The Gold Rush and the American Dream The most significant legacy of the California Gold Rush can be found in its utter transformation of the American Dream. In the early nineteenth century, the United States was an overwhelmingly rural society , and the prevailing republican ideology of the time reflected the country's agrarian orientation. The American Dream, as most then understood it, was not to win fabulous wealth, but rather to achieve "competency"—the independence that came from owning enough land to support a large family, free from debt or ignoble dependency on wage labor for sustenance. Industriousness, prudence, and frugality—not enterprise or speculation—were the traits that would allow a man to achieve his competency, maintain it, and pass it on to his children. From Seeking Competency to Striking It Rich Throughout the early nineteenth century, this American Dream of the yeoman farmer became
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This note was uploaded on 01/04/2012 for the course AMH AMH2010 taught by Professor Pietrzak during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.