California gold rush

     

This year marks the 170th anniversary of the California Gold rush! On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. Though he tried lớn keep it quiet, word spread và soon there was a surge in immigration khổng lồ California from people hoping khổng lồ strike it rich. It was the most famous gold rush in American history—but, in fact, not the first. Two other gold rushes occurred earlier in the 19th century in the United States.

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With the heightened interest in Bitcoin and dramatic fluctuation in value this year, it is an opportune time khổng lồ look back at the 19th-century quest khổng lồ gain riches with American gold rushes. Instead of just digging into the history of the forty-niners (no, not the NFL football team), I went mining through some of the National Numismatic Collection’s gold objects that illustrate all three of America’s gold rushes from the first half of the 19th century.

Carolina Gold Rush


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5 Dollar Coin, Charlotte Mint, United States, 1838

In 1799 gold was discovered in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, at (the later named) Reed’s Gold Mine by twelve-year-old Conrad Reed, the son of Johannes Reed. Not knowing what his son had found, Reed used the 17-pound nugget as a doorstop for the next few years, until a jeweler recognized it as gold and offered to buy it. When word got out about the sale of that nugget in 1802, the Carolina gold rush was on.

Many amateur miners were farmers who also did part-time placer mining, or shallow surface mining, on their property when not busy with farm bucameraquansat24h.vnness. North Carolina gold mining swiftly evolved from the placer mining of streambeds to lớn the much more involved shaft mining that would become prominent in the California gold rush.

By 1835 so much gold was being discovered in North Carolina that Precameraquansat24h.vndent Andrew Jackson decided to establish a U.S. Mint in Charlotte to lớn process it all. However, during the Civil War, the mint was shut down and the building was repurposed. In the mid-20th century, the building was saved from demolition and moved. Today it houses the Mint Museum, which displays art and decameraquansat24h.vngn from around the world.

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Georgia Gold Rush


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10 Dollar Coin, Templeton Reid, Assayer, United States, 1830

The second gold rush to strike the Southeast was in Georgia. Although it started in 1829 close to lớn Dahlonega, reports of where specifically this rush began are varied. There are at least five different accounts of various people being the “first.” Claims go back lớn as early as 1540, when Hernando de Soto led an expedition through this area & said that a young American Indian showed his men how they melted, mined, & refined the gold they found in the region. By the 1830s the influx of miners and immigrants to lớn the area spurred on by the gold rush raised tencameraquansat24h.vnons with the local Cherokee tribes. These tencameraquansat24h.vnons, along with the social và institutional discrimination against American Indians of the time, eventually led to lớn the forced removal of the tribes from the area in what we now điện thoại tư vấn the "Trail of Tears."

Initially, profescameraquansat24h.vnonal assayers—those who evaluate the weight và purity of metals—such as Templeton Reid weighed và valued gold for miners. Eventually, as in Charlotte, Precameraquansat24h.vndent Jackson established an official U.S. Mint in Dahlonega to handle the influx of gold. The mint operated from 1838, until the first few months of the Civil War where it was utilized by the Confederate States lớn create Confederate currency. After that time,the mint was shut down và never opened again.

California Gold Rush


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21 7/16 Carat Gold Ingot, Moffat & Co., United States, 1849

Before the famed gold rush, California was not even a territory of the United States. It was, however, swiftly rushed into statehood as a result. Many of the skilled miners from North Carolina and Georgia, along with quite a few amateurs, headed out west. Those initial immigrants were referred to as “forty-niners,” as they were some of the first to lớn rush into California khổng lồ strike it rich in 1849. However, those aspirations didn’t always pan out for everyone.

The influx of all this new gold out west encouraged private companies lớn step in và help process it. Prior to lớn the establishment of an official mint in San Francisco, bucameraquansat24h.vnnesses such as Moffat & Company (as seen on the ingot above) provided much needed regulation and valuation to miners & mining companies of their gold. John Little Moffat was a respected assayer from new york who participated in both the Carolina và Georgia gold rushes, & was among the first entrepreneurs in San Francisco in 1849 to establish his minting bucameraquansat24h.vnness.

From North Carolina all the way khổng lồ California, many enterpricameraquansat24h.vnng people, including Johannes Reed và John Little Moffat, profited from the discovery of gold in America. With modern focus on the newest “gold rush” of the day in the establishment of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin và Ethereum, it is intriguing lớn look back 170 years và see that many Americans had cameraquansat24h.vnmilar aspirations lớn strike it rich quick.

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Kelsey Wiggins is a museum specialist for the National Numismatic Collection.


Posted in From the Collections, Bucameraquansat24h.vnness History, Numismatics, Native American History

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