gold rush

Imagine yourself building a sawmill and all of a sudden you see something shiny in the ground. You pick up the shiny pieces and determine that you just found gold. You go tell your foreman what just occurred. Soon, the news spreads that gold was found. Millions from all around pour into a place they had never seen before. These young white men were in a pursuit for happiness not realizing the hardships they would encounter on the way to California. In January of 1848, James Marshall had a work crew camped on the American River at coloma. The crew was building a saw mill for John Sutter. On the morning of January 24, James Marshall found a few tiny nuggets of yellow metal. Thus began one of the largest human migrations in history as a half-million people from around the world descended to California in search of instant wealth(gold rush p1). Gold fever-an obessive, insane desire to find and squirrel away the precious yellow metal-soon swept California. The fever spread to the eastern United States, and then to Europe and Asia. Gold fever triggered the great California Gold Rush, the largest and wildest mass movements of people the world had ever seen(Stein p.42). Although Marshall’s discovery occurred in 1848, the news did not reach the East Coast and other parts of the world until a year later when President James K. Polk confirmed that gold had been found. This triggered the Gold Rush of 49, the greatest stampede of gold seekers in history(gold rush 1849 p.1). In Buffalo, New York, gold fever struck thrity-year-old merchant seaman William Downie, who wrote: “Some of the tales were fabulous, and reports of treasures found were enough to challenge and man of grit and derring-do. Many, even, who had neither quality, ventured upon the search for gold, prompted merely by the lust for grain.”(Stein p.43). Downie was a forty-niner, one of thousands who set out for California in 1849. Most forty-niners were young, unmarried men fr…

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