California Gold Rush

The California gold rush of 1849 through 1851 was the largest and most significant of American mineral rushes. Thousands of young men made their way to California after the discovery of gold in 1848 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Most hoped to strike it rich and return home wealthy within a few months, a hope that usually failed to materialize. But the gold rush experience of these men, and especially their immersion in the virtually all-male world of the mining camp, illuminates the tenuous quality of constructions of manliness in this period.

The news of the discovery of gold in California spread east slowly, but by late 1848 interest in the strike, spurred by newspaper publicity, had grown into a mania, and men ...

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