In 1848, a carpenter found gold in a river in California. The news spread quickly, and soon prospectors from across the country were arriving to pursue their fortunes. This mass migration, known as the Gold Rush, reshaped the United States by drastically accelerating the immigration to the far West. It transformed American society, as many citizens embraced in California a newfound independence and release from traditions. Perhaps most importantly, it remolded the American character, turning a country of settled farmers into a nation of forward-thinking risk-takers. "The California Gold Rush" explores how this pivotal era introduced new ideas about work and wealth, luck and greed, and success and failure, into the way Americans looked at their lives, their livelihoods, and most of all, themselves.