Gold Rush

Gold discovered in California at the beginning of 1848 helped change the fate of the union by encouraging an influx of white settlers in the final months of the 1840s and putting pressure on the federal government to admit the former Mexican province as a new state.  The intense sectional debate over slavery made the decision over California statehood an explosive one ultimately leading to the national Compromise of 1850.  James W. Marshall was the man who made the initial gold discovery on January 24, 1848 at John Sutter's Mill in northern California (near present-day Sacaramento).  Marshall was a native of New Jersey and a veteran of the Mexican War who worked for Sutter.  The discover soon became public and the rapid expansion of gold mining eventually drew more than 500,000 prospecters and opportunists to California.  The "gold rush" became a cultural symbol of a new age.  Yet major gold mining in California died out quickly and major gold operations ceased by the end of the Civil War.  James Marshall, the original prospecter, received some fame for his discovery but made little money from his find and died in poverty in 1885. (By Matthew Pinsker)
    Date Title
    New York Times, "The American Gold Fields," July 2, 1858
    Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “The Indian War on the Pacific Coast,” July 7, 1858
    New York Herald, “From St. Paul to Frazer River,” August 7, 1858
    New York Herald, "Newly Discovered Gold Mines," August 12, 1858
    Omaha Nebraskan, “The Gold Fever,” September 15, 1858
    (St. Louis) Missouri Republican, “Gold Fields,” September 26, 1858
    New York Times, “From Kansas and Pikes Peak,” December 15, 1858
    New York Herald, “The Gila Gold Mines,” January 16, 1859
    Charleston (SC) Mercury, “The Gold Regions of the West,” February 24, 1859
    Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Returning Gold Hunters,” May 20, 1859
    Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Gold Hunters,” May 23, 1859
    New York Herald, “The Pike’s Peak Delusion,” May 29, 1859
    Cleveland (OH) Herald, “The Kansas Gold Mines,” June 11, 1859
    New York Times, “Letter from the Kansas Gold Region,” July 8, 1859
    New York Herald, “Horace Greeley and His Pike’s Peak Humbuggery,” July 10, 1859
    New York Herald, “Conflagration in the Pike’s Peak Goldmines,” July 17, 1859
    San Francisco (CA) Evening Bulletin, “Pleasant Reunion of Pioneers,” September 30, 1859
    New York Herald, “Emigration to California,” November 13, 1859
    New York Herald, “Gold from Pike’s Peak,” February 26, 1860
    San Francisco (CA) Evening Bulletin, “Capitalists, and not Laborers Wanted,” April 23, 1860
    Chicago Style Entry Link
    Helper, Hinton Rowan. The Land of Gold: Reality Versus Fiction. Baltimore, 1855. View Record
    Holliday, J. S., and William Swain. The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981. View Record
    Holliday,  J. S. Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and The Making of California. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. View Record
    Hume, Janice, and Noah Arceneaux. “Glittering Dust, Dormant Treasure: Press, Public Memory and Georgia's 'Forgotten' Gold Rush.” American Journalism 23, no. 4 (2006): 7-33. View Record
    Richards, Leonard L. The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. View Record
    Stillson, Richard T. Spreading the Word: A History of Information in the California Gold Rush. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006. View Record
    How to Cite This Page: "Gold Rush," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,