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News & Tall Tales. 1800s.


Bridge to the Castle.

A World in Turmoil

Thursday, November 8, 1849, Alta California, San Francisco

The Eastern World

A moment’s pause, a breathing spell, a stay of the strong arm dealing death, and sowing broadcast the seeds of disease and affliction, seems to have again occurred in the history of the world, and never was mortal called upon to contemplate a more truly mournful spectacle than is here, in the interim of rapid changing events, in this the nineteenth century presented.

War, famine, and pestilence, a terrible firm, have indeed been busy, and myriad’s of victims, of every character, complexion and tongue, have been borne down by the breath of the destroyer, until nations are bowed in mourning humiliation and prayer, and the lamentations of a chastened people resound throughout all Europe and unite with the wail of distress on our own Atlantic shores.

San Francisco Bay 1800s.

San Francisco, California

From the Alta California: "From January 1, 1849 to April 11, 1849, there were a great many arrivals by sea, including at least 3,000 seamen who abandoned their ships upon reaching San Francisco.

Americans 62,000
Californians 13,000
Foreigners 18,500
TOTAL 94,000

That dreaded scourge which has visited nearly ever section of the eastern world, and converted the blooming fields of our beloved native land into places of sepulture, sullenly relaxes its fearful grasp, as a huge serpent unfastens its deadly coil, and the glutted monster returns on the charnel horse track, marked by its earlier scenes of carnage, or perhaps to survey fresh fields of slaughter.

It is gradually disappearing from America, without having visited her western shores in that malignant form, or with that fatality which marks its course elsewhere, and never were a people more especially blessed, nor given a truer cause for devout thankfulness to the Almighty, than the inhabitants, the swarming population of the south-western coast, or the thousands assembled in this promising land of wealth, under the free flag of our country.


Tycoons.All About America: Gold Rush and RichesGold Rush and Riches.
Paul Robert Walker
Meticulously researched, with specially-commissioned illustration, detailed reconstructions and original artwork from each period, reading lists, and resources for further study, this is an immersive introduction to the history that shaped America. In 1848, carpenter James Marshall made a chance discovery: a few shiny flakes-of gold in a riverbed he was digging. Within a year 800,000 gold-seekers from all over the world were on their way to California. The Gold Rush was on.

Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in AmericaTycoons.
Jonathan Levy
Until the early nineteenth century, "risk" was a specialized term: it was the commodity exchanged in a marine insurance contract. Freaks of Fortune tells the story of how the modern concept of risk emerged in the United States. Born on the high seas, risk migrated inland and became essential to the financial management of an inherently uncertain capitalist future. Focusing on the hopes and anxieties of ordinary people, Jonathan Levy shows how risk developed through the extraordinary growth of new financial institutions - insurance corporations, savings banks, mortgage-backed securities markets, commodities futures markets, and securities markets - while posing inescapable moral questions. At the heart of risk's rise was a new vision of freedom. To be a free individual, whether an emancipated slave, a plains farmer, or a Wall Street financier, was to take, assume, and manage one's own personal risk. Yet this often meant offloading that same risk onto a series of new financial institutions. Levy traces the fate of a new vision of personal freedom, as it unfolded in the new economic reality created by the American financial system.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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