariposa War? Chapter 5, “Dreams That Died” 11. Two big themes of this chapter are the rise of water companies and Chinese immigration to the Southern Mines. Of these two trends Johnson writes: “The arrival of Chinese in the diggings … coincided with the growth of local capitalist enterprise that threatened the autonomy of white placer miners. In the minds of...
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