California Gold Rush

Gold miners California Gold Rush Handbill

Handbill advertising passage to the land of gold. One of many advertisements for ships heading to California in 1848-1849 and providing a fast and easy route to access the California Gold Rush. 

Just days before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the Mexican-American War, gold was discovered in California which now belonged to the United States. In January 1848, gold was discovered while James Wilson Marshall was constructing a sawmill along the American River northeast of present-day Sacramento. His discovery was reported in the local newspaper, but no one believed him until they laid their eyes on a jar of gold itself (Library). After the word started to spread east, people sold everything in order to make the journey to the land of gold out west.  "I have left those that I love as my own life behind and risked everything and endured many hardships to get here. I want to make enough to live easier and do some good with, before I return" (Library). Mr. Shufelt himself left his entire family behind to pursue riches and create a better life for the ones he loved. The California Gold Rush sparked a movement west, which only further ignited manifest destiny. People saw the opportunity to stake a claim of their own and truly pursue the "American Dream" out west. This new discovery and the abundance of wealth to be had further solidified support of Polk’s decision to move westward. The Gold Rush further encouraged the Union to admit California as the 31st state and attracted around 300,000 people to move to the new state.

The California Gold Rush provided a renewed passion to the idea of Manifest Destiny. The Gold Rush attracted thousands of people from around the country, and around the world, to make the journey west. The Rush offered people the dream of moving west, staking a claim on your own land, and finding gold. This dream became reality for some, who followed the route west and created a new life through Manifest Destiny.