The California Gold Rush forever transformed Americans' idea of success.
Before the Gold Rush, few Americans even aspired to achieve great wealth. Most Americans before 1849 dreamed not of opulence, but merely of holding enough land to maintain their families' independence from the need to work for wages.
The Gold Rush changed that. The lure of instant riches proved irresistible. Why spend a lifetime plowing the fields when a lucky strike could set up a man for life?
Gold Rush fever became the American dream. The spirit of the Forty-Niners lives on with us today, from Powerball drawings to IPOs on the stock exchange.
Who among us wouldn't heed the siren call of "Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River?"