The California Gold Rush
1 In 1848, settlers discovered gold just north of Sacramento, California. And this is one of the most important events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century. On January 24, 1848, a man named James Marshall found flakes of gold in the American River at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Coloma, California.
2 The following year, gold seekers came from all over the world as part of the California Gold Rush. Since the gold rush occurred in 1849, these new arrivals became known as "49ers." The gold rush caused California’s population to grow rapidly. It also produced a need for government in California almost overnight.
3 People had different reasons for moving west. Some wanted to find gold. They hoped to get rich in places like California, Oregon, and Colorado. The mining industry boomed as people tried to find gold in western territories. A number of mining camps eventually grew into small towns and cities.
4 Other people wanted land. Land was plentiful in the west. People hoped to claim land and become farmers or ranchers. Cotton became a money making crop in the South. And many Southerners moved west to buy land in places like Louisiana and Texas, hoping to make it rich as cotton farmers.