In the spring of 1848, Americans in the east learned of the discovery of gold in California’s streams that flowed westward from the Sierra Nevada into the Sacramento River. Endorsed by the American president, the reports set off a rush by Americans — most of them ambitious young men seeking to escape the routines of farms and shops for the excitement and potential riches of California. They endured long, dangerous journeys — either across the continent with wagons, or by sea around South America, or via the Isthmus of Panama. And they created contentious, ramshackle communities next to the streams. The newcomers drove off Native Americans and marginalized the Hispanic people of California. By the end of 1849, California’s non-Native American population had doubled to 100,000. By pressing for prompt statehood, the newcomers sparked a political crisis in the American Congress.
The Shirley Letters: From the California Mines, 1851-1852, by Louise Clappe
Indian Survival on the California Frontier, by Albert L. Hurtado
The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, by Leonard L. Richards
Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation, by Malcolm J. Rohrbough
Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915, by Kevin Starr
1) How did the Gold Rush begin?
2) How did the Gold Rush affect Californios (Hispanics)?
3) How did the Gold Rush affect Native Americans?
4) How did the Gold Rush impact American politics?