Gold rush in California: what you might not know about it?
Average reading time — 5 minutes
The California gold rush is one of the most striking examples in history which vividly demonstrates that even ordinary people are capable to take possession of the most valuable resource of mankind with relative ease. In just 7 years, this event has changed thousands of lives, once again proving that there are things whose importance has not been disputed throughout the centuries-old history of the development of civilization. Ownership of the precious metal is also relevant now, when regular economic shocks, crises and cataclysms make inflation not only unpredictable, but also catastrophic. Below we will tell you about 7 facts that will allow you to look in a new perspective at the legendary event in the history of mankind — the mass scale gold mining in California.
The largest migration in the US history
In the spring of 1848, the territory of California was inhabited by about 157 thousand people. Of these, only about 5% were non-indigenous. The discovery of numerous deposits of gold and the rapid spread of information about it led to the fact that in just 20 months the number of newcomers exceeded 100 thousand. This figure continued to grow, but at a more modest pace, until 1855. As a result, the population of the state increased by 300,000 new settlers. Thanks to mass migration and the newcomers’ profits from gold mining, California quickly became the richest state in America with a developed infrastructure.
The California gold rush was not the first one in the US
The first gold rush in US history took place 50 years before the described events in North Carolina. It started with the discovery of a 17-pound nugget. More than 30 thousand people took part in the widespread mining. The mining was of such scale that for more than 30 years, all coins minted in the United States had gold mined in North Carolina in them.
Note. More than 208 thousand tons of gold have been mined in the entire history of mankind. If you add up all its stock on one site, you get a cube equal in height to a 7-story building.
Deficit of produce is the cause of inflation
A large influx of immigrants created conditions when the available volumes of the simplest resources — everyday items for meeting basic needs — could not satisfy demand. This situation adversely affected the cost of available goods. Sometimes the prices reached absurd values. For example, at the height of the rush in 1849, to buy a new pair of shoes, you had to pay about $2,500 — this is the modern equivalent.
Buildings in the city of San Francisco were built from the transport of gold miners
The first gold miners sailed to California on their own ships or boats. Most of the miners did not plan to return immediately. Having heard stories about countless deposits of large nuggets and inexhaustible gold veins, members of the crews of sea vessels joined the miners. As a result, in a few months the port in San Francisco was filled with different types of ships. The problem of lack of building materials for the construction of housing was solved by dismantling these no longer needed ships that stood in the harbor.
For the right to mine, immigrants were forced to pay
Many of the first miners were from South America and Asia. As the number of emigrants increased and production decreased, the problem of a large influx of people who wanted to get rich quickly began to be dealt with in a special way. So in 1850, the California legislature introduced a tax for foreign miners in the amount of $20. In today’s equivalent it exceeds $500.
At the same time, the decline in gold production in 1852 forced legislators to cancel the exorbitant tax. Since then the $2 monthly fee applied only to Chinese miners.
Not everything was so smooth and cloudless
A large gathering of people, where the income of each person was directly influenced by the actions of others, always threatens to breed violence. Robberies and even murders of foreigners have become commonplace. However, not only gold miners from other places had to deal with it, but also the indigenous population, which also suffered from dishonorable people and bandits.
However, nothing could stop resourceful and purposeful people to confidently move towards their cherished goal. This is confirmed by a long list of well-known entrepreneurs of today, whose ancestors not only got rich at that time, but also ensured success for their descendants for many years to come.
Entrepreneurs made the most profit
At that time, mining was mainly done by hand, using simple tools and fixtures that quickly failed. Plus, clothes and food were required, because hard work required a lot of strength. Gold miners from abroad arrived at best with a meager amount of the most necessary supplies, they had to start life in the foreign land from scratch.
Resourceful entrepreneurs hastily opened their own shops, workshops and inns, and were engaged in providing miners with equipment and food. This was beneficial due to the high demand for such services. As a result, the California gold rush produced some of America’s greatest industrialists.
Among them, for example, John Studebaker, who made carts for gold miners, and later became a car magnate. And bankers Henry Wells and William Fargo became famous as the owners of the largest banking institution in America, which served gold miners. The tailor Levi Strauss also succeeded in his field, offering clothes to miners. The denim brand he founded, Levi Strauss & Co, is still famous today.
The facts described above vividly demonstrate that the gold rush in California not only provided opportunities, but also required certain sacrifices, incredible efforts, entrepreneurial spirit and good luck in return. For many, it became a good source of short-term income, and it helped the most fortunate to quickly become quite rich, writing their names into history.
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