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13.4 The California Gold Rush

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1 13.4 The California Gold Rush

2 California Before the Rush
Before the gold rush California had as many as 150,000 Native Americans and 12,000 Californios (like Tejanos) who held vast estates that they had bought from either the Spanish or Mexican governments. While Mexico owned California it feared U.S. immigration, (gee, I wonder why) and rarely gave land grants to Americans.

3 John Sutter was a Swiss immigrant who did get a land grant from Mexico for 50,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley. In 1848, Sutter sent a carpenter to build a sawmill on one of the rivers on his property. Surprise, surprise, the guy came back and told Sutter that he had found gold in the stream. (Poor Spain/Mexico. How long had they owned California and always looking for gold to no avail. U.S. takes control and bammo! Gold is discovered.)

4 Rush For Gold News of Sutter’s find spread quickly and soon there was a gold rush. Gold rush: literally when people “rush” in from different places to find gold (this can also be applied to other things such as oil or diamonds). Miners soon found gold in other streams flowing from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

5 It was very dangerous for people from the east to get to California.
Sail 18,000 miles around South America Sail to the Isthmus of Panama (no canal yet) and cross overland and then sail to California Travel the trails across North America Because all of these trips were difficult usually only young men in good health made the trip.

6 How Can We Get There?

7 Life in the Mining Camps
Mining camps began as rows of tents, but grew into primitive wooden buildings. Miners were rough people and violence in the camps was not uncommon. Gold was not usually found in huge nuggets, but through hard work in icy streams.

8 Miners From Around the World
Because the gold rush happened in 1849, the miners were called 49ers. (football team) At least a third of the miners were from countries other than the U.S. There were even some Native Americans, slaves and free African Americans who worked the mines. Thousands of experienced miners came from Mexico and other countries in Europe, South America, Australia, and China

9 Most of the Chinese miners were peasant farmers who had fled crop failures.
By 1851 one in ten immigrants to California were Chinese. The Chinese men who came to California were used to hard work and they would often take over a mine claim that had supposedly “played out”, but still manage to harvest more gold from it.

10 Conflicts Among Miners
Once the easy to find gold was gone, miners began to argue and fight over what was left. Also, it wasn’t unusual for them to force foreigners out of the gold fields. The state of California helped out by passing a Foreign Miners Tax which was $20.00 a month (more than most miners could afford….only affected immigrants).

11 So, did they just leave? When the Chinese were driven from the mines they opened up shops, restaurants, and laundries. Many of them settled in one particular area of San Francisco which is still called Chinatown.

12 Impact of the Gold Rush The gold rush was over by 1852 (it lasted all of 3-4 years), but it had several lasting effects on California. 250,000 people had flooded into the area which caused economic growth. San Francisco became the center of banking, manufacturing, shipping, and trade (1845 pop. 400…1850 pop. 35,000)

13 Continued Impact of the Gold Rush
Sacramento became a rich farming area. The gold rush ruined many Californios because the newcomers did not respect them, their customs, or their legal rights. Native Americans suffered even worse: many died of imported diseases, and some miners hunted them down like animals and shot them.

14 And so…. By 1870 the Native American population was only 58,000 (down from 150,000). Because of the gold rush, by 1849 California had enough people to apply for statehood and Congress admitted it as a free state in 1850.

15 The California constitution outlawed slavery, but African Americans were not given the right to vote. California statehood created problems in the U.S. because it again created an imbalance in the amount of slave and free states. Hence, the Compromise of 1850 (remember?)

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