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Swiss American Historical Society Review

Swiss American Historical Society Review

Authors

Keywords

Switzerland, Swiss history, European history

Abstract

The story of John August Sutter is an account of an ambitious individual who was motivated by opportunity, blinded by optimism and damned by destiny. John Sutter was trapped in an endless cycle of great triumph and failure throughout his life. As a Swiss immigrant to North America, Sutter was an influential figure in the history of the American Frontier, Mexican California, and the California Gold Rush. He was the quintessential foreign-born pioneer of the American West. Despite the antagonistic social, geographical, and legal forces, Sutter never lost his determination. Although he was one of the central agents in the start of the California Gold Rush, he was ultimately unable to capitalize on his findings. Ironically, the unearthing of gold at Sutter's Mill was the origin of his tragic downfall. Nevertheless, his position is undisputable: he was a giant of the American West.

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