The Great Impact of American History: the Gold Rush

Topics: California Gold Rush, Gold, California Pages: 19 (3439 words) Published: May 8, 2001
In the United States, there would be a new overhaul to its identity. By 1848,

businesses would eventually see a new and prosperous way to make money. The U.S.

also began to see a few cultures begin to spark and the attitudes of people would change,

especially their views about taking risks. This overhaul is known as the Gold Rush of

California. The Gold Rush made an impact on American society through diversity and


The traditional beginning of the Gold Rush was the story of James Marshall.

Marshall was instructed by John Sutter, a business man, to find an area to build a

sawmill. Marshall, traveled with a few workers, it took him a while to find the right spot

because: "nothing but a mule could climb the hills; and when I would find a spot where

the hills were not steep, there was no timber to be had" (Holiday 56). Marshall had

finally found an area where he could build a sawmill, and managed to get his team

through the steep hills of California. One morning he came upon an area of the camp to

check the status of the camp. When he was observing the water flow, he noticed

something really shiny. Marshall picked up the gold pieces, assuming that this was a

fluke, but as the day grew older, he found a few more pieces of gold. Then there was that

famous quote that people tend to still say today: "Boys, by God I believe I have found a

gold mine. (Holiday 58)"

This story was taken in to account as the first story to hit the globe about gold

being found in California. Actually, there is another story. This one is about a Mexican,

who found gold in the hills of California, long before news had spread about gold being

found by James Marshall. His name was Francisco Lopez. He was traveling in the San

Fernando Valley, in 1842, during the time California was still a territory. Lopez was

taking a rest, when he found a few pieces of gold, as he continued to dig, he found more

gold. Ironically enough, the gold mines that Lopez had discovered were in the south of

California towards Los Angeles and the gold that was found by Marshall was in the north

towards present-day San Francisco. Also the mines that were used to dig up the gold

found by Lopez were rarely used during the great Gold Rush in the north, despite a rush

by the Sonorans for his mines from the finding up until the Marshall discovery. March

15, 1848 was the date that would change the lives of so many people. This was the day

that a local newspaper in California, The Californian, published the article about James

Marshall's finding of gold (Holiday, 53).

By the time the news of the Gold Rush started heading east, there was a

problem. People were very reluctant about heading west. This was a time where people

did not believe in rumors and admired government officials. It finally took the speech

from the President of the United States to tell them that it was alright. The President at

the time was James K. Polk and he stated: "The accounts of the abundance of gold in that

territory are of such extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they

not corroborated by authentic reports of officers in the public service" (Holiday, 66).

In other words, Polk was explaining that the people who were telling him about the gold

in California were believable and the gold in the hills of California are based on fact not

rumor. The people in the Eastern part of the United States did hear this and started to give

up their lives, and set out on an adventure that awaited them for greatness or back to

where they came from with not even a slight hint of gold dust. It was rather evident that

by early 1849, Gold Fever hit the nation, and the newspapers were really pushing the idea

of Gold Fever. For example, a newspaper in Indiana printed an ad, explaining about a

man selling salve. These...

Cited: The Gold Rush. 1 May. 1997. Wells Fargo, PBS. 20 Oct. 2000

California P, 1999.
Lapp, Rudolph. Blacks in Gold Rush California. New Haven: Yale U P, 1977.
SSP, 1990.
Quaife, Milo Milton, ed. Pictures of Gold Rush California. New York: Citadel, 1967.

New York: Arno, 1973.
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