March 09, 2017

Today in History: Gold discovery in California leads to... U.S. Civil War? (1842)

John RobsonArchive

On March 9 1842 gold was discovered in California which caused the United States Civil War. 

Not directly, immediately or all by itself, of course.

But the knock-on effect of the California gold rush, the Compromise of 1850, the best-selling polemic Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the violence in “Bleeding Kansas”, the election of Lincoln and the attack on Fort Sumter proves the law of Unanticipated Consequences to go with that of unintended ones.

And underlines that since we cannot possibly predict the result of actions or events we should guide ourselves by principles like “slavery is wrong” instead of making compromises that bury them.

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commented 2017-03-10 03:08:26 -0500
Maybe Professor Robson can do a video on transportation in the olden days.
commented 2017-03-10 00:50:21 -0500
“They subordinated principle to expediency”. Great line, Professor.
Should be the motto of the Liberal Party of Canada.
commented 2017-03-09 17:21:38 -0500
Most informative. I like my history. Thanks for the great video!
commented 2017-03-09 16:56:33 -0500
Ditto what Maurice said. As usual John, thankyou.
commented 2017-03-09 14:44:23 -0500
Great information, John, Thanks. I’ve always been fascinated by the US civil war and all the events leading up to it, it’s aftermath and how it shaped America. Abraham Lincoln is probably the only politician that I admire without any caveats or reservations. The California gold rush was something I had never considered as a catalyst for the civil war. Because of this video, my knowledge base of that time period in US history has just grown. So, thanks again.