Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: Life During the Gold Rush

Life During the Gold Rush: The Way People Live, Victoria Sherrow, Lucent Books, San Diego, CA 1998.
This book gives a good description of the California gold rush.  It starts with the “forty-eighters” who arrived at the mines earlier than the rest.  The author does not do a good job describing the Mormon involvement.  She mostly said the Mormons in California left Utah and Brigham Young to come and look for gold; while in fact, the Mormons who were in California were here for other reasons, having immigrated with Sam Brannan, or been members of the Mormon Battalion, or having come on other overland journeys to California.  The opposite was mostly true.  The majority of the Mormons left California after mining that first year, and relocated to Utah and with the Mormons. 
The author describes the sea route, and the land route.  She then does an adequate job of describing camp life.  She also talks about treatment of minority minors—including those coming from other countries, as well as the treatment of Native Americans.  In both this areas, the people in California were less than honorable.  Thinking only of themselves the murdered many native Americans, often with government support and encouragement.  Also they were able to have enacted a foreign worker tax of $20 a month.  It did not matter that the Californios were here before the Americans.  They too were considered outsiders.
The author describes the growth of San Francisco; again without mentioning the Mormons, Sam Brannan or the members of the Ship Brooklyn company who had a significant role in 1846.  What is impressive is the rapid growth which came to California as a result of the rush.  The population growth was 400 percent in 10 years, and caused some significant growing pains.

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