The 49ers And The California Ethos

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The 49ers And The California Ethos

Gold was discovered in California in 1848 (Holliday, 1998, 1). The news about the discovery of gold in California spread locally and globally, attracting people from all over the world, as this historical event is famously known as the California Gold Rush. Gold diggers and wealth seekers arrived to California with the dream of becoming rich and improving their standard of living. These people, eager to become rich instantly, left their families and farms behind. This essay analyzes the motivations of the early gold-seekers, and how the 49’ers objectives were changed when they met the reality of the California gold fields. One, the early 49’ers were people with the expectation of improving their …show more content…

Miners stayed in California, either out of fear and shame of coming back home empty-handed, or out of greed to seek for more gold (Rohrbaugh, 1997, para.16). Rohrbaugh gave the example of a forty-niner who decided not to return home until he brings something with him (Rohrbaugh, 1997,para.16). For the miners’ families, failing to come home with nothing would be both an emotional and a financial issue (Rohrbaugh, 1997, para.17). The decision of returning home turned out to be very complicated. As Rohrbaugh (1997) described, the miners could reward their families by going home, but yet, the issue was more complicated than it appeared. The idea of going home with nothing or little resources was perceived differently by different people. For example, William Swain retuned home after months in the diggings. Even though he did not make money that would make him rich, but he was satisfied with the five-hundred dollars he made, as he believed that he got enough of California and that it was time for him to see his family again (Rohrbaugh, 1997, para.17). If the Swain family saw the bright side of failure, other families found failure more difficult. Moreover, many 49ers found it difficult to simply pack and leave under the presence of good business, keeping them away from their children and wives. According to Rohrbaugh wrote that a forty-niner said it was hard to give up good business after working hard for two years to make it happen (Rohrbaugh, 1997, para.19). For example, Morris Sleight, a miner’s wife wrote to her husband begging him to come back, but the latter replied that the business is hard to leave (Rohrbaugh, 1997, para.19). According to Rohbaugh, some 49ers who wanted their families to come with them to California, but they were faced with refusal from their families, as the latter did not wish to leave their friends and neighbors that had supported them in the time

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