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    Gold Rush Paper Essay (706 words)

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    One moment, the California creek beds glimmered with gold. The next, the same creeks ran red with the blood of men and women defending their claims or ceding their bags of gold dust to bandits. The West” was a ruthless territory during the nineteenth century.

    With more than enough gold dust to go around early in the Gold Rush, crime was rare. But as the stakes rose and the easily panned gold dwindled, robbery and murder became a part of life on the frontier. The West” consisted of outlaws, gunfighters, lawmen, whores, and vigilantes. There are many stories about how the “West” began and what persuaded people to come and explore the new frontier. Today, we will investigate those stories and seek to find what is fact or fiction. These stories will send you galloping through the tumultuous California territory of the mid-nineteenth century, where disputes were settled with six shooters and the lines of justice were in continuous chaos. Where is the West? How and where did the West begin? This is the question that is asked most often, and there is never a straightforward answer. Everyone has their own opinion on the subject: “Oh, it started sometime in the nineteenth century,” or “The West is really just considered to be Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas.”

    Whatever happened to California actually being considered the “West?” With all honesty, even into the twentieth century, California is not thought of as being the “West,” or the “West” in the manner in which Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas are thought of. To give a straightforward answer on where and how the “Real West” or even the “Wild West” began; it began by a millhouse worker named James Marshall. On the morning of January 24, 1848, Marshall was working on his mill and looked down in the water and saw sparkling dust floating along the creek bed. Assuming it was gold, he told his fellow workers what he had found, and they began searching for the mysterious metallic dust as well. Four days later, Marshall rode down to Sutter’s Fort, in what is now Sacramento, and showed John Sutter what he had found.

    They weighed and tested the metal and became convinced that it was indeed gold. John Sutter wanted to keep the discovery secret, but that was impossible. The rumor spread quickly and Sutter’s mill workers, who were Mormon, heard about it and began searching for their own fortune. Shortly after, they also found gold. The site where they found their fortunes became known as Mormon Island, the first mining camp established after the discovery of gold at Marshall’s mill (Erdoes 119).

    From that moment on, the west began to boom in population and prosper in every direction. First, the Gold Fever caught on in a hurry, attracting many different people to the new frontier. Dreams of gold and success sparkled in the eyes of every cotton picker, farmer, and blue-collar worker west of the Mississippi. Once the fever spread across the nation and throughout the territories, bloodshed was inevitable. Greed takes a toll on the mind of many and convinces people to do illogical things.

    People become very protective of their property and are willing to do anything to protect it, even defend it to their death. The violence must have started somewhere and at some time over something.

    But when? On the night of October 1, 1848, eight months after James Marshall’s discovery, several men were sleeping in James Marshall’s sawmill, which was originally owned by John Sutter (Erdoes 137). Peter Raymond began banging on the door of the mill. Raymond, a twenty-one-year-old sailor from Dublin, Ireland, was drunk and irritated for not striking his fortune as fast as he planned.

    Raymond staggered in, demanding more liquor from the now-awakened men. John Von Pfister arose and, as a precaution, shoved his knife into his waistband. Von Pfister managed to quiet the drunken sailor down and set him down on a bench to rest. Von Pfister leaned over and said, Rest now, my friend, and we’ll be laughing about this in the morning” (Brown 13). Raymond stuck one hand out for a shake and, with his other, he stripped Von Pfister of his knife and buried the blade into his heart. It is ironic that the first murder in the Gold Rush, the first of many that would follow, took place at the

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