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Global History of Gold Rushes$
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Benjamin Mountford and Stephen Tuffnell

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520294547

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520294547.001.0001

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Gold and the Public in the Nineteenth-Century Gold Rushes

Gold and the Public in the Nineteenth-Century Gold Rushes

(p.65) Three Gold and the Public in the Nineteenth-Century Gold Rushes
Global History of Gold Rushes

David Goodman

University of California Press

In the great nineteenth-century British world cycle of gold rushes, individualist wealth seeking became associated with democratic politics, and views about the public rather than private benefits of gold became increasingly the preserve of conservatives. In Georgia, governor George Gilmer declared in 1830 that the gold diggers were “appropriating riches to themselves, which of right equally belong to every other citizen of the state,” but he soon suffered electoral defeat. In 1850s California and Australia, individual miners were rapidly associated with a democratic and egalitarian future, even with the public good. This helps explain the oddly uncontested decisions to allow mining on public—and, in many places, private—land and use of public resources such as timber and water. This chapter is by David Goodman.

Keywords:   gold rush, Georgia, Australia, California, public sphere, public, private, democracy, settler society

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