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At least 2,000 African Americans participated in the California Gold Rush. Though some were brought as slaves by southern masters, many were free northern blacks who migrated west with other Americans. African Americans, even free citizens, however, did not enjoy the same rights as whites. In 1858, when word reached California of a new gold…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1858

As this newspaper announcement indicates, the status of slaves in California was unclear and fluid. Even though California was admitted as a free state to the Union in 1850, many southerners, claiming their stay was temporary, brought their slaves as property with them to the gold fields. Enslaved people took advantage of the uncertainty, running…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1854

With the discovery of gold in California in 1848, men seeking to make their fortunes streamed into the area from all over the world. In 1850, the California legislature passed a Foreign Miners' Tax that required miners who were not U.S. citizens to pay $20 every month for the right to mine in the state. In reality, the tax was only collected from…

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Item Type: Artifact
Date: 1853

Mary Ballou and her husband ran a boarding house in a California gold mining town. Ballou’s letter to her son, written in 1852, evokes the rough housing, violence, and high prices (from which the Ballous profited) in California during the gold rush. She also describes how the few women there provided each other with companionship and…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1852

Mary Ballou and her husband ran a boarding house in a California gold mining town. Ballou’s letter to her son, written in 1852, evokes the rough housing, violence, and high prices (from which the Ballous profited) in California during the gold rush. She also describes how the few women there provided each other with companionship and…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1852

Antonio Franco Coronel was born in Mexico, came to California as a child in 1834, and settled with his family in Los Angeles. As one of the original miners in the state’s gold fields in 1848, he found success at the Placer Seco in northern California. When he returned to the same area in 1849, he found many more miners there, and he describes…

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Item Type: Biography/Autobiography
Date: 1877

Antonio Franco Coronel was born in Mexico, came to California as a child in 1834, and settled with his family in Los Angeles. As one of the original miners in the state’s gold fields in 1848, he found success at the Placer Seco in northern California. When he returned to the same area in 1849, he found many more miners there, and he describes…

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Item Type: Biography/Autobiography
Date: 1877

Many miners wrote letters home to family and friends describing their experiences in California. In this letter, Robert Pitkin describes the tensions between American-born and Chinese immigrant miners.

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1852

Many miners wrote letters home to family and friends describing their experiences in California. In this letter, Robert Pitkin describes the tensions between American-born and Chinese immigrant miners.

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1852