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In the early 1840s California was a distant area that only a few Americans had seen San Francisco had barely a few hundred residents One of the wealthiest people in the region was John Sutter He was a Swiss immigrant who came to California in 1839 to build his own private empire He built a fort gathered 12000 cattle and took hundreds of workers He owed money to creditors but still had a dream of owning a vast agricultural domain By the mid 1840s more Americans were entering the west by wagon and ship In 1847 Sutter sent men to the river to build a sawmill to provide lumber for Sutters empire On January 24th 1848 James Marshall discovered gold in the river that they were working near Marshall brought the gold back to Sutters fort to test the metal They concluded it was gold and within weeks the Gold Rush of California brought people from all around Sam Brannan a San Francisco merchant knew exactly how to earn a profit Just as people were pouring into California Brannan purchased pick axes pans and shovels for twenty cents apiece and sole them for about fifteen dollars each In just nine weeks Brannan made 36000 dollars By the winter of 1848 rumors of gold had drifted eastward across the country but few easterners believed them The gold discovery needed validation and President James Polk delivered that in early December of 1848 The accounts of the abundance of gold in the territory are of such extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by authentic reports of officers in the public service- Polk Polks confirmation caused farmers merchants and soldiers to begin their western voyage for gold By early 1849 gold fever was an epidemic Every family within the nation was discussing gold in the west Thousands of adventurers with a dream left their homes in 1949 therefore getting the name forty-niners Before long
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