The year was 1858 and after four failed attempts North America and Britain were briefly connected via a transatlantic telegraph cable. Queen Victoria exchanged brief messages on August 16th, but the weak cable failed by early September. It would be another eight years before another cable linked the continents for good.
In British Columbia, when gold was found on the Fraser River, a flood of people poured into Victoria to obtain mining licenses and a tent town roared to life as businessmen swept in to serve the needs of the new residents of the area.
In the Rocky Mountains another gold rush was unfolding as a small group of gold seekers from Georgia set off for the Pike’s Peak area of what was then part of Kansas Territory–now in Colorado. A small amount of gold was discovered and that was all it took. Prospectors poured into the region and the cities of Denver and Boulder were formed.
Minnesota was admitted as the 32nd state in the Union in 1858 even as the country was headed towards Civil War. The slavery issue had brought the country to a boiling point and in Kansas violence was already breaking out over opposing views on slavery. Kansas was poised to attain statehood, but it would it enter as a slave or free state? With both sides eager to win Kansas, pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions had been sending supporters into the area to sway the vote in their favor. The two sides had been clashing in violence beginning in 1854, and in 1858 the massacre of eleven free state men by a gang of pro-slavery men outraged the nation.