Golden State Origins

DATELINE:  Miners Balls

Miners ball

When you say, The Gold Rush, everyone thinks of Chaplin’s silent comedy, but in 2005 PBS put out one of its patented documentaries entitled The Gold Rush.

As with the American Experience TV series, you may have top-notch quality with the caster oil of political correctness. So, it is here. However, they avoid discussing the all-male miners’ balls and possible transgenderism.

What starts out as an exciting adventure in American history quickly devolves into genocide, misuse of women, exclusion of minorities, and lynch mobs.

Well, in 1849 in a matter of months, California became an American territory, discovered gold ready for anyone to find along river banks, and was 90% men under age 30. You don’t have to have lived in a college dorm to know what this means.

Only, think of it on a grand scale. Debauchery unlimited, booze, and gambling among the hard work and hard luck days.

It is an experiment in America for sure: the 49ers were the first truly multi-cultural group with a shocking attitude that America was the place for get-rich-quick schemes and a democratic competition.

You could see it would end nearly as abruptly as it started, but for a few years before it went sour with anti-immigrant laws and unruly lynch mobs, you had a great American adventure.

The documentary does all the production just right: use of dramatic readings, use of original photos, news clips, interspersed with re-enactors in accurate costume and setting.

Some matters are deeply troubling, like the genocide of Native American Californians and the expulsion of South American prospectors.

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