While constructing a sawmill on John Augustus Sutter’s land north of Sacramento, carpenter James W. Marshall discovered flakes of gold on this day in 1848. The sawmill, on the South Fork of the American River, required a larger ditch to accommodate the water draining away from the waterwheel, so Marshall began to enlarge the existing space. Upon inspecting the results of a previous night’s excavation, he found gold.
Sutter and Marshall tried to keep the news of the find private, but word leaked and the California Gold Rush began. Gold seekers descended on Sutter’s property, destroying his land and robbing him of his livestock and possessions. By 1849, approximately 80,000 forty-niners had descended on the California gold fields, and by 1853, there were some 250,000 gold seekers. In the meantime, Sutter had moved elsewhere, attempting without success to obtain compensation from the U.S. government for his damaged property.
People go crazy over gold. They want to see it, touch it, and hold it. Mostly, they want to own it. And a little is never enough. We want stuff, and we never get enough of it.
There’s another lesson from the gold rush. Sutter and Marshall tried to hide the news of the gold find. But good news cannot be silenced. It is always worth talking about. That’s why Jesus commanded us to share the Good News in every place, every language, and in every way possible.
So share the Good News today – it’s good as gold.