Gold Rush Facts:

  1. Poster of California Gold Rush Gold was discovered on January 24, 1848 by James Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma. Gold initially was valued from $12.00 to $35.00 an ounce. (In 2012, an ounce is worth approximately $1,500)
  2. The lure of sudden wealth brought about rapid, uncontrolled population growth of California.
  3. All the gold produced in the century between 1840-1940 was worth less than the value of 1 year's agricultural output of the state in the 1960s.

Major Consequences of the Gold RushMap of gold rush regions in California

  1. Many of the men already in California - sailors, soldiers, landless tenants - abandoned their jobs/trades to get rich quick.
  2. Americans as well as people from around the world came to California to get rich quick and then return home to live on their wealth.
  3. Some east coast businessmen who were already wealthy gained further wealth, especially by transporting people to California by sea.
  4. Chinese workers immigrated to the gold fields and attempted to assimilate into the economic life of California.
  5. Very few individuals really prospered from placer mining. Most of the large profits fell into the hands of corporations who could afford hydraulic and quartz mining.
  6. Mexicans were dispossessed of their land and their political power - not just by racial policies and procedures directed against them, but also at the hands of Mexican rancheros who assumed that siding with the white settlers would guarantee them positions of power and prestige in the new state of California.
  7. Small-time politicians from the east coast and the south who were seeking greater political power came to California looking for new political opportunities. Many Southerners who feared the federal government planned to legally bring an end to slavery, saw bringing California into the union as a slave state as the key to their economic survival.
  8. California might have been better off if gold had never been discovered; given its other natural advantages, it might have become just a populous and prosperous - but such prosperity would have been more gradual, orderly, and civilized. This is a recent, revisionist interpretation of the consequences of the Gold Rush.