The Impact of the Gold Rush OP-ED

By Bailey Schaefer

Was it worth it?

“He who wants everything every time will lose everything anytime.” This is a quote by Vikrant Parsai. This is about the factor that controls us all at our worst points, greed. The quote is saying that someone who wants everything will be left with nothing. Someone who is content with what they have will continue to gain. Greed is a man’s worst enemy. This is what had happened in the California Gold Rush.

The California Gold Rush was the largest mass migration in United States history. About two hundred and fifty thousand people ended up traveling to the great state of California. It is now a destination for many people in search of a better life and gold. However, the abundance of people also brought up conflict. California both benefitted and faced setbacks from the California Gold Rush.

A huge amount of gold seekers came and settled in California. The population went from four hundred in 1845 to thirty-five thousand in 1850. Californios began facing disrespect from the newcomers. They did not respect their rights or their customs. Americans even took property from the people who already lived in California.

Native Americans suffered the most from the gold rush. They suffered when new people migrated over and brought diseases that the Native Americans were not immune to. This caused thousands of the Native Americans to die. Native Americans were also hunted down and killed by the miners seeking gold. The Native Americans were hunted down and killed because of the Anglo-American belief that they stood in the way of progress. The Native American population lost about ninety-two thousand lives because of the California Gold Rush.

In my opinion, the California Gold Rush did more bad than it did good. Many people were unhappy california culture was ignored. Due to the huge amount of settlers seeking gold and traveling to California. It finally had enough people to apply from statehood, and that is exactly what California did. It was named a free state with it’s own constitution which outlawed slavery, but did not give African Americans the right to vote.

California’s statehood created turmoil, or a disturbance, in the nation. Before, the amount of free states and slave states were the same, they were balanced. Now there are more free states than slave states. This would give the North the power to completely rid the nation of slavery. This conflict over slavery threatened the survival of the union.

California statehood caused lots of harm to the people. I believe that California could have gained statehood without all of the terrible harm the California Gold Rush brought with it. Native Americans took the worst of the pain and suffering. The California Gold Rush brought riches along with rags. In a way, these two cancel each other out right? Wrong. The amount of terrible circumstances people put each other in because of the California Gold Rush were abundant. Too abundant.

Would you harm one of your own just to gain more? I would not. People believe that the California Gold Rush was worth all of the pain and suffering it brought with it. There were more peaceful ways to raise the population to the final goal of statehood. They could have sold the land and set up opportunities for people who moved there. They could have set up job opportunities.

I feel that the California Gold Rush was more of a disadvantage than an advantage. Many Native Americans lost their lives to the conflicts and sickness that came with the California Gold Rush. Some may say that statehood was worth it, but there were many more peaceful approaches that California could have taken to reach the goal of statehood. Instead of allowing all of this happen in California, the government should have taken control. Due to the government’s lack of control, greed managed to take control in the absence. The California Gold Rush caused lots of greed of the people to show through.

Overall, California’s statehood was the only good thing to come out of the California Gold Rush. Native Americans lost too many lives and people already living in California lost their land and possessions. A man named Erich Fromm once said, “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” Greed never satisfies, yet continues to take. This is exactly what the California Gold rush did. The California Gold Rush showed terrible, unwanted things can happen when greed is in control.

"Adventures began and ended there!"

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