AN AMAZING FACT: During the California Gold Rush, people often sent their clothes all the way to China to be laundered. It took three months to receive the clean clothes back … and longer if the ships encountered a typhoon.
In 1848, James Marshall found gold in the American River northeast of present-day Sacramento. Newspapers reported the discovery, but no one believed it until Sam Brannan flaunted a bottle of gold dust around San Francisco two months later. Then San Franciscans dashed inland. That summer, New York newspapers reported the find and the gold rush began.
Miners flooding into California envisioned wealth untold, but in reality, hard work, diminishing gold, and stiff competition awaited them. One wrote, “Mining is the hardest work imaginable. … A weakly man might as well dig his grave as dig for gold.”
Mining camps’ inflated prices required a miner to find a half-ounce of gold a day just to get by. A thousand dollars worth might emerge from a single pan, but few miners ever found that much. About 400,000 men from around the world thronged to California in the 1850s, but most of them returned home with less than what they’d arrived with. Despite finding the first nugget, Marshall died broke.
Chinese immigrants took over the minefields that white miners abandoned. Laundry was women’s work, so at first dirty clothes were sent to China. But the immigrants saw opportunity, and Chinese laundries popped up everywhere. Miners in Weaverville, California, ridiculed John for washing their clothing for free. But a year later, the immigrant sported a fancy wardrobe; he’d found his fortune in the miners’ pants cuffs!
The 49ers sought material wealth. Today, in the scramble to acquire our needs and wants, it’s easy to neglect what’s really important. But God promises that when we put Him first, our needs will be taken care of—and more!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Matthew 6:30Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? Matthew 6:31