On This Day
1848 – California Gold Rush: In a message to the United States Congress, U.S. President James K. Polk confirms that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.
The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a gold rush that began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into the money supply reinvigorated the American economy, and the sudden population increase allowed California to go rapidly to statehood, in the Compromise of 1850. The Gold Rush had severe effects on Native Californians and accelerated the Native American population’s decline from disease, starvation and the California genocide.
The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. Whole indigenous societies were attacked and pushed off their lands by the gold-seekers, called “forty-niners” (referring to 1849, the peak year for Gold Rush immigration). Outside of California, the first to arrive were from Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Latin America in late 1848. Of the approximately 300,000 people who came to California during the Gold Rush, about half arrived by sea and half came overland on the California Trail and the Gila River trail; forty-niners often faced substantial hardships on the trip. While most of the newly arrived were Americans, the gold rush attracted thousands from Latin America, Europe, Australia, and China. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers. San Francisco grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a boomtown of about 36,000 by 1852. Roads, churches, schools and other towns were built throughout California. In 1849 a state constitution was written. The new constitution was adopted by referendum vote, and the future state’s interim first governor and legislature were chosen. In September 1850, California became a state.
At the beginning of the Gold Rush, there was no law regarding property rights in the goldfields and a system of “staking claims” was developed. Prospectors retrieved the gold from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning. Although mining caused environmental harm, more sophisticated methods of gold recovery were developed and later adopted around the world. New methods of transportation developed as steamships came into regular service. By 1869, railroads were built from California to the eastern United States. At its peak, technological advances reached a point where significant financing was required, increasing the proportion of gold companies to individual miners. Gold worth tens of billions of today’s US dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few, though many who participated in the California Gold Rush earned little more than they had started with.
1904 – Theodore Roosevelt articulated his “Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine, stating that the U.S. would intervene in the Western Hemisphere should Latin American governments prove incapable or unstable.
The Roosevelt Corollary was an addition to the Monroe Doctrine articulated by President Theodore Roosevelt in his State of the Union address in 1904 after the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903. The corollary states that the United States will intervene in conflicts between the European countries and Latin American countries to enforce legitimate claims of the European powers, rather than having the Europeans press their claims directly.
Roosevelt tied his policy to the Monroe Doctrine, and it was also consistent with his foreign policy included in his Big Stick Diplomacy. Roosevelt stated that in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine, the United States was justified in exercising “international police power” to put an end to chronic unrest or wrongdoing in the Western Hemisphere.
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Born On This Day
852 – Zhu Wen, Chinese emperor (d. 912)
Emperor Taizu of Later Liang (後梁太祖), personal name Zhu Quanzhong (朱全忠) (December 5, 852 – July 18, 912), né Zhu Wen (朱溫), name later changed to Zhu Huang (朱晃), nickname Zhu San (朱三, literally, “the third Zhu”), was a Chinese military general, monarch, and politician. He was a Jiedushi (military governor) and warlord who in 907 overthrew the Tang dynasty and established the Later Liang as its emperor, ushering in the era of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. The last two Tang emperors, Emperor Zhaozong of Tang (Li Jie) and Emperor Ai of Tang (Li Zuo), who “ruled” as his puppets from 903 to 907, were both murdered by him.
Zhu Wen initially served as a general under the rebel Huang Chao, but defected to the weakened Tang dynasty in 882. Taking advantage of the total chaos in the wake of Huang Chao’s defeat, Zhu Wen was able to conquer parts of central China after destroying warlords such as Qin Zongquan, Shi Pu, Zhu Xuan, and Zhu Jin, although most of Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Hebei remained outside his reach, controlled by rival states Qi, Jin, and Yan respectively. Most of his later campaigns were directed at the Shatuo-ruled Jin state (later to become the Later Tang) based in Shanxi, but they failed because of the Jin leaders, Li Keyong and his son Li Cunxu. Due to his emphasis on unifying the north, Taizu was not able to make any inroads into southern China. Southern China came to be controlled by about seven different states, and the ruler Yang Wu and Former Shu was not submissive to him.
Zhu Wen used a combination of strict enforcement, ruthless violence and solicitation to ensure his officers stayed loyal to him. Zhu Wen was also a notorious sexual predator who raped not only the wives of his officers Yang Chongben and Zhang Quanyi, but also his own daughters-in-law. Zhu Wen’s reign came to an end in 912 when he was murdered in his palace by his son Zhu Yougui, whom he begot with a prostitute.
1904 – Ève Curie, French-American journalist and pianist (d. 2007)
Ève Denise Curie Labouisse (French pronunciation: [ɛv dəniz kyʁi labwis]; December 6, 1904 – October 22, 2007) was a French and American writer, journalist and pianist. Ève Curie was the younger daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie. Her sister was Irène Joliot-Curie and her brother-in-law Frédéric Joliot-Curie. She worked as a journalist and authored her mother’s biography Madame Curie and a book of war reportage, Journey Among Warriors. From the 1960s she committed herself to work for UNICEF, providing help to children and mothers in developing countries. Ève was the only member of her family who did not choose a career as a scientist and did not win a Nobel Prize, although her husband, Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr., did collect the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 on behalf of UNICEF, completing the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes.
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