California History Essay Topics
The Impact Of The California Gold Rush On The Californians
The California Gold Rush was a period of time that brought people from around the globe to the United States desperately searching for gold. It was one of the most significant events in the history of the state of California. It helped America expand westward into areas that were considered by the country to be part of its Manifest Destiny. For the state of California it brought them a place inside of the union and a great deal of prosperity. In some cases the onset proved to have a more negative impact than a positive one.
It all started when a Swiss man by the name of John Sutter built a sawmill and soon discovered there was gold in the water. He tried to keep this discovery quiet but of course word spread and soon enough the Gold Rush had begun. Word about Sutter’s Fort spread around the nation and lured people from other states as well as China and France. They all came to try and strike it rich by finding gold in the water just as easily as Sutter. These people referred to themselves as 49ers. Some slaves came with free men and worked to earn their freedom. In most cases the people who moved west were only men but in a few rare cases wives did accompany their husbands. But this move caused a drastic increase in the population which jumped from one thousand to one hundred thousand by the end of the first year.
Those who came for the Gold Rush were shocked at the difficulties of mining and the harsh conditions in which they had to life. Miners worked all day and all night. There was not enough clean water which led to an onset of cholera and pneumonia. Gambling grew in popularity as a means of passing the time which often led to lawlessness and violence. In addition to this many of the miners were unable to find gold by the time the gold rush onset had occurred and this meant they had to return empty handed. Many committed suicide because of this desperation.
But the biggest impact was on the native population. The Native American population diminished quickly when the gold rush began. The numbers dropped drastically due to mass murders at the hands of the miners who wanted their land and believed that the natives were only inhibiting their progress. In addition to this the people who travelled west for the Gold Rush brought with them diseases to which the native population was not resistant. This led to a massive number of deaths within the first year.
Date of Statehood: September 9, 1850
Population: 37,253,956 (2010)
Size: 163,694 square miles
Nickname(s): The Golden State; The Land of Milk and Honey; The El Dorado State; The Grape State
Motto: Eureka (“I have found it”)
Tree: California Redwood
Bird: California Valley Quail
- Following James Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma in 1848, California’s population leaped from 14,000 to 250,000 in only four years. Between 1850 and 1859, miners extracted 28,280,711 fine ounces of gold.
- California has the largest economy in the United States and, in 1997, was the first state to reach the trillion-dollar benchmark in gross state product. In 2012, California was ranked the ninth largest economy in the world.
- California grows more than 3.3 million tons of winegrapes on over 540,000 acres each year and produces roughly 90 percent of all U.S. wine.
- The highest and lowest points in the continental United States are located within 100 miles of one another in California: Mount Whitney measures 14,505 feet and Badwater Basin in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level.
- Considered to be the hottest, driest place in the United States, Death Valley often reaches temperatures greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer and averages only around two inches of rain each year.
- With a trunk slightly greater than 102 feet in circumference, the General Sherman in Sequoia National Park is the largest living tree (by volume) in the world. It is estimated to be somewhere between 1,800 to 2,700 years old.
- Southern California has about 10,000 earthquakes each year, although only 15 to 20 of them have a magnitude greater than 4.0.
- Despite its urbanization and the loss of land to industry, California still leads the country in agricultural production. About one-half of the state’s land is federally owned. National parks located throughout the state are devoted to the preservation of nature and natural resources.