On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall was building a sawmill for Captain John Sutter when he struck gold. Sutter attempted to keep the gold a secret but once the news was out it rapidly spread throughout the nation causing thousands of people to pack up and head west. This mass migration was later known as the California Gold Rush and all of the men who went out west for gold were called “forty-niners”. (2) The discovery of gold impacted thousands of people along with their families as their husband, father, brother, or son left for this new adventure. People from every social class and occupation were heading west, doctors were mining next to lawyers who were mining next to farmers who were mining next to artisans. (1) The Gold Rush interested thousands of people from all over the country resulting in California becoming a very diverse place. The discovery of gold represented the idea of the American dream during this time; anybody who could pick up a pan and shovel could mine. It did not matter what social class they came from, their current career, their family name, how much money they had. For many Americans they felt as if the gold rush gave them the opportunity to change their social status in society. Not everybody went west to escape their lives back home or for money but to gain independence. For the young men who traveled west, the gold rush gave them the opportunity of adventure and the chance to establish an identity for themselves. The Gold Rush was seen as a symbol of new life as these men were able to escape their current situations and start new. (3)
The California Gold Rush effected thousands of men and also their families. Through my site I wanted to portray the effects of the Gold Rush on the miners and also the families that were left behind at home. The Gold Rush transformed California and also the country so I that is why I viewed a site dedicated to the Gold Rush would be beneficial. I was also interested in learning more about the Gold Rush which was the man reason I decided to focus on it for my project.