The California Gold Rush, an Important American Event of the 19th Century

Topics: California Gold Rush, American Old West, Gunfighter Pages: 9 (1342 words) Published: October 8, 1999
One moment the California creek beds glimmered with

gold; the next, the same creeks ran red with the blood of

men and women defending their claims or ceding their bags

of gold dust to bandits. The "West" was a ruthless territory

during the nineteenth century. With more than enough gold

dust to go around early in the Gold Rush, crime was rare,

but as the stakes rose and the easily panned gold dwindled,

robbery and murder became a part of life on the frontier.

The "West" consisted of outlaws, gunfighters, lawmen,

whores, and vigilantes. There are many stories on how the

"West" begun and what persuaded people to come and

explore the new frontier, but here, today, we are going to

investigate those stories and seek to find what is fact or

what is fiction. These stories will send you galloping through

the tumultuous California territory of the mid-nineteenth

century, where disputes were settled with six shooters and

the lines of justice

were in a continuous chaos.

Where's the West

How and where did the West begin? This is the question

that is asked most often and there is never a straight

-forward answer. Everyone has their own opinion on the

subject: "Oh, it started sometime in the nineteenth century,"

or "The west is really just considered to be Oklahoma,

Texas, and Kansas." Whatever happened to California

actually being considered the "West?" With all honesty,

even into the twentieth century, California is not thought of

as being the "West," or the "West" in the manner in which

Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas are thought of. Cowboys,

horses, and cattle are only considered to be in the central

states, but what about California? To give a straight-

forward answer on where and how the "Real West" or

even the "Wild West" began; it began by a millhouse

worker named James Marshall. On the morning of January

24, 1848, Marshall was working on his mill and looked

down in the water and saw a sparkling dust floating along

the creek bed (Erdoes 116). Assuming it was gold, he told

his fellow workers what he had found and they began

searching for the mysterious metallic dust as well. Four

days later Marshall rode down to Sutter's Fort, in what is

now Sacramento, and showed John Sutter what he had

found. They weighed and tested the metal and became

convinced that it was indeed gold. John Sutter wanted to

keep the discovery secret, but that was going to be

impossible. The rumor flew and Sutter's mill workers,

which were Mormon, caught wind of it and began

searching for their own fortune. Shortly after they fled, they

too found gold. The site in which they found their fortunes

became known as Mormon Island, the first mining camp to

be established after the discovery of gold at Marshall's mill

(Erdoes 119). From that moment on, the west began to

boom in population and prosper in every direction.

First Blood

Gold fever caught on in a hurry, and this attracted many

different people to the new frontier. Dreams of gold and

success sparkled in the eyes of every cotton picker, farmer,

and blue- collar worker west of the Mississippi. Once the

fever spread across the nation and throughout the

territories, bloodshed was going to be inevitable. Greed

takes a toll on the mind of many and convinces people to

do things that aren't even logical. People become very

protective of their property and are willing to do anything to

protect it, even defend it to their death. The violence must

have started somewhere and at sometime over

something.... But when? On the night of October 1, 1848,

eight months after James Marshall's discovery, several men

were sleeping in James Marshall's sawmill, originally owned

by John Sutter (Erdoes 137). Peter Raymond began

banging on the door of the mill. Raymond, a twenty- one

year old sailor from Dublin, Ireland, was drunk...
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