California Gold Rush

Today I am writing about the California Gold Rush for my history class. This is one of the most amazing and well known events in American History. I think that this was probably one of the best and worst things to ever happen to the citizens of America in that time. I only think that because the men had to leave their families and some of them couldn’t get back home because they were too poor or died or something along those lines.

Many people think that California was the only place where gold was found in high increments, but they are wrong. The first place to actually have a gold strike was North Carolina in the year 1799. I don’t know a lot about this gold strike but I do know that California made a bigger commotion than North Carolina. Although there was a lot of gold in the area, too many people went to get the gold so it ran out fast and not many people struck it rich with gold. Since this was the case, many people were not able to get home to their families. Many people would assume that the news of the gold strike spread super fast just because so many people went to get the gold, but that isn’t true. The news actually spread rather slowly, it took an entire year before the news got to all of America at the time.

Seeing as though the gold struck in California in 1848 and took an entire year to travel, the people who went to California were given a special nickname. The nickname given was the “49ers.” They were called this because most of the people went to California in 1849. I think that this is a clever name for that time, also there is a football team named after the 49ers.

Since there were so many people going to California, they had to have many routes to get there. They actually developed three major routes to get there. The three major routes were:

  • Overland by the Oregon and California Trails (about 1 year)
  • By water around Cape Horn in South America (about 8 months)
  • By water through the Isthmus of Panama (about 1 month)

Unfortunately, not everyone got to get into California to search for the gold. Some people did in fact get to but the majority didn’t. The majority of people were sent away from California without actually collected any gold at all. I think that this is wrong because, these left their families and don’t get anything to bring back to them. They probably don’t even have the money to get back to their families for several years. If I was sent away from California at this time, I would at least like someone to pay me back for all of the money I spent, not to mention the time I lost from my family. (Leave in the comments how you feel about this!) Also, not everyone was sent away, some were allowed to come in but never found anything. These are the people that resulted in banditry, stealing others’ gold, and drunkenness. This caused a great disruption for the men and boys who were trying to find gold by panning, and mining, etc,.

One interesting thing about this movement was the population of California. California, remember, was a newly founded territory until 1850. Since this was the case, the population would definitely have been lower than other states would have been. For example, in the year 1848, the population of California was roughly 1,000 people. After the gold strike however, the population of California skyrocketed. In 1850 the population was close to 20,000 people. Then, in 1860, 10 years later, the population was about 379,994 people, which is a 410% increase since 1850. (Let me know what you think of that in the comments 🙂

In conclusion, the California gold rush was a very important event. I think that the ideology of Manifest Destiny (read Westward Expansion) even played a part in this. I think that may be a reason for why the population went up so fast, besides the hope for more gold. Please tell me what you thought of this post and I will get back to you. Like or dislike please and stay tuned for more from the Homeschooled Hero.

Until next time, your friendly neighborhood Homeschooler…

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