California Gold Rush revolutionized American West in every aspect of American mores and civilization prevalent at the time. The massive population influx, developmental work, annihilation of Indian communities and race relations and slavery played an important role in developing the very foundations of modern Californian society. The history of inhabitation manifests the seeking of quintessential American Dream by the early settlers though many were unable to achieve this dream.
Moving West and Gold in California California Gold Rush was the life-changing phenomenon for not just the gold seekers but also everyone who left one’s belongings and decided to head to the Promised Land. The vagaries of American Dream and the difficulties ensued in the pursuance of this dream constitute a major part of American history. California before the Gold Rush was a vast expanse of wilderness with scattered populations of Native Americans.
The whole region had the same living conditions as the first settlers had experienced when they landed in Jamestown during the 17th century. Majority was Native Americans followed by Mexicans – called Californios – and a few thousand were Yankee frontiersmen. Fires were common due to haphazard construction of log cabins, there was no sewage system and water supply and Cholera outbreaks claimed the lives of thousands. They had to build the American dream for themselves instead of finding a heaven-like place (Marcus, Robert, and Marcus, 2009).
Conditions in Utah were worse than California. The desert land was devoid of any civic infrastructure and Shoshone Indians put great resistance; Mormon pioneers ultimately drove them out in bloody skirmishes that claimed the lives of thousands of Native Americans. Utah was an arid land and Mormons built everything from scratch, settling in areas of the Great Basin and forming communities in irrigable lands. Asian gold miners did not achieve the American dream; their Anglo-Saxon counterparts, however, did to an extent.
Most miners ended up in debt and destitute. The picture (p. 198) is an excellent representation of the class and ethnic divisions. While the whites appear to be well dressed and relatively well off, their Chinese counterparts look impoverished and destitute. It was nothing but a shattered American dream for them. References Burner, David, Marcus, Robert D. , and Marcus, Anthony (2009). America Firsthand: Readings from Settlement to Reconstruction (Volume 1, 8th edition. ). Bedford/St. Martin’s.