How does Life in California before the Gold Discovery suggest about the changes occuring during this time period for many ethnic groups?
The expanding Republic brought new opportunities for some immigrants as well as white Americans, but it also brought increasing dislocation for Native Americans, so what does Life in California before the Gold Discovery suggest about the changes occuring during this time period?
The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 had little effect on the dislocation of Native Americans, who had already been thoroughly exploited by the Spanish. Originally settled by the Spanish as part of Mexico, California was too far from Mexico City for tight control; so the Spanish settlers there did not concern themselves overly about affairs in the Capital. One might draw some analogy here to the American colonies and the British parliament. The Mexican government had granted large estates to land owners in California known as Rancheros. Indians were forced to work there as slaves. Their treatment was harsh and brutal; the death rate was twice that of American slaves in the South.
The gold rush itself not only brought large groups of Americans ((between 1841-67 350,000 people travelled to California and Oregon) but large groups of Europeans, particularly French and Germans seeking their fortune. The French were commonly known as "Keskidees," a corruption of the French "Que'st d'il dit?" (What did he say?) The Indians at this point had been completely exploited and their impact minimized. Even though large numbers of Americans travelled to the area, the predominantly Spanish influence remained.