Chapter 3 in the reader focuses on the Gold Rush and provides some insight into both the promise of the Gold Rush for individuals as well as the negation of that promise to others. What emerges from t

Chapter 3 in the reader focuses on the Gold Rush and provides some insight into both the promise of the Gold Rush for individuals as well as the negation of that promise to others. What emerges from the chapter is a picture of an increasingly diverse population, creating conflict that continues in the remainder of the century. Chapter 4 provides additional insight into these debates over who and what is a Californian, as the state attempts to deal with its indigenous population while also becoming a destination to Chinese immigrants. This chapter presents a view of a state trying to establish its identity amidst rapid social and demographic change.

The abuses of power during the Gilded Age produced social and political unrest which, in turn, created anxiety among middle-class, native-born white Americans. More important, this turmoil often involved immigrant populations that were seen as a threat to ‘American values.’ Specifically threatening were people of color and generally people who were not quite “American.” Keep in mind that “American” at the time was defined as ‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’. Only white people, and, after 1870, people of African descent could become naturalized citizens, according to law.

As you read the primary sources in the context of the background provided in our lectures and the textbook, and as you write your big question and answer other posts, take into consideration the study questions offered at the end of each chapter of the reader. The overall goal is to consider the racial and ethnic phobias of the time period and also relate them to our views of ethnicity and race in today’s California. What do the documents suggest about Californians and their concerns about peoples of color? Do you see similarities to more recent discussions of race and ethnicity in the state? Differences? And what do these similarities and differences suggest about Californians today? To what extent are debates about immigration also debates about our identity as Californians?

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