Category Archives: History

The California Gold Rush

One of the most famous moments in US history: The California Gold Rush. This historic event has spawned many fictional novels and is a favorite of many.

The time of the California Gold Rush wasn’t the first-time gold was struck in the U.S. The first gold strike in America was in North Carolina in 1799. Here and there, people found gold; but these can be compared to the calm before the storm.

The blast that shook the world that started the Gold Rush was fired by accident in 1848. It all started with John Sutter who was trying to build a saw mill. One of Sutter’s employees, James Marshal, discovered flakes of gold in the river near the mill. He looked into it, and sure enough, it was gold. That was on January 24 1848. The two men made an effort to keep the news secret, but the story got out and was eventually announced by the President (which, of course, exacerbated things).

The Gold Rush emptied towns as people rushed to stake claims. News finally reached the East coast in 1849, at which point those people rushed as well (these people are called the “Forty-niners”). Even Asians immigrated to try their hand as gold seekers. The population of California at the end of 1849 (this excludes the Indian population), sprang from 800 (in 1848) to an estimated 100, 000 (in 1849)!

Despite the mass immigration to California, the trip was actually very expensive and quite dangerous. There were three ways to California from the East Coast:

  1. By sea around Cape horn (at the bottom of South America) – a 6 months journey
  2. By sea until you crossed Panama, and then sea again – 1 month (Unfortunately, this passage was not widely used until near the end of the Gold Rush)
  3. Across the land – 4-6 months

However, though it was dangerous, as time went on, travel became easier. This helped to encourage Americans to populate the West and the Gold Rush was quite influential in expediting the process of annexing California as a state (California had been Mexican territory but California applied for annexation in 1849, and by 1850 it was granted).

Through the first few years into 1852, 81 million dollars’ worth of gold was extracted! Adjusted for inflation, this totals at almost 2 ½ billion! Incredibly, for a few years, the amount of gold extracted continued to rise.

However, in 1857, the number “only” amounted to 45 million and the amount continued to decrease from there.

Although the gold rush did some good things for the U.S., it also brought on some unfortunate sanctions, such as the following:

  1. Men left their families in hopes to strike it rich. Few struck it really rich. Many fathers and sons died traveling. Others, after the expensive commute, found that they were broke and could not make it back, thus separating them from their families forever. This led many of these men to drunkenness and thievery in their depression.
  2. Many Americans at this time believed in an ideology known as “Manifest Destiny.” This belief essentially states that Americans had the right to settle anywhere they chose. This led many disillusioned Americans to force the Indians out of California, or even shoot them if they resisted.
  3. Many of the Asian (mostly Chinese) gold seekers were often discriminated against.

On a rather ironic note, neither of the two men who originally discovered the California gold (John Sutter and James Marshall) struck it rich. Sutter never even got to start his saw mill because of the major change in the California landscape.

It’s strange that nobody remembers them anymore.

The Westward Expansion

By the mid-1800’s, the ideology of Manifest Destiny encouraged further expansion in the United States. It was a widely held American belief that it was their right to colonize and take all of North America (a right to expand).

As settlers set out to stake out the west, they traveled in covered wagons in groups called “wagon trains,” as it was safer to travel in groups. The dangers along the way included terrain, Indians, and food scarcity. Generally, all families only had one wagon unless you were rich and could afford a second. All the worldly goods one owned (that they wanted to take) had to be loaded into the wagon AND still leave enough room for passengers and all the food and water one would need for the journey. Of course, water could be obtained from springs and food from wild animals (such as the buffalo), but one would want to be prepared.

Let me be clear: these wagons were not very large. To be exact, the Prairie Schooner (which was the most commonly used 19th century wagon for long distance transportation) was typically about 4 feet (1.2 metres) wide, 9 to 11 feet (2.7 to 3.4 metres) long, and 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 metres) deep. With the bonnet (the tarped covering), the wagon was about 10 feet (3 metres) tall.1

In other words, you would have to leave almost everything of your former life behind (e.g., most of your possessions, friends, culture, etc.). This was not an easy trip at all.

There were several trails that could be taken, the most popular of which was the Oregon trail. It was the longest trail at 2000 miles long, and was desirable because of the cheap, or free cost on the land. However, due to the distance, it was a life-time commitment to make the trek; and unless your family came with you, you may not see them again.

Another trail, the Mormon trail, was famous in particular with the Mormons. It is called such because of the religious ostracism that occurred that forced them to move westward to Salt Lake City.

There is another famous trail which is known today as The Old Spanish Trail. Those of you who know your history will know that, before the Louisiana Purchase was made (that gave the possession of the greater portion of what is today the United States to America), Napoleon had conquered the area from Spain; consequently, its name. What made this trail particularly unique was not only its age, but also its location. While the other main trail started in the Missouri area, The Old Spanish Trail started in the west near where Los Angeles is located today.

There was also one last trail, only, this trail wasn’t for humans, it served animals. This trail, the Chisholm trail, ran from the Texas ranches all the way to Missouri. The trail was made so that Texan farmers would not bring their cattle through the other ranches and spread ticks to the Missouri farmers’ cattle (of which the Texan cattle were immune).

These trails were used up until 1869, at which point the Transcontinental railroad replaced them.



Cultural Updates: The French Revolution and the Cotton Gin

This paper will be a short summary of two cultural updates from this week. The first being the French Revolution, the second being cotton gin.

The French Revelation came about as the French, seeing America’s success, decided to rebel against un-precedented tyranny. They announced their rebellion by storming a prison called the Bastille.

Having success, France began capturing some American trade ships. French-American relations had greatly deteriorated since the War of Independence. Now, John Adams (the US President at the time) tried to arrange for peace with France. However, this brought upon what is today known as the XYZ Affair. What happened during this affair was that France rejected America’s call for peace. The Democratic-Republicans (a political party at the time) demanded a full release of what had occurred. The symbols “X,” “Y,” and “Z” represent the three officials who dealt with the situation (in order to retain the confidentiality of the identity of the officials).

Eventually, both America and France unofficially declared war on one another. France would capture American trade ships, and America would win naval battles. Finally, America had won enough battles to bring France to the place where they would agree to peace. This peace arrangement was called the Convention of 1800.

The second cultural update marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution: The cotton engine.  As many of you will recall, plantation owners held slaves for the purpose of doing undesirable labor. Eli Whitney’s invention the Cotton Gin (the shortened form for Cotton Engine) made the process of purifying the cotton more effective, time-economic, and it was an invention that helped rid the slaves of one degrading task. However, this machine’s good qualities were all favorable in the plantation owners’ eyes, but it was all at the slaves’ expense. Because the Cotton Gin made the process of combing out the cotton seeds so much easier and so much quicker, it no longer required the slaves time to do so. Less labor being required to pick the cotton seeds meant that farmers could now grow more cotton…which meant that they needed more slaves to grow and pick the cotton. Thankfully, the slave trade was latter abolished post-Civil War in 1865.

The American War for Independence | The Rise of a Nation

At the first Continental Congress, they discussed the proposition that they should start training men and stockpiling weapons. The British got wind of it and decided to confiscate the weapons.

Many have heard of the story of Paul Revere; how he and William Dawes rode in from Boston to warn of the approaching soldiers. The distance between Boston and Lexington is no small journey, especially not on horse-back.

On April 12, 1775, The Brits arrived at Lexington to find the citizens already aware of their approach. They faced off. To this day it is unknown who fired the first shot that has come to be nick-named “the shot heard around the world;” nonetheless, it was fired. Though it is known today as The Battle of Lexington, it was not really a battle, but would be more properly classified as a “skirmish.” The colonists and the British fought for a short time, then the British retreated to Concord (which was their main targeted destination anyways.

There, the people had already hidden many of their firearms and were waiting outside the city. The British arrived, found them in this state, and proceeded into the city, leaving only a small party to guard the bridge. Inside, they discovered the firearms supplies and tried to destroy them; either by dumping them into the water, or by destroying it by means of smashing and-the-like (as they did to the cannons…rendering them un-usable.

The group of colonists waiting outside the city grew. They began to see smoke. Now over 400 men, they decided to go and check out what the British were doing; mind you, their intentions were allegedly peaceful…just for some random reason they were armed and had a leader. Hmm…

Upon approach, the British opened fire on them without warning or audible command. The colonist’s leader ordered them to retaliate. They colonist’s army grew and grew as more men continued to arrive. They destroyed both the group guarding the bridge and the British inside the city.

Then the colonists chased the surviving British army back to Boston and laid siege on them there for two months. George Washington led the colonial army (who drastically outnumbered the British, numbering 15,000 to 6,000).

On June 13 the colonists found out that the British were planning to capture the two hills near Boston. These hills would give the British an advantage, and yet, the colonists had not occupied them yet. However, when the colonists found out about the British’s plan, they hurried ahead of them and took the hills.

Thus, when the Brits came and found hills occupied, a battle ensued. The colonists eventually did have to retreat over the hill (Bunker Hill, after which the battle was named), but they only suffered 367 casualties. The Brits, on the other hand, suffered 1,054; a significant difference (especially so because they were already outnumbered greatly).

The British won the hills, and the claimed victory for it; but the colonists did not consider it to be their loss. Sure, the Brits had won the hills, but they had also lost a great deal more men and had instilled in the colonists a sense of courage and belief in their ability to hold off (for a time) the best trained army in the world.

The colonists did not want to fight. They wanted freedom. So, on July 5, they made a petition asking for a reduction of the Intolerable Acts; if the British would do that, then they would cease fire.

The King refused and pronounced them to be in rebellion.

With their requests denied, people began thinking about the concept of seceding from the British. Thomas Paine anonymously printed a pamphlet, Common Sense, describing this idea in 1776.

With more trust being put in the fighting ability of the colonial army, more soldiers were trained. During the early parts of the war, the colonists did very well, seizing Fort Ticonderoga (an important British fort in Canada, loaded with artillery that the colonists needed very badly), capturing British equipment as they proceeded to Quebec, and winning many of the fights they undertook. One of the amazing colonial fights happened when the colonists had to return to Fort Ticonderoga. There, they fought the battle of Valcour Island on Lake Chaplain. The British Navy was the largest and most experienced fleet in the world; however, the colonists, though they did have to retreat, were able to hold the British back for an amazingly long time.

In 1776, the colonists issued the Declaration of Independence. This demanded the cessation of the 13 British colonies. They were granted it, but now that they were independent, they had to fight to keep it. Otherwise, they would fall right back into British hands; quite possibly worse off than they were before.

The colonists were not alone, though. Actually, both the Spaniards, the Netherlands, and the French gave them aid. Since The Seven Years War there had been stress between France and Britain. France was more than willing to help them out…as long as it brought down the British. France did it secretly until the colonists pronounced independence.

But the British started to return with reinforcements. This is when things went turned a little south for the colonists. Due to a series of loses, New York was captured by the British. Now, Both Boston and New York were in the hands of Great Britain.

After a great start, the year 1776 wasn’t turning out so well for the colonists. Seemingly in an act of desperation, George Washington led the colonists across the frozen Delaware river on December 25, 1776. The very next day, he captured the British military city of Trenton.

Then in 1777, the colonists won a major victory at Saratoga when 5,700 British troops surrendered. This victory was led by Horatio Gates who had a rather interesting style of leading. He would sit out behind the side-lines and would command from there. Saratoga turned out pretty well, but he devastated his reputation in a later battle of Camden.

George Washington, Nathanael Green, Benedict Arnold, Marquis de Lafayette, Henry Knox, Baron von Steuben, Francis Marion, and the previously mentioned Horatio Gates are just a few of the most influential colonial leaders.

After Saratoga, the British would win some, then the colonists would win some; it kind of passed back and forth between them.

Then in 1778, France openly viewed the colonists as a separate country and so it was no longer required to help them in secret, they could do it publicly.

Now the colonists (who truly weren’t colonists any more) had a significant advantage on the Brits as they had all they army right there on the same continent, but the British army had to wait for long periods of time to get reinforcements and supplies.

The last battle that ended the Revolutionary war didn’t actually directly involve the colonists. It was a Naval battle fought between the French and British fleets. The British were returning with reinforcements for the holed-up British army, and the French were coming to the aid of the newly pronounced nation: United States of America. The French won the battle, and the war was basically over. There were a few other minor skirmishes, but those were mainly between parties were not aware that the war was over.

Britain signed various treaties with the Netherlands, the Spaniards, and also the French, but the treaty between the colonists and Great Britain was called the Treaty of Paris.


I apologize to the Ron Paul Curriculum for any direct quotes from the lectures that I may have accidentally put into writing. When I was writing down notes and historical facts several weeks ago, I don’t know if I rephrased the information in my own words, as I do now.

This is why I source you.


The Grade 8 Ron Paul History Course (Lessons 20-25)

The Seven Years War

History Week 2

The 7 Years War was a futile war that was caused by skirmishes between the French and British armies over North American territory. These “skirmishes” caused tensions to arise and increase between France and Britain eventually resulting in war being declared. It was declared in 1756.

To back up a bit, though, the aforementioned “skirmishes” were three separate battles known as the battle of Jumonville Glen, the battle of Fort Necessity, and the battle of Monongahela.

The reason that I say this war was futile is that, due to the fact that most of the European countries were allied with one another, when war was declared between France and Britain, they starting pulling in country after country into this bloody war. By 1760, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and Saxony (and obviously, France and Britain) were involved in the war. Eventually, the Caribbean, South America, India, the Philippians, and South Africa were also involved. To top it off, when truce started being declared in 1763, the countries gave the land that had been gained during the war back to the countries that had owned it prior to the war! The only major changes that occurred was the destruction of the French fleet, cultural adoption, and because Britain did not give back all the land that they had gained in the war, Britain’s borders were now much larger. 

Now that I have given you a brief overview, let me elaborate on all the nitty-gritty of the war:

After the war was declared, Prussia struck out against Saxony; unfortunately, it never recovered. Prussia also attacked Austria; however, France and Russia came to Austria’s aide and was able push the Prussians back for the first four years. It seems that around this point in the time-line, the war shifted further and further from the original conflict. In fact, up until 1759, Britain did not really do much in the war. The battles that Britain did fight it usually lost. Then something changed for Britain; in 1759, Britain miraculously started winning. That year was nick-named the Annus Mirabilis, or in English, the year of miracles because Britain was winning so much and gaining so much territory (including several French forts back in North America). Britain got a little cocky and decided that, while they were at it, they might as well go and attack the Philippians. However, they had little success here and they were only able to capture one colony (which they gave back at the end of the war as it was of no use to them). None the less, Britain became the strongest empire as a result of the war. As I mentioned earlier, in 1763, the majority of the land was given back to its previous possessors. This was in the Treaty of Paris and was called status que ante bellum.

In conclusion, The Seven Years War ruined countries (Saxony was almost annihilated), caused destruction in economies, left wounds and scars on both the earth and its inhabitants, and killed many a man too. For what? The destruction of a French Fleet? The enlargement of British borders? This war was completely and utterly useless and futile and it should never have happened in the first place.

Ancient Asia | Overview of Ancient China and India

History Week 2

Today’s essay will be an overview parts of ancient China and India.


China, just like Africa, has a very wide range of temperatures and ranges. These include:

  1. Himalayas (Southern China)
  2. Gobi Desert (Northern China)
  3. Numerous river valleys (central China)
  4. A large stretch of the Pacific Ocean’s coastline.

By 500 AD the Xia, Shang, Zhou, Qin, and Han dynasties had already passed (a dynasty is a line of hereditary rulers of a country1). China was then almost cut in half (politically) until the Tang Empire in 618 reunited it into one country once more.

During the Qin dynasty, two extremely famous (and quite massive) Chinese relics were constructed. These are the Great Wall of China and the expansive, life sized, terracotta, horse-and-soldier army.

The ruler of the Qin dynasty was a tyrant who allowed the Great Wall of China to be built on the dead bodies of the Chinese workers. For this reason, the Wall was a shame to the Chinese people for a time; however, the Chinese have come to embrace it as an impressive accomplishment.

The ruler, Qin Shi Huang (which is the combined words for “Mythical Ruler” and “God”1), believed that he would need protection in the afterlife. This is why thousands of life sized, terracotta soldiers were made. These, and several traps were later discovered (intact) by archaeologists.

Then came another empire, but this one was special. The next empire was the Mongol empire which was not Chinese. The Mongol empire was ruled by Genghis Khan (and later his son Kublai Khan was his successor). This empire covered a rather expansive territory which was a big task to run and maintain. How did they do it? As they conquered countries, they left the current governments intact, the people just owed their allegiance (and obviously, they had to pay tribute).

But, like all civilizations, the strongest government will always, at some point or another fall. The Mongolian Empire was replaced by the Ming Empire; which was later replaced by the Qing Empire.


India is sometimes called the Indian sub-continent…and for a very good reason! India apparently rests on its own tectonic plate. Because tectonic plates shift and move, India has been moving – straight up into Asia!

Now, like my History essay on early African civilizations (particularly with Egypt and Nubia), the early Indian civilizations were established along rivers; such as the Indus River Valley civilization.

Now I am not going to spend as much time on India as I did on China, but here are the highlights of the ruling authorities:

  1. ~500 AD = The Gupta Empire.
  2. ~800 AD = The Islamic Caliphate and several small Kingdoms.
  3. ? Somewhere between 1 and 2 = Challucya Empire and the Rajput Kingdoms.
  4. ~1200 AD = India again has many small countries and is going through an essential period of de-centralization.
  5.  India is reunited under one empire, the Mughal Empire for about 200 years.
  6. ~1750 AD = India again divides up into smaller countries.

India has, throughout its history, had two major religions: Buddhism and Hinduism. Though they are similar in that Buddhism and Hinduism both believe in reincarnation and both teach non-violence, they are different in the following ways:

  1. Buddhism taught care for all creatures while Hinduism taught care and instituted a harsh caste system
  2.  Buddhism is polytheistic while Hinduism can be either polytheistic or monotheistic
  3. Buddhism’s holy text is the Tipitaka while Hinduism’s holy text is the Vedas.

An interesting point about the Indian civilization is that, unlike Western culture, India has focused on religious advancement first, and geographic expansion second.

Also, with the British expansion yet to come, India will soon be conquered.



History 1 | Early African Civilizations


Egypt was the strongest African civilization in the ancient world. This, contributes to it’s being the most well-known African civilization as well.

Egypt’s history

Unlike many other forms of governmental structures, Egypt was run by an absolute monarch or autocrat; meaning that it was run by a single authority that held complete control over the country and its citizens.[1] Egypt was unique (and quite strange) in that (for its existence as a free civilization) its ruler, who was called a Pharaoh, believed he was god and deserved to be treated (worshipped) as one. This explains the elaborate tombs built by their subjects.

Egypt was established along one of the most famous rivers in the world: the Nile River. The Nile River starts in Lake Victoria and flows all the way up to the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt, being an agriculturally based civilization, relied heavily upon the Nile. In fact, the Nile became a sort of god to the Egyptian people.

Egypt was conquered by the Persian empire for a short period of about ten years.2 Egypt did, however, regain its freedom.

Then, Rome conquered Egypt in 31 BC and was able to hold it until their (Rome’s) fall in 476 AD.

After regaining its freedom from Rome, Egypt adopted a new, very quickly growing, wide spread religion, Islam, that stretched across a region today known as the Islamic caliphate. 

The Ottoman empire eventually gained some control over Egypt.


Nubia was located South of Egypt and was also situated near the Nile River. Despite the close proximity of the two countries, Nubia was, for the most part, independent of Egypt (and thus, Egypt likewise independent of Nubia). Nubia and Egypt are, however, known to have performed trading with various countries including Arabia, certain Mediterranean civilizations, and Egypt.  

However, in 400 AD, Nubia declined in power and became a sort of non-entity throughout the rest of history.

It is thought that iron working originated in Nubia.


Ethiopia began in approximately 500 BC and was also known as the kingdom of Axum. It established itself along the Red Sea and initially was primarily a trading civilization. At the time of its establishment, it was an Arab style country, but eventually became influenced by Egyptian, Greek, and Christian culture; maybe it’s just me, but Egyptian, Greek, and early Christian cultures seem to be widely different and I would conjecture that it would be a rather odd mix.

Something extremely interesting about Ethiopia is that it is the only African region to remain ungoverned by an outside country; essentially all of Africa was colonized by one European nation or the other – except for Ethiopia.

This leads us into me next point, which is the colonization of Africa by European nations. Today, when you look at the map of Africa you see that it looks that is at least as populated or full as any other land mass (with exception of China and the U.S.). However, between (and previous to) 500 AD and 1750 AD Africa was primarily a decentralized continent. European nations were the end of this. The main reason for their colonization was based in the slave trade. However, they soon found that Africa had great natural wealth and that became their next effort.

It seems that it is due to the former (and current) European control that Africa is in the state it’s in as a Third World country.


  1. Definition of “autocrat” retrieved from: