According to the author, what was the biggest factor in spreading the news about the California Gold Rush?

The man who walked down the streets with a vial of gold
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An article in The New York Herald
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Marshall’s announcement that he had seen gold in the American River
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The first newspaper article
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The correct option is A An article in The New York Herald
The tricky part of this question is that it asks what was the biggest factor in spreading the news about the Gold Rush. If you miss those two keywords, you might easily have answered this question incorrectly. You’ll find that the key sentence is the first line of paragraph 3, which tells us that the Herald‘s announcement was the “tipping point.” If you weren’t sure about this answer, you could check the numbers given in the passage, which are easy to skim for and roughly correspond to the different events listed. When you do that, you’ll see that before the announcement (paragraph 2), there were about 4,000 people panning for gold; after (paragraph 3), 30,000 people traveled west. This was definitely the biggest factor of those listed!

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Read the following passage and answer the question that follows.

Many people have heard of the California gold rush, which took place in the 1840s and 1850s, less than a century after the United States declared its independence. However, fewer realize that the gold rush was started by only two men—two men who would end up having a huge impact on the demographics of the state. While constructing a sawmill for John Sutter, the founder of a colony near Coloma, California, that he called Nueva Helvetica, carpenter John Wilson Marshall saw gold flakes in the American River. Marshall and Sutter decided that they wouldn’t share the news with anyone, but the resolution didn’t hold for long. Sutter’s discovery occurred in January 1948; by the middle of March, the presence of gold on Sutter’s land had made it into the newspapers.

Still, most people did not believe the news, until one man took a vial containing gold he’d found at “Sutter’s Creek” through the streets of Nueva Helvetica. The impact of this one event was enormous: three months later, 75% of men from San Francisco (at the time, known as Yerba Buena) were working in the gold mines. There were more than 4,000 people panning for gold by August of that year, when the New York Herald reported the discovery.

The Herald‘s announcement proved to be the tipping point of the gold rush. Many people gambled significant amounts of money and property on the venture, borrowing, mortgaging homes, and leaving their families to find their fortune in California. A reported 30,000 people traveled west across the United States to California in the spring of 1849 alone. Others traveled by water, an immense undertaking that involved sailing through Panama or even around the southern end of South America.

According to the passage, what was the major significance of the California gold rush?

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