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tv   California Gold Rush  CSPAN  August 31, 2017 2:20am-3:14am EDT

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c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. on lectures in history, emory university professor, patrick allitt teaches a class about the california gold rush of the mid-1800s. he talks about the evolving technology used to mine gold. >> good morning, everybody. >> morning. >> my lecture today is the history of the gold rush. and i'm going to talk mainly about california in the years immediately following 1848. but goalld's played a very
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important role in history. the history the conquest, first of the aztecs and then the incas is an unquenchable thirst for gold. when the first english settlers came to jamestown in 1607, one of the things they were hoping to find was gold like the spaniards. they brought with them jewelers and goldsmiths. but america's first gold rush took very close to where we are now in georgia. in 1829. this was the georgia gold rush in north georgia. about to the town of deloniga, the courthouse has been converted into a gold mine museum. first gold was discovered and people started pouring into the area in huge numbers because of the intoxicating possibility
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that gold would make them wealthy quickly. until then, this had been an area really beyond the lean ine settlement. but suddenly, now, white settlement catches up very quickly. and here's gorge gilmer talking about what it was like meeting the georgia miners. many thousands flocked into georgia from every point of the compass, whose pent-up propensities made them like the evil one, in other words, the devil. in his worst mood. after waiting all day in the etowah and chattahoochee rivers, they collected around light wood fires at night and played on the ground and on their hats at cards, dice, push pin and other games of chance for their day's findings. hundreds of combatants were seen at fisticuffs, swearing,
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striefkistrief striking and fwounling eyes. in the south, many would fight until one had gouged out the eyes of his victim. that was regarded as victory. the army was sent in to restore some sort of order. and a major, the army major sent to keep order reported this. upwards of 200 persons who presented a most motley appearance of whites, indians, half breeds and negroes. boys of 14 and old men of 70s. they comprise diggers, shop peddlers, and thieves. two candidates for the legislature and two ministers of the gospel, all no doubt attracted by the love of gold. so i think he's making the most
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of those lovely twos. this was a very, very rich site of gold and a large quantity of gold was drawn out of the mines there between 1829 and into the 1870s and '80s. you can see the coin on the left is a united states of america coin. and on the right there after the confederate secession, the confederate bank also used georgia gold for minting. and just by living here, you've seen an example of don leagual gold. this is a very, very important source. now, the people who already lived there, who already lived in the area where the georgia gold took place were the cherokees, one of the native-american societies. ever since the american revolution, the federal government had been trying very hard to integrate the native-american nations into
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the, into the united states, saying, learn to become christians. learn literacy. learn to become farmers instead of hunters and gatherers. become integrate glad od into o society. but now comes a test case. now suddenly, it turns out that the cherokees are living on land for which the whites are very, very hungry indeed. what principle was going to prevail? the principle of racial exclusion was going to prevail. the whites just wanted to get rid of the indians one way or another. and in the election which preceded the georgia gold rush, andrew jackson also wanted to get rid of the native-americans any way he could. this is john ross, one of the cherokee chiefs, and if any of the native-americans had lived up to the homes thpes they had,s
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the cherokees. they wanted to enable to write down the cherokee language. the bible had been translated into the cherokee language. many of them had become christians. many of them now wore american dress. this was a highly integrated community, but nevertheless, the principle prevailed, we've got to get rid of them. congress passed the indian removal act in 1830, which was signed by president jackson, saying that the so-called five civilized tribes. this is president jackson. and he said that the five civilized tribes should move from their current lands out onto a place that was then called indian territory. the five tribes were creeks, seminoles, choctaws and chickasaws. there would be a resettlement out here. this is now oklahoma. and it was then called indian
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territory. the georgia state government passed the law specifying that the lands up in this northern tier of georgia should be reallocated by a land lottery to white settlers. to dispossess the former inhabitants and hand it over to the whites instead. this is the movement that is the pl prelude to something i'm sure you've heard about "the trail of tears." there were adverse conditions with many large numbers of them die dying. now last time, in talking about the spread of american settlement and also the spread of american political power, we talked about the mexican war. this was the war fought between mexico and the united states in the years 1846 to '48.
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although the american armies were not technically well-led, they were much more effective than the mexican armies, and they were able to wentin a spectacular series of bhattles. they were able to overrun mexico city itself. you can see a picture of general scott's army marching triumphantly into mexico city where in effect they were able to dictate the terms of the peace treaty that followed. this was the treaty of guadalupe hidalgo, a vast area of mexico was now handed over to the united states. nearly all the land which currently comprises california, nevada, utah, arizona and then parts of new mexico and
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colorado. what's today the southern, the southwestern quarter of the united states. now certain things are important to remind you of. this is now an area with a high population. but then its population was extremely low. only a few thousand spaniards had actually ever lived there or after 1821, a few thousand mexicans. there was a low density of native-american settlement. but it was mainly unoccupied territory. and the reason it's unoccupied is it's so dry. nearly all of this land has got very, very low rainfall with a few exceptions with the northern california coast. most of it's too dry for normal agriculture. so not many people could live there. now just to give you an idea of how low its population was. how many have been to san francisco? it's a fantastic natural harbor. it's an enormous deep-water, enclosed harbor and now one of
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the great cities of the world is right there, but this is what it looked like in 1846-1847. just a handful of huts and a few streets. its with a very, very quiet and sleepy little place. and its future significance was unimaginable at that time. now this is a settler, this is a man called johann setter. and he lived at a place called setter's fort which is where sacramento, the current capital of california. i mentioned that americans had been moving into texas even when texas was still a mexican territory. and in the same way, american settlers had been moving into california even when it was still mexican territory. one of them was johann setter. he came from switzerland and set up a trading fort. now there it is in the upper picture. the fact that, it was very
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different from a shop. and the fact that he had to have a fort is a sign of how politically volatile the area was. he was kind of expecting to be robbed or attacked. so he took precautions against that. now he was at sacramento. one of the things he wanted to sell was lumber. but the lumber was going to come from up in the foothills of the sierra nevada mountains east of sacramento. so he sent one of his assistants, james marshall up the river to caloma and asked him to design a sawmill. this is where the american river is flowing fast enough that the water can turn a waterwheel, and the wheel is attached to circular saw blades so the lumber could be sent there and sawn and sent down the river to sutter's fort itself. one of the things you have to do to make an effective sawmill is divert the river down the
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millrace, a flume. in the millrace there, he found little flakes of gold, little metal flakes. he reported back to sutter, his because, saying, found gold in the millrace, and sutter said, don't tell anybody, and we'll keep tit secret. you know how bad everybody is to keeping secrets. the only way to have a secret is to never tell anyone. as soon as you tell nicanybody,e secret gets out. and it wasn't long before the news got back east and it spread rapidly all over the world, with the result that a massive incursion of people into california began to take place. all right. now this is, this is the area where the gold was discovered. this is sacramento. and sutter's fort was right there. and he'd sent heis assistant,
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marshall to caloma, which is where the gold had been discovered. we now know from extensive geological work that the gold field is about the area that's shown there in yellow, and that the richest area, the area where the most of all the gold was found was about here. this is called the mother lode. and so those little boxes, those are the places where the mining camps sprang up. they correspond very closely as you would expect, to the load itself. now if you imagine a simplified version of the coast of california, i'm just going to do this for reasons of simplicity. here's san francisco bay. one river is flowing south. and this is the sacramento river. and eventually, it flows into the san francisco bay, and it's parallel with the coast, about 1
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h 00 miles inland. and north is the san joaquin river that eventually flows into san francisco bay. so this is the central valley. over here, much higher mountains, what are they called, jenny? >> i don't know, actually. >> give us a clue. >> the sierra nevada? >> yeah. and so as you can tell from the map, lots of rivers flow out of the sierra nevadas and join the northern ones join the sacramento river. and the southern ones flow into the san joaquin river, so that's the kind of schematic of the geology of california. and the gold is here. so in the foothills of the
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valleys. okay? now let's just first of all hear about now the news got back east. allen, can you come up and read first of all. have you heart of william sherman? he was a famous union general during the civil war. at this point, he was a lieutenant in the u.s. army. and witnessing what was happening when the gold was discovered. so here is lieutenant sherman. off you go. >> as the spring and summer of 1840 advanced, the reports came faster and faster from the gold mines at sutter's mill. stories reached us of fabulous discoveries and spread through the land. everyone was talking of gold, gold, until it ais sumed the character of a fever. some of our soldiers began to dessert. citizens were getting pack mules to go to the minds. we heard of thousands of dollars per day. and for a time, it seemed someone would reach solid gold. >> that's right. so the news gets out. and here's an army officer
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reporting whack reporting back to his seniors what's going on. as it happens, we've got the president with us, james kchb. s polk. this, again, is a few months after the initial discoveries are made by james marshall. >> it was known that mines of the precious metals existed to an extent. recent discoveries that these mines are more extensive and valuable than anticipated. the accounts of the abundance of gold are such an extraordinary character. were they not corroborated by officers in the public service who have advice illvisited the district. the supply is very large and gold is found in various places in extensive districts of the country. it appears also from these reports that mines of quicksilver are found. one of them is now being worked
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and is believed to be among the most productive in the world. the effects produced by these rich mineral deposits and the success which has attended the labors who have worked them has led to a surprising change in affairs. labor is an exorbitant price. nearly the whole of the male population have gone to the gold district. ships are deserted by crews. our commanding officer is apprehensive that soldiers cannot remain without increase temptation and remain faithful shall be rewarded. the abundance of gold have already caused in california an unprecedented rise in the price of life. >> that's. he's making this declaration back east in about the way in
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which the economy of california is already being transformed. people are pouring in. nobody wants to do any work except go and dig for gold. ships a arriving in san francisco. they all want to dig for gold. the curious thing about gold is it really isn't particularly useful. but today, it's possible in things like semi-conductors there are uses for gold and heat shields on spaceships. then it was used for mainly for decoration. and also sometimes as the unit of currency. it's very chemically inert. it doesn't rust. coins out of ion rust away. a gold coin persists. it's not really useful. it was incredible bli value. like gold and tobacco which great fortunes were made. even though they were actually
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essential. worth thinking about. people started po you aring into to california from all over. back east and england and france, and germany and south america. even many china. a huge amount of enthusiasm about finding ways to get to california. handbooks like this began to be published. this was bshed in boston. the wonderful gold regions. with the description of the different routes to the california. information about the country and the ancient and modern discovery of gold. in other words help for travelers on thinking about how they're going to get there. now one of the -- essentially three ways o of getting there. what they had in common ta were all incredibly difficult. unbelievably difficult. this is 1849, still another 20 years will pass before you could get by railroad. the first railroads have been invented but so far they were very short lines. all right. so one of the ways was going in
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a clipper ship. a new type of ship with a lot of sail and capable of sailing fast. so one possibility was sail from the east coast all the way down through the south atlantic and then around cape horn. what's that like? horrible. the stormiest waters in the entire world. we're coming into the teeth of the roaring and take weeks to get around and can often get ship wrecked ontd way. lots of people tried that. this is an add for it. the ship called the california with its commandser henry barber. the artist has implied from the gold dig you can see the coast. which isn't really true. in other words the artist rearranged that. that's one possibility. the second possibility was to go by steamship instead of going all the way around the tip of south america to sail from the east coast into the caribbean.
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to the place where the crossing is narrowest. and then either the place we call panama or bit further north to go across by land across the narrow part. and then take a second ship which would take you to san francisco. of the advantage of doing it that way was the journey was a great deal shorter. but the disadvantage is that just about the best place in the world in those days to die from malaria or yellow fever was there. this is an incredibly difficult place to live. even going across it. three or four decades later the people successfully built the canal in africa tried to built the first panama canal but all the labor force died from the tropical diseases. the incentive was so great. for california direct extraordinary inducements.
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nicaragua. cheapest, safest. whether it was true is another matter. the over land trails, this was the one which was most done frequently. as you know from what we said previously in the course. the oregon trail had really opened up in about 1843 or 44. so five or six year previous to this. and then from trial and error they worked out the best way to do it was start from independence, missouri. across the plat water and the sweet water river. across the rockies at the lowest point at south pass. pick up the head waters of the snake river and fwo north until it meets the columbia river and go to portland where the river meets the columbia. where the great oregon farmland was. between 1843 and 49 lots of people had done that. this point the various cut offs were established particularly the california trail with a
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cutoff down here towards sacramento itself. approaching overland rather than sea. the oregon trail very difficult in itself. if you then took the california trail it was even worse. by doing that you have to go into northern nevada to a place called humboldt sink. the river called the humboldt river which is usually a dry river bed. it only has water in it for a few days every year. mostly bone dry. you have to cross this incredibly hot desert. and all along the way people died from various things. to make matters worse you had to cross the mountains themselves. and they're very formidable. tfts harder crossing the sier ra nevada than the rockies. already by then, one of the most famous incidents in history of america, cannibalism had taken part there. a group of immigrants set from
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independence, missouri, took the california cutoff, part way up the mountains when a very severe blizzard snowed them in. they weren't capable of going forward any further but neither could they get down the mountains because -- the snow was too thick. many of them died and the survivors ate the bodies of their relatives who died in order to survive. of course news of this spread very rapidly. so anyone who was going to the gold rush over the so called don route. the route taken by interstate 80. you still go that way. it's hard but it's relatively the easiest way. knew this was the kind of territory they were crossing. so very, very rapidly the first disrecovery in mid-1840 and 1849, 80,000 people poured into the area. the area around sacramento. coming by the various routes.
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and the migration carried on over five or six years. here's something to think about. it's easy to forget, it was only in 1848 that california became part of the republic. until then it was part of mexico. most americans probably didn't even know where it was. suddenly it's part of america and suddenly it turns out to have this incredible abundance of wealth. how galling to mexico. they lost the war and hadn't noticed for the previous 350 years that they were sitting on a gold mine. it's one of the many historical ironies. it can prompt meditation about the nature of reality and good fortune. all right. now we need to talk about rivers. i said in during this diagram it's in the foothills that the most of the gold was found. in other words it's in the place
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where rivers flowing rapidly downhill are beginning to flow out into the plains. or into the flatter land of the central valley. if you imagine the same thing that's a birds eye view. think of it from the side. it's something like this. if this is the central valley, and that's the high sierra. the area where the gold was found it this area. now why should that be? tell us why you think it's found here. >> maybe because of the mineral deposit. >> it's connected to the river. they started looking in the river itself. so what happens to a river when it's flowing out of the mountains and onto low land? >> it deposits the sediment. >> it starts deposit things. carrying sediment. why does it deposit it there?
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>> because that's -- that's the lowest part. where the water can't move through it just gets left. >> which carries more sediment a fast flowing river or slow one? >> fast. >> yes. exactly. so this is the area where it starts to slow down. river starts to slow down and as it does so it starts to drop the sediment it's carrying. and does it first drop the heaviest or lightest things? >> the heaviest. >> yeah, such as? >> rocks. in particular gold. >> gold is very dense. in other words, fast flowing rivers carry a lot of sediment. but as they slow down as they flow down into the lowlands, they lose energy. and they begin to deposit their load. and deposit the gold first because it's the heaviest element. that's why it's such a good
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place to dig. sure enough if you look at the map with the red and yellow, it was. now look at this photograph. can you see the river is me andering? it isn't flowing in a straight line. it's a curve. kelly, when a river is flowing around curves, is the current fastest on the outside of the bend or the inside? >> outside. >> the outside. why? >> not quite sure. because it's -- im not quite sure why is flows faster on the outside. >> you're right. it's the simplest thing in the worltd. because the water flows in a stop line until something stops it. until it hits the bank. and it turns and flows in a straight line until it gets stopped again. what's happening all the time in the rivers is the bends are tendsing to become more exaggerated. again if you have a window see the in the plane and look down, you can see where the course of the river used to be. which isn't there any longer. you have ox bows.
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which look like this. you can see more clearly from the earth. it used to be there. it used to be a huge bend and it was cut off and the river straightened itself. but the process starts again. so then think about what this means in terms of the deposit of goeltd. it means in this transitional area coming out of the mountains. it means the very best place to look is on the inside of the bends. that's where the current is flowing more slowly. that's where it will be dropped. you can see on the photograph there's a beach on the inside of the bend. where the water is hardly flowing at all and you can imagine going and pads lg and looking across and seeing flowing rapidly. the perfect place to stake a claim if you were one of the 49ers, one of the california miners. was on the inside of the bend of the place where the river levelled out. sure enough that's where they found a lot of gold.
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one of the great things about the early days of the california gold rush. it was very democratic chl everybody could do it. you had to get there. but once you were there all you needed was a shovel and a pan. pan for gold. just like this miner is holding. what you do is shovel into the pan some of the sediment from the river bank, and put in water and gradually swirl it around so you make a suspension of the lighter parol particles with the water. and left that flow over of the side of the pan. and the heavier particles stay mind. what you're left with is a bed of gravel with gold flakes in it. you can pick out the flakes of gold. that's the way in which it was done. it's a very low tech business. incidentally, when we look at the history ov who got rich in
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the california gold rush, what we discover is it was mainly the people who sold shovels and sold pans and sold donkeys and sold tents and food. that was the way to make the fortune. because whether or not the diggers found the gold, you'd get paid for the provisions. and you could charge a high price. because the stuff had to come a long way. it was in high demand. you could get top price for the sale of it. we have lots of illustrations of people using very primitive recovery techniques. usually working in gangs of five or six. here's a sloigt slightly more sophisticated device. a rocker. a mixture of gravel is water is poured in the top. and filters down through a series of sieves. one is finer than the one before. you pour the water over the gravel gets caught on top. in the lower level here, you have a piece of rough burlap
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sacking or maybe an old bit of carpet and the particles of gold catch in the fabric. after you you're left behind with particles of gold. this became the currency in the gold district. now eventually of course it starts to occur to some people that if the gold is there, it must have come from further upstream. doesn't that make sense to go upstream to find it. and of course the answer was yes. and here's how that works. so back to the diagram of the hillside. you found lots of it lying about in the water. down here. that means that somewhere up here there's actually a vein of gold. or gold bearing rock. which is exposed to the surface. and as the water flows over it it's being eroded.
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over hundreds of thousands of years. the gold itself is form deep in the earth under high pressure and temperature. by a process we can't go into it. when you get tech non-ic thrust and bring to the surface. it's usually found in mountain districts because of the irregularity of the earth crust. let's imagine this is where the gold vein is. so if you're decide to look for the gold vein itself, here's how you do it. go upstream, and you test the water here. and then you go upstream again and test it here and test it here, and upstream again and test it here. in each of these places you finds some gold, but less than you had down here. because of the pace of the river. of course eventually you get to a place you finds none at all. because you have gone above the vein. so that tells you -- you do much closer testing here and here.
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and this is where it is. it's hardly ever self-evident. it looks like rock. you can work out where it's come from. then there's the possibility of digging out or trying to dig out the gold itself. it's very difficult to do. but that's the logical conclusion that the miners came to. let's look for the origin of gold itself. we have so many photographs in the mountains. >> how do you spell vein. >> vein. like a blood vein. a vein or a drift. there's miners terminology. depending on what mine there's a different rhetoric to go with it. >> all the it techniques of digging for gold required access to water. and so another group of a very entrepreneurial 49ers. a highly lucrative business.
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going to a stream and diverting the stream to the place where people are digging. usually building a flume. flume is a primitive aboveground canal. a wooden channel. which will guide the water to places where people are digging. because in other words the very first strikes are here on the river. on the main part of the river. event people say look, for a long time the river flowed here. that's a great place to dig. of course we can't do it if it's dried up unless we have a water supply. but the flume, someone who is an entrepreneur building a flume to help them do it. high up in the mountains lots ov these very enterprising men were building flumes to divert the river to bring it down to the gold baring country. and in this peckture you can see the process going on. there's a small stream here that built a very primitive rock dam. it's good enough they can channel the water into the flume, which carries it off to
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the area where they're going to be exploring for the minerals. then of course it occurs to somebody it it's good getting from the side of the river. think how much better if we dig into the bed of the river itself. how do we do that? we can only do it by damming and diverting the river. again this is a a period where lots of illustrators went to do pictures. we can reconstitute it pretty well. this is a place called murders barge. you can see -- that's my deduction anyway. you can see what happened here is they built a dam across the river itself. here we are in the foothills. and built a diversion channel. so the the bed of the river has become dry. they can dig into it and get up the sediment accumulating there. over hundreds of thousands of years. but there's a catch. you notice also that they
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introduced water wheels here. as the flow of the water narrows it get faster. you get energy which can turn water wheels and attached to go up and down into earth to bring up mechanically the stuff being produced. a steam engine here. technology has been brought in. this is all expensive. a guy with a shovel can't afford this. it's only people who have capital who can do work like this. already by 1851 it's people with capital making money at mining. they can do the big earth shifting operations which are necessary to really make it pay. so gradually what tends to happen is the people who come out hoping they'd be independent gold diggers actually become employees of mining companies. working for wages. and projects like this. they realize the value of going a quite way down into the earth. trs becoming mining.
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but still mining into the gravel which is underneath the bed. all the old bed of the river itself. now it wasn't long after that before somebody invented this method. hydraulicing. invention of the 1850s. the river has been gradually eroding the mountainside over millions of years. let's speed up the process. by firing against the mountainside a very high pressure jet of water to in effect accelerate the erosion process hundred of times over. happen all at once. again it's a matter of getting a flume upstream, and guiding the water down, until we bring it into the -- they're like big scale fire hoses. have you ever seen the fire hose hs the incredible high pressure. strong enough if you put your finger in front it will break your fingers. and you shoot it out of narrow gauge with great pressure against the mountainside. this washes down sediment.
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out of which it's then possible to gather the gold in the same way. hydraulicing. the very first environmental law passed by california were in the 1870s to ban in practice. tons of debris was coming downstream and stifling the farms. very bad from the farmers poipt of view. in the 50s and 60s the mining was more important than farming. then when all the other methods of being tried and had gradually exhausted, then it's a question of actually digging into the mountainside and trying to follow the vein into the interior of the mountain itself. and hard rock mining. what you're bringing out of the mine is an enormous quantity of which in with there are smallments of gold. again at first little groups of fellows tried it. but bit by bit they were edged out by the people who got enough capitol to do it on a large scale.
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this is what the big mines looked like by 1860s and 70s. by then the technology of photographer ri was good enough. start nd the 1830s and getting better. we have good pictures of what it looked like. so again 49ers become mine laborers. here's what happens inside a gold a working gold hard rock gold mine. you usually have teams of two working at a technique called double jacking. this is where one guy is holding a chisel against the rock face and another is hitting it with a sledge hammer. high degree of trust among friends. turn it slightly hit it again. turn it slightly to dislodge the gravel. and over the course of an hour of hard hammering, you have cut a hole maybe this deep. if you can imagine working against a rock face which is semi-circular. you cut one there, one there and so on. all the way around.
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then fill them with gun powder, lead fuses to each one, light the fuses, retire to a safe distance, and then let them explode. and if you have done it right, that has the if the holes were this deep, an ark of explosions will dislodge the rock in that ark. and when the dust and smoke cleared you can go in and clear that rock, bring it up to the surface and repeat the process again. incredibly dangerous work. for about maybe right up to the present. being a miner is the job in which you're most likely to be killed at work. you can imagine the roof can cave in. you can get caught by charges that didn't explode and sparks will set off. gas or sometimes explode. sometimes suffocating gases you can't breathe and die in the mine. horrible, horrible working environments. because in those days they didn't have electric light. just smoky candles and the
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atmosphere was terrible. in every way a very deplorable way of life. gradually improvements were developed. one the invention of an improved explosive. a liquid explosive. more powerful than gun powder but more volatile. if it gets too hot it explodes. we have very sad stories of that happening. then the invention of drills in which high pressure water is the power source instead of guys with hammers. the problem with those is they also created great showers of dust. so the mine ers tend to be breathing in a very dust heavy atmosphere and died young of mining related diseases. horrible way of life. anyway, little under ground railroads built so you can load the ore onto wagons. take the wagon to the pit shaft and have them drawn up to the surface.
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now when the hard rock gets to the surface then the question is how dwrou get the gold out of it? it's no longer any good to use the panning technique. because the parts per million are very small. it was not much gold in a lot of rock. instd you had to use -- various names for it. a crusher. on the right you can see a water wheel. you imagine the fast flowing water turn it is the wheel. it's attached to this device. which is an axel bearing cams. as the cams go passed the these rods, these were attached to great stamps, great heavy weights. the ore itself is fed through here on a conveyer and these devices stamp it to reduce it to powder. that's the way in which stamping mill works. and then next thing is to combine the powdered ore with mercury. who's seen any mercury?
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it's a metal that's liquid at room temperature. we know it's another source -- another way to get poisoned. it's very toxic. that wasn't known at time. this reddish rock on the left here is called sin bar. that's mercury oxide. he says it appears from the reports the mines of quick silver are found in the vicinity of the gold region. another name for mercury. and so this becomes as important as gold mining. this is the standard process for separating the metal from the ore. what happens is that you mix the powdered ore with water, make it a sludge. and then you pour in mercury and the mercury and the gold combine chemically, and they're very heavy. by sending it across gently sloping. it's of course the gold and mercury compound to fall to the
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bottom. then you heat the whole thing and because the mercury is so volatile. it gets vaporized and had driven off. you're left with gold. usually a highly concentrated pure form. you can turn it straight away into gold bars. that's the way it's done as a commercial mining operation. i did want to show you this lovely photograph. again this is about 20 years after the first invention of photograph ri. it perfectly illustrates. san francisco bay in 1850. ships come in from all over the world and very often never set sail again. because all the crews deserted. they went into the hills. this photograph of the whole city. the whole harbor i should say. with these abandoned ships. it's dramatic. so much so that one of the things that shopkeepers started to do was drag the ships up on land.
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you see this one and this one. they just converted them into stores. they're big containment areas. that's one thing. there's another interesting things -- there's good crow moe lithograph. tell us about this picture if you would please, and wait for a second while the boom comes over to you. >> you see a lot of people inside and, i can't -- >> the bar of the gambling saloon. >> people are trading for gold, i think. >> that's right. what are you surprised by as a viewer? look at the clothes. >> everyone is pretty well-dressed. >> who do you think these guys are? >> farmers. >> no. what country do they come from?
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look at the hats. >> i can't really tell. >> chinese. how about these two. >> are they from another asian country? >> mexican. what the artist is doing is showing the traditional dress of all the different groups of people from different parts of the world. that's the idea of it. in other words this is america's very first multi-culture environment. suddenly people from china, chile, mexico, england, switzerland. all sorts of people gathered. it's very unusual. people weren't used to that. who's this one? it's a stereo type. irish. it's the irish drunk. the idea. people come from all over the world. the irish get drunk. and again here's an illustration
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the artist imagination. twhast like in china town. in sacramento. chinese life, three exclamation points. how weird is that chinese people here in america. that's what the artist is getting at. similarly in this one. meant to be a horse market. the background you can see the miners saloon. again, there's two chinese men here. the mexican here, the anglo guy buying the horse. african american here. people, southerners take the slaves to the gold mines. a great concentration of people coming in from all over the place around the world. the idea of pictures like this is say what a weird world is that. anyway, the result a very rapidly populating what previously a very under populated place. can you come up and read your passage. on the above the president's speech. in the hand out. this is a his torn writing about
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40 years ago. describing the way in which gold accelerated the process of american settlement. >> the little grains of bright yellow metal threw a bridge head across the dez rt establish a front loin of civilization along the rocky mountain and drew men from the east. the glittering prize lighted the way. the dark bsness of earlier obstacles and convinced men that no matter how great the barriers they could be surmounted. material and culture. freight wagons brought necessities but the trappings of civilization. printing presses, the refinement of books and art objects. the advance guard of prospectors found money which to buy and out of spending came roads, civic development, churches, schools and above all, women. when the family unit came or was locally assembled, permanent assembly was normally assured. with the floating scum gone, those serious about the new land
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settled down to extract their own gold. grain or cattle. >> he makes the point. normally if you look at the history of hue communities develop. they started as agricultural. and later on became urbanized as people gathered together in town. in the west in the mining camps it was the other way around. they started as concentrations of people in the same place building mining settlements. after the mines have played out, gradually people began to disperse. to the farming population of california. it was an after thought. the long run it was going to prove more lucrative than the mining had itself. example of the way in which the normal process of urbanization was reversed. we have to stop now. next time we'll talk about the origins of the history of the oil industry. thanks very much, readers. that was great.
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american history tv in prime time all this week. with our origin nam series lectures in history. focusing on college and university classrooms around the country. on thursday we'll take a look at the 1950s including a cold war educational film. and 1950s american culture. american history tv and prime time begins at 8:00 a.m. eastern. also coming up thursday. book tv and prime time. looks at authors who are on the summer reading list for members of congress. the presidential tenure of andrew jackson and his book american lion. talk abouts his latest, tribe. also historian on her book roosevelt volume 3. discusses the craft of writing in do i make myself clear. book tv. all this week in prime time. on c-span 2. sunday night on q and e.
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we look at anthony clark's book the last campaign. how president's rewrite history. and inshrine their legacy. >> every single comment i received has been one of either two topics. how angry people are to learn what's happening or how flabbergasted to learn what's happening. it's not i haven't received any kind of mild i read it it was okay. >> why are they angry? the fact we have presidential libraries created to house records. and especially for the most recent ones the records won't be open for a hundred years. instead we're paying for celebration and legacy building. >> sunday night at 8 eastern on c-span q and a. with the house and senate back in session on tuesday september 5, we're taking a look at the work the members of congress will be handling. the federal budget. tax reform, the debt ceiling and healthcare. join us for a review of what's ahead for congress.
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thursday night at 8 eastern. on c-span. and and listen on the free c-span radio app. now providence college professor jeffrey johnson teaches a class about the 1916 bombing of a parade in san francisco. that killed ten and wounded 40. the bombing took place in what was called preparedness day organized by probusiness groups to keep people vigilant in the case the united states entered world war i. the attack remains the worst act of terrorism in san francisco history. this is about 50 minutes. well, good morning thanks for coming. i appreciate you all being here on a drizzly day at providence college. today i wanted to share with you i think a story and a moment in american history that is one of the, for


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