Gold Seeking: Victoria and California in the 1850s

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Stanford University Press, 1994 - History - 302 pages
"The brave independence of the 'roaring days', the camaraderie of the gold fields, jolly diggers on a spree - these are the images that have come down to us of the gold era of the 1850s in Australia and California. But these images were largely shaped decades later, by writers such as Henry Lawson and Bret Harte - they speak of later nostalgia rather than the experience of the time." "In this study of the contemporary response to the discoveries of gold in Victoria and California, David Goodman argues that people at the time were apprehensive about gold rushing, and the kind of society it seemed to prefigure. In the chaos of the gold rushes, individual self-interest seemed to be all that could motivate people to any exertion. And it was only the economic rationalists of the day - those who believed in political economy and its promise, that out of the confusion of individual self-interest would come some sort of social order - who could wholeheartedly endorse the gold rushes as events." "This is a history of the ways people talked about gold. As the first full-length cultural history of the gold rushes on two continents, it examines the meanings of gold at the time, and the narratives which were told about social disruption. It locates the deeper underlying themes in the response to gold. It also looks at the ways in which the dominant later memories of gold were shaped. And it is about national differences, about the construction of distinctive national cultures out of materials common to the British world. This book should be read not only by Australian and American historians but by anyone with an interest in the cultural history of modernity."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
 

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Contents

Understanding the gold rushes
1
Wealth and republicanism
46
Order
64
Agrarianism and pastoral
105
Domesticity
149
Excitement
188
Conclusion
220
Bibliography
269
Index
299
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

David Goodman teaches history and Australian studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

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