The California gold rush of the mid-nineteenth century was an event which exemplified the eager American spirit of the time.

Not long after word spread of the discovery of gold near the lower Sacramento Valley in 1848, thousands of hopefuls from the world over rushed to California with dreams of finding their fortune.This rush led to exponential expansion of the California economy, with prices reaching new heights and homes sprouting as quickly as they could be built.Edward Gould Buffum, and army lieutenant, was one such individual who experienced success in his endeavors.He wrote a narrative of his quest for gold published in 1850, entitled Six Months in the Gold Mines.This book was intended for a public audience, and might have been read by anyone interested in California and the gold rush.In the excerpts from this book printed in America Firsthand, Buffum details parts of his quest, and describes certain procedures for obtaining gold.He discusses different techniques of mining, and how the gold is naturally accumulated in the sources from which it is mined.

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Buffum describes several specific sites where he found success, and the genuine excitement he felt upon discovery.In the last excerpt, he describes the economic changes that have taken place in certain parts of California in such short times as a result of the gold rush.Six Months in the Gold Mines, by Edward Gould Buffum, is a tool which historians can use to learn about the ways of life of the typical American fortune-seeker of the gold rush, including travel and living patterns, speculation and uncertainty, the motive of greed, and resultant economic Thefirst excerpt begins with Buffums expedition on the Yuba River. He educates the ignorant reader to certain terminology related to mining, and describes the rocking machine used to extract the precious gold.

Buffum barely b…