Strike in rich, California:history, chapter 4
Californian history is a captivating narration of an economy thathappened in the golden rush leading to massive transformations forCalifornians. It grew from strength to strength as its wealthadversely struck to place it amongst the richest states in the worldto date. This history is well explained in the book California:History by Kevin an exceptional writer.
In a famous statement Luzena exclaimed that the excitement of goldspread like wildfire. As it lasted, numerous changes were experiencedin California. The massive population increase had advantages likeeconomic growth, which changed California permanently. Cities likeSan Francisco grew and advanced in terms of manufacturing, trade,shipping and banking. Productive farming was also experienced incities like Sacramento. Despite the many advantages gold rush had inCalifornia, some challenges also became part of the growing state.Diseases from new comers for example were challenging times for thestate though this did not deter it from progressing economically. Theheritage of the new comers fused with Californians and became animperative part of the Californian culture.
To investigate how the economy of California happened in the goldenrush
Review of literature
The mention of January1848 may have no meaning to many but it is adate that conveys a deep meaning for Californians. This day issignificantly important for Californians as its rich gold rushhistory starts here. It is the day that a moody carpenter fromMissouri discovered the very first golden nugget resulting to astampede also referred to gold rush. After John Sutter had discoveredgold, it took less than one year for the president to announceformally its discovery to the world. This announcement opened doorsfor gold rush to begin officially. In his book California historychapter 4, Starr summarizes the events that followed the 1848discovery as fast forward.
“ The following two years after the gold rush announcement fastforwarded California into what would later be described as a rapidmonstrous maturity by Howe Bancroft the historian,” Starr (71).”
The term gold rush means movement by a large number of people to asite or place where gold has been found. Throughout history, peoplehave placed high value for gold due to its economic benefits andvalue. It is also scarce and rare, easy to shape and resistant totarnish. It thus is no wonder that the discovery of gold inCalifornia drew people from wide and far hoping that they will makeit and carry home millions. People came from Australia and Chinawithout taking almost 8 month voyages or 5-8 overland treks and thedangers involved just to get to the gold mine. Others left their jobsand used all the money they had purchased mining equipments inpreparation for prosperity and wealth through gold mining.
After one year of President James Polk announcement, the populationof non-native American population in California was approachingalmost 100,000. This was up from less than 10,000 in 1848. Moreastonishing was the fact that California had already organized itselfas a state having held elections, by passed territorial status andpetitioning for congress admission into the union. After three yearsof the announcement by Polk, the non-native population grew from lessthan ten thousand to 255,000 people with new cities like metropolis,Atlantis and San Fransisco springing into existence from the sea.
This chapter struck me in many ways but the transformation of theeconomy during the gold rush was particularly interesting. Apart fromthe population growth having increased massively, the discovery bySutter was just what California needed to take the next economicshift. This discovery did not only improve the population ofCalifornia but also set off succession of events that would have farmore important effects on the US and the entire world (Starr 71). Tostart with the timing of the event was crucial as it happened just asthe Californian state was about to experience the growing impact ofindustrial revolution. This revolution would in the next half centurytransform the US from an agrarian society into an industrial giant. According to Starr, the gold rush helped trigger momentous economicchanges for US.
Economically, it served as a multiplier through accelerating a chainif interrelated events all of which contributed to the massive growthof the economy within a short span of time. Nationally, it opened upopportunities for employment and creation of jobs in businesses,banks, commerce and financial institutions (Gerald 276).
The agricultural sector, which held a large portion in Californiaby, then benefited from expansion and quickened trade volumes. Thegold rush is attributed to the major growth of agriculture inCalifornia in the 1850’s. Though agriculture was hardly lesssignificant in the gold rush, its foundations were firmly establishedafter the gold rush. Those who did not succeed in mining opted fromfarming as it still remained a pillar in the economy of California.Many became large and small scale farmers, fruit and flower growers,dairy farmers which found a lucrative market in the growing marketsof California. This was not only a local economic event as Californiaproducts found way to pacific states and other world economies. Forexample, California established itself as a top flour milling stateafter 1860 with two hundred flour milling companies operating,supplying local and abroad demands. Large quantities of flour werebeing sold to regions like Europe, Britain, Japan and China.California’s economy had massively changed from having nocommercial flour mills in 1848 to a large state exporting wheatproducts by 1860 argues Gerald (278). Californian agriculturalproducts enjoyed considerable success in Asia as well with HenryMiller a German immigrant who moved to California for gold rushbecoming the largest rancher in the state. He had more than threemillion cattle and one million sheep, outnumbering Californianinhabitants.
Commerce improved immensely as demands for new modes of transportbegan to be experienced. The gold rush spurred a wide range ofentrepreneurial activities that led to thousands of Californiansembarking on new ventures of business such as manufacturing,processing and servicing industries. Mining, hardware, food,clothing, supplies of all kinds, luxuries, steamboats river trafficwere some of the few items in great demand as ambitious men and womenscurried to provide all these. Business was lucrative forentrepreneurs greatly raising the economic standards of California.The introduction of the mining machineries and its shortage of supplyled to the innovative creation of an iron industry in the northernpart of California. There manufacturing of steam engines, nozzles forhydraulic operations, steam engines and other mining machineries wasdone. By 1861, more than one thousand workers toiled in San Franciscoto manufacture the mining equipments. San Francisco boasted of 13iron foundries and more than 30 machine shops. Twenty three otherfoundries were working in different parts of the state. With goldrush, mining became a crucial job. It required auxiliary operationssuch as explosives and as early as 1855, those coming to Californiahad built powder works already. This reduced the need for importsfrom the east. Apart from these industries, mining stimulated thegrowth of other industries, which created an enormous demand.
Lumber industries, housing for miners and mining equipment likeshafts and tunnels, machineries all led to growth of new industries.
Gold rush had many advantages but experienced slight challenges.Newcomers who came in search of gold for example had less value forCalifornians, culture, customs and legal rights and this compromisedtheir values. Diseases brought by newcomers were another challenge asit killed many Americans. Miners also hunted and killed many morepeople leading to a population fall from 150000 to 58000 by 1870.Seizing of property was another challenge many times. However, thesechallenges were outdone by the benefits that the gold rush broughtsuch as a large population growth that contributed to more economicgrowth.
In conclusion, Starr summarizes the benefits of the gold rush toCalifornia in a simplified understandable manner. This book issuitable for learning more on the history of California especiallyduring the gold rush. It is an interesting and fascinating piece ofart that gives a clear picture of the striking rich economy ofCalifornia as it happened during the golden rush.
Gerald, Nash. A veritable Revolution: The global economicsignificance of the California gold rush, UC Press, E=bookcollection, University of California press, CDL.2004, pp.276-280
Kevin, Starr. California: A history, Random house publishinggroup, history, 2007,.pp.71-100