Extra! Extra! Gold found in California

Gold panning

“The excitement and enthusiasm of gold washing still continues.” So read the headline in Sam Brannan’s San Francisco newspaper, the California Star, on June 10, 1848. The report told how every town as far south as San Diego had been stripped of citizens in a mad rush to the mines where a man could earn an average of $15- 20 per day. A total of $100,000 had been unearthed since May, huge sums then. Four days later the Star stopped publication after its workers left for the gold mines.

California Gold Diggers

Late that summer careful readers of the New York Herald found a tiny notice buried with the local news: “We have received some late and interesting intelligence from California. It relates to the important discovery of a very valuable gold mine.” Two days later a more detailed and perhaps exaggerated article was published that said that in comparison with California “the famous El Dorado was but a sand bank, the Arabian Nights were tales of simplicity!”

California Gold Rush handbill

A reprint from the Washington Union followed quickly and contained letters from Commodore Thomas Jones and US Consul Thomas Larkin that confirmed the importance of the discovery. The news reached London in October. Then, after Governor General Mason’s report reached Washington, President James Polk spoke to congress on December 5th and the discovery of gold in California became a headline in every paper.

Men booked passage on anything that would float, a clipper ship around the horn or one of the new mail steamers headed for Panama. Some sailed to Vera Cruz and crossed Mexico by horse. Others chose Nicaragua. Those with less money waited for summer. They would travel America by wagon, horse, or foot, across a wide prairie filled with Indians, deserts devoid of water, and the formidable heights of the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains. The California gold rush was on.

Clippership Sweepstakes



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