This article presents the California Gold Rush as an ideological battleground. The 1848 discovery of gold in California and the 1848 Revolutions in France launched an influx of French argonauts with expectations of equal opportunities and individual rights common to both nations’ ideologies. In the accounts of four bourgeois French observers of the Gold Rush, this article finds America’s promise falling short of practice as nativism barred European foreigners from the equal fruits of free enterprise.

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