The California Gold Rush

Essay by Austinarita99 May 2006

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Gold, from the Old English word Gelos. Its is the most prized element in the world. It's Periodic element name is Au, which was derived from the Latin word Aurora, "shining down." '[Gold] was prized by all the earliest of civilizations--Egyptian, Minoan, Assyrian, Etruscan--and crafted by them into wondrous shapes that survived the millennia.'[1]

The beauty and scarcity of gold, led many to search for the valuable ore. In the struggle to succeed and find wealth, many would dream of the glowing, yellow substance. Gold was a standard of wealth that all could aspire to. The astonishing fact about gold was that even a small amount of this substance could bring material happiness. Histories could be made of the search, as such was the case in the United states, in 1849.

How did the Gold Rush start? In a nutshell, it was when Lumberman James Marshall inadvertently discovered the first gold nuggets, the size about half of a pea on Jan.

24, 1848, while building a sawmill on the American River in California. His find sent a shockwave across the United States and the entire world. Soon, nearly every ambitious young man and woman were en route to California in search of instant riches. They traveled from all corners of the world, including Mexico, China, Germany, France and Turkey.

Before the Gold Rush, America was a nation of staid farmers, but the discovery of gold ushered in the kind of free-wheeling, risk-taking entrepreneurialism that has defined America ever since.

How did the Gold Rush start? What was their Journey like - what was California like? When did everything end, and did everyone get what they wanted?


John Sutter was a very conservative man and had a dream of acquiring power through an agricultural fiefdom in which he would...