• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

California Gold Rush

The economics of the California Gold Rush (1848–55) reflected a blending of capitalism, individualism, and countercultures. The estimated $2 billion in extracted gold stimulated a tumultuous global economy. California’s immature economic machines, devised by “California Humbugs” (merchants utilizing deceptive practices), were designed to foster continuous wealth for a few, and “feeding a dead horse” became a euphemism for forms of involuntary servitude as a result of the subsequent economic boom-and-bust cycles. The transcendentalist Orestes Brownson (1803–76) observed in his article “The Laboring Class,” published in the Boston Quarterly Review in 1840, that during America’s first sustained industrial depression (prior to the discovery of gold on January 24, 1848, in Coloma, California) the differences between the wealthy capitalists and labor reached a crisis point. For the ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles