In 1848, the first spot of gold in the Sacramento Valley in California triggered a high demand for gold leading to a massive immigration spree and economic breakthrough known as the California gold rush. The discovery of gold, once spread to all of California, spread internationally to countries as distant as China and France. The population immensely increased due to the massive immigration spike in 1849 bringing more immigrants to California. The plethora of immigration brought more than just people to California, bringing a boost in wealth due to an abundance of gold discoveries and opportunity. These immigrants were labeled as Forty-Niners who were individuals who migrated to California in order to find gold. The increase of wealth and population allowed California to be declared a free-state by the union in 1850, bringing a new wave of American immigration. New American immigrants were sacrificing a lot in order to have a chance to find gold in California. These Forty-Niners greatly fueled the United States way of Westward Expansion. In comparison, since California became a part of the United States, it helped the economy due to the fact that new businesses were being made through their entrepreneurship. California also brought new cultures from their immigrants into the United States due to the high demand for gold. The California gold rush of 1848 hastened California’s admission into the United States, which lead to the United States forthcoming by boosting the economy, increase in westward expansion and opening up the United States to more diversity in people.
Before the years of the California Gold Rush, the United States was at a steady but slow increase in their economy. Following the panics of 1837 and 1839, the United States in the midst of economic rehabilitation due to the recent financial crisis’. The economy was on the rise in the states, and the addition of California greatly increased the economy’s wealth. Forty-Niners who came to California were looking to become wealthy by finding gold and most who survived did just that. Many miners who had come to California were pleased with the money they were making “[it] surpasses all expectation…men are washing twenty dollars [worth of gold] per day per man with ease and some have washed even one hundred fifty dollars in one day. wrote Henry Richardson when visiting the gold county in 1848. It is estimated that by 1858, California had raised 500 million dollars in gold. The economy had been modernized in many different ways, which included transportation. During the gold rush, trade was an essential part to keep the economy growing. This caused the government to have to make roads in order to keep trading regulated. The efficiency of the roads leads to more ways of transportation being built, such as bridges. This economic breakthrough in transportation reached a high when the railroad to cross the isthmus of Panama Canal was built. These new ways of transportation allowed California to become the central market of the Pacific. This also benefited the United States because it opened more trading possibilities with other partners due to the new transportation systems. In addition, the outburst in agriculture also affected the nation’s economy greatly. All immigrants who came to California did not find success in mining, so they looked to agriculture instead taking full advantage of the state’s favorable climate to produce massive amounts of fruits, vegetables, and grains in order to feed denizens of the mining communities. This caused a great increase in farming in agriculture, which not only supplied food for the nation but also even more trading partners for the nation as a whole which increased the idea of known as mercantilism. Overall, the economy of California would positively impact and modernize the United States’ economy by opening up more opportunities for immigrants leading to more wealth to the states.
Westward expansion of the United States was seen as the key to success for the nation due to independence being viewed of very highly. This independence would only be achieved if citizens were able to own farms, and with new land west, this would be possible. The Manifest Destiny was a phrase used to express the belief that it was the fate of the United States to expand across the American continent. After the slow expansion into the west, the United States was trying to find ways to expand west away from the Mississippi River. It was said by John O’Sullivan while he was trying to list the keys to the nations future success that “fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” The expansion west into California showed how the Manifest Destiny was being accomplished. It showed that the United States was destined to move from the eastern border to the west, showing the finding of gold in California made it significant to expand west. In excess of 350,000 Americans voyaged overland by the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, Santa Fe Trail, and different courses in order to reach California. California was acquired through the Mexican war but not many people were willing to start a new life. This abundance of migration west was the first time that people of the United States were willing to endeavor deep, and the California gold rush made it common among the people to endure these journeys, accelerating the speed of western settlement and thus of the Americanization of the lands that the United States acquired through the Mexican-American War. Around 1855, many citizens had migrated west showing how the United States was starting to become set in the west. This caused the people of the United States to want a railroad system to be built from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast but was never built due to money lost in the Civil war. In similarity, a railroad was built later on in 1861, driving California towards the east. Westward expansion was seen to be a importance in the success of the United States, and with the California gold rush this, expansion was able to take place.
Diversity was not a common topic to come across among the people of the United States. This is due to the fact that immigration was not common in the United States before the 1840s. The gold rush drew in many immigrants from all around the world, including countries such as France, Germany, China, Mexico, Peru, Belgium, and Ireland. The people of these countries were in search of the same dream that people coming from the eastern U.S. wanted. They were all hoping for the American dream and wanted to become wealthy by finding gold. Though it was a risk many immigrants were willing to take it leading everyone from all around the globe into California. The two most common groups of people that were not American included Mexican and Chinese. Though sometimes discriminated against, these groups found ways of making money which didn’t always include mining in gold significant numbers of Japanese, Chinese, and European immigrant workers succeeded in becoming tenant and small landowning truck farmers by concentrating on the intensive cultivation of fruits and vegetables for sale to nearby urban markets which convinced them to stay in California for longer. Even if these race groups were discriminated against, they had found a way to wealth. These new groups of people from new countries slowly spread across the U.S. as time went on. To this day California has the most diversity as a state in the entire country and this leads back to the times of the California gold rush.
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