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Historical Review of the 1840’s in the United States

This is a brief historical review of the 1840’s in United States, the decade’s most important events, and an in-depth summary of the most important event during this decade.

Major Events

  • · 1843 Large westward migration begins.
  • · 1844 James K. Polk becomes 11th president of the United States of America.
  • · 1845 A potato famine in Ireland causes a great surge of Irish immigrants to enter the USA.
  • · 1845 Texas joins the Union as the 28th state.
  • · 1848 California Gold Rush begins.

Most significant event

The most significant event is the California Gold Rush in 1848.

Background on the Event

James Marshall, along with 20 other men, was building a sawmill by a river for his employer, John Sutter. While building the sawmill, Marshall saw a glint in the ground. He reached down to pick up the glinting object and he was slightly sure it was gold. He continued working, but he and his men found more supposed gold near the river. Marshall returned to Sutter and told him what he and his man had found. The glinting object Marshall had found was gold; they were sure because they did various tests and examinations on the gold. Marshall and Sutter wanted to keep this a secret because if any found out, thousands of miners would rush in and stall the construction of the saw mill, as well as cause many other problems in Sutter’s community. But their attempt to keep the gold secret a secret was in vain. A man by the name of Sam Brannan let the secret loose. Sam thought of a plan to get rich quickly. He bought all the pick-axes, shovels, and sifting pans within the region. He then ran through the streets of San Francisco yelling to the people that there was gold in California. In order to convince the people of the gold and for them to buy his shovels, he brought a bottle of gold dust as evidence. He then sold the shovels and etc. for over 36,000 dollars. This is how the gold rush started.

Significance of the Event

This event is significant because it helped to destroy much of California’s landscape, as well as spur the creation of new mining techniques. Mining techniques, such as: hard rock mining, hydraulic pumping, and dredging were developed during the California Gold Rush in order to improve efficiency. These techniques are still used today, though in variation. Another reason this event is significant is because it led some of the environmental problems we are experiencing today. The California Gold Rush set precedents for the environmental problems we are faced with today concerning mining.

How the Event Affects Us Today

This event affects us today because of the various laws and lessons that grew from it. Some laws that still affect us today are those banning hydraulic mining, as well as the laws restricting dredging. Another way the California Gold Rush still affects us is because of the lesson we learned about preserving our environment. This lesson led to various laws that protect the environment from harmful mining techniques.

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