ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology»
  • History of the Americas

Changing Cultures During the Gold Rush

Updated on February 21, 2018
Source
This painting shows the evolving culture of the gold rush as household roles and everyday life adapts to the thrill and often the peril of looking for gold.
This painting shows the evolving culture of the gold rush as household roles and everyday life adapts to the thrill and often the peril of looking for gold. | Source

Introduction

The American conquest of California greatly threatened many traditions and practices established by the Mexicans who lived there before the war, but some traditions endured through the new political, economic, and cultural changes. After the Mexican-American war ended in 1848, California became a territory of the United States, and in 1849 gold was discovered in California causing numerous amounts of people to try their luck at striking it rich. Although this increase in population built a diverse community in California, white superiority and racism still existed Mexicans and other foreigners would eventually be basically excluded from gold mining by a new tax. Although not everyone would find gold and become rich, everyone in the gold rush contributed to the society, culture, and traditions of the changing political and economic atmosphere.

Mexican pueblo in 1850.
Mexican pueblo in 1850. | Source

From Pueblos to Minority

The article “Enduring Traditions” on Juana Brione's online exhibition mentions that due to the gold rush Mexican Americans quickly became the minority in California. Many of the small pueblos in northern California were taken over by white settlers, which continued even into the 1870s. Because most of the white settlers moved to northern California, the Mexican American’s in southern California remained in their pueblos for the most part. However these pueblos would soon become segregated barrios by the late 1800s. Although the Mexican Americans quickly became alienated in their former land, they still held on to most of their traditions and pride. When the settling whites would challenge former land grants issued before the war, the Mexican Americans would go to court to defend their rights to their property. Some even became journalists, newspaper editors, and authors to give their people a voice. Even with the changing atmosphere of what until recently was their country, many held on to their practices and customs in the changing economy (“Enduring Traditions”). Although the Mexican Americans were rapidly becoming the minority in California, their influences stayed throughout the state. Many communities stayed true to their Mexican heritage and culture, and soon the white settlers who were migrating west also became involved in their culture through commerce and the proximity of their communities. Soon the culture of California would become one of a mixture of Eastern American culture and Mexican American culture, which can still be seen today throughout the state.


Since the Foreign Miners Tax of 1850 eliminated any hopes of striking it rich with gold, many Mexican Americans began to offer services such as laundry or would cook and sell food for the miners.
Since the Foreign Miners Tax of 1850 eliminated any hopes of striking it rich with gold, many Mexican Americans began to offer services such as laundry or would cook and sell food for the miners. | Source

Another Kind of Gold Rush

The main dream of the gold rush was to mine gold and become rich, however that goal unfortunately became legally impossible for many immigrants seeking for a new fortune. In 1850 the government issued the Foreign Miner’s Tax, which forced foreign miners to pay an additional tax on any gold they mined. However, some thrived in a different business. Many Mexican Americans would display their culture’s cuisine to the miners and make a business from selling food. One woman for example was given half an ounce of gold a day to buy provisions for her group. She began making more food than her party could eat, so she began selling the extras, and eventually earned about 3 or 4 ounces of gold a day. In cities such as Senora, this practice of Mexican-Americans setting up shops selling Hispanic food such as sopas, tortillas, frijoles, and tamales was somewhat common and very profitable. Also, many Mexican Americans, especially in southern California, continued their business of raising cattle. This is evident by a branding iron on display on the Juana Briones online exhibit. The Mexicans previously had the land divided into ranches in the south with a communal town around the Los Angeles area. During the gold rush these cattle could be sold to the new settlers, or be used for food to cook and sell to the settlers. Either way the cattle played a vital role in economy of the Mexican Americans, as well as keeping their traditions and cultures alive. These Mexican Americans not only profited greatly from their new economic exposure to their cultural foods, which was even referred to as reminiscent of their Mexican cities, but were able to keep many aspects of their culture and traditions alive in this changing society as Anglo influences began taking over (Johnson, 114). Although famous for their food, Mexican Americans also profited from the gold rush by providing other services to the miners, such as laundry services, housekeeping, and even running supply stores.

The Mexican American influences and culture that was introduced to California from its beginnings are still present today, as seen from Olvera Street in Los Angeles, California.
The Mexican American influences and culture that was introduced to California from its beginnings are still present today, as seen from Olvera Street in Los Angeles, California. | Source

A New Culture

In conclusion, even though the new white settlers greatly influenced California with their Anglo practices during and after the gold rush, many of the original traditions of the Mexican Americans endured. The Mexicans took up their pens in newspapers to write to their segregated people who quickly became the minority in their former land, and even went to court seeking justice for their land when settlers challenged their previous grants. Outside of mining, which they quickly became excluded from, many Mexicans set up shop as food and cattle merchants to retain and expose their culture to the new settlers, as well as profit greatly from the new economic changes. Overall, even with strict resistance many Mexican Americans were able to preserve some of their original traditions when there land was inhabited by Anglo settlers, and even profit comfortably simply by embracing their culture. While the Eastern Americans brought their culture to California where the Mexican Americans tried to keep theirs, a unique blend of cultures emerged creating a new Californian culture. Whether prosperity in the gold rush came from actual gold or from cultural food and other services, the richest investment was made in the new culture that shaped California for the rest of history.

References

"Enduring Traditions." Juana Briones Y Su California. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://californiahistoricalsociety.org/exhibitions/juana-briones/exhibit/#/theme-60>.

Johnson, Susan Lee. “’Domestic’ Life in the Diggings”

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 2 months ago from Superior, Arizona

      Enjoyed the article. "Whether prosperity in the gold rush came from actual gold or from cultural food and other services, the richest investment was made in the new culture that shaped California for the rest of history." Right on. Thank you.

    • findbes profile image

      findbes 2 years ago

      Cultural Revolution is always difficult with each nation. It is inevitable inevitable when people get to know their rights.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)