California Gold Rush from 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America

This series is from 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America.

10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America: The Gold Rush chronicles the
trials and tribulations of settling the west and the stories of the people who were obsessed by the notion of imminent success on the American frontier. The quest for gold transformed America, bringing in over 500,000 people into the California territory and is responsible for the eventual industrialization of the west.

Using primary sources, reenactments, expert historians’ analysis and dramatic imagery, the program explains the premises for moving west and dissects the myths that were entrenched in the idea of the 19th century American frontier. This History Channel® program is a moving and
informative link to the events of great American expansion, thereby fulfilling your curiosity and providing in-depth explanations of life on the trail westward.

Wiki-The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California.[1] The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to the state in late 1848. All in all, the news of gold brought some 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad.[2] Of the 300,000, approximately half arrived by sea and half came from the east overland on the California Trail and the Gila River trail.

The gold-seekers, called “forty-niners” (as a reference to 1849), often faced substantial hardships on the trip. While most of the newly arrived were Americans, the Gold Rush attracted tens of thousands from Latin America, Europe, Australia, and China. At first, the gold nuggets could be picked up off the ground. Later, gold was recovered from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning. More sophisticated methods were developed and later adopted elsewhere.

At its peak, technological advances reached a point where significant financing was required, increasing the proportion of gold companies to individual miners. Gold worth tens of billions of today’s dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few. However, many returned home with little more than they had started with.

The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. San Francisco grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a boomtown of about 36,000 by 1852. Roads, churches, schools and other towns were built throughout California. In 1849 a state constitution was written, a governor and legislature chosen and California became a state in 1850 as part of the Compromise of 1850 which divided possible US territories into free and slave states.

New methods of transportation developed as steamships came into regular service. By 1869 railroads were built across the country from California to the eastern United States. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers. At the beginning of the Gold Rush, there was no law regarding property rights in the goldfields and a system of “staking claims” was developed. The Gold Rush also had negative effects: Native Americans were attacked and pushed off their lands and the mining has caused environmental harm. An estimated 100,000 California Indians died between 1848 and 1868 as a result of American immigration.- Wiki

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