Thesis Title

The Early Development of Social and Economic Nativism in San Francisco and the Mining Regions of California 1848-1856

Graduation Date

Summer 1947

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Degree Granting Institution

Catholic University of America

Program Name



This essay treats of the social and economic aspects of the nativist movement which developed in central California concurrently with the discovery of gold in 1848. Much of the early anti-foreign activity centered around San Francisco, the depot of the mines, whose polyglot population roused considerable antagonism which led to abuse and attack. From San Francisco, the spirit of intolerance spread into the raining districts especially into those sections which were most thickly populated by Spanish Americans or Chinese.

The period covered by tide paper extends from the beginning of the gold rush with the consequent influx of a heterogeneous and unwieldy foreign population, to 1856, when most foreigners had either been forced out of the mines or had been so legislated against by discriminatory tax laws that they had been forced into other occupations, The Chinese alone remained in California in great numbers, but the activity against them abated before 1860 only to revived in the 1870s.

It has been the writer’s aim: 1 – to show that the early nativist movement in California was directed not, as was usual, in the eastern United States against the Irish and the Catholics, but against those nationalities that offered the greatest threat to the economic welfare and to the social position of the English-speaking miners; and 2 – to show that intolerance towards the foreign miners took the form of local and state legislation and that bigotry even let to unauthorized attacks by individuals or organized groups.

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