Gold Seekers of '49 - Edwin Sabin

This book follows the story of a young man who is lured to the territory of California during the gold rush of 1849. The first part the book covers his experience on a boat rounding the Cape of South America, and his introduction to the small town of San Francisco. His adventures in the gold fields themselves consume the second half of the book. Although the book is fiction, it accurately portrays the spirit of the California gold rush.

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[Book Cover] from Gold Seekers of '49 by Edwin Sabin
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Part of God's providence it was to found

A Nation's bulwark on this chosen ground;

Not Jesuit's zeal nor pioneer's unrest

Planted these pickets in the distant West,

But He who first the Nation's fate forecast

Placed here His fountains sealed for ages past,

Rock-ribbed and guarded till the coming time

Should fit the people for their work sublime;

When a new Moses with his rod of steel

Smote the tall cliffs with one wide-ringing peal,

And the old miracle in record told

To the new Nation was revealed in gold.

—Bret Harte


It has taken Americans to build the Panama Canal, and it took the Americans to build California. These are two great feats of which we Americans of the United States may well be proud: the building of that canal, in the strange tropics 2000 miles away across the water, and the up-rearing of a mighty State, under equally strange conditions, 2000 miles away across plains and mountains.

On the Isthmus men of many nationalities combined like a vast family; each man, from laborer to engineer, doing his stint, without favoritism and without graft, toward the big result. So in California likewise a people collected from practically all the world became Americans together under the Flag, and working shoulder to shoulder—rich and poor, old and young, educated and uneducated, no matter what their manner of life previously—they joined forces to make California worthy of being a State in the Union.

So hurrah for the Panama Canal, built by American methods which encourage every man to do his share; and hurrah for California, raised to Statehood upon the foundation of American equality!

The discovery of gold in California was hailed as an occasion for getting rich quick; but its purpose proved to be the development of character. It seems a long, long way back to Forty-nine, when across the Isthmus and across the plains thousands of men—yes, and not a few women and children—pluckily forged ahead, bound for the Land of Gold. Some made their fortunes, but the best that any of them achieved lay in the towns that they founded, the laws that they enacted, the homes that they established, and the realization that these things were of more importance than the mere frenzy for quick wealth.

In not many years the completion of the Canal will also seem a long, long way back. We Americans will have turned to some other marvelous accomplishment, but the Canal will continue to exist as a monument to American energy and democracy.

So we who share in that California which our elders made, by railroad and canal hurried so comfortably over the trails that they toilsomely opened in years agone, have a great deal to think about and a great deal of which to be proud.


CALIFORNIA, June 1, 1915.

Editor's Note: In this version of the book the chronological listings of the events in the History of California, and the events associated with the building of the Panama Canal, have been removed from the front of the book, to the final chapters. The are valuable references but do not immediately pertain to the primary story line.

[Contents] from Gold Seekers of '49 by Edwin Sabin
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