The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War

By Leonard L. Richards
Read by Jeff Riggenbach

10.07 Hours 01/01/2006 unabridged
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In this revelatory study, award-winning historian Leonard L. Richards outlines the links between the Gold Rush and the Civil War. Richards explains how Southerners envisioned California as a new market for slaves in the gold fields, schemed to tie California to the South via railroad, and imagined splitting off the state’s southern half for a slave state. We see how the Gold Rush influenced other regional and national squabbles, and we meet renegade New York Democrat David Broderick, who became a force in San Francisco politics in 1849, and his archrival, William Gwin, a major Mississippi slaveholder. Richards recounts the political battles alongside the fiery California feuds, duels, and, perhaps, outright murders as the state came shockingly close to being divided in two.

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Summary

Summary

In this revelatory study, award-winning historian Leonard L. Richards outlines the links between the Gold Rush and the Civil War.

Richards explains how Southerners envisioned California as a new market for slaves in the gold fields, schemed to tie California to the South via railroad, and imagined splitting off the state’s southern half for a slave state. We see how the Gold Rush influenced other regional and national squabbles, and we meet renegade New York Democrat David Broderick, who became a force in San Francisco politics in 1849, and his archrival, William Gwin, a major Mississippi slaveholder. Richards recounts the political battles alongside the fiery California feuds, duels, and, perhaps, outright murders as the state came shockingly close to being divided in two.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“An engrossing chronicle of the political intrigues that engulfed California in the 1850s, when pro-Southern legislators there angled to turn the state’s newfound wealth to the benefit of the slave economy.” Atlantic
“Richards meticulously catalogs details of 19th-century American legislation that nonspecialists won’t have thought about since high school: the Missouri Compromise, the Gadsden Purchase, the Kansas-Nebraska Act. But when he places the actors center stage to reveal the motives behind the politics, the narrative approaches the Shakespearean.” Tennessean
“The important back-story of the Gold Rush, according to gifted historian Leonard Richards, is political and racial. Mr. Richards contends in this insightful new book, The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War that for every fortune seeker who viewed California as a place to get rich discovering gold, another believed it a place to get rich exporting, utilizing, or trafficking in human slaves…[A] gripping book.” New York Sun
“Clear, concise, and engrossing…Takes a look at both the population flood that turned California into a state in 1850 and the battle for slavery that Southern supporters were waging in America in the same era.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Richards...superbly illuminates gold rush California as a land in contention between national pro- and anti-slavery lobbies in the decade leading up to the Civil War.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Richards offers a broad panorama that moves seamlessly from the goldfields to the halls of Congress. This is an excellent work of popular history that will add to the appreciation of a critical epoch in our national development.” Booklist
“Brings to life a population of scheming officeholders, xenophobic Californians and frantic slaveholders, all of whom resorted to the ultimate frontier solution: violence.” Kirkus Reviews

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Leonard L. Richards

Leonard L. Richards, professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, earned degrees at the University of California, Berkeley and Davis. His books have won numerous awards and honors, including the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Award in 1970 and the second-place Lincoln Prize in 2001; he was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1987. Richards currently lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 10.07
Audience: Adult
Language: English