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.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…