Roaring Camp by Susan Lee Johnson
The Social World of the California Gold Rush

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Our collective memory "knows" about the Gold Rush: the mid-19th century Wild West where unshaven men named Stumpy and Kentuck raised hell and panned for gold. But this is not the whole story; which tells of a social vortex - multiracial, multiethnic, often homosocial - in which Frenchmen live alongside Anglos and Cherokee women. "Roaring Camp" explores the dynamic social world created by the Gold Rush in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In it we find Mexican families who worked the mines, did the wash and rose up against Anglo rule. There are the Miwok Indians who tried to maintain their traditions even while constructing the sawmill at Sutter's fort. We enter the all-male households of the diggings, the mines where the men worked and the fandango houses where they played. Johnson shows how this peculiar world evolved and how what we now know as the history of the Gold Rush took root.

About Susan Lee Johnson

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E. Patrick Johnson is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Mae G. Henderson is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Published February 1, 2000 by W. W. Norton & Company. 464 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Johnson looks beyond Harte’s tales of camaraderie to depict the California gold camps as hotbeds of ethnic and cultural strife, battlegrounds on which Anglo- Americans not only sought their personal fortunes but asserted political dominion over the region, newly conquered from Mexico, a task that...

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The California Gold Rush is commonly identified with the peculiarly American movement of Manifest Destiny, but as Johnson reveals in this informative study of the period, the Gold Rush was in fact one

Jan 31 2000 | Read Full Review of Roaring Camp: The Social Worl...

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