Essay On California Gold Rush

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The California Gold Rush Research Paper
There are few events that inspire mass movement the way the prospect of wealth does. The California Gold Rush was a mass movement sparked by the spontaneous discovery of gold nuggets at Sutter’s Mill. The news of communal gold caused men and women nationwide to flock to the West Coast. Different ethnicities, religions, and social classes were drawn to the prospect of becoming successful in California. Though mining skills were not hard to develop, the work was strenuous and tiring. Typically, a miner (nicknamed “49er”) would start digging, shoveling, carrying, and washing their gold from early in the morning to late at night. The repetitive work became boring and many miners were too weak to continue, others forced to take frequent rests. Sometimes, miners were forced to stand with their feet in ice cold water, while other times they had to endure the stifling summer heat. The physical toll alone was unbearable, made worse with the separation from family and loved ones. Although many of the men and women traveling to California had a shovel in their hand, others had ideas in their head that they planned to use instead. They brought necessities, services, and entertainment to miners in a time when resources were vital to survival and comfort.
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Placer gold was the easiest to mine, but was also the first to deminish. As land to mine dwindled, more men began to realize that they left their families without a viable cause; from the thousands that went in search of gold, “many returned empty-handed, others not at all” (Torr 111). Success stories spread through the media, but the majority of 49ers left California embarrassed and unfulfilled. Due to the lack of returning heroes, years following the Gold Rush were tinged with sorrow and nostalgia. Overall, it was more lucrative to be an entrepreneur than a 49er in the West during the

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