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Gold Rush Racism

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The California Gold Rush of 1848 brought gold-seekers from the eastern United States and Chinese immigrants from abroad to the California frontier, a move that established San Francisco as the west coast urban center of commerce and trade. The conclusion of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery left a void in the Southern states’ economy as southerners struggled to keep up with the demands of their formerly slave-worked plantations. As San Francisco was making strides mimicking American imperialism over its surrounding land and resources, slavery was not an economic commodity that previously existed in the west. The population of Chinese immigrants had been rising well before the influx of people traveling west in search for gold also. The introduction of 13th Amendment had forced whites to morally equalize human rights to apply to blacks, which had never been of equal status before. A new era of racism in America was dawning; whites struggled to survive the competitive economic market booming in the west, as well to replace deep-rooted superiority over blacks in efforts to drive the country closer toward industrialization. In this era, formerly coined as the “nadir of American race relations,” (Logan, 1954) racism in America reached morbidly new heights in the maltreatment of non-white people, which contrasted greatly with the American ideal of inalienable freedoms. The gold rush undoubtedly pressured whites to compete with both new and old opponents, beginning with
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