Guide to the Gold Rush Letter MC315

Liz Phillips
University of California, Davis Library, Dept. of Special Collections
1st Floor, Shields Library, University of California
100 North West Quad
Davis, CA 95616-5292

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: University of California, Davis Library, Dept. of Special Collections
Title: Gold Rush Letter
Identifier/Call Number: MC315
Physical Description: 1 item 3 pages. Brown ink on blueish laid paper. 25.5 x 19.5 centimeters
Date: September 1, 1852
Abstract: Letter from an unnamed New England immigrant to San Francisco to his brother.
Physical Location: Researchers should contact Archives and Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored offsite.

Scope and Contents

Private letter from a New England immigrant to San Francisco. The letter simply signed "Your affectionate brother George," the author reveals his disappointment with California and its promises of richness which never became reality for most newcomers. The author also exchanges news about family and other immigrants to California and shares his support of the Democrat Presidential Candidate Franklin Pierce (who would become the 14th President of the US in 1853). Overall a fine early California letter.
"Dear Brother,
Have been in the land of golden dreams for such they have proved thus far to me as well as most all of the young men that have arrived at this port of late (it being the day after the fair). [...] I have had to work harder in this country the three last months than I would in the States. I find that labour is capital. I have had for my labour 125 dollars per month. I think I shall go to the mines. I am told that they pay from two to five dollars a day, sometimes greater, sometimes less. In your last you wished to know if I thought the inducement that is held before the public sufficient for one engaged in business and has a happy home in New England to leave all and come out to this land of... (I say no). I find this state filled (to overflow) with ambitious men that have left happy homes to seek a little of the needful. Men that a few months ago could command any amount of dust at our eastern ports reduced to almost starvation. Others that a few weeks ago could not pay a day's board in a good house worth thousands. Few knew what a life was in California when they left the old states (happy homes) to seek dust in a wild and unsettled country. You undoubtly hear that a large amount of gold is monthly recd. at your ports all shipped from California. But when you take into consideration the amount of labour, the men that is required to dig from the Earth that amount you find that the prospects here will fall for short of the expection [sic] you once had of the gold region. We find regardless of the voice of reason and unaffected with the tears of suffering millions men who are ready to leave all that should be dear to then [sic] to try there [sic] game of chance in the wild state of California. I find but very few that tell me that California has proved to be the land they thought when the most flattering new[s] was daily posted up before them. [...]
You asked in your last what I thought of the Democratic candidate for Presidentcy [sic], F. Pierce of New Hampshire. I can say with many others he is just the man this state I think will give the bold son of New England a larger majority than were ever given before for a candidate. I say 5 thousand are for Pierce (Pierce the Wiges [sic] we shall)...".
[Description provided by Wayfarer's Bookshop]


Collection is open for research.

Processing Information

Liz Phillips created this finding aid with information supplied by Wayfarer's Bookshop.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Wayfarer's Bookshop, 2020.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gold Rush Letter, MC315, Archives and Special Collections, UC Davis Library, University of California, Davis.

Publication Rights

All applicable copyrights for the collection are protected under chapter 17 of the U.S. Copyright Code. Requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Regents of the University of California as the owner of the physical items. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Gold mines and mining -- California
San Francisco (Calif.) -- History
Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center