The Gold Rush Effects on Gender
“I have enough- God bless them- I will return.”1 These are the famous last words of men who had ventured into California to partake in the Gold Rush, only to realize a yearning to see their family. Many men underwent the hardships and the sacrifices in order to strike rich in this gamble, many men succeeded while many more failed. Often forgotten are the families that remained back home while the husband, father, or brother went west to strike gold. The families that endured sacrificed just as much and ached for their safe return home. Commandments were created in order reassure both the miner and his wife while he undertook the expedition west. These commandments laid down a set of rules that should be followed in order to live a functioning and overall moral life while separated and in unknown environments. The Miner’s Ten Commandments focuses heavily on how miners should treat each other, how duties should be performed, and how to deal with the anxiety of being separated from one’s family. However, The Wife’s Commandments focuses primarily on how the husband should act and lists a strict set of rules he should follow in order to remain in good standing with the wife. It is extremely interesting to see how the commandments compare depending on the gender.
The Wife’s Commandments was first published on March 27th, 1849, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a newspaper. The article is filled with rules that strictly dictate the miner’s life. Some of them are so strict that they seem silly by demanding a grown man to abide by them. The twelfth commandment is “Thou shalt not stay out later than nine o’clock at night.”2 The author or authors of this work are almost being satirical by listing bed times for these men. The intended audience of this work is almost certainly women back in the east who have husbands who were contemplating journeying west in search of gold. The article is also worded very plain and is straight to the point....
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