tv Lectures in History California Gold Rush CSPAN August 31, 2021 9:06am-9:58am EDT
on lectures in history, emory university history professor patrick allitt teaches a class about the california gold rush. he describes how people traveled to california, the geography of the area and the evolving technology used to mine gold. >> good morning, everybody. the topic of our lecture today is the history of the gold rush. i'm going it talk mainly about california in the years following 1848. gold played a very important role in american history. think back to the quest for gold and the history of the conquest of the aztecs and then the incas is a desire for precious metal, gold above all but also silver. when the first settlers came to jamestown, they were hoping to find the same kind of supplies
of gold that had been found by the spaniards. it was a bitter disappointment to not find gold in what is now virginia. they brought jewellers and goldsmiths. america's first gold rush took place close to where we are now in georgia. this was the georgia gold rush. up to the town north of here, you will see the courthouse has been converted into a gold mining museum. it's 100 miles up the road. what happened was the first gold was discovered. then people started pouring into the area in huge numbers because of the intoxicating possibility that gold would make them wealthy quickly. until then, this had been an area beyond the line of settlement. suddenly, white settlement catches up quickly. here is the governor describing what it was like meeting the georgia miners in 1829.
many thousands of idle people flocked into georgia from every point of the compass. made them like the evil one, the devil, if his worst mood. after waiting all day, picking up particles of gold, they collected around fires at night and played on the ground and on their hats, at cards, dice and other games of chance for their day's findings. whiskey carts served them. hundreds were sometimes seen at fisticuffs. they used to fight until one gouged out the eyes of a combatant. the army was sent in to restore order in the chaotic scene where people poured in from every
direction. here on the sheet which i gave you. the army major sent to keep order reported this. upwards of 200 persons who presented a motley appearance, their occupations were as various as their complexion, shopkeepers, peddlers, theefshz thieves and gambles. two colonels of the georgia militia and two ministers of the gospel, all attracted by the love of gold. he is making the most of it with this lovely groups. this is a rich site of gold. a large quantity was drawn out of the mines between 1829 and into the 1870s and '80s.
the confederate bank used georgia gold for minting. by living here, you have seen an example of the gold down on the state capital building, five or six miles from here. the dome is thinly coated. this is an important source. the people who lived in the area where the georgia gold rush took place were the cherokee, one of the native american societies. since the american revolution, the federal government had been trying very hard to integrate the native american nations into the united states saying, learn to become christians, learn literacy, learn to be farmers instead of hunters and gatherers. that was the federal policy in the first three or four decades of the republic. now suddenly, it turns out the
cherokees are living on land for which the whites are very hungry. what was going to prevail? racial exclusion was going to prevail. the whites just wanted to get rid of the indians. in 1828, in the successful candidate, andrew jackson, they found somebody who wanted to get rid of the native americans any way he could. this is john ross, one of the cherokee chiefs. if any community of native americans had lived up to the hopes of the federal government, it was clearly the cherokee. they learned how to read. one of the missionaries created a vocabulary to enable them to write down the cherokee language. many had become christians. many of them now wore american dress. this was a highly integrated community.
nevertheless, we have to get rid of them. congress passed the indian removal act in 1830 signed by president jackson saying that the so-called five civilized tribes -- this is president jackson. he said, the five civilized tribes should move from their current lands out on to a place that was called indian territory. the idea was that there would be a forcible resettlement of population on the other side of the mississippi river. this is now oklahoma. it was then called indian territory. the georgia state government passed a law specifying the lands up in this northern tier of georgia should be reallocated by a land lottery to white settlers. hand it over to the whites.
this is the prelude to a movement i'm sure you have heard about, the trail of tears by which the cherokee were shifted and forced to migrate several hundred miles under very adverse conditions with large numbers of them dying along the way. it's one of the great human rights violations of american history, particularly in the history of the state of georgia itself. last time in talking about the spread of american settlement and the spread of american political power, we talked about the mexican war. this was the war between mexico and the united states in the years 1846 to '48. although the american armies were not well led, they were more effective than the mexican armies with the result they were able to win a spectacular series of victories. by late 1947, the leader of one of the armies, general scott, he landed on the coast -- eastern
coast of mexico, led his army inland. they were able to overrun mexico city itself. on the right, you can see a picture of general scott's army marching into mexico city where they were able to dictate the terms of the peace treaty that followed. this was the treaty of guadeloupe hidalgo whose geographical significance was that a vast area of mexico was handed over to the united states. nearly all the land which comprises california, nevada, utah, arizona and then parts of new mexico and colorado. today, the southwestern quarter of the united states. certain things about it are important to remind you of. this is anticipate area with a high population. then it was extremely low. only a few thousand spaniards had lived there or a few
thousand mexicans. there was a low density of native american settlement. it was mainly unoccupied territory. the reason it was unoccupied is because it's so dry. nearly all this land has got very, very low rainfall with a few exceptions like in the northern california coast. most of it is too dry for ordinary agriculture. not many people could live there. to give you an idea how low its population was -- which of you have been to san francisco? it's a fantastic natural harbor. sail in through the golden gate, a narrow entrance, into an enormous deep water enclosed harbor. one of the great cities of the world is right there. this is what it looked like in 1846. you can see here. a handful of huts and a few streets. it was a very, very quiet and sleepy little place. its future significance was unimaginable at that time.
this is a settler. he lived at sutters fort which is on the site of sacramento. it's now the state capital of california. americans had been moving into texas even when texas was still a mexican territory. the same way, american settlers had been moving into california even when it was still mexican territory. one of them was this man. he came from switzerland. he set up a trading fort. this is -- there it is in the upper picture. very different from a shop. the fact he had to have a fort is a sign of how politically volatile the area was. he was expected to be robbed or attacks. he took precautions. one of the things he wanted to sell was lumber. it was coming from up in the
foothills of the sierra nevada mountains. he sent an assistant up the river, the american river, up to a place called coloma and asked him to design and build a sawmill. the american river is flowing fast enough that the water can turn a waterwheel and it's attached to saw blades so the lumber could be brought there and sent down the river to sutters fort. one of the things you have to do to make an effective sawmill is divert the river down the mill race, a flume. he found flakes of gold, metal flakes. he reported back to sutter saying, found gold. sutter said, don't tell anybody.
we will keep it secret. they could foresee. you know how bad everyone is at keeping secrets. don't you know from your own experience? the only way to have a secret is to never tell anyone. somehow, the secret gets out. that's exactly what happened in this case. it wasn't long before the news got back east. it spread very rapidly all over the world with the result that a massive incursion of people into. >> kyle: -- california began to take place. this is the area where the gold was discovered. he sent his assistant up river to here. that's where the gold had been discovered. we know from subsequent geological work, that the gold field is about the area that is shown there in yellow. the richest area, where the most of all the gold was found, was
about here. this is the mother load. those are where the mining camps sprang up. they correspond closely to the load itself. if you imagine a simplified version of the coast of california -- i will do this for reasons of simplicity. here is san francisco bay. one river is flowing south. this is the sacramento river. eventually, it flows into the san francisco bay. it is parallel with the coast, about 100 miles inland. there's a coastal range here. a big central valley. another river flowing north is the san joaquin valley. it flows into san francisco bay. this is the central valley. over here is a high are mountain. what are they called? >> i don't know.
>> there's a clue. >> the sierra nevada mountains? >> yeah. that's right. as you can tell from the map, lots of rivers flow out of the sierra nevadas. they join the -- the northern join the sacramento river, and the southern flow into the san joaquin river. that's theschematic. the gold is here in the foothills of the valleys. first of all, hear how the news got back east. come up and -- have you heard of william sherman? he was a famous union general. that's him on the right as a young man. at this point, he was a lieutenant in the u.s. army and
witnessing what was happening when the gold was discovered. here is lieutenant sherman. off you go. >> as the spring and summer of 1848 advanced, reports came faster from the gold mines. stories reached us of discoveries and spread through the land. everyone was talking of gold, gold. until it assumed the character of a fever. citizens were fitting out trains of wagons to go to the mines. we heard of men earning 500 and 1,000 per day. it seemed as though somebody would reach solid gold. >> thanks very much. the news gets out. here is an army officer reporting back what's been going on. not long after that the president himself made a speech. we have the president here with us, james polk. look on the back sheet of the handout. see what the president said. this is a few months after the initial discoveries made. >> it was known that mines of
the precious metals existed to a considerable extent in california at the time of its acquisition. recent discoveries render is probable it was more valuable than expected. were they not corroborated by the authentic reports of officers in the public district. the explorations made warrant the belief the supply is very large and that gold is found in various places in extensive districts of the country. it appears that mines of quicksilver are being found. one is being worked and is believed to be among the most productive in the world. the effects produced by the discovery and the success which is attended to the laborers, has produced a surprising change. labor commands an exorbitant
price. nearly the whole of the male population of the country have gone to the gold district. ships arriving on the coast are deserted by their crew. our commanding officer there entertains apprehension that solders cannot be kept without a large increase in pay. he recommends those who shall withstand the strong temptations and remain faithful should be rewarded. this abundance of gold and the pursuit of it has caused in california an unprecedented price in the necessities of life. >> that's president polk. he is making this declaration about how the economy is being transformed. nobody wants to do work except dig for gold. ships arrive in san francisco, the crews desert because they want to go to the gold diggings. psychologists are interested in this gold fever that takes people over. the curious thing about gold is
that it isn't really particularly useful. i don't know if you thought about this. today, it's possible in things like semiconductors and heat shields. but then it was used for decoration and also sometimes as a unit of currency. it doesn't rust. if you make coins out of iron, it rusts away. but it's not useful. it was incredibly valuable. it's one of many things which have been so important to american history like gold and tobacco, on which great fortunes were made, even though they weren't actually essential. worth thinking about. people started pouring into california from all over. back east and around the world in england and france and germany and south america and china, it was enthusiasm about finding ways to get to california. lots of handbooks like this
began to be published. it was published in boston. the wonderful gold regions with a description of the different routes to california. information about the country and the ancient and modern discoveries of gold. help for travellers on thinking about how they are going to get there. there were essentially three ways of getting there. they were all difficult. this is 1849. still another 20 years were going to pass before you could get there by railroad. the first had been invented but they weren't -- they were short lines. one way was by going in a clipper ship. it was capable of sailing fast. one possibility was to sail from the east coast all the way down through the south atlantic and then around cape horn. what's that like?
horrible. the stormiest waters in the world. you are coming into the teeth of the roaring waters. it can take weeks to get around and get shipwrecked on the way. that was one way. lots of people tried that. this is an ad for it. you can see what the artist has done is implied you can see the coast, which isn't true. the artist rearranged the topography. that's one possibility. the second was to go by steamship. instead of going around south america, to sail into the caribbean to the place where the crossing is narrowest and then either at the place we call panama or further north, to go across by land, across the narrow part, and then take a second ship which would take you up to san francisco. the advantage was the journey
was shorter. the disadvantage is that just about the best place in the world in those days to die of malaria or yellow fever was there. this is an incredibly difficult place just to live, even going across it. three or four decades later, the people successfully built the suez canal tried to build the first panama canal and failed because the labor died of horrible tropical diseases. that was a risky business. people were trying. the incentive was so great. for california direct, extraordinary inducement. the quickest, cheapest and safest, that's what they claimed. whether it's true is another matter. the third way was the over land trails. of the three routes taken, this was the one done most frequently. as you know, from what we said previously, the oregon trail had opened up in about 1843 or '44.
five or six years previous to this. from trial and error, they worked out the best way was to start in independence, missouri, go up the river and then across on the sweet water river, across the rockies at the lowest point, then pick up the waters of the snake river and go north until it meets the columbia river and down as far as portland where another river reaches. that's where the great oregon farmland was. people had done that. it was at this point that various cutoffs were established, particularly the california trail, with a cutoff down here towards sacramento. this is approaching it over land rather than going by sea. the oregon trail, very difficult in itself. if you then took the california trail, it was even worse. by doing that, you had to go into northern nevada.
there's a river which is usually a dry riverbed. it has water in it a few days of every year. mostly it's bone dry. cross this desert and all along the way people died. to make matters worse, you then had to cross the sierra nevada mountains. they are very formidable. it's great skiing country today. but we live in softer times than they did. by then, one of the most famous incidents in the history of american cannibalism had taken place there. the donner party set off from missouri, took the california cutoff, were partway up the mountains when a very severebly -- blizzard snowed them in.
many died and the survivors ate the bodies of the relatives. news spread rapidly. anyone who was going to the gold rush over the donner, is the route taken by interstate 80, you go that way if you cross the mountains, it's hard but it's the easiest way, knew that this was the territory they were crossing. very, very rapidly, between the first discoveries in 1848 and early 1849, 80,000 people poured into the area around sacramento and up river from there. the migration carried on over the next five or six years. here is something to think about that's easy to forget. it was only in 1848 that california became part of the republic. until then, it had been part of mexico. most persons probably didn't even know where it was.
suddenly, it becomes part of america. suddenly, it turns out also to have this incredible abundance of wealth. how galling must it have been to mexico? not only had they lost the war, they aren't noticed for the previous 350 years that they were sitting literately on a gold mine. it's one of the many historical ironies where it can prompt meditations about the nature of good fortune. now we need to talk a little bit about rivers. i said in drawing this diagram, it's in the foothills of the sierra nevadas that most of the gold was found. it's in the place where rivers flowing rapidly downhill are beginning to flow out into the plains or into the flatter land of the central valley. if you imagine the same thing -- that's a bird's eye view. think of it looking at it from the side. it's something like this.
if this is the central valley and that's the high sierras, the area where the gold was found was kind of this area. why should that be? tell us why you think it's found here. >> maybe because where the mineral deposits were with the geology of the area. >> it's connected with the river. the place where they started to look was in the river itself. what happens to a river when it's flowing out of the mountains and on low land? >> it deposits the sediment. >> it's carrying sediment. why does it deposit it there? >> that's the lowest part. the sediment can't move through that it gets left. >> that's right. which carries more sediment, fast or slow flowing river?
>> fast. >> yes. exactly. this is the area where it starts to slow down. the river starts to slow down. as it does so, it starts to drop the sediment it's carrying. does it first drop heaviest or lightest? >> the heaviest? >> yeah. such as? >> rocks. >> gold is very dense. fast flowing rivers carry a lot of sediment. as they slow down, as they flow down, they lose some of the energy and they begin to deposit their load. they deposit gold first because it's the heaviest element. that's why it's a good place to dig. sure enough, if you look at that map, it was. now look at this photograph. can you see the river is meandering? it isn't flowing in a straight line. they hardly do. it's in a curve. kelly, when a river is flowing around curves, is the current
fastest on the outside of the bend or inside? >> outside. >> why? >> i'm not quite sure. i'm not sure why it flows faster on the outside. >> you are right, it's the sum -- simpliest thing in the world. it flows straight and it turns and flows until it gets stopped again. the bends become more exaggerated. if you had a window seat and looked down, you can see where the course of the river used to be, which isn't there any longer. you have oxbows. you can see it clearly from the air. it used to be there. then it was cut off and the river straightened itself. the process starts again. think about what this means in terms of the deposit of gold.
it means not only that in this transitional area coming out of the mountains, it also means the very best place to look is on the inside of the bends. that's where the current is flowing more slowly. that means that's where it's going to be dropped. you can see on the photograph, there's a beach where the water is hardly flowing. you can imagine seeing it flowing more rapidly across. the perfect place to stake a claim if you were one of the 49ers was on the inside of the bend of the place where the river levelled out. sure enough, that's where they found a lot of gold. one of the great things about the early days of the california gold rush is that it was a very democratic kind of thing. anybody could do it. you had to get there, which is hard. once you were there, all you needed was a shovel and a pan. like a wok. anyone pan for gold?
you can do it. like this miner is holding. shovel into the pan some of the sediment from the riverbank. put in water. gradually, swirl it around so that you make a suspension of the lighter particles with the water. let that flow over the side of the pan with the heavier particles staying behind. very gently and methodically. a lot of care and patience. what you are left with is a bed of gravel with gold flakes in it. you can pick out the flakes of gold. that's the way in which it was done. it's a very low tech business. when we look at the history of who got rich in the california gold rush, it was mainly the people not who dug but who sold shovels and sold pans and sold donkeys and sold tents and who sold food. that was the way to make a fortune. whether or not the diggers found the gold, you would get paid for
the provisions. you could charge a high price. the stuff had to come a long way. it was in high demand. you could get top price. we have illustrations of people using very, very primitive recovery techniques, usually working in gangs of five or six. a slightly more sophisticated device. a rocker. what happens is a mixture of gravel and water is poured in at the top. it filters down through a series of sieves, which is finer than the one before. it gets caught on top. down here, you have a piece of rough burlap sacking or maybe an old bit of carpet. the particles of gold catch in the fabric. after you have sluiced the water across it, you are left with particles of gold. this became the currency in the gold district.
eventually, it starts to occur to some people that if they -- if the gold is there, it must have come from further upstream. doesn't it make since to go upstream to find it? the answer was yes. here is how that works. back to the diagram of the hillside. you found it lying about in the water down here. that means that somewhere up here there's actually a vein of gold or gold rock which is exposed to the surface and it's being eroded. it's formed deep in the earth under high temperature and pressure by a geological process we can't go into here. when you get thrust, you get the buckling of the rock and it can bring the surface what was found
below. that's why it's found in mountains. let's imagine that this is where the gold vein is. if you are -- if you decide to look for the gold itself, here is how do you it. go upstream and test the water here. then you go upstream and test it here and upstream and test it here and go upstream and test it here. in each of these places, you find some gold but less than you had down here because of the pace of the river. eventually, you get to a place where you find none at all. why do you find none? you have gone above the vein. that tells you. you do closer testing here and here. eventually, this is where it is. it's hardly self-evident. it's the possibility of trying to dig out gold itself. it's very difficult to do. that's the logical conclusion that the miners came to.
let's look for the origins of the gold itself. that's why we have photos up in the mountains. >> vein, same as a blood vein. it's a vein or drift. there's miner terminology. all the techniques of digging for gold required access to water. another group of very entrepreneurial 49ers realized, water supply is a highly lucrative business. going to a place where there's a stream and diverting the stream to the place where people are digging, usually by building a flume. it's usually a wooden channel which will guide the water to places where people are digging. the very first strikes are here
on the river, on the main part of the river. eventually, people start saying, look, for a long time the river flowed here. that's a great place to dig. of course, we can't do it if it's dried up unless we have a water supply. the flume -- someone is building a flume to help them do it. high up in the sierra nevadas, lots of these very enterprising men were building flumes to divert the river. in this picture, you can see the process going on. a small stream here. they built a primitive rock dam. they can channel the water into the flume which carries it to the water where they explore for min minerals. if it's pretty good getting it from the side of the river, think how much better it is going to be if we actually dig into the bed of the river itself. how do we do that?
only by diverting the river. this is a period where lots of illustrators went to do pictures of what was going on. we can reconstitute it pretty well. you can see that -- they built a dam across the river itself. they built a diversion channel. the waterbed is dry. they can get up the sediment which has been accumulating over hundreds of thousands of years. there's a catch. notice also that they have introduced waterwheels here. it gets faster. you get energy which can turn the waterwheels. they bring up mechanically the stuff that's being produced. there's a steam engine here. technology has been brought in.
this is all expensive. a guy with a shovel can't afford this. it's only people who have capital who can do work like this. by 1851, it's people with capital who are making money at mining. they can do these big earth shifting operations which are necessary to really make it pay. gradually, what tends to happen is people who had come out hoping that they would be independent gold diggers actually become employees of mining companies working for wages in projects like this. they realize the value of going down into the earth. you can see it's literally becoming mining. they are mining into the gravel, which is under the bed -- the old bed of the river itself. it wasn't long after that before somebody invented this method. this is an invention of the 1850s. the river has been eroding the
mountainside over millions of years. let's speed up the process by firing against the mountainside a very, very high pressure jet of water to accelerate the erosion process hundreds of times over. don't let it happen gradually. again, it's a matter of getting a flume upstream and guiding the water down until you bring it into -- they are like big scale fire hoses. the incredible high pressure they have. if you put your finger in front, it will break your fingers. shoot it out of narrow nozzles with great pressure against the mountainside. this washes down sediment out of which it is possible to gather the gold in the same way. hydraulicing. the first environmental laws passed by california were to ban this practice. what it meant that tons of debris was coming downstream and
stifling the farms. very bad for the farmers. in the '50s and '60s and early '70s, mining was more important. then when all these other methods have been tried and gradually exhausted, it's a question of digging into the mountainside and trying to follow the vein into the interior of the mountain. that's hard rock mining. what you are bringing out of the mine is an enormous quantity mainly of quartzite which there are small elements of gold. bit by bit, they were edged by people who have capital to do it on a large scale. this is what big mines looked like by the 1860s and '70s. the technology of photography was good enough that we have good pictures of what it looked like. 49ers become mine laborers.
here is what happens inside a working hard rock gold mine. you have teams of two working at a technique called double jacking. one guy is holding a chisel against the rock face and the other is hitting a sledgehammer. a high degree of trust. turn it slightly, hit it again, turn slightly, to dislodge the gravel. over an hour of hard hammering, you have cut a hole maybe this deep. imagine, working against a rock face, cut one there, one there all the way around. fill them with gunpowder, lead fuses to each one, light the fuses, retire to a safe distance and then let them explode. if you have done it right, if the holes are this deep, an arc of explosions will dislodge the
rock in that arc. when the dust and smoke have cleared, you can go in and clear out all that rock, bring it up to the surface and repeat the process again. yeah? it's incredibly dangerous work. for maybe up to the present, being a miner is the job in which you are most likely to be killed at work. the roof can cave in. you can get caught by charges which didn't explode which sparks from a hammer will set off. methane gas will explode. suffocating gases you can't breathe and you die. horrible working environments. in those days, they didn't have electric light. they had candles. the atmosphere was terrible. in every wa a very, very deplorable way of life. improvements were developed. one was nitroglycerin. if it gets too hot, it
spontaneously explodes. we have sad stories of that happening. the invention of drills in which high pressure water is the power source instead of guys with hammers. the problem with those is they created showers of dust so the miners were breathing in a dust heavy atmosphere and tended to die young of mining relatd diseases. horrible way of life. underground railroads built so you can load the ore on wagons, take them to the shaft and have them drown up to the surface. when the hard rock gets to the surface, the question,how do you get the gold out of it? it's no longer any good to use the panning technique. the parts per million are very, very small. there's not much gold and a lot of rock. you had to use -- various names.
a crusher. on the right, you can see a waterwheel. fast flowing water turns the wheel. it's attached to this device which is an axle baring cams. as they go past these rods, these are attached to heavyweights. the ore is fed through here on a conveyor. these devices stamp it to reduce it to powder. stamping works. next thing is to combine the powdered ore with mercury. who has seen any mercury? it's a metal that's liquid at room temperature. it's another source -- another way to get poisoned. it's very, very toxic. you mustn't work around mercury compounds. that's too dangerous. that wasn't known at the time. this reddish rock on the left is mercury oxide.
it appears from the reports that mines of quicksilver is found. it's another name for mercury. it becomes as important as gold mining. this of mining becomes as important as gold mining because this is the process of separating the metal from the ore. what happens is you mix the powdered ore with water, make a kind of sludge, then you pour in mercury and the mercury and the gold combine chemically and they're very heavy and so by sending it across a gently sloping gradient, you'll cause this gold and mercury compound to fall to the bottom. then you heat the whole thing, and because the mercury is already so volatile, it gets vaporized and driven off and you are left behind with the gold. usually in a highly concentrated pure form so you can turn it almost straightaway into gold bars. that's the way it's done as a commercial mining operation.
i did want to show you this lovely, lovely photograph. again, this is about 20 years after the first invention of photography, but it perfectly illustrates the point that lieutenant sherman made. this is san francisco bay in 1850. ships would come in from all over the world, but very often they would never set sail again because the crews all deserted. everyone had gone for gold. they went up to the hills. there's gold in them hills, literally. so this incredible photograph of the whole city -- the whole harbor, i should say, with these abandoned ships. it's dramatic, isn't it? >> so much so that one of the things that shop keepers started to do was to drag the ships up on land, see this one and this one, they have just converted them into stores because they're big containment areas, ideal. that's one thing, but there's other interesting things, there's a lot of good lithographs, this style of picture at the time. shirley, tell us about this picture, if you would, please, wait for a second while the boom
comes over to you. >> you see a lot of people inside and i can't -- >> this is the bar of a gambling soon. >> people are trading for gold, i think? >> that's right. yeah. what are you meant to be surprised by as a viewer? look at the clothes. >> everyone's pretty well dressed? >> not just well dressed. who do you think these guys are? >> farmers? >> no. what country do they come from? look at the hats. >> i can't really tell. >> they're meant to be chinese. >> okay. >> and how about these two? >> are they from another asian country as well? >> they're meant to be mexican. in other words, what the artist is doing here is showing
us the traditional dress of all the different groups of people who have come from different parts of the world. that's the idea of it. in other words, this is america's first multicultural environment where there are people from china, chile, mexico, england, switzerland, all sorts of people have gathered and it's very unusual. people weren't used to that kind of thing. who is this one? this is a stereotype. >> is he irish? >> yeah, irish. it's the irish drunk. people come from all over the world and when the irish get here what do they do? they get drunk. it's one of these old stereotypes. and, again, here is an illustration of the artist's imagination. what's it like in chinatown when suddenly a chinatown develops in sacramento? chinese life, three exclamation points. the idea is, whoa, how weird is that that chinese people are living here in america? that's what the artist is getting at. and similarly in this one. this is meant to a be a horse market in sonora.
in the background you see the miners saloon. again, there's two chinese men here, the mexican here, the anglo guy who is buying the horse, african-american over here. southerners would take their slaves to the gold mines. a great concentration of people coming in from all over the place around the world. and the idea of pictures like this is to say what a weird world is that? it resulted in very, very rapidly populating that had previously been a very, very underpopulated place. can you come up and read us your passage, it's above the president's speech in the handout. this is a historian writing about 40 years ago describing the way in which gold accelerated the process of american settlement. >> the little grains of bright yellow metal threw a bridge head across the desert established a front line of civilization across the rocky mountains and drew men from the east farther out onto the plains
the glittering prize lighted the way, illuminating the darkness of earlier obstacles and convinced men that no matter how great the barriers they could be surmounted. after the men came their baggage both material and cultural. freight wagons brought not only necessities but the trappings of civilization. printing presses, the refinement of books and some art objects. the advanced guard of prospectors, men, found money with which to buy and out of their spending came roads, civic development, churches, schools and above all women. when the family unit came or was locally assembled permanent assembly was normally assured. with the floating scum gone those who were serious about the new land settled down to extract their own kind of gold. grain or cattle in another section of the united states was commenced. >> great. thanks very much. yeah, he makes the point there that normally if you look at the history how communities developed they started out as agricultural and later on became urbanized as people gathered together in tons, but in the
west in these mining camps it was the other way around, they started out as concentrations of people all in the same place buying these mining investments but after the mines had played out gradually people began to disperse. the farming population in california was an aforethought. in the long run it was going to prove even more lucrative than the mining had itself. that's an example of how the normal process of urbanization is reversed. for reasons of time i've got to stop now. the next time we'll talk about the origins of the history of the oil industry. ♪♪
>> c-spanshop.org is c-span's online store. there is a collection of c-span products. brows to see what's new. your purchase will support our nonprofit operations and you still have time to order the congressional directory with contact information for members of congress and the biden administration. go to c-spanshop.org. >> all right, guys. how are y'all doing today? welcome to class. today as i talked about a little bit earlier this week we have a special lecturer here. dr. jeff kinard. you may h a