California Gold Rush Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1806 Words
Date:  2022-03-26

The California Gold Rush is considered the largest mass migration in the history of America and most important event during the first half of the nineteenth century. It came into existence after gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutter's Mill leading to the occurrence of the significant US migration. The migration represented people from numerous nations who formed a multi-ethnic society on America's border. The gold discovery changed the life expectations of a large number of people who went to California in 1849 and the following decade. Therefore, it is apparent that the California had specific impacts. The paper will explore the positive and negative effects of the California Gold Rush.

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The California Gold Rush led to the expansion of the west side resulting to California being added as a state. The gold discovery encouraged rapid immigration to the west generating boomtowns like San Francisco. The fast rise in population thus paved the way for the United States to continue expanding to the west side and California was added as a state. On the other hand, the migration of people from the east to the west in pursuit of gold allowed the development of California as a region predominantly occupied by the Native Americans and Mexicans among others (Holiday 25). Therefore, the California Gold Rush expanded territories through rapid immigration.

Economic impact was also realized as a result of the California Gold Rush. There was a rise and increase in manufacturing of machinery and equipment for the hydraulic procedure. They were mostly utilized in the mining process. Before the Gold Rush occurred, these types of machinery and equipment were supplied by the East. However, after the gold discovery, there was new and higher demand. In the process, there was also an increase of the generation of new flour mills and lumber. A significant growth was also observed in the leather industry due to the high demand for clothing. During this time, the retail and wholesale sector developed and were crucial in satisfying all the rising needs of clients (Osborne 101). As such, the economy expanded due to the effect of the Gold Rush on the manufacturing and industrial sector.

On the other hand, agriculture also developed as a result of the California Gold Rush due to the high demand and availability for more refined tools. Most people who had migrated to California and incapable of mining gold opted to take advantage of the favorable climate of the region. Massive production of vegetables, grains, and fruits occurred and fed to people of the mining communities. Those who came from Europe also saw a chance to satisfy the demand for wine through the plantation of the first vineyards and orchards. The demand grew and they began to supply the wine locally and globally. Currently, California wine varieties are among the most preferred (Onsgard 36). Consequently, the economy massively grew due to agricultural practices which were favored by the excellent climate.

Additionally, the transport sector was profoundly affected by the California Gold Rush. There was a form of enthusiasm surrounding the Gold Rush resulting in a revolution in transportation. For prospectors to reach California, new bridges, ferries, roads, and wagons were created. Also, the accelerated development of transportation concluded the construction of the isthmus across the Panama Canal. It raced the time taken to travel to California. At that time, San Francisco faced the most substantial economic boom leading to prompt transformation and economic expansion. It was selected as the site for the western terminus for the first transatlantic railroad that connected California with the East Coast (Holiday 25). Transport and commerce were thus, considerably modernized.

Gold discovery hence created the modern economy of California. It financed the credit structure that further guaranteed that the Civil War had Union victory. Also, it activated the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, boosting the expansion of the US to the West. The Californian Indians were later ruined, and the downfall of tribes was observed along the migration routes to the West (Medina 225)

The aspect of the American Dream was developed at the time of the California Gold Rush. Foreign businesses began to flourish during that time as they expanded exportation of their goods and services to the thriving new customer markets in California. The Gold Rush attracted vagabonds, adventurers, and dreamers from various parts of the world. They consequently symbolized the American Dream. Besides, they enabled the people to experience the constant technological and entrepreneurial prosperity and further developed them more as well (Vaught, n.d.).

The California Gold Rush also had adverse effects. It's associated with increased violence against the Native Americans. It was projected that tens of thousands lost their lives in clashes with the settlers. After the California Gold Rush had already occurred, immigrants who had come from China faced extreme discrimination. Most young men from China migrated to California during the 19th century since their economy was struggling. Therefore, the California Gold Rush represented hope for people enabling them to earn an adequate income and support their families which they had left at home. However, controversy occurred when some Americans were falsely convinced that immigrants from China were taking their employment opportunities and revenue. As a result, restrictions were placed on Chinese immigration and a form of tax generated on all the foreign miners who were working in California (Madley 4).

The environment was also severely affected by the California Gold Rush. Biodiversity was adversely affected, and soil pollution occurred due to the chemicals from the mining process. Also, rivers were clogged with sediment and forests destroyed to yield timber (Rivera 36). The gold mine has further been observed to have attracted a large number of people who were seeking employment in the sector. Therefore, other industries that were not connected to gold mining faced a critical shortage of labor. The labor shortage was experienced even outside California in regions such as Hawaii, Great Britain, and China. They experienced massive mass immigration when the gold rush began (Rivera 38). It is apparent that the California Gold Rush had an adverse impact on the environment and labor sector locally and internationally.

The economy was boosted both locally and globally. Other businesses not connected to the gold mine strived to satisfy the demands of the workers and potential entrepreneurs in the sector. There was a high amount of gold that circulated in the country, and this increased the prices of goods. An inflationary shock was also experienced since the monetary standard of the time was supported by precious metals (Medina 225).

Slavery was highly advanced during the California Gold Rush. The presence of Native Americans greatly boosted the capability of the gold mine discovered by John Sutter. He enslaved numerous Native Americans and then used them as a source of free labor. They were also used as a makeshift militia that he employed in defending his territory. John further set the stage for the genocide of these Native Americans. There was a sparse population of Anglo settlers in the land controlled by Sutter. However, it was initially home to Native Americans whom he considered a threat and opportunity. Before transforming them into a militia, Sutter first faked a friendly association with the local Nisenan individuals. He then dressed them in uniforms and weapons and further trained them on how they would protect his land (Madley 5).

Sutter's land endowment required that he treats the Native Americans in a pleasant manner. However, he began to impede the local tribes through, for instance, distracting local marriage traditions and produced what was referred to as a 'harem.' As such, there was a group of Indian women who were always waiting for him and to offer sexual favors. Sutter was also accused of assaulting Native American girls. Sutter further used his militia to enslave Native Americans and those who did not work were perceived to be enemies (Onsgard 23).

The treatment of Native Americans affected people who would go to visit Sutter's land. The encounters observed had a powerful psychic impact on the visitors. As such, they encouraged the development of racism and hatred towards the California Indians. However, it is important to note that not all Native Americans were confined. Some were paid in the tin coinage that could only be utilized at his businesses. Sutter required the support of chiefs, and thus, they were compensated for their work (Madley 7).

It is vital to note that the discovery of gold was enabled by the enslavement and coercion of the native people by Sutter. Native Americans who knew about the gold were controlled such that they could not fully comprehend its value (Onsgard 24). The analysis conducted depicts that slavery and especially that of the Native Americans was highly advanced during the California Gold Rush.

The paper has explored the positive and negative impacts of the California Gold Rush which is considered the most important event during the first half of the nineteenth century. It occurred after gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutter's Mill hence the occurrence of the migration. The California Gold Rush has been associated with specific benefits. It expanded the west side of California which was added as a state. Also, this region developed as an area predominantly occupied by Mexicans and Native Americans. Economic effects were also observed as a result of the California Gold Rush. The manufacturing sector expanded due to the increase of machinery and equipment for hydraulic processes. The agricultural industry also developed due to high demand and availability of more refined tools. Adverse effects of the California Gold Rush entailed an increase in violence against the Native Americans. Hostility developed between immigrants from China who were accused of taking employment chances and revenue for Americans. Additionally, biodiversity was adversely affected, and soil pollution occurred due to chemicals from the mining process. Labor shortage was further experienced in regions such as China, Hawaii and Great Britain since most people moved to gold mining. Slavery was also advanced which was associated with numerous cases of mistreatment among the Native Americans by Sutter, who discovered the gold and ventured into its massive mining. Therefore, the California Gold Rush was associated with positive and negative impacts as explored in the paper.

Works Cited

Geraci, Victor W. "Climate, Land, Water, and Government Policies Establish California Agribusiness." Making Slow Food Fast in California Cuisine. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2017. 17-32.

Holliday, James S. The world rushed in: The California gold rush experience. University of Oklahoma Press, 2015, pp. 25.

Madley, Benjamin. "Understanding Genocide in California under United States Rule, 1846-1873." The Western Historical Quarterly 47.4 (2016): 449-461.

Medina, Lucho. I Am God. So Are You. Now, Peace.. Balboa Pres, 2013, p. 225.Bottom of Form

Onsgard, Bethany. Life During the California Gold Rush (unlimited Simultaneous Access Ebook). New York: ABDO Digital, 2015, pp. 36.

Osborne, Thomas J. Pacific Eldorado: A History of Greater California. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, pp. 101.

Vaught, David. After the Gold Rush: Tarnished Dreams in the Sacramento Valley. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

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