HW Brands the Age of Gold Term Paper

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Brands, H.W. The Age of Gold. New York: Doubleday, 2002.

Get rich quick. This philosophy or fantasy can be seen everywhere today. It is seen in the eyes of the person who turns the slot machine in Atlantic City. It is seen in the sight of people lining up in front of a 7-11 several states away because the 'Power ball' jackpot has hit record highs. It can even be seen in the example of those ordinary investors who lost their shirts in the 1990's heady stock boom and bust. And it was seen, and originates in the Gold Rush of the 19th century, says author and historian H.W. Brands in his book The Age of Gold.

America has always been a place of freedom, a lack of pretension, and thus of easier enrichment, in the eyes of many. But the traditional American dream and Puritanical work ethic held that America was a place where one had to work hard to
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succeed and change one's economic and perhaps social status. However, H.W. Brands' The Age of Gold suggests that the Gold Rush created a new American dream where hard work was not necessary. Simply by finding gold in a pan, one could become rich, and not only rich, but socially respectable and even as elite in attitude, like the golden aristocrats of Europe. Also, enrichment was not something built over time through creating an economic foundation for one's family -- enrichment through the discovery of gold could be sudden as well as permanently life transforming. It did not occur in the context of an agricultural community, providing services to a community. It occurred in marginal space, that of the gold mining town, that was set up haphazardly.

By necessity, the discovery of gold occurred through geographical relocation to a rough area, that of California, usually, which was like the ends of the earth to many Americans of the era. This made the dream of the 19th century Gold…

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