When gold was first discovered on the American River above Sutter's Fort in January 1848, California was a sparsely populated frontier territory that had yet to be officially ceded to the United States following the Mexican-American War. In the wake of its discovery, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world flocked to California in the hopes of instant riches. They traveled by foot, wagon, and horseback across the sweltering American plains and over the towering peaks of the Sierras. San Francisco and Sacramento sprang up overnight, as did scores of mining camps, and men amassed fortunes feeding the demand for food, picks, and shovels. By 1850, California had become a state - the fastest journey to statehood in U.S. history.
H.W. Brands explores the far-reaching implications of this pivotal point in U.S. history, weaving the politics of the times with gripping stories of both the ordinary and the famous in a colorful, intricate tapestry displaying both the best and the worst of the American character. He recounts the great fortunes won - and lost. And most of all, he reveals the profound effect the Gold Rush had on the way Americans on both coasts viewed their destinies, as the notion of getting rich quickly transformed the traditional Puritan ethic of hard work and the gradual accumulation of wealth. In the aftermath of the Gold Rush, a new American dream was born - the enduring conviction that sudden wealth was within everyone's grasp.
A stunning re-creation of one of the most exciting periods of America's past, The Age of Gold is narrative history on a grand scale.
©2002 H.W. Brands (P)2002 Random House Inc., Random House Audio, a Division of Random House Inc.