Hindus, Muslims, Persians, and Arabs in Gold Rush San Francisco

An 1851 San Francisco paper described a city of immigrants…

I found a lovely line in an 1851 San Francisco newspaper that celebrates the diversity of Gold Rush San Francisco—a boom town whose residents included “Hindoos” (South Asians), “Mussulmans” (Muslims), and people “from the fairy lands of Persia and Arabia”:

“In our streets, the fair European jostles with the swarthy Kanaka or the darker Hindoo; the pious Mussulman says his daily prayers, as he passes the churches of the Christian, the calculating German drives hard bargains with the volatile Frenchman, and the stiff made Yankee daily deals with the long-tailed Chinaman. Such an omnium gatherum of humanity was never before witnessed in the world history.”

In a time of accelerating racism and nativism, of hate crimes and Muslim Bans, these lines are a helpful reminder that San Francisco has always been a city of global economic migration—and that immigrants were a key part of why boosters saw the city as globally unique and important.

Daily Alta California, February 7 1851, page 2, column 4


Thank you to the California Digital Newspaper Collection for making these materials available.