Accommodating Social Change

"Compadre, don’t go to the Mines on any account. The Mines are…loaded to the muzzle with vagabonds from every quarter of the globe…[and] gamblers of no particular spot: and assassins manufactured in Hell for the express purpose of converting the high-ways and by-ways into theatres of blood!"
Hugo Reid to Abel Stearns, April 22, 1849

Until 1848, California had been a province of Mexico and home to 15,000 men and women of Mexican, American, or European heritage and nealry 150,000 Indians. In just two or three years, natives and newcomers alike were forced to find ways to live together—whether they wanted to or not.

Few of those living in California in late 1840s and early 1850s were prepared for the conflict and frustration they faced. Newcomers expected riches and most often found unceasing toil. They came with dreams of finding gold or land of their own and instead encountered many Americans unwilling to tolerate strangers. Central and South Americans, Chinese, Americans Indians, freed blacks and slaves—many were met with resentment and suspicion.

Worldwide hysteria

California 150

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