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In 1849, the greatest gold rush in history began as thousands of wouldbe- miners, gamblers, murderers and prostitutes made their way to California to seek their fortunes. In less than two years, more than 100,00 people arrived from all over the world to get in on the action. When the first gold nugget was found in the “Mother Lode,” no one understood the importance of the discovery. Soon however, hundreds of ships littered San Francisco’s harbor, abandoned by crew members rushing to the goldfields. The first gold was actually discovered in 1847 when California was still part of Mexico. The United States had declared war against Mexico in 1846. In 1848, Mexico ceded California and other western lands to the United States before news of the gold strike was known. The land belonged to the U.S. Government. It was not “open”—not free for the taking – so all the mining done was extralegal (outside of the law). Once word got out that there was gold to be had for the taking, short of sending in the Army to kill them, there was no way to stop the miners. They seized land and established Mining Districts that weren’t authorized by Federal law, and then set about governing themselves. San Francisco and Sacramento became lawless, criminal-dominated cities where no man was safe who could not defend himself. In The Gold Rush, 1847-1849, the seventh book in the series, Caleb and his ladies fight to protect their property from a ruthless New York Syndicate that will stop at nothing, even murder, to take over their operations.

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