tutor2u | The 1849 Gold Rush

Study Notes

The 1849 Gold Rush

Level:
GCSE
Board:
Edexcel

Last updated 24 Oct 2017

In 1848 gold was discovered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. California is on the west coast of the USA, just beyond Oregon. News of this discovery spread rapidly throughout the country, and it became the greatest ‘pull’ factor attracting migrants to the west.

In 1848 gold was discovered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. California is on the west coast of the USA, just beyond Oregon. News of this discovery spread rapidly throughout the country, and it became the greatest ‘pull’ factor attracting migrants to the west.

 

In 1849, thousands of migrants rushed to California to try and find their fortune. The population of California grew rapidly from just 15,000 in 1848 to 300,000 by 1855! Though some lucky prospectors did become very rich, the vast majority failed to find any gold and either returned home or settled permanently in California as farmers.

 

The Gold Rush had several important consequences for California. The new prospectors needed somewhere to buy food, drink, equipment and entertainment. This provided a great opportunity for Californians to become shopkeepers and tradesmen.  This type of settlement was exactly what the US government had hoped for and Californian became the perfect advertisement for western settlement.

 

However, there were some negative consequences of the gold rush.  The huge population boom led to problems of law and order with many resorting to taking the law into their own hands. There was also a lot of racial tension as white miners clashed with Hispanics, Californian Indians, free African Americans and the Chinese. 

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