Historians agree that ultimately, the search for gold settled Colorado. Everything traces back to the bank-caused Panic of 1857 that impoverished the Northeast and Midwest. [The South had few banks then to fail.]

Why They Came

Historians agree that ultimately, the search for gold settled Colorado. Everything traces back to the bank-caused Panic of 1857 that impoverished the Northeast and Midwest. [The South had few banks then to fail.] Ultimately, Andrew Jackson caused that panic,and he was President because of a fluke of history.

Jackson was the hero of the Battle of New Orleans January 8, 1815. The battle was meaningless because the War of 1812 had ended December 24, 1814 but word hadn’t reached Jackson by the time of the battle. It made him a hero in the hearts of the common man leading to his election to the presidency in 1829.

Peerless in battle, he was feckless in politics and is credited with creating the “spoils system,” and defying a direct order of the Supreme Court order by removing the Five Civilized Tribes over the Trail of Tears to Indian Territory. He is credited with starting the Democratic Party in response to what he considers John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay stealing his election in 1824 when he won a plurality of both the popular and electoral ballots. He is the only president to completely pay off the national debt. [Ahem!]

Because of his animus toward Clay, sponsor of the bill to re-charter the Second Bank of the U.S., Jackson vetoed it, thereby killing it. Subsequently, nationwide bank panics occurred routinely every few years until WWII. The Panic of 1857 impoverished masses of common folks in the Northeast and Midwest, and in 1859 an estimated 150,000 fled in desperation to Colorado thinking, “There’s gold in them thar hills.” It took only $75 for a wagon and $125 for a team to go. [Creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 began control of the financial system.]

On his way to gold in California in 1850, Lewis Ralston stepped off his wagon train to dip his pan in what became Ralston Creek near present day Arvada, a western suburb of Denver. Finding $5 worth of nuggets he noted it in his journal and 8 years later on his return from California resumed his search for placer gold. This time he found it and exaggerated rumors of his find started the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. [It was misnamed for Pike’s Peak 70 miles south.] Miners followed creeks having placer nuggets upstream in search of the lode gold in the mountains. After yielding hundreds of tons of gold, most mining towns died by WWII with some reborn as tourist attractions.

The beauty and majesty of the Rockies, self-evident in the cards here, resulted from the clash and chaos of earth’s tectonic plates. The trials and tragedies of individuals and nations often are the catalyst of needed changes that ultimately bless. [Social Security, product of Jackson’s party and today the sole income of 42% of Social Security recipients, was created during and because of the Great Depression.]

[1] Brown, R.J., The Great Pikes Peak Gold Rush, Caxton:Caldwell, Id., 1985,42, 53.