The Great California Gold Rush of 1849

There are many important events in the history of the United States. Events such as signing the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War and Prohibition are just a few of the important events that have shaped the way that the country has developed. These are events that have impacted the growth and the geography of the population of the country. However, one of the most telling events in the westward expansion of the United States was the California Gold Rush of 1849.

Before the Rush

Before the rush due to the discovery of gold, the United States was beginning to take shape. With the Louisiana Purchase, the country now stretched all the way to the Pacific Ocean. In addition, at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, the area which is now known as California was ceded to the United States in 1848. However, at the time, the area only had about 1,000 people living in the area. This however, was about to change.

Discovering Gold

The face of the United States in general and California in particular changed on January 24, 1848. This was the date that a man named James Marshall discovered a metal in the construction site of Sutter’s Mill. Upon discovery, he and John Sutter had the metal tested to determine the composition. It was confirmed that the metal found was in fact gold.

  • 1848 Gold Discovery – Information on the discovery of gold in California in 1848.
  • Discovery of Gold – Helpful page which describes the discovery of gold in the west.
  • Gold Rush – Web page which covers the events around the discovery of gold.
  • Gold Fever – Historical page which chronicles the discovery of gold in California.
  • The Discovery of Gold – Educational page from the Library of Congress discussing the event of gold discovery.
  • California and Gold Rush – Useful web page which discusses the discovery of gold in 1848.

The Rush is On

After the discovery was determined to be gold, word started to spread that the area was a spot where gold could be found. The news spread from one end of the country to the other, and soon a rush of people started to pour into California to begin searching for gold that would make them rich. Thus it began the `1849 Gold Rush of the “forty niners” to an area near San Francisco.

  • The Great Gold Rush – Informative account of the events surrounding the 1849 discovery of gold in California.
  • Gold Rush Information – Brief account of how gold was discovered and the events that resulted.
  • Gold Rush – Information and stories of the gold rush of 1849 in the area surrounding San Francisco.
  • The Gold Rush – PBS companion web page to the film of the same name providing background information.
  • Gold Rush of 1849 – Helpful historical page which recounts the lives of the 49ers during the gold rush.
  • The Forty Niners – Informative page which chronicles the path of the forty niners to California in 1849.

Effect of the Gold Rush

While the actual rush for gold lasted for only about a relatively short time period, the results had a lasting effect. The population of California ballooned from only about 1,000 people before the gold rush to over 300,000 prospectors in the span of only seven years. This boom in population led to California being admitted as a state in 1850.

Additional California 1848 Gold Rush Resources