Professor Paivi Hoikkala
Growing up I have always heard the term “Golden State.” I remember being taught about the “Gold Rush” and the “forty-niners” and them being called this because of the mining of gold in 1849. I was taught that the Gold Rush had brought many new foreigners to California, in search of the “American Dream.” And who wouldn’t? It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for free gold! After the lectures, readings, and research, I received a more thorough understanding of the Gold Rush and the hardship that came with it. When John Marshall first found the piece of gold half the size of pea on Sutter’s Mill, the news rapidly spread of the abundance of gold available for anyone to take. The news of the gold strike in California spread, first to “Hawaii, Oregon, and Utah, and then to South America, Australia, China, the eastern seaboard of the US, and Europe (Major Problems, pg.113).” California became inhabited with people from all over the world, and until this day many people still come to California for the same reason “The American Dream.” During this time period, over 100,000 immigrants from all over the world flooded into Northern California. San Francisco was automatically transformed into an international city. By 1860, 39% of the population was foreign born.
When news of the Gold Rush hit, many men took the opportunity to risk their lives in search of free money. They left their wives and children in order to travel with ease, and come back rich. In fact, the Gold Rush was called the “most demographically male event in human history” by Historian Susan Lee Johnson. “By 1850, California men outnumbered women by more than 10 to one. Two years later it was two to one (Competing Visions, pg.118).” The Indian women that were left in California became subject to jobs such as prostitution in order to make money. Many women did travel with their husbands but it was documented that the ones that did “endured many...
Bibliography: Chan, Sucheng, and Spencer C. Olin. "Chapter 4." Major Problems in California History: Documents and Essays. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 107. Print.
Cherny, Robert W., Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo, and Del Castillo, Richard. Griswold. "Chapter 4." Competing Visions: A History of California. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2014. N. pag. Print.
Moore, April. "Native Americans in the Gold Rush." PBS. PBS, 13 Sept. 2006. Web. 10 Aug. 2013.
"Strike It Rich." PBS. PBS, 13 Sept. 2006. Web. 10 Aug. 2013.
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