Past Events & Activities

Primary Sources

Tutorials

Lesson Plans

Links and Resources

Meet our partners
Staff/Management Plan
Contact Us!

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson Plans - The Gold Rush: Best Means to Travel to California

NAME OF LESSON:

The Gold Rush: Best Means to Travel to California

GRADE(S) DESIGNED FOR: 8th grade
TIME REQUIRED: 3-4 class periods (60 minute classes)

NAME OF AUTHOR:

Sharon McKellar
PRIMARY SALEM in History CORE THEME ADDRESSED:

An Industrious People: American Economic History

ADDITIONAL SALEM in History CORE THEME(S) ADDRESSED:

SALEM in History Topic Addressed:

“Westward Ho!”: Westward Migration in the 1840s and the 1850s: Who, Where, Why, How?

Lesson Summary | Frameworks | Essential Question(s) | Lesson Objectives
Historical Background Essay | Materials List and Pre-Arrangements/Preparations Needed
Vocabulary | Lesson Activities | Student Product or Performance
Assessment Criteria | Possible Modifications | Possible Extension Activities
Cross Curricular/Interdisciplinary Links/Activities | Sources and Resources
Additional Resources for Students and Teachers


LESSON SUMMARY:

In presenting the Gold Rush to California, the sea route is often overlooked. Rather, the focus is often placed on the wagon trains heading west to California. This lesson is intended to present both the sea and land routes, while answering such questions as: Why did people want to go to California? What was the best way to get there and why? The primary sources used include advertisements from the mid 19th century.  It is expected that the students will gain from this lesson a thorough understanding of the essential questions listed above and will be able to demonstrate such in PowerPoint presentations documenting their own journeys west.

^return to top

PRIMARY SOURCES & SOURCE TYPES USED in LESSON:

            Type: Clipper Cards and Broadsides

  • Silas Fish Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Tiber Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Cutwater Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Comet Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Daring Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum 1840-1860.
  • City of New = York Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.

In the Maritime industry, the Clipper cards were a graphic form of advertising cargo and passenger ships.  The cards employed vivid use of color to attract one’s eye, provided pictures of the ships, as well as offering a brief text to attract customers. Due to the high demand to reach California swiftly, the cards often printed the speed of the ship’s journey.  The small size of the cards allowed for easy transfer from advertisers to potential customers on the busy wharfs.

  • Broadside by San Francisco Herald Print. Great Clipper Trade Wind for Panama, ca. 1852. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum.
  • Broadside by Propeller Power Presses. Ship Duxbury for California. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1849.

The broadsides served as another form of advertising ship travel. These broadsides were printed on fabric and used both graphic images as well as printed text to attract customers to their ships. The Great Clipper Trade Wind for Panama was very adept at using color to gain the attention of passerby. The broadsides were much larger than the clipper cards, which provided the space to describe the length of the journeys, in addition to pricing and accommodations.

^return to top


ESSENTIAL QUESTION(S):

  • In 1849, why did people go to California?
  • Who went to California?
  • What was the best way to reach California from the East Coast?

^return to top


LESSON OBJECTIVES

LEARNING/CONTENT OBJECTIVES:

Students will explain who James Marshall and John Sutter were.  Students will identify two possible sea routes to get from Boston to California (via Cape Horn or Panama.)  Students will be able to identify one land route to get from Boston to California. Students will be able to explain the differences between the land and sea routes.

CONCEPT/SKILLS OBJECTIVES:

Students will compare the land and sea route, determining at least two strengths and two weaknesses of each. Students will search the advertisements to find similarities between the clipper ships. Students will analyze the advertisements to determine what was most important to people traveling on the clipper ships and brainstorm reasons as to why.

^return to top


CORRELATION WITH HISTORY STANDARDS FROM the 2003 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

MA FRAMEWORK STRAND: Grade 8

MA FRAMEWORK UNIT/THEME ADDRESSED: Westward Expansion

MA FRAMEWORK LEARNING STANDARD(S) ADDRESSED:

USI. 26 Describe the causes, course, and consequences of America’s westward expansion and its growing diplomatic assertiveness. Use a map of North America to trace America’s expansion to the Civil War, including the location of the Santa Fe and Oregon trails.

I. the search for gold in California

MA FRAMEWORK CONCEPT AND SKILLS STANDARD(S) ADDRESSED

GRADE AND SUBJECT: Grade 8 History and Geography

NUMBER(S) AND DESCRIPTION(S): 

1. Apply the skills of pre-K through grade seven.

8. Interpret the past within its own historical context rather than in terms of present-day norms and values.

^return to top


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND/CONTEXT ESSAY: 

            The year 1848 brought about great change for the United States. America now controlled most of the land between the East and West coasts.  However, there was nothing enticing people to make the move out west.  Why confront unknown dangers when one could survive in the comfort the settled East coast?  Few had ventured out to California as there were Native Americans one might encounter on the incredibly long journey to the Pacific.  What was powerful enough to persuade people to face the unfamiliar, difficult trip?  The discovery of gold!

            On January 24, 1848, James Marshall, who was foreman to John Sutter, found what appeared to be gold.  He and his employer verified that it was indeed the precious metal and tried to contain the information.  Yet, word soon spread, and people of all types began flocking to Sutter’s mill at a rate too great to ward off.1 There was great fortune to be made in panning for gold. There were also those who sought riches at Sutter’s Mill through other avenues.  Sam Brannan opened a store neighboring the mill and met with great financial success as he pandered to the needs of gold-seekers.  He sold picks, pans, and shovels, and made certain that word of the discovery spread.  Soon people were traveling to California in droves, some even deserting the army to do so.            

California seemed the place to be with gold ripe for the picking everywhere one looked.2 As it was clearly a first come, first serve market, it was obvious to all that if one wanted to gain a quick fortune mining gold, one needed to act quickly. While Americans had to compete with their fellow citizens to reach California swiftly, they were also racing against hundreds of thousands of immigrants from around the world. Thus, the clipper cards and broadsides were brought out to advertise the relatively fast journey to California by ship for those who could afford the passage.

1 Ward, Geoffrey C., The West: An Illustrated History, (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1996), 120.

2 Ibid.  121

^return to top

MATERIALS LIST AND PRE-ARRANGEMENTS/PREPARATION NEEDED

MATERIALS LIST:

  • Broadsides
  • Clipper Cards
  • Pennies (At least 100)
  • Graphic Organizer
  • Computer with internet and PowerPoint capabilities
  • Presentation Rubric
  • Atlases

PREPARATION:

  • Pre-teach vocabulary

 

^return to top

VOCABULARY:

    • Migrate
    • Frontier
    • Clipper Card
    • Clipper Ship
    • Panama
    • Cape Horn
    • Sutter’s Mill

^return to top


LESSON ACTIVITIES:

            Day 1: The teacher will spread out pennies in the front of the classroom before students arrive.  Upon arrival, students will be informed that there is money in the front of the classroom, and they are welcome to take as much as they can. After they have accumulated as many pennies as they can, they must return to their seats.

            After the students get back to their desks, the class will discuss what happened, and relate it to how people must have felt when they heard there was gold in California. See Discussion Questions for a list of possible guiding questions.

            Divide the students into groups of 3-4.  Each group will be given a copy of a different clipper card or broadside. They are to fill out one Sails Up worksheet per clipper card or broadside. The groups will exchange cards every five minutes. We will come together at the end of class and brainstorm the marketing strategy employed by the card publishers.

            Day 2: Class will commence with a discussion reviewing what had been done the previous day. In the computer lab or using laptop computers, the students will research the gold rush, mainly using a list of possible websites from the teacher (see Web Links page for list of internet sites.) The students will complete the Miners on the Go worksheet. Class will be concluded with a discussion about the discoveries made by students.

            Day 3: Students will design their own journey to California from Boston. The will outline their journey via ship or wagon on the Slide organization Sheet.

            Days 4-5: Students will complete their PowerPoint Presentations in the computer lab or on laptop computers describing and illustrating their journey west. Class will conclude with brief statements from all students regarding the mode of transportation chosen and reasons for doing so.

 
^return to top

ASSESSMENT/STUDENT PRODUCT or PERFORMANCE:

At the end of the lesson, students will gain an understanding the Articles of Confederation in the context of the 1780’s. They will choose relevant sources that show insight and historically pertinent information. They will have read, interpreted, and analyzed the primary sources that they have chosen. In addition, they will have written a Document-Based Question, which requires a sophisticated level of historical analysis. The attached assignment/rubric outlines the goals of the primary source activity and the DBQ.  Lastly, the students will have thought about and discussed the essential question: To what extent did the Articles of Confederation address the problems faced by the young nation and effectively set up a new government? This lesson will provide detailed information and background for understanding the development of the Constitution in 1787.

^return to top

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:

The students’ understanding of the Gold Rush will be assessed based on their PowerPoint presentations.  They are to include a title page, clearly state their mode of transportation, describe the route taken and difficulties encountered, and include at least three pictures.  They will conclude their presentations by analyzing their route.

^return to top


POSSIBLE MODIFICATIONS:           

Modifications can be made according to the student’s IEP.  Some students may also benefit from reduced assignments, or time extensions. Schools lacking in computer capabilities may choose to have the students write a story in place of the PowerPoint presentation.    

^return to top


POSSIBLE EXTENSION ACTIVITIES:

Advanced students who finish quickly could be given the task of searching reference books or the internet to determine what became of the majority of miners. Did most strike rich, or have little luck? How did the Gold Rush impact the settling of California and the types of people living there?

^return to top


CROSS CURRICULAR/INTERDISCIPLINARY LINKS/ACTIVITIES:

  • Many of the problems faced by the United States under the Articles were economic in origin.  It might be interesting/useful to link this to a basic economic lesson and define some key vocabulary such as inflation, depression, panic, supply, demand, etc.
  • Reading literature from the time period to understand the vision of the “founding fathers” in establishing a new government. (such as the Federalist Papers)

^return to top


SOURCES AND RESOURCES

PRIMARY SOURCES USED USED IN LESSON:

Clipper Cards and Broadsides

  • Silas Fish Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Tiber Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Cutwater Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Comet Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.
  • Daring Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum 1840-1860.
  • City of New York Clipper Card. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1840-1860.

    In the Maritime industry, the Clipper cards were a graphic form of advertising cargo and passenger ships. The cards employed vivid use of color to attract one’s eye.  They also presented images of the ships, as well as brief text to attract customers.  Due to the high demand to reach California swiftly, the cards often printed the speed of the ship’s journey. The small size of the cards allowed for easy transfer from advertisers to potential customers on the busy wharfs.

  • Broadside by San Francisco Herald Print. Great Clipper Trade Wind for Panama, ca. 1852. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum.
  • Broadside by Propeller Power Presses. Ship Duxbury for California. Salem, Peabody Essex Museum. 1849.

    The broadsides served as another form of advertising ship travel. These broadsides were printed on fabric and used both graphic images as well as printed text to attract customers to their ships.  The Great Clipper Trade Wind for Panama was very adept at using color to gain the attention of passerby.  The broadsides were much larger than the clipper cards, which provided more space to describe the length of the journeys, in addition to pricing and accommodations.

SECONDARY (PRINT) SOURCES USED IN LESSON:

(none)

WEB RESOURCES USED IN LESSON:

Websites suggested to students per discretion of teacher

 

SECONDARY (PRINT) SOURCES USED TO CREATE LESSON:

Ward, Geoffrey C. The West: An Illustrated History. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1996.

 

WEB RESOURCES USED TO CREATE LESSON:

(none suggested)

 

^return to top


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS AND/OR STUDENTS:

(none suggested)

 
^return to top