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Impact of the California Gold Rush
Transcript of Impact of the California Gold Rush
Throughout the gold rush, California's population skyrocketed.
The Gold Rush had devastating effects on California's environment. This eventually lead to laws restricting mining on rivers, hydraulic mining ended up being outlawed.
Impact on the Economy
The California Gold Rush caused economic expansion that forever changed California
In total, about 250,000 people came to California in the gold rush. Before the rush there were only 8,000-12,000 people living in California. By the end, the population was over 380,000.
San Fransisco flourished. In 1845 it had a small 400 people living in it. In 1850 there were 35,000, and by the end of the gold rush in 1860 there were 56,000 residents in San Fransisco.
Many African Americans traveled to California with their masters or in search of gold during the California Gold Rush. By 1852 there were over 2,000 African Americans living in California.
As population sped up for many, the Native American population plummeted. Before the rush there were at least 150,000 Natives living in California. In just twelve years, that number went down to 30,000.
The sudden increase of population sped up California's admission into the United States. California applied for statehood in 1849 and was admitted to the Union as the 31st state in 1850, skipping the territorial stage.
Hydraulic mining, the use of high powered jets to mine gold, was popular in the 1850s. While it brought high profits, it brought devastation to California's environment. This form of mining tore up the countryside. "People described California's landscape as looking like it had been dug up by giant moles"-Malcolm J. Rohrbough.
In order to supply water to miners, people built dams in numerous rivers throughout California, changing the course of the rivers and effecting the wildlife living in them. The sediment washed away from hydraulic mining clogged river beads and lakes, which threatened agriculture in the valleys.
Miners needed an extensive wood supply for fuel for the boilers at mines and to build canal systems. The demand for lumber created the logging industry and the Californian forests had plenty of trees for the taking.
When Mexico owned California it hardly ever gave land to Americans. John Sutter, however, was an exception. He was able to coax the Mexican governor into giving him 50,000 acres of land. On that land he worked to build a water-powered sawmill. Sutter later helped found the colony of Nueva Helvetia, presently Sacramento.
On January 24, 1848 when James Marshall was working on building Sutter's Mill he discovered a small flake of gold. This first find of gold eventually lead to thousands of people from all over rushing to California to hunt for gold. Marshall later went on to say "My eye was caught by a glimpse of something shining... I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump for I felt certain it was gold".
The gold rush created a major labor shortage throughout California because many Californios left their jobs to hit the fields. Many immigrants traveled to California expecting gold to come easy, when they found it didn't, they took the jobs the others abandoned.
The California economy flourished. In 1852 81 million dollars were pulled from the mines. Between 1860 and 1880 the mining operations made $170 million. Manufacturing, trade, merchant businesses, entertainment market and newly formed banks all boomed. The economy in the rest of the country also took off because companies all around invested in the gold rush in some way.
The gold rush had devastating effects on the Native Americans in California
Miners and farmers came together to kill a majority of California's Native Americans. In 1848 there were 150,000 natives in California, in 1860, there were only 30,000. Foreigners would hunt, mine and log on native groups' camps. This lead to the natives raiding mining camps in order to survive. This caused a cycle of violence. American miners would organize war parties and slaughter entire groups of natives. The Clear Lake Massacre ended with over 100 natives murdered in 1852. The Hayforlk Massacre ended with 150 natives killed and only one white man. In all, 13 peace treaties were made, but all were broken due to unfair treatment of Native Americans. The natives also lost their lives due to diseases brought by the white men.
People from all around the United States and around the world made the journey to California, hoping to strike it rich. In March of 1848 the non-native population of California was about 800. By the end of 1848 that number had risen to about 20,000 and by the end of 1849 it was at 100,000. Towns complete with shops, saloons and brothels sprung up all over the region. People of many different ethnicities lived together in California. William Perkins, a Canadian merchant, described Sunora, a mining town, in 1848 as "Here we to be seen people of every nation in
all varieties of costume,
and speaking 50 different
languages, and yet all
mixing together amicably
and socially." California
was permanently shaped
by the diversity, and still is
very diverse today.
The city of San Fransisco flourished in the gold rush. It became one of the fastest growing cities in the world, before the rush it had 400 people, by the end it had over 56,000 people living in it. One of the factors that helped the growth was San Fransisco would have the terminal of the first transcontinental railroad. San Fransisco's population was incredibly diverse at the time, it was full of people of different race and nationality, which resulted in many cultures coming together. San Fransisco developed a bustling economy and became the center of banking, manufacturing, business and trade.
San Fransisco in 1848
The gold rush made California develop rapidly by boosting the economy and population, but it also brought devastation to the land and
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