Auch dieser Text ist ein Text. Meine Facharbeit in Englisch, Thema Goldrausch und amerikanischer Traum. Ich werde nicht jeden Text übersetzen, aber dieser sollte reichen, um zu zeigen, dass ich des Englischen mächtig bin - etwa 4 Tage Arbeit für eine 1-...

Gymnasium am Turmhof





research paper in English

school year 2012/2013


class: advanced course English

specialist teacher: mister Blum




The gold rush - experiences analyzed




by Henrik Pütz


















Table of contents



I Introduction .................................................................................................3

1.1 California Gold Rush ........................................................................3

1.2 The American Dream ........................................................................4


II Gold Rush - success and failure ...................................................................4

2.1 Success ...............................................................................................4

2.2 Failure ................................................................................................6

2.3 Summary concerning the American Dream .......................................7


III Letters and descriptions - Signs of the American Dream? ..........................8

3.1 General John A. Sutter - Discovery of Gold .......................................8

3.1.1 American Dream? ....................................................................10

3.2 Thomas O. Larkin´s letters to the government ..................................11

3.2.1 Spreading population ...............................................................11


IV Conclusion:Did the American Dream support the California Gold Rush ? 12


V List of literature ............................................................................................13















I Introduction

I have chosen the theme California Gold Rush because I was amazed by how stubborn some of the gold seekers were, and also by the idea that some lucky people just needed one day or two to get rich, while others searched until the end of the gold rush and had to return with nothing. I thought about what might have strengthened the will to find gold, which made me think about the so-called American Dream we talked about in some English lessons. This lead to the question if the American Dream supported the gold rush, which is the question this work will answer.

In this work I am going to analyze several experience reports about the gold rush in how people´s search for gold might have been supported by the

American Dream. To do this, I will first give short information about what the gold rush and the American Dream are and how the American Dream might have strengthened people's will to search for gold. After searching for the American Dream's ideals in some reports, I will end this work answering the question how the American Dream supported the gold rush.



1.1 California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush was the first of its kind and dimensions. It started in early 1848 when James W. Marshall encountered the first gold,1 about 40 years before the also famous Klondike Gold Rush.2 The California Gold rush lasted until 1853, when nearly every potential spot for finding gold was searched twice or more. In the meantime a lot of people moved to the west, on land or by boat. Both ways were hard to survive because of, for example, the lack of water and other supplies, especially in Nevada's deserts.1

With the gold rush continuing, new techniques were invented to get gold from different sources, like quartz mining3 and hill gravel mining4.


1.2 The American Dream

The American Dream is the hope people have about America, that everyone can have success there and have a happy life.It is a very old dream, rooted about 1600, when the Pilgrims arrived in America.This new continent contained the hope of a restart or a new, better life for many Europeans.5Even today a lot of immigrants come to the U.S.A to search work and fast success.The American Dream is rooted deep in every American, and always was. In 1848, when the first find of gold was published in newspapers, the track to the West began - maybe partly because of the American Dream. Many Americans left their home searching for gold, and searching a fast success. But most of them were disappointed - only a few lucky ones had this fast success.



II Gold Rush - success and failure


As told above, only a few gold seekers were so lucky to find great amounts of gold in few time. Most of them had to work everyday to get just enough to live.

This was not just because of the bad preparation of the miners 1 or the miners being unexperienced.6 Though these were some major factors, it was also luck - or destiny - which was needed to get gold, as some examples of success below will show. This part of the work shall show the reader which factors might have been important to find enough gold, and that even the business miners were not guaranteed to find gold.



2.1 Success

What lead to success in the gold rush? According to the following story about Oliver Martin and his friend John fowler, it seems to be destiny. Both got around drinking and with peculiar work. One night, when they drank too much, they searched cover in a miner´s hut. A heavy rain surprised them and they were awakened by water floating the hut. While Oliver Martin survived, his friend drowned. The next day, Oliver dug a grave for his companion. In the hole he found a gold nugget so big he needed help to get it out. His found was one of the biggest nuggets, worth about 22,700$. Mister Martin thought this was a sign and stopped drinking. He turned to a mining business men, also later at the Yukon River, and died with an estate of over a million dollars.7

This story is a very good example of the luck some people had. He was not even searching for gold and found such a big nugget.

Another story shows that hard work also lead to success and money, but that this is not everything in a humans life.It is the story of Jack Branscom.

He worked hard in the mines and his claim was paying so he had some gold stored in his hut. But although he had success , he killed himself in his cabin. He wrote a letter that everything he owns shall be given to Baby Yarrow, a two to three year old child in his town who seemed to await Mister Branscom when he arrived everyday.8 Although Branscom reached the goal of the American Dream, the success did not make him happy. With him having no family and nobody to love, he lived his life alone, only accounted by Baby Yarrow. This is a factor showing that also humanity was important in the times of gold mining.

The third story shows that some knowledge about mining is very important to get enough gold. It is the story of an inexperienced miner, who left his family and his farm to dig for gold. He told two people passing by that he tried everything but he could not find enough to live.The two people saw he worked wrong and told him how he should mine.And when he worked as he was told, he found enough gold to get back home.9 Without the two experienced people the poor farmer would have been forced to live the rest of his life with as good as nothing. The experience of other miners helped him to gather the gold to get back.While this farmer was understanding, another miner was not. He dug two holes beneath each other, and then stopped.He was told by an old, experienced miner that he should connect the two holes because there would be the gold - if there was any.When the old miner checked the holes a few days later, there was no connection.Then he searched for gold between the holes and found gold worth about 1,000 $ in a few days.10

This story does not only show the success of an experienced miner , but also the failure of a unexperienced one who did not listen, and leads to the next point - failure.

To conclude it can be stated that a lot of people just were very lucky, and there was no guarantee of success for professional miners, but if people had some experience, they were more likely successful than people without experience.



2.2 Failure

To begin with stories of failures, it can be said that if the unexperienced miner would have listened , he would have had a first success. So because of his ignoring of a wise old miner , he failed - at least at the beginning - to get any gold.

But also people who could not say which material they saw had to fail in searching gold. One story tells about three or four men who also dug for gold. They stopped digging because they thought they had hit the bed rock and then went away.But this bed rock was just hard blue clay. One Irishman with the drive to research wanted to know what could be found under the blue clay.He dug one time and found 1 gold nugget wort 1,500$.This story shows hat if the three or four people would have had more knowledge about geography or more drive to research, they would not have failed.10

Another point of "failure" was the will of risk not being there.This story is not about real failure , but about a missed chance. Some men were cleaning gold in a flume at the end of their runs , but the most gold was very fine , the biggest parts worth two or three dollars.The "Day company" tried to sell a ditch not yet cleaned for 1,500$. This means noone knew how much gold was in there , so it was like a lottery ticket.Nobody bought it and the company washed the gold out itself. The effort for cleaning was about 100$ and the ditch contained about 10,000$.11This means if anyone had taken the risk to buy the mine he would have been rich afterwards - a missed chance for the people who could have afforted it. Risk was always a big point in mining, not just because of its danger, but also because of the average amount of gold compared to the price for cleaning.And it was not always given that people found gold, so actually most of the gold searching adventures were failures.12

The question why so many people returned with nothing and others were suddenly rich was also asked back in the gold rush time.The answer to this question is easy, and also answers the question if luck was really that important. Yes it was - because the gold was spread across the country and not spread equally. You had to find a good spot with rich ground to find a good amount of gold , not a lot of ground which is not rich.This makes industrials strike more sometimes because they have a higher chance of getting good spots to mine , but it also makes luck an important factor for the success or failure of people searching for gold.12

To conclude, failure was mainly because of the unknowledge of good mining procedure and not taking risks, but also because of ignorance of old miner's tips.And because of the unequal amount of gold per spot, sometimes even mining businessmen failed. You can say that because of luck was the most important factor for getting rich in the gold rush, the unlucky people were the people who failed, not the lazy or foolish people. But sometimes they were though punished for their lifestyle.



2.3 Summary concerning the American Dream

The storys told above just give a rough view about what happened, they are just some examples of a very versatile incident called the gold rush.But even in these few examples it is clear how the American Dream's ideals supported the people in their rush for the gold. Due to most of the people were lucky finders not even searching, like Oliver Martin, they were not animated by the wish for a better life. And while of course some people who found gold, whose stories might be unwritten or this work does not refer to, may have found gold and a better life in the gold rush, others like Jack Branscom were successful in finding gold, but not in getting happy. The goal of the American Dream is to achieve a better and happy life, and was of course supporting the gold rush, but more gold searchers only found themselves in a still bad or even worse way of life because of lacking finds, like the unexperienced miner who did not believe the experienced. And only a few people who found gold and a better life aiming this ideal of the American dream existed. So to conclude the story you can say that the American Dream of course supported the gold rush , but most people could not fulfill this dream of a better life with the gold rush.



III Letters and descriptions - Signs of the American Dream?


In this part I will search for evidences of the American Dream in different texts. I will begin with the story of General John A. Sutter - one of the first persons to find out about the gold.



3.1 General John A. Sutter - Discovery of gold

This is a short summary about who Sutter was and why he was so important for the Gold Rush. Mr.Sutter had to leave Germany because of his unability to pay his debts. He received some land from the Mexican governeur of Caliornia and build a fort there. After a while he comissioned a sawmill. At this sawmill, one of his Inspectors, James W. Marshall found the first gold.13The rest of the story is written down by Sutter in person, and I will analyze if his text contains something similar to the American dream.14



3.1.1 American Dream?

The first part of the American Dream is found in Sutter's life. He lived in Germany and then had to leave to America because of debts.13

So America was like a restart for him - and this is part of the American dream.

With only land he built up a fort and several small villages, one of them later known as San Fancisco.So you can say Sutters ambition to build new cities was a consequence of the American dream - he wanted to build up a new and happy life.And especially in this case, the gold rush supported this dream.It was the gold that made the cities grow and spread. And it was the American dream that lead Sutter to build these cities, so the American Dream was a cause of the gold rush indirectly.

Another hint to the American dream might be Mr. Marshall, who went back to where he found the gold in the rainy evening his thoughts were confirmed.But this was supposely not because of his want to get a better life, but his fear of what might happen after the gold find message would spread.

As Sutter explains, the found of the gold did not make him happy, because he did not think he would have a lot from the gold. And he knew people could not keep the secret. With more people knowing about the gold Sutter lost more and more workers. So the gold really made him unhappy - he was not lead to the gold rush by the American dream because he already had achieved many things.

But all of his workers were banned by the gold fever - before the gold discovery they were"industrius and faithful labourers".14 After the gold finding they left him to search for gold. Though there is no evidence why all of them left you can clearly see those previous normal paid workers, even the most loyal, left their employer and safe workplace to search gold.And why else would they do this if they did not want a better life. So you can see that Sutter's workers were clearly lead by the American Dream when they left him to find gold. But the people let to Sutters town were not all as nice as the previous villagers. Some of them were mean and Sutters personal American Dream of a friendly village was destroyed by the mass of people entering his fort.

So to conclude, Sutter himself fulfilled the American Dream before the gold was found. After the discovery, all he had built up during his life in America was destroyed by his workers leaving and a huge mass of people arriving at his fort. His workers then followed the ideals of the American Dream , searching for a better future made possible by the gold. Some of them might have succeded and others not, but the source does not give any information about that.



3.2 Thomas O. Larkin's letters to the government

Thomas O. Larkin wrote letters to the government in 1848 telling them about how the gold rush changed California.15While the first one only contains information about the gold and the gold seekers ambitions, the second letter's seventh paragraph shows Larkin's outlook about what might happen to the Californian population.This might also contain motifs of the American Dream.



3.2.1 Spreading population

The future increase of population is explained by Larkin because in the gold rush area people are paid three more times than they are in other regions.He thinks this will lead to emigration because people want to earn more for doing the same in California. And here are again the American Dream's ideals.But now people do not come to America to get rich or to get a happier life, because of the gold rush Americans move from other countries in America to California in the hope of getting rich because they get paid three times at much for the same amount of work there. But here again, the main person, Thomas O. Larkin does not seem to be following the American Dream.He states he might seem to be excited, but that he is not.

So to conclude, Larkin's letters show another way of living the American Dream - moving to the part of America where you can earn the most money for the same amount of work.



IV Conclusion: Did the American Dream support the California Gold Rush ?

To answer this question I will explain the main point of the American Dream again.

The most important part of it is the first occurence of the American Dream and what its meaning was. The main part of the first American Dream was about giving up the old life to start a new and better one - in America. So its main factor was first moving to America, where everyone could become anything. This is the part of the American Dream which lead general John A. Sutter to America. But with the main factor being moving to America, this part of the American dream did not support the gold rush so much you could think. Of course some people of other countries came, but most of them were still coming from the continent America. But most part of the gold seekers, as Thomas O. Larkin predicted right, did not come from outside the country America, but from inside, to California. So the moving to America as the main point of the American dream would not have boosted the gold rush. But it is obvious that a lot of Americans went on the search for gold. This leads to the important question what else encouraged Americans to search for gold. The answer to this question is hidden in Sutters complaints about the gold rush. While he had succeeded in America, built up a city and a better life than he had before, other Americans obviously did not. As Sutter stated, he was never interested in gold. This is seemingly because he already lived the American Dream, being happy and successful with his small piece of land. He just had no needs to get rich to be happy because he already was. But a huge part of the American population was not. And the American Dream with its huge promises might have been the cause. A lot of people went to America with the hope for a better life. But they did not succeed like Sutter. Instead they were living under low living conditions. The American Dream promised them something they could not reach. But with the information of the gold being found in California, the hope of getting rich and happy in a short time became stronger again, and the hope of fulfilling the American Dream.So a lot of these people disappointed by the American Dream at first went for the gold serach.


Recapitulating it can be said that not the American Dream itself did support the California Gold Rush, but the failing of its ideals for a lot of Americans. This is why so many of them went for the gold rush. Unfortunately, as a lot of people had to return with no more than they started, and some very poor people could not even get back, the American Dream failed them once again. This second failure might be seen in the Klondike Gold Rush in the USA.'s neighbor country Canada, where a lot of people went with the aim to gain fast success - again.


V List of literature























1 California Gold Rush - Essay. Timothy Braden,written 12/07/2006, site last visited 10/3/2013,

2 Klondike Gold Rush. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior, site last visited 10/3/2013,

3 The gold towns and mining regions grow and mature. Nevada Outback gems, site last visited 10/3/2013,

4 Advancement of gold mining techniques. Nevada Outback gems, site last visited


5 What is "the American Dream"?., site last visited 10/3/2013,

6 Prospecting methods of the inexperienced miners.Nevada Outback gems, site last visited 10/3/2013,

7 Story from,last checked 10/03/2013, finding a huge nugget while digging a grave...... .

8 Story from, last checked 10/03/2013, the gold towns and mining regons grow and mature.

9 Story from,last checked 10/03/2013, prospecting methods of the inexperienced miners.

10 Story from,last checked 10/03/2013, prospecting methods of the inexperienced miners.


11 Story from, last checked 10/03/2013,finding gold while cleaning up old workings.

12 comfer,

last checked 10/03/2013,the financial situation of those who dug for gold.

13 California Gold Rush - Essay. Timothy Braden,written 12/07/2006, site last visited 10/3/2013,


14 The discovery of gold in California by Gen. John A. Sutter. Gen. John A. Sutter, for Hutching's California Magazine,November 1857,from the San Francisco museum Website, last visited 10/3/2013,

15 Thomas O. Larkin's Letters to the Secretary of State about the Gold Discovery.Thomas O. Larkin in 1848,published at the San Francisco museum website,last visited 10/03/2013,


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