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Gold Rush

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The California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush was not all about Americans being happy and rich because of the discovery of gold. Indians, Hispanics, African Americans and Chinese all went through some sort of struggle or problem during the Gold Rush period. Not only did men go through rough times but so did some women. The California Gold Rush was a whole different world within California. Gold turned everyone into people they were not.

In 1847, an Indian scout brought Mr. James Marshall to Maidu. Maidu was a village of Koloma. There, the first nugget was discovered where James Marshall built a sawmill. The sawmill was located along the American River. Some people say the first Gold Nugget was found by Indian Jim, whom worked for James Marshall to dig a channel to power the sawmill. However, James Marshall received the credit.

Indians were famous for their invention in 1849 of the "Long Tom," also known as a box which caught gold. Although the Indians worked very hard for John Sutter whom was James Marshall's boss, Indians suffered tremendously. Gold Fever was a common disease which Indians died from in Northern California. Indians also died from violence and starvation. When Indians found gold nuggets, they would trade the nuggets for clothes, blankets or food for their families. It wasn't the money they wanted. It was the supplies they needed. For a while the Indians were doing well until the year of 1850 which California was now their jail. Because of the changes the whites were making, there was so much poverty for Indians around this time. Families were so poor Indian women decided to prostitute themselves. I think this is one of the most horrible things anyone can do to degrade themselves except in their situation do to the fact they were poor and needed to support their families. When Men tried to get their wives back after they sold themselves, they were shot by the person who "owned" them. The person who shot them would of course not get into any trouble at all. Children were taken from their families in Northern California and sold for shares between fifty dollars and two hundred dollars per child. These children were used for labor, cleaning and slave work. This brought on the "Apprentice System" which would allow settlers who bought these children keep them homeless and jobless until they were 30 years old. Children who looked good and presentable would be kidnapped and sold for sexual slavery for one hundred dollars each. Because of this, families who had children would beat their faces just so that they would look ugly so they wouldn't be desirable to people in charge of these horrible crimes. When Congress made three Indians negotiate 18 treaties of "Peace & Friendship" with 402 California Tribal leaders in 1851, the Indians were promised 8.5 million acres on 10 reservations for the rest of California. The Indians actually thought this would be true, however after signing the peace treaty with these white settlers, a huge amount of the Indians were all poisoned at a banquet. California sent the Indians that survived to places such as Alcatraz, Goat Island, Napa Valley or dumped into the ocean. Once again, the Indians were poor and had to search for supplies to survive. They were arrested for trespassing or for wondering from place to place. When they were in jail, they were bought at an auction and had to work off their bail as servants doing farm work, carpenter work and ranch work. When they finally finished working off their bail, the owner would give the Indian liquor just so that he would be arrested for being drunk in public. By the 1900's, there were less than 16,000 Indians left in California.

Whites thought of Mexicans as unwanted foreigners who were forced out of the mines physically and politically. An example of legislation discrimination was when Anglos posted signs which stated that foreigners had no right to be there. Kids who stayed in San Francisco were beat by ex-New Yorkers also called "Hounds". Mexicans were hanged by a hangman's noose. Because of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War, the United States was given California. The victims of the war with Mexico, were given United States Citizenship because of the Treaty. However, even though some had citizenship, in 1885 a statute was passed

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