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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.
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