In 1828, gold was discovered near present-day Dahlonega, Georgia. This was the first major gold rush in the United States. Unfortunately, for the Cherokee, the gold was discovered on Cherokee land. The Dahlonega Gold Rush brought a huge influx of miners, as well as increased pressure from Georgia, who wanted to fully control the Cherokee lands which were within the state’s borders.
President Andrew Jackson supported Georgia’s aspirations to control Cherokee land, and in 1830 he drafting the Indian Removal Act, which paved the way for Indian removal west. In 1838, the Cherokee removal (also known as the Trail of Tears) began, and in that same year Dahlonega, which is Cherokee for “yellow money,” became a branch mint of the United States Mint.
The Dahlonega Gold Rush was just the first American gold rush though, and by 1849, the Dahlonega Mint assayor Dr. M. F. Stephenson was trying to persuade miners not to rush west to California by saying, “There’s gold in them thar hills.” It didn’t work. Many of the Georgia miners traveled west to become the famous 49ers of the California Gold Rush. True to history, the indigenous population in California was decimated by the effects of the mining. They fell victim to diseases brought by the miners, as well as starvation due to the new competition for food sources and pollution of the water which killed fish and other livestock. Additionally, in California, the enslavement and trafficking of Native Americans was legal and commonly practiced.
Photos Copyright Christina Berry, All Things Cherokee
Dahlonega, Georgia Travel Details
The Dahlonega Gold Museum is open Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $4.50-$7.00.
Directions: Dahlonega, Georgia is north of Atlanta. Take highway 19 north and follow the signs to the Dahlonega Gold Museum. For specific directions, click the “Directions” link in the location bubble of the map above and enter your starting location on the left.
GPS & Map: 34.53252807572764,-83.98485660552979