Gold Rush

"California Gold Diggers, Mining Operations on the Western Shore of the Sacramento River," lithograph
published by Kellogg & Comstock, New York and Hartford [c. 1849-52]. 26 cm x 36 cm. Courtesy of the
Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New
Haven, Connecticut.
 California, 1840s-50s
 Australia, 1850s
 British Columbia, 1850s, 1870s
 The Inter-Mountain US West, 1850s-1870s (silver too)
 South Africa, 1870s-80s (diamonds too)
 Chile & Argentina, 1880s-1890s
 Colorado, 1890s
 Klondike, 1890s-1900s – Yukon, Alaska
 Western Australia, 1890s
 Ontario, Canada, 1900s-1910s
 Note that some were famous beyond the scale of the gold
found, such as the Klondike in the 1890s; others are little
known, but produced huge quantities of gold, such as the
Porcupine Gold Rush in Ontario, 1909-1911.
The Great Gold Rush Era Globally, 1848-1929
 Were gold rushes
American? What are
reasons to say yes or
 What characterized
gold rushes globally?
What notable forms of
difference were there
among them?
 Is the story more
British, and less
American, from a
global point of view?
Edwin Stockqueler, An Australian Gold Diggings,
c. 1855
Gold in history
Silver in the early modern era
Uniqueness of the era, 1840s-1920s
Connection to global economic growth
Global migration
Free trade liberalism
 Comparatively open borders
Western global dominance
British values of economic liberty/order
vs. U.S. republican democracy
Was the gold rush vision “liberal” (i.e.,
classic liberal) and not American
Waning of new discoveries of gold fields
combined with the onset of the Great
Post-World War II context
Diamonds in Africa
"The Rhodes Colossus" – cartoon by Edward
Linley Sambourne, published in Punch after
Rhodes announced plans for a telegraph line
from Cape Townto Cairo in 1892.
Gold Rushes and
Frontier Theories
 How do the various frontier
theories/models we’ve
looked help illuminate gold
rushes globally and locally?
Merchant ships fill San Francisco harbor, 1850-51
Further Reading/Resources
 Robin Winks, The Myth of the American Frontier
 David Goodman, Gold Seeking: Victoria and California in the
 Donald Fetherling, The Gold Crusades
 Kenneth Owens, ed., The California Gold Rush and the
 The West of the Imagination (VHS)
 The West (PBS; VHS & DVD)
 City of Gold (NFB, 1957), Narrated by Pierre Burton
 First Hand Accounts in California:
(Pierre Burton)
“City of Gold (1950s)