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The California Gold Rush

Shhh! Don't tell anybody about the gold! The folks at Fort Sutter are trying to keep this a secret for a few weeks as the Mexican territory of California transitions to a United States territory. God only knows what might happen if anyone found out that there is gold at Sutter's Mill. In the 1830s Yohan Suter arrived from Switzerland and changed his name to John Sutter. He settled in Mexico's California to establish New Switzerland which encompasses present day Sacramento and Yuba City. He builds Fort Sutter for protection against Indian attack. Settlers make it the first stop as they come over the Sierra Nevada mountains and New Switzerland prospers. Sutter needs lumber for expansion so he hires James Marshall to build a water-powered saw mill and that is where the problem starts. Marshall finds gold nuggets in the stream. So why is that a problem? John Sutter has been promoting the region as a place of agricultural riches.... not "riches" riches. He is wholly unprepared for the 300,000 people that will be arriving in California over the next 7 years looking for a fortune in gold and turning California into Swiss cheese as they dig the place up. In reality he has a year before the real rush begins. It won't be enough. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
If you recall early television programming there was some kid named Timmy who was always falling down a well or mine shaft, and his collie dog named Lassie would run for help. In California falling down a mine shaft remains a real danger in some areas. During the gold rush, if a miner was digging an exploratory shaft looking for gold, he didn't always bother to back-fill if he didn't find what he was looking for. In some areas the hills are riddled with tunnels intersecting each other like an underground city. The open shafts have long since been overgrown with brush. They are virtually invisible until it is too late, so the State of California has hired people to find these abandoned mines, map them and then fill them with an artificial mix that acts as both a plug for the hole and a marker. As a teenage boy I would camp around Yuba City every summer with our Boy Scout Troop. The region was part of the New Switzerland land grant. It is truly a beautiful place, but watch your step. OK? [5] [6]

Save Lives First, Obey Laws Second

The cholera epidemic has reached Lithuania on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Normally it is a day of fasting and prayer. No work is done. Even the hired help must rest, but the needs of the sick require that some people violate the rules. Not only must the sick violate the rules, but so should the healthy in order not to become sick from the cholera. It is too dangerous to weaken the body even for the sake of Heaven, so Rabbi Salanter stands before the congregation on the holiest day and eats. His congregation eats. To save a life is the law. [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. We are talking about emergencies here. One should not assume sub-standard preparations as a starting point. If you are storing medicines, make sure they are well within their expiration dates, and rotate them regularly but in an emergency we should not be spending a lot of time looking at expiration dates. Saving a life, even with out-of-date meds seems reasonable to me if I have nothing else. A while back I was listening to a TSP episode where Doc Bones was explaining how to stop bleeding and he mentioned a coagulant made from some sort of pork product. I am Jewish so that made me cringe a little. I know that some people would hesitate to use such a life-saving procedure simply because it contains pork, but the principle of saving a life applies. No one is asking me to EAT the coagulant, but simply apply it. If I need to apply it, that means something has gone VERY wrong so I should act without hesitation. This Friday's podcast comes before an important Jewish holiday of fasting, but saving a life still applies. I am actually ill, so I must eat. It's not exactly life and limb on the line, but a lot of leeway is given. I use my head. I live by certain rules, but I try not to die by them nor injure myself. All things in moderation. [8] [9]

In Other News

  • Associated Press is founded. People are starving for war news so several news agencies form a cooperative to save money. [10]
  • The cornerstone of the Washington Monument is laid. The capstone will be set in December of 1884 and dedicated early the following year. [11]
  • The Communist Manifesto is published. The world shudders. A lot of people are going to die for a principle that can't work without Divine intervention and they sure aren't going to ask for that. [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1848, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. California Gold Rush - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  2. Discovery of Gold. sfmuseum.org (1848). Retrieved on 12 August 2016. “It was a rainy afternoon when Mr. Marshall arrived at my office in the Fort, very wet. I was somewhat surprised to see him, as he was down a few days previous; and then, I sent up to Coloma a number of teams with provisions, mill irons, etc., etc. He told me then that he had some important and interesting news which he wished to communicate secretly to me, and wished me to go with him to a place where we should not be disturbed, and where no listeners could come and hear what we had to say. I went with him to my private rooms; he requested me to lock the door; I complied, but I told him at the same time that nobody was in the house except the clerk, who was in his office in a different part of the house; after requesting of me something which he wanted, which my servants brought and then left the room, I forgot to lock the doors, and it happened that the door was opened by the clerk just at the moment when Marshall took a rag from his pocket, showing me the yellow metal: he had about two ounces of it; but how quick Mr. M. put the yellow metal in his pocket again can hardly be described.”
  3. Sutter County, California - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 August 2016. “Sutter obtained the Rancho New Helvetia Mexican land grant, and called his first settlement New Helvetia (which included the present day city of Sacramento). In 1850, Sutter retired to Hock Farm when gold seekers deprived him of most of his holdings at Sacramento.”
  4. John Sutter - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 August 2016. “Sutter employed or enslaved Native Americans of the Miwok and Maidu tribes, the Hawaiians (Kanakas) he had brought, and also employed some Europeans at his compound. He envisioned creating an agricultural utopia, and for a time the settlement was in fact quite large and prosperous. Prior to the Gold Rush, it was the destination for most immigrants entering California via the high passes of the Sierra Nevada, including the ill-fated Donner Party of 1846, for whose rescue Sutter contributed supplies.”
  5. Lassie - Episode 251 - 'Fools Gold' - Season 7, Ep 32. YouTube (April 23, 1961). Retrieved on 12 August 2016. “Cully thinks the burro may know where John had his hidden gold mine, but when they do find and enter the mine, the timbers collapse around them with only Lassie able to help rescue the two.”
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: My remarks regarding the search for California Gold Rush mine shafts comes from watching a television special that followed a team on the search for such mines.
  7. Yisroel Salanter - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 June 2016. “Despite the prohibition against doing work on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), Rabbi Salanter set an example for the Lithuanian Jewish community during the cholera epidemic of 1848. He ensured that any necessary relief work on Shabbat for Jews was done by Jews. Although some wanted such work to be done on Shabbat by non-Jews, Rabbi Salanter held that both Jewish ethics and law mandated that the laws of the Torah must be put aside in order to save lives. During Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Rabbi Salanter ordered that Jews that year must not abide by the traditional fast, but instead must eat in order to maintain their health, again for emergency health reasons.”
  8. Tisha B'Av (Ninth [day of the month of Av) - Wikipedia] (2016). Retrieved on 12 August 2016. “The observance of the day includes five prohibitions, most notable of which is a 25-hour fast. The Book of Lamentations, which mourns the destruction of Jerusalem is read in the synagogue, followed by the recitation of kinnot, liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the Temples and Jerusalem. As the day has become associated with remembrance of other major calamities which have befallen the Jewish people, some kinnot also recall events such as the murder of the Ten Martyrs by the Romans, massacres in numerous medieval Jewish communities during the Crusades and The Holocaust.”
  9. Alex Shrugged notes: I did a quick scan of the TSP episodes looking for the exact one where Doc Bones was talking about bandaging but I couldn't find it. I know it is there, though.
  10. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 414-415. 
  11. Washington Monument - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 11 August 2016. “The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the first stone was laid atop the unfinished stump on August 7, 1880; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884; and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885.”
  12. The Communist Manifesto - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 21 July 2016. “Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London (in German as Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) just as the revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and then-present) and the problems of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.”

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