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The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dreamby H.W. Brands
Synopses & Reviews
By the Author of the Bestselling Pulitzer Prize Finalist THE FIRST AMERICAN
THEY WENT WEST TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES AND IN THE BARGAIN THEY CHANGED THE WORLD. THIS IS THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE GOLD RUSH.
When gold was first discovered on the American River above Sutter's Fort in January 1848, California was sparsely populated frontier territory not yet ceded to the United States from Mexixo. The discovery triggered a massive influx as hundreds of thousands of people scrambled to California in search of riches, braving dangerous journeys across the Pacific, around Cape Horn, and through the Isthmus of Panama, as well as across America's vast, unsettled wilderness. Cities sprang up overnight, in response to the demand for supplies and services of all kinds. By 1850, California had become a state — the fastest journey to statehood in U.S. history. It had also become a symbol of what America stood for and of where it was going.
In The Age of Gold, H. W. Brands explores the far-reaching implications of this pivotal point in U.S. history, weaving the politics of the times with the gripping stories of individuals that displays both the best and the worse of the American character. He discusses the national issues that exploded around the ratification of California's statehood, hastening the clouds that would lead to the Civil War. He tells the stories of the great fortunes made by such memorable figures as John and Jessie Fremont, Leland Stanford and George Hearst — and of great fortunes lost by hundreds now forgotten by history. And he reveals the profound effect of the Gold Rush on the way Americans viewed their destinies, as the Puritan ethic of hard work and the gradual accumulation of worldly riches gave way to the notion of getting rich quickly.
From the Hardcover edition.
I have found it. These words, uttered by the man who first discovered gold on the American River in 1848, triggered the most astonishing mass movement of peoples since the Crusades. California's gold drew fortune-seekers from the ends of the earth. It accelerated America's imperial expansion and exacerbated the tensions that exploded in the Civil War. And, as H. W. Brands makes clear in this spell
“I have found it.” These words, uttered by the man who first discovered gold on the American River in 1848, triggered the most astonishing mass movement of peoples since the Crusades. California’s gold drew fortune-seekers from the ends of the earth. It accelerated America’s imperial expansion and exacerbated the tensions that exploded in the Civil War. And, as H. W. Brands makes clear in this spellbinding book, the Gold Rush inspired a new American dream—the “dream of instant wealth, won by audacity and good luck.”
Brands tells his epic story from multiple perspectives: of adventurers John and Jessie Fremont, entrepreneur Leland Stanford, and the wry observer Samuel Clemens—side by side with prospectors, soldiers, and scoundrels. He imparts a visceral sense of the distances they traveled, the suffering they endured, and the fortunes they made and lost. Impressive in its scholarship and overflowing with life, The Age of Gold is history in the grand traditions of Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough.
About the Author
H. W. Brands is Distinguished Professor and Melbern G. Glasscock Chair of American History at Texas A&M University. He is the author of many books, among them <b>The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and T.R.: The Last Romantic, a critically acclaimed biography of Theodore Roosevelt. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Table of Contents
Machine generated contents note: PART ONE — The Gathering of Peoples — (From the World to California: 1848-1849) 21 — 1. In the Footsteps of Father Serra 25 — 2. Across the Pacific 47 — 3. The Peaks of Darien 65 — 4. To the Bottom of the World and Back 93 — 5. To See the Elephant 122 — 6. Where Rivers Die 162 — PART TWO — From Vulcan's Forge — (The Goldfields: 1848-1850s) 191 — 7. With a Washbowl on My Knee I95 — 8. A Millennium in a Day 226 — PART THREE — American Athena — (California: 1849-1856) 243 — 9. The Miracle of St. Francis 247 — 10. Sutter's Last Stand 269 — 11. Shaking the Temple 287 — 12. Children of the Mother Lode 305 — 13. Reflections in an All-Seeing Eye 334 — PART FOUR — The Gordian Knot and the Pacific Connection — (California and the Union: 1856-1869) 359 — 14. The Pathfinder's Return 363 — 15. South by West 382 — I6. From Sea to Shining Sea 404 — PART FIVE — The New El Dorado — (America in the Age of Gold) 439 — 17. Prometheus Unbound 445 — I8. American Dreamers 475.
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