by Steve Wagers

This content is part of a series.

You Don't Have To Go Out West to Find This Treasure (4 of 6)
Series: What Jesus Has to Say about It
Steve Wagers
Matthew 13:44


On Monday morning, January 24, l848, John Marshall wondered down to the bank of the south fork of the American River where he was building a sawmill for John Sutter. Marshall had opened the tailrace the night before and was anxious to see if the river's flow had cleared it out. He went down as usual and after shutting off the water from the race he stepped down into it, near the lower end, and there upon the rock about six inches beneath the water he discovered the jackpot: GOLD! Marshall was a 35-year-old carpenter from New Jersey. His boss, John Sutter, was a Swiss emigrant who had acquired a large land grant from the Mexican government and was intent on building an agricultural empire in the New World.

In the mean time, on May 13, 1846, the United States, for no very good reason, declared war on Mexico. Seven months later U.S. troops defeated Mexico's forces in California and a year after that, at the signing of the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo, Mexico formally ceded the whole place to the United States. It included Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona and New Mexico plus parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The treaty was signed on February 2, 1848. And, only a dozen people knew about it yet but James Marshall had discovered his gold nine days earlier. In fact, San Francisco didn't get the news until the end of May when samples of Marshall's discovery finally reached town. Then, six hundred people lived there and all but a dozen promptly headed for the diggings.

The first sailing ships to set out from the East Coast in December and January began to arrive in San Francisco in June. By the end of 1849, 41,000 passengers would arrive by sea while 42,000 more would make the difficult overland journey by covered wagon across the Great Plains from St. Joseph and Independence, Missouri.

The cry of "Gold" had echoed ...

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