Gold Rush Manliness
Race and Gender on the Pacific Slope
- PUBLISHED: November 2018
- SUBJECT LISTING: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Pacific Northwest / History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 288 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 7 b&w illus., 2 maps
- SERIES: Emil and Kathleen Sick Book Series in Western History and Biography
- ISBN: 9780295744131
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
The mid-nineteenth-century gold rushes bring to mind raucous mining camps and slapped-together cities populated by carousing miners, gamblers, and prostitutes. Yet many of the white men who went to the gold fields were products of the Victorian era: educated men who valued morality and order. Examining the closely linked gold rushes in California and British Columbia, historian Christopher Herbert shows that these men worried about the meaning of their manhood in the near-anarchic, ethnically mixed societies that grew up around the mines. As white gold rushers emigrated west, they encountered a wide range of people they considered inferior and potentially dangerous to white dominance, including Latin American, Chinese, and Indigenous peoples.
The way that white miners interacted with these groups reflected their conceptions of race and morality, as well as the distinct political principles and strategies of the US and British colonial governments. The white miners were accustomed to white male domination, and their anxiety to continue it played a central role in the construction of colonial regimes. In addition to renovating traditional understandings of the Pacific Slope gold rushes, Herbert argues that historians’ understanding of white manliness has been too fixated on the eastern United States and Britain. In the nineteenth century, popular attention largely focused on the West. It was in the gold fields and the cities they spawned that new ideas of white manliness emerged, prefiguring transformations elsewhere.
Authors & Contributors
Christopher Herbert is associate professor of history at Columbia Basin College.
Herbert has ably demonstrated how [race and gender] operated in mid-nineteenth century gold rush societies in ways that enabled the dominance of one class of men over others.- The Ormsby Review
A compelling survey of gender, race, labour, and politics, Gold Rush Manliness should be read by scholars interested in the cultural logic of settler colonialism in western history.- BC Studies
Herbert’s style is eminently readable and concise, while his arguments are thought-provoking and engaging. Gold Rush Manliness is an excellent read for those interested in gender and identity in nineteenth-century North America.- Journal of Arizona History
[I]nsightful study...a major step forward.- American Historical Review
[A] welcome addition to the still nascent field of masculinity studies. Packed with useful observations about midnineteenth-century manliness, race history, and the relationship between different western rushes, the book is written in an engaging andjargon-free style and is useful to undergraduate and graduate students as well as lay readers- Oregon Historical Quarterly
This book adds a new level of sophisticated understanding to the gold rushes as well as the history of race and masculinity in the West. The stories about race in British Columbia are especially compelling and insightful.- Kathryn Morse, author of The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush
Vivid and lively, Gold Rush Manliness portrays the California and British Columbia gold rushes as contested, global events that tested and transformed emigrants and natives alike. This is Western History at its very best.- Joshua Paddison, author of American Heathens: Religion, Race, and Reconstruction in California
Gold Rush Manliness revives and transforms the field of gender history in the nineteenth-century North American West. By recasting western gold rushes as important moments in the expansion of settler colonialism, Christopher Herbert constructs a sharp new analysis of how American and British imperial projects remade, and unmade, the meanings of manhood and whiteness in this era.- Stacey L. Smith, author of Freedom's Frontier: California and the Struggle over Unfree Labor, Emancipation, and Reconstruction