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Title: History of the State of California - From the Period of the Conquest by Spain to her Occupation - by the United States of America
Author: Frost, John T.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the State of California - From the Period of the Conquest by Spain to her Occupation - by the United States of America" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation, spelling, and accents in the original document
  have been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.
  California place names were left as printed, regardless of inconsistencies
  or apparent misspellings.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  Page 17:  Aurquoises changed to turquoises
  Page 64:  "ancle" was the spelling in the quoted text
  Page 376:  United Ship Cyane should possibly be United States Ship
  Page 393:  1st U. Dragoons should possibly be 1st U.S. Dragoons
  Appendix C and E not labeled
             Appendix C presumed to be the "MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT"
             Appendix E presumed to be the "despatch of General Persifor
             F. Smith"


     -- OF THE --



     -- ALSO, --




     NEW YORK:

     24-26 WOOSTER ST., N.Y.


The occupation of California by the people of the United States, and
the discovery of its rich gold mines, form a new era in the history of
the world. According to present appearances, these events forebode a
complete revolution in monetary and commercial affairs. The receipts
of gold from California have already produced a sensible effect on the
financial affairs of our country; and far-seeing people predict an
entirely new state of things with respect to the relative value of
money and property.

Still more important effects are anticipated from the establishment of
a new, rich, and enterprising State of the American Union on the
shores of the Pacific. Railroads across the continent will soon
transport the rich products of Eastern Asia, by a quick transit, to
the Atlantic cities and to Europe; and a passage to China or India,
which was formerly a serious undertaking, will become a pleasant

To gratify the public curiosity with respect to the history and
present state of this new member of the Union, is the purpose of this
volume. In preparing it, the author has passed rapidly over the early
history, and dwelt chiefly on recent events, and the actual state of
the country, as he considered that, by this course, utility would be
more effectually consulted.

In the Appendix he has introduced the constitution of California, and
some official documents, whose importance demanded their preservation
in a permanent form.


     CHAPTER I.                                              Page
     GEOGRAPHICAL OUTLINE OF CALIFORNIA                         7

     DISCOVERY OF CALIFORNIA                                   11


     STATES AND MEXICO                                         24


     DISCOVERY OF THE GOLD PLACERS                             36

     WITH MINING                                               56

     MINES                                                     87

     THE FORMATION OF A STATE GOVERNMENT                      118

     PRESENT STATE OF CALIFORNIA                              132

     CHARACTERS                                               181

     CALIFORNIA                                               218


     ADDITIONAL RECENT EVENTS                                 243


     NATURAL HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA                            275

     APPENDIX                                                 287




The territory called California is that part of North America situated
on the Pacific Ocean, and extending from the 42° of north latitude
southwardly to 22° 48', and from 107° longitude, west from Greenwich,
to 124°. It is bounded on the north by Oregon territory, east by
territories belonging to the United States and the Gulf of California,
and on the south and west by Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. California
is naturally divided into two portions; the peninsula, called Lower
California, and the territory extending northward from the peninsula,
on the Pacific Ocean, called Upper California. The line of division
between Upper and Lower California runs nearly along the 32d parallel
of latitude, westward from the head of the Gulf of California.

The peninsula of California is about one hundred and thirty miles in
breadth, where it joins the continent. It extends south-eastwardly,
generally diminishing in breadth, till it terminates in two points.
The point farthest south-west is called Cape San Lucas. The other,
sixty miles east by north of San Lucas, is called Cape Palmo. The
peninsula is about seven hundred miles long.

Upper California extends, upon the Pacific, from the 32d parallel of
latitude, northward to the 42d parallel, a distance of about seven
hundred miles. It is separated from Oregon by a range of highlands,
called the Snowy Mountains, or, by the Spaniards, the Sierra Nevada.
The eastern limit of Upper California is rather uncertain. By some it
is considered as including the region watered by the Colorado River,
while others limit it by the great mountain range that extends along
the western side of the continent.

The Californian peninsula seems to be a prolongation of the great
western chain of mountains. It consists entirely of high, stony
ridges, separated by sandy valleys, and contains very few tracts of
level ground. In a general view, it might be termed an irreclaimable
desert. The scarcity of rain and the small number of springs of water,
with the intense heat of the sun's rays, uninterrupted in their
passage, render the surface of the country almost destitute of
vegetation. Yet in the small oases formed by the passage of a rivulet
through a sandy defile, where irrigation is possible, the ground may
be made to produce all the fruits of tropical climes, of the finest
quality, and in great quantity. The southern portion of the peninsula
contains several gold mines, which have been worked, though not to any
great extent. On the Pacific side, the coast offers many excellent
harbors, but the lack of fresh water near them proves an obstacle in
the way of their occupation. The principal harbors are the Bay of la
Magdalena, separated from the ocean by the long island of Santa
Margarita, the Bay of Sebastian Vizcaino, east of the Isle of Cedaro,
Port San Bartolomé, sometimes called Turtle Bay, and Port San Quintin,
a good harbor, with fresh water in the vicinity, and called by the
Spanish navigators the Port of the Eleven Thousand Virgins.

The great westernmost range of mountains runs northward from the
peninsula, nearly parallel with the Pacific coast, to the 34th
parallel of latitude, below which is Mount San Bernardin, one of the
highest peaks in California, about forty miles from the ocean. Farther
northward, the space between the mountains and the coast becomes
wider, and, in a few places, reaches eighty miles. The intermediate
region is traversed by lines of hills, or smaller mountains joined
with the great range. The most considerable of the inferior ridges
extends from Mount San Bernardin to the south side of the entrance of
the Bay of San Francisco, where it is called the San Bruno Mountains.
Between this range and the coast runs the Santa Barbara range,
terminating at the Cape of Pines, on the south-west side of the Bay of
Monterey. Bordering on the Bay of San Francisco, on the east side, is
the Bolbona ridge. Beyond these are lines of highlands which stretch
from the great chain and terminate in capes on the Pacific.

There are many streams among the valleys of Upper California, some of
which, in the rainy season, swell to a considerable size. But no
river, except the Sacramento, falling into the Bay of San Francisco,
is known to flow through the maritime range of mountains, from the
interior to the Pacific. The valleys thus watered offer abundant
pasturage for cattle.

The principal harbors of Upper California are those offered by the
Bays of San Francisco, Monterey, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, and San
Diego. The Bay of San Francisco is one of the finest harbors in the
world. The combined fleets of all the naval powers of Europe might
there find safe shelter. It is surrounded by ranges of high hills, and
joins the Pacific by a passage two miles wide and three in length. The
other harbors can only be frequented in the fine season, and afford a
very insecure shelter for vessels. San Diego is the farthest south.
The bay at that place runs ten miles eastward into the land, and is
separated from the ocean by a ridge of sand. Proceeding northward,
about seventy miles, the Bay of San Pedro is next met. It is open to
the south-west winds, but sheltered from the north-west. About a
hundred miles north-west of San Pedro, is the harbor of Santa Barbara.
It is an open roadstead sheltered from the north and west winds, but
exposed to the violence of the south-westerly storms, which prevail
during the greater part of the year. A hundred miles farther north is
the Bay of Monterey. It is extensive, and lies in an indentation of
the coast, somewhat semicircular. The southernmost portion is
separated from the ocean by the point of land ending at the Cape of
Pines. In the cove thus formed, stands the town of Monterey, for some
time the capital of California. The harbor affords but a poor shelter
from storms.

The Sacramento and San Joachim are the principal rivers of California,
but the Sacramento alone is navigable to any extent worthy of mention.
There are numerous small streams and lakes in the interior, the
principal outlet of which is the Colorado River. The valleys through
which these streams flow are fertile, and afford good pasture for
cattle; but the remainder of the region between the maritime and the
Colorado ranges of mountains is a barren waste of sand.



The first exploration of the Pacific coasts of North America was made
by the Spaniards, in the sixteenth century. After Hernando Cortes had
completed the conquest of Mexico, he commenced exploring the adjoining
seas and countries; no doubt, with the hope of discovering lands
richer than those which he had conquered, and which would afford new
fields for the exercise of his daring enterprise and undaunted
perseverance. He employed vessels in surveying the coasts of the
Mexican Gulf, and of the Atlantic more northerly. Vessels were built
upon the Pacific coast for like purposes, two of which as early as
1526, were sent to the East Indies.

The first expedition of the Spaniards, sent along the western coast of
Mexico, was conducted by Pedro Nunez de Maldonado, an officer under
Cortes. He sailed from the mouth of the Zacatula River, in July, 1528,
and was six months engaged in surveying the shores from his
starting-place to the mouth of the Santiago River, a hundred leagues
farther north-west. The territory he visited was then called Xalisco,
and inhabited by fierce tribes of men who had never been conquered by
the Mexicans. Flattering accounts of the fertility of the country and
of the abundance of the precious metals in it were brought back by the
expedition, and these served to excite the attention of the Spaniards.
When the expedition returned Cortes was in Spain, whither he had gone
to have his title and powers more clearly defined. He returned in 1530
with full power to make discoveries and conquests upon the western
coast of Mexico. From the opposition of his enemies, he was prevented
from fitting out an expedition before 1532. The most northern post
upon the Pacific coast, occupied by the Spaniards, was Aguatlan,
beyond which the coast was little known.

The expedition sent by Cortes to the north-western coast of Mexico was
commanded by his kinsman, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. It sailed from
Tehuantepec in July, 1532, and consisted of two vessels; one commanded
by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza in person, and the other by Juan de
Mazuela. Mendoza proceeded slowly along the shore of the continent as
far as the 27° of latitude, where, his crew being mutinous, he sent
back one of his vessels with the greater part of his men, and
continued the voyage with the remaining vessel. Vague reports were
afterwards received that Mendoza's vessel was thrown ashore somewhere
to the northward, and that all on board had perished. The vessel which
was sent back, was stranded near the mouth of the River Vanderas, and
after the murder of the greater part of the crew, she was plundered by
Nuno de Guzman, Governor of Xalisco. About the middle of the next
year, Cortes received the news of the return of the vessel which
Mendoza had sent back, and he immediately despatched two ships under
the command of Hernando Grijalva and Diego Becerra, in search of the
other. These ships sailed on the 30th of September, 1533, but were
soon separated. Grijalva discovered the islands of St. Thomas, as he
called them--a group of islands about fifty leagues from the coast. He
remained there till the following spring, and then returned home.
Becerra proceeded north-westward; but his crew mutinied, and he was
murdered by Fortuno Ximenes. The mutineers, under Ximenes, then
steered directly west from the main land, and soon reached a coast not
known to them before. They landed, and soon after Ximenes and nineteen
men were killed by the natives. The rest of the men carried the vessel
over to Xalisco, where she was seized by Nuno de Guzman.

Soon after these unlucky expeditions, Nuno de Guzman sent out several
exploring parties in a northerly direction, one of which traced the
western shore as far as the mouth of the Colorado, and brought back
accounts of a rich and populous country and splendid cities in the
interior. When Cortes became acquainted with the seizure of his
vessels, a dispute arose between him and Nuno de Guzman, which almost
led to a battle between their forces. But no action occurred, and
Cortes, having heard of the newly discovered country, which was said
to abound in the finest pearls, embarked at Chiametla, with a portion
of his men, and set sail for the new land of promise. On the 3d of
May, 1535, the day of the Invention of the Holy Cross, according to
the Roman Catholic Calendar, Cortes arrived in the bay where Ximenes
and his fellow-mutineers had met their fate in the previous year. In
honor of the day, the place was called Santa Cruz, and possession of
it was taken in the name of the Spanish sovereign.

The country claimed by Cortes for Spain, was the south-east portion of
the peninsula, which was afterwards called California. The bay, called
by Cortes, Santa Cruz, was, perhaps, the same now known as Port La
Paz, about a hundred miles from the Pacific, near the 24th parallel of
latitude. Cortes landed on the shore of this bay, rocky and forbidding
as it appeared, with a hundred and thirty men, and forty horses. He
then sent back two of his ships to Chiametla, to bring over the rest
of his troops. The vessels soon returned with a portion of the troops,
and being again despatched to the Mexican coast, only one of them
returned. The other was wrecked on her way. Cortes then took seventy
men and embarked for Xalisco, from which he returned just in time to
save his troops from death by famine. A year was spent in these
operations, and the troops began to grow discontented. A few pearls
had been found on the coast, but the country was found to be barren,
and without attractions for Spaniards.

In the mean time, the wife of Cortes hearing reports of his ill
success, sent a vessel to Santa Cruz, and entreated him to return. He
then learned that he had been superseded in the government of New
Spain by Don Antonio de Mendoza, who had already entered the capital
as viceroy. Cortes returned to Mexico, and soon after, recalled the
vessels and troops from Santa Cruz.

The viceroy, Mendoza, had received some information concerning the
country north-west of Mexico, from de Cabeza-Vaca and two other
Spaniards, who had wandered nine years, through forests and deserts,
from Tampa Bay, Florida, until they reached Culiacan. They had
received from the natives, accounts of rich and populous countries
situated to the north-west. Mendoza, wishing to ascertain the truth of
the reports, sent two friars, according to the advice of Las Casas, to
make an exploration. They were accompanied by a Moor who had crossed
the continent with Cabeza-Vaca and his friends, and they set out from
Culiacan on the 7th of March, 1539.

Soon after the departure of the friars, Cortes sent out his last
expedition. It was commanded by Francisco de Ulloa, and consisted of
three vessels, well equipped. Sailing from Acapulco, on the 8th of
July 1539, Ulloa reached the Bay of Santa Cruz, after losing one of
his vessels in a storm. From Santa Cruz he started to survey the coast
towards the north-west. He completely examined both shores of the Gulf
of California, and discovered the fact of the connection of the
peninsula with the main land, near the 32° of latitude. This gulf
Ulloa named the Sea of Cortes. On the 18th of October, he returned to
Santa Cruz, and on the 29th again sailed with the object of exploring
the coasts farther west. He rounded the point now called Cape San
Lucas, the southern extremity of California, and sailed along the
coast towards the north. The Spaniards proceeded slowly, as they were
opposed by north-western storms, and often landed and fought with the
natives. In January, 1540, Ulloa reached the island under the 28th
parallel of latitude, near the coast, which they named the Isle of
Cedars. There he remained till April, when one of the ships, bearing
the sick and accounts of the discoveries, was sent back to Mexico. The
returning vessel was seized at Santiago by the officers of the
viceroy. The fate of the remaining vessel is uncertain. Some of the
writers of that day asserting that he continued his voyage as far
north as the 30° of latitude, and returned safely to Mexico; while one
asserts that nothing more was heard of him after the return of the
vessel he sent back.

In the mean time, the two friars and the Moor penetrated a
considerable distance into the interior of the continent, and sent
home glowing accounts of rich and delightful countries which they said
they had discovered. The inhabitants had, at first, been hostile, and
had killed the Moor; but in the end submitted to the authority of the
King of Spain. Mendoza, believing the accounts of the friars to be
strictly true, prepared an expedition for the conquest of the
countries they described. Disputes with the different Spanish
chieftains occupied some months, at the end of which Cortes returned
to Spain, in disgust. Mendoza despatched two bodies of troops, one by
land, the other by sea, to reconnoitre the newly discovered land, and
clear the way for conquest. The marine expedition was undertaken by
two ships, under the command of Fernando de Alarcon, who sailed from
Santiago on the 9th of May, 1540, and proceeding north-west along the
coast, he reached the head of the California Gulf, in August of the
same year. There he discovered the river now called the Colorado. The
stream was ascended to the distance of eighty leagues, by Alarcon and
some of his men, in boats; but all their inquiries were
unsatisfactorily answered, and it was determined to return to Mexico.
The vessels returned safely before the end of the year.

The land forces sent, at the same time, to the north-west, were
composed of infantry and cavalry, and commanded by Francisco Vasquez
de Coronado, who had been appointed governor of New Gallicia, in place
of Nuno de Guzman. The party left Culiacan on the 22d of April, 1540,
and took their way north, following the course described by the
friars. They found the route which had been represented as easy,
almost impassable. They made their way over mountains, and deserts,
and rivers, and, in July, they reached the country called Cibola by
the natives, but found it a half cultivated region, thinly inhabited
by a people destitute of the wealth and civilization they had been
represented as possessing. What had been represented as seven great
cities, were seven small towns, rudely built. A few turquoises and
some gold and silver supposed to be good, constituted the amount of
what had been termed immense quantities of jewels, gold and silver.
The Spaniards took possession of the country and wanted to remain and
settle there. But Vasquez refused to acquiesce; and after naming one
of the towns he visited, Granada, he started for the north-west, in
search of other countries. The region called Cibola by the
inhabitants, which Vasquez visited, is the territory now called
Sonora, and is situated about the head waters of the Rivers Yaqui and
Gila, east of the upper portion of the Gulf of California. The
movements of the Spaniards after leaving Cibola, in August, 1540, have
been the subject of very vague and contradictory accounts. All that is
certain is, that the greater part of the force soon returned to
Mexico, and that Vasquez, with the remainder, wandered through the
interior for nearly two years longer, when, being disappointed in his
expectations, he returned to Mexico in 1542.

In the spring of 1542, two vessels were placed under the command of
Juan Roderiguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator of great reputation.
The two vessels sailed from Navidad, a small port in Xalisco, in June,
1542. They rounded Cape San Lucas, and proceeded north-west, along the
coast, as far as the 88th degree of latitude, when he was driven back,
and took refuge in a harbor of one of the San Barbara islands. There
Cabrillo died and the command devolved on Bartolome Ferrelo. Ferrelo
was a zealous and determined man, and he resolved to proceed with the
expedition. He sailed towards the north, and on the 26th of February,
reached a promontory near the 41st parallel of latitude, which he
named Stormy Cape. On the 1st of March, the ships reached the 44th
parallel, but they were again driven south; and the men being almost
worn out, Ferrelo resolved to go back to Mexico. He arrived at Navidad
on the 14th of April, 1543. The promontory called Stormy Cape by
Ferrelo, was the most northern portion of California visited by that
navigator, and it is probably the same which is now called Cape

From all accounts that they had been able to collect, the Spaniards
concluded that neither rich and populous countries existed beneath the
40th parallel of latitude, nor was there any navigable passage between
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to be found in the same region. They,
therefore, ceased to explore the north-western territory for some time
after the return of Ferrelo in 1543.

Having thus given a somewhat detailed account of the discovery and
explorations of the territory now called California, it will be
sufficient to merely mention the various expeditions that visited it
prior to the first regular settlement. In the spring of 1579,
California was visited by Sir Francis Drake, the English navigator,
who landed on the shores of a bay supposed to be that of San
Francisco. He formally took possession of the country in the name of
Queen Elizabeth, and called it New Albion. He left California on the
22d of July, 1579. In the spring of 1596, Sebastian Viscaino, under
orders from the viceroy of Mexico, attempted to plant colonies on the
peninsula of California, but the country was soon abandoned on account
of the barrenness of the soil and the ferocity of the natives.
Viscaino visited the coast of Upper California in 1602, and discovered
and named some of the places Cabrillo had discovered and named long
before. The Port San Miguel of Cabrillo was named Port San Diego; Cape
Galera was named Cape Conception, the name now borne by it; the Port
of Pines was named Port Monterey. This was the last expedition made by
the Spaniards along the coast of California for more than a hundred
and sixty years.

Various attempts were made to establish colonies, garrisons, and
fishing or trading ports, on the eastern side of the peninsula of
California, during the seventeenth century, but all failed, either
from the want of funds, the sterility of the country, or the hostility
of the natives. The pearl fishery in the gulf was the principal bait
that attracted the Spaniards, and they succeeded in obtaining a
considerable quantity, some of which were very valuable.



The first establishment of the Spaniards in California, was made by
the Jesuits, in November, 1697. The settlement was called Loreto, and
founded on the eastern side of the peninsula, about two hundred miles
from the Pacific. On entering California, the Jesuits encountered the
same obstacles which had before prevented a settlement of the country.
The land was so sterile, that it scarcely yielded sustenance to the
most industrious tiller, and as the settlements were all located near
the sea, fishing was the resource of the settlers to make up the
deficiency of food. The natives continued hostile, and killed several
of the Jesuit fathers. By perseverance and kindness, the Jesuits
overcame all the obstacles with which they met, and within sixty years
after their entrance into California, they had established sixteen
missions, extending along the eastern side of the peninsula, from Cape
San Lucas to the head of the gulf. Each of these establishments
consisted of a church, a fort, garrisoned by a few soldiers, and some
stores and dwelling-houses, all under the control of the resident
Jesuit father. Each of the missions formed the centre of a district
containing several villages of converted Indians. None of the Jesuits
visited the western coast of the peninsula except on one occasion, in

Great exertions were made by the settlers to acquire a knowledge of
the geography, natural history and languages of the peninsula, and
they appear to have been generally successful. The result of their
researches were published in Madrid, in 1757, and the work was
entitled a "History of California." They surveyed the whole coast of
the Gulf of California, and, in 1709, Father Kuhn, one of the Jesuit
fathers, ascertained beyond doubt the connection of the peninsula with
the continent, which had been denied for a century. But all the labors
of the Jesuits were brought to an end in 1767. In that year, Charles
III. of Spain, issued a decree, banishing members of that order from
the Spanish territories; and a strong military force, under command of
Don Gasper de Portola, was despatched to California, and soon put an
end to the rule of the Jesuits by tearing them from their converts.

The Spanish government did not intend to abandon California. The
peninsula immediately became a province of Mexico, and was provided
with a civil and military government, subordinate to the viceroy of
that country. The mission fell under the rule of the Dominicans, and
from their mode of treatment, most of the converts soon returned to
their former state of barbarism. The Spaniards soon formed
establishments on the western side of the peninsula. In the spring of
1769, a number of settlers, with some soldiers and Franciscan friars,
marched through the peninsula towards San Diego. They reached the bay
of San Diego after a toilsome journey, and the settlement on the shore
of the bay was begun in the middle of May, 1769. An attempt was made,
soon after, to establish a colony at Port Monterey; but the party
under Portola that went in search of the place, passed further on to
the bay of San Francisco, and could not retrace their steps before the
cold weather set in, and they then returned to San Diego. The people
left at San Diego had been several times attacked by the natives, and
after the return of Portola's party they almost perished for want of
food. But a supply arrived on the very day upon which they had agreed
to abandon the place and return to Mexico. Portola again set out for
Monterey, and there effected a settlement. Parties of emigrants from
Mexico came to the western shore of California during the year 1770,
and establishments were made on the coast between San Diego and
Monterey. The multiplication of their cattle, independent of the
fruits of agricultural labor, before 1775, made the settlers of Upper
California able to resist the perils to which their situation exposed

In order to give efficiency to the operations on the western coast of
North America, the Spanish government selected the port of San Blas,
in Mexico, at the entrance of the Gulf of California, for the
establishment of arsenals, ship-yards and warehouses, and made it the
centre of all operations undertaken in that quarter. A marine
department was created for the special purpose of advancing the
interests of the Spaniards in the settlement of the western shore of
California. By the energy displayed in managing this department the
Spaniards succeeded in making eight establishments on the Pacific
coast between the California peninsula and Cape Mendocino, before
1779. The most southern post was San Diego, and the most northern, San
Francisco, on the great bay of the same name. The establishments were
almost entirely military and missionary, the object of the Spaniards
being solely the occupation of the country. The missions were under
the control of the Franciscans, who, unlike the Jesuits, took little
care to exert themselves in procuring information concerning the
country in which they were established.

Various expeditions for exploring the coast of Upper California above
Cape Mendocino, were made by the Spaniards. One of these proceeded as
far north as the latitude of 41 degrees, and some men were landed on
the shores of a small bay, just beyond Cape Mendocino, and gave the
harbor the name of Port Trinidad. The small river which flows into the
Pacific near the place where they landed was called Pigeon River, from
the great number of those birds in the neighborhood of it. The Indians
appeared to be a peaceable and industrious race, and conducted
themselves towards the Spaniards in the most inoffensive manner. In
the same year, 1775, Bodega, a Spanish commander, returning from a
voyage extended as far north as the 58th degree of latitude,
discovered a small bay which had not previously been described, and he
accordingly gave it his own name, which it still retains. This Bay of
Bodega is situated a little north of the 38th degree of latitude.

Few events worth recording occurred in California, during the whole
period of fifty years, from the first establishment of the Spaniards
on the western coast till the termination of the Mexican war of
independence. An attempt of the Russians to form a settlement on the
shores of the Bay of Bodega, in 1815, was met with a remonstrance from
the governor of California. The remonstrance of the governor was
disregarded, and his commands to quit the place disobeyed. The Russian
agent, Kushof, denied the right of the Spaniards to the territory, and
the governor being unable to enforce his commands, the intruders kept
possession of the ground until 1840, when they left of their own



Before the commencement of the struggle for independence in Mexico,
the missions in California were, to some extent, fostered by the
Spanish government, and supplies were sent to them regularly. But when
the war began, the remittances were reduced, and the establishments
soon began to decay. After the overthrow of the Spanish rule, in 1822,
the territory of California was divided into two portions. The
peninsula was then called Lower California, and the whole of the
continental territory called Upper California. When the Mexicans
adopted a constitution, in 1824, each of these territories became
entitled to send one representative to the National Congress. At the
same time, the adult Indians who could be considered civilized, were
declared citizens of the republic, and had lands given to them. This,
of course, freed them from submission to the missionaries, who, thus
deprived of their authority, either returned to Spain or Mexico, or
took refuge in other lands. The Indians being free from restraint,
soon sank to a low depth of barbarism and vice.

Immediately after the overthrow of the Spanish authorities, the ports
of California began to be the resort of foreigners, principally
whalers and traders from the United States. The trade in which they
engaged, that of exchanging manufactured goods for the provisions,
hide and tallow furnished by the natives, was at first irregular, but
as it increased, it became more systematic, and mercantile houses were
established in the principal ports. The Mexican government became
dissatisfied with this state of things, and ordered the governor of
Upper California to enforce the laws which prohibited foreigners from
entering or residing in the territories of Mexico without a special
permission from the authorities. Accordingly, in 1828, a number of
American citizens were seized at San Diego, and kept in confinement
until 1830. In that year, an insurrection broke out, headed by General
Solis, and the captured Americans were of some assistance in
suppressing it, and, in consideration of their services, they were
permitted to leave the territory.

The Mexican government strove to prevent the evils expected to flow
from the presence of numbers of foreigners in California, by
establishing colonies of their own citizens in the territory. A number
of persons were sent out from Mexico, to settle on the lands of the
missions, but they never reached their destination. The administration
which originated the scheme was overthrown, and the new authorities
ordered the settlers to be driven back to Mexico. In 1836, the federal
system was abolished by the Mexican government, and a new constitution
adopted, which destroyed all state rights, and established a central
power. This was strenuously resisted in California. The people rose,
and drove the Mexican officers from the country, declaring that they
would remain independent until the federal constitution was restored.
The general government issued strong proclamations against the
Californians, and sent an expedition to re-establish its authority.
But General Urrea, by whom the expedition was commanded, declared in
favor of the federalists, and the inhabitants governed themselves
until July, 1837, when they swore allegiance to the new constitution.

Things went on quietly in California until 1842. In that year,
Commodore Jones, while cruising in the Pacific, received information
which led him to believe that Mexico had declared war against the
United States. He determined to strike a blow at the supposed enemy,
and, accordingly, he appeared before Monterey, on the 19th of October,
1842, with the frigate United States and the sloop-of-war Cyane. He
demanded the surrender of all the castles, posts, and military places,
on penalty, if refused, of the visitation of the horrors of war. The
people were astonished. A council decided that no defence could be
made, and every thing was surrendered at once to the unexpected
Americans. The flag of the United States was hoisted, and the
commodore issued a proclamation to the Californians, inviting them to
submit to the government of the United States, which would protect
them in the exercise of their rights. The proclamation was scarcely
issued, before the commodore became aware of the peaceable relations
existing between the United States and Mexico, and he accordingly
restored the possession of Monterey to the authorities, and retired
with his forces to his ships, just twenty-four hours after the
surrender. This affair irritated the inhabitants considerably, and,
no doubt, tended to increase the ill-feeling before existing between
Mexico and the people of the United States.



War was declared by Mexico against the United States, in May, 1846.
The same month, orders were transmitted to Commodore Sloat, commanding
the Pacific squadron, instructing him to protect the interests of the
citizens of the United States near his station, and to employ his
forces to the best advantage in operations directed against the
Mexican territory on the Pacific. The fleet under Commodore Sloat was
the largest the Americans ever sent to that quarter, and the men were
anxious to commence active operations. Soon after receiving his first
orders, the commodore was again instructed to take and keep possession
of Upper California; or, at least, of the principal ports.

On the 8th of June, Commodore Sloat left Mazatlan, in the flag-ship
Savannah, and on the 2d of July, reached Monterey, in Upper
California. There he found the Cyane and Levant, and learned that the
Portsmouth was at San Francisco, as previously arranged. On the
morning of the 7th, Captain Mervine was sent to demand the surrender
of Monterey. The Mexican commandant replied that he was not authorized
to surrender the place, but referred Commodore Sloat to the
commanding-general of California. A force of two hundred and fifty
marines and seamen was immediately landed, under Captain Mervine, and
they marched to the custom-house. There they hoisted the American flag
amid cheers and a salute of twenty-one guns. The proclamation of
Commodore Sloat was then read and posted about the town.

After taking possession of Monterey, Commodore Sloat despatched a
courier to the commanding-general of California, summoning him to
surrender every thing under his control in the country, and assuring
him of protection if he should comply. The general refused, and said
he would defend the country as long as he could reckon on a single
person to join his cause. A summons to surrender was also sent to the
governor of Santa Barbara, but no answer was returned. Orders were
despatched to Commander Montgomery, in the Portsmouth, at San
Francisco, directing him to take possession of the Bay of San
Francisco, and hoist the flag of the United States at Yerba Buena.

On the 9th of July, the day after the receipt of his orders,
Montgomery landed at Yerba Buena with seventy seamen and marines, and
hoisted the American flag in the public square, amid the cheers of the
people. A proclamation was then posted to the flag staff, and
Montgomery addressed the people. The greater part of the seamen and
marines then returned to the ship, leaving Lieutenant H. B. Watson
with a small guard, formally installed as military occupant of the
post. Thirty-two of the male residents of Yerba Buena were enrolled as
a volunteer corps, choosing their own officers. Lieutenant Missroon
was despatched with a small party of these volunteers to reconnoitre
the Presidio and fort. He returned the same day, and reported that
the Presidio had been abandoned, and that the fort, seven miles from
the town, was dilapidated and mounted only a few old pieces of cannon.
The flag of the United States had been displayed from its ramparts. On
the 11th, Montgomery informed Commodore Sloat that the flag of the
United States was then flying at Yerba Buena, Sutter's Fort, on the
Sacramento, Bodega, on the coast, and Sonoma. The inhabitants of these
places appeared to be satisfied with the protection afforded them by
the Americans.

On the 13th of July, Commodore Sloat sent a flag to the foreigners of
the pueblo of San Jose, about seventy miles from Monterey, in the
interior, and appointed a justice of the peace in place of the
alcaldes. On the 15th, Commodore Stockton arrived at Monterey, in the
frigate Congress; and Commodore Sloat being in bad health, the command
devolved upon Stockton, and Sloat returned home. The operations of
Commodore Stockton, from the 23d of July to the 28th of August, 1846,
have been rapidly sketched by himself in his despatches to the
secretary of the navy. From these we condense a short account.

On the 23d of July, the commodore organized the "California Battalion
of Mounted Riflemen." Captain Fremont was appointed major, and
Lieutenant Gillespie captain of the battalion. The next day, they were
embarked on board the sloop-of-war Cyane, Commander Dupont, and sailed
from Monterey for San Diego, in order to land south of the Mexican
force, consisting of 500 men, under General Castro, well fortified at
a place three miles from the city. A few days afterwards, Commodore
Stockton sailed in the Congress for San Pedro, thirty miles from
Monterey, and having landed, marched for the Mexican camp. When he
arrived within twelve miles of the Mexicans, they fled in small
parties, in different directions. Most of the principal officers were
afterwards taken, but the mounted riflemen not getting up in time,
most of the men escaped. On the 13th of August, Commodore Stockton
being joined by eighty riflemen, under Major Fremont, entered the
capital of California, Ciudad de los Angeles, or the "City of the
Angels." Thus, in less than a month after Stockton's assuming command,
the American flag was flying from every commanding position in
California, conquered by three hundred and sixty men, mostly sailors.

The form of government established in California, after the conquest,
was as follows: The executive power was vested in a governor, holding
office for four years unless sooner removed by the President of the
United States. The governor was to reside in the territory, be
commander-in-chief of the army thereof, perform all the duties of a
superintendent of Indian affairs, have a pardoning and reprieving
power, commission all persons appointed to office under the laws of
said territory, and approve all laws passed by the legislature before
they took effect. There was the office of the Secretary of the
Territory established, whose principal duty was to preserve all the
laws and proceedings of the legislative council, and all the acts and
proceedings of the governor. The legislative power was vested in the
governor and a council of seven persons, who were to be appointed by
the governor at first, and hold their office for two years; afterwards
they were to be elected by the people. All the laws of Mexico, and the
municipal officers existing in the territory before the conquest,
were continued until altered by the governor and council.

On the 15th of August, 1846, Commodore Stockton adopted a tariff of
duties on all goods imported from foreign parts, of fifteen per cent.
ad valorem, and a tonnage duty of fifty cents per ton on all foreign
vessels. On the 15th of September, when the elections were held,
Walter Colton, the chaplain of the frigate Congress, was elected
Alcalde of Monterey. In the mean time, a newspaper called the
"Californian," had been established by Messrs. Colton and Semple. This
was the first newspaper issued in California.

Early in September, Commodore Stockton withdrew his forces from Los
Angeles, and proceeded with his squadron to San Francisco. Scarcely
had he arrived when he received intelligence that all the country
below Monterey was in arms and the Mexican flag again hoisted. The
Californians invested the "City of the Angels," on the 23d of
September. That place was guarded by thirty riflemen under Captain
Gillespie, and the Californians investing it numbered 300. Finding
himself overpowered, Captain Gillespie capitulated on the 30th, and
thence retired with all the foreigners aboard of a sloop-of-war, and
sailed for Monterey. Lieutenant Talbot, who commanded only nine men at
Santa Barbara, refused to surrender, and marched out with his men,
arms in hand. The frigate Savannah was sent to relieve Los Angeles,
but she did not arrive till after the above events had occurred. Her
crew, numbering 320 men, landed at San Pedro and marched to meet the
Californians. About half way between San Pedro and Los Angeles, about
fifteen miles from their ship, the sailors found the enemy drawn up on
a plain. The Californians were mounted on fine horses, and with
artillery, had every advantage. The sailors were forced to retreat
with a loss of five killed and six wounded.

Commodore Stockton came down in the Congress to San Pedro, and then
marched for the "City of the Angels," the men dragging six of the
ship's guns. At the Rancho Sepulvida, a large force of the
Californians was posted. Commodore Stockton sent one hundred men
forward to receive the fire of the enemy and then fall back upon the
main body without returning it. The main body was formed in a
triangle, with the guns hid by the men. By the retreat of the advance
party, the enemy were decoyed close to the main force, when the wings
were extended and a deadly fire opened upon the astonished
Californians. More than a hundred were killed, the same number
wounded, and their whole force routed. About a hundred prisoners were
taken, many of whom were at the time on parole and had signed an
obligation not to take up arms during the war.

Commodore Stockton soon mounted his men and prepared for operations on
shore. Skirmishes followed, and were continually occurring until
January, 1847, when a decisive action occurred. General Kearny had
arrived in California, after a long and painful march overland, and
his co-operation was of great service to Stockton. The Americans left
San Diego on the 29th of December, to march to Los Angeles. The
Californians determined to meet them on their route, and decide the
fate of the country in a general battle. The American force amounted
to six hundred men, and was composed of detachments from the ships
Congress, Savannah, Portsmouth and Cyane, aided by General Kearny,
with sixty men on foot, from the first regiment of United States
dragoons, and Captain Gillespie with sixty mounted riflemen. The
troops marched one hundred and ten miles in ten days, and, on the 8th
of January, they found the Californians in a strong position on the
high bank of the San Gabriel river, with six hundred mounted men and
four pieces of artillery, prepared to dispute the passage of the
river. The Americans waded through the water, dragging their guns with
them, exposed to a galling fire from the enemy, without returning a
shot. When they reached the opposite shore, the Californians charged
upon them, but were driven back. They then charged up the bank and
succeeded in driving the Californians from their post. Stockton, with
his force, continued his march, and the next day, in crossing the
plains of Mesa, the enemy made another attempt to save their capital.
They were concealed with their artillery in a ravine, until the
Americans came within gun-shot, when they opened a brisk fire upon
their right flank, and at the same time charged both their front and
rear. But the guns of the Californians were soon silenced, and the
charge repelled. The Californians then fled, and the next morning the
Americans entered Los Angeles without opposition. The loss of the
Americans in killed and wounded did not exceed twenty, while that of
their opponents reached between seventy and eighty.

These two battles decided the contest in California. General Flores,
governor and commandant-general of the Californians, as he styled
himself, immediately after the Americans entered Los Angeles, made his
escape and his troops dispersed. The territory became again tranquil,
and the civil government was soon in operation again in the places
where it had been interrupted by the revolt. Commodore Stockton and
General Kearny having a misunderstanding about their respective
powers, Colonel Fremont exercised the duties of governor and
commander-in-chief of California, declining to obey the orders of
General Kearny.

The account of the adventures and skirmishes with which the small
force of United States troops under General Kearny met, while on their
march to San Diego, in Upper California, is one of the most
interesting to which the contest gave birth. The party, which
consisted of one hundred men when it started from Santa Fé, reached
Warner's rancho, the frontier settlement in California, on the Sonoma
route, on the 2d of December, 1846. They continued their march, and on
the 5th were met by a small party of volunteers, under Captain
Gillespie, sent out by Commodore Stockton to meet them, and inform
them of the revolt of the Californians. The party encamped for the
night at Stokes's rancho, about forty miles from San Diego.
Information was received that an armed party of Californians was at
San Pasqual, three leagues from Stokes's rancho. A party of dragoons
was sent out to reconnoitre, and they returned by two o'clock on the
morning of the 6th. Their information determined General Kearny to
attack the Californians before daylight, and arrangements were
accordingly made. Captain Johnson was given the command of an advance
party of twelve dragoons, mounted upon the best horses in possession
of the party. Then followed fifty dragoons, under Captain Moore,
mounted mostly on the tired mules they had ridden from Santa Fé--a
distance of 1050 miles. Next came about twenty volunteers, under
Captain Gibson. Then followed two mountain howitzers, with dragoons to
manage them, under charge of Lieutenant Davidson. The remainder of the
dragoons and volunteers were placed under command of Major Swords,
with orders to follow on the trail with the baggage.

As the day of December 6th dawned, the enemy at San Pasqual were seen
to be already in the saddle, and Captain Johnson, with his advance
guard, made a furious charge upon them; he being supported by the
dragoons, the Californians at length gave way. They had kept up a
continual fire from the first appearance of the dragoons, and had done
considerable execution. Captain Johnson was shot dead in his first
charge. The enemy were pursued by Captain Moore and his dragoons, and
they retreated about half a mile, when seeing an interval between the
small advance party of Captain Moore and the main force coming to his
support, they rallied their whole force, and charged with their
lances. For five minutes they held the ground, doing considerable
execution, until the arrival of the rest of the American party, when
they broke and fled. The troops of Kearny lost two captains, a
lieutenant, two sergeants, two corporals, and twelve privates. Among
the wounded were General Kearny, Lieutenant Warner, Captains Gillespie
and Gibson, one sergeant, one bugleman, and nine privates. The
Californians carried off all their wounded and dead except six.

On the 7th the march was resumed, and, near San Bernardo, Kearny's
advance encountered and defeated a small party of the Californians who
had taken post on a hill. At San Bernardo, the troops remained till
the morning of the 11th, when they were joined by a party of sailors
and marines, under Lieutenant Gray. They then proceeded upon their
march, and on the 12th, arrived at San Diego; having thus completed a
march of eleven hundred miles through an enemy's country, with but one
hundred men. The force of General Kearny having joined that of
Commodore Stockton, the expedition against Los Angeles, of which we
have given an account in this chapter, was successfully consummated,
and tranquillity restored in California. General Kearny and Commodore
Stockton returned to the United States in January, 1847, leaving
Colonel Fremont to exercise the office of governor and military
commandant of California. No further events of an importance worth
recording occurred till the treaty of peace between the United States
and Mexico.



By the treaty concluded between the United States and Mexico, in 1847,
the territory of Upper California became the property of the United
States. Little thought the Mexican government of the value of the land
they were ceding, further than its commercial importance; and,
doubtless, little thought the buyers of the territory, that its soil
was pregnant with a wealth untold, and that its rivers flowed over
golden beds.

This territory, now belonging to the American Union, embraces an area
of 448,961 square miles. It extends along the Pacific coast, from
about the thirty-second parallel of north latitude, a distance of near
seven hundred miles, to the forty-second parallel, the southern
boundary of Oregon. On the east, it is bounded by New Mexico. During
the long period which transpired between its discovery and its cession
to the United States, this vast tract of country was frequently
visited by men of science, from all parts of the world. Repeated
examinations were made by learned and enterprising officers and
civilians; but none of them discovered the important fact, that the
mountain torrents of the Sierra Nevada were constantly pouring down
their golden sands into the valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin.
The glittering particles twinkled beneath their feet, in the ravines
which they explored, or glistened in the watercourses which they
forded, yet they passed them by unheeded. Not a legend or tradition
was heard among the white settlers, or the aborigines, that attracted
their curiosity. A nation's ransom lay within their grasp, but,
strange to say, it escaped their notice--it flashed and sparkled all
in vain.[1]

The Russian American Company had a large establishment at Ross and
Bodega, ninety miles north of San Francisco, founded in the year 1812;
and factories were also established in the territory by the Hudson Bay
Company. Their agents and _employes_ ransacked the whole country west
of the Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Mountain, in search of game. In 1838,
Captain Sutter, formerly an officer in the Swiss Guards of Charles
X., King of France, emigrated from the state of Missouri to Upper
California, and obtained from the Mexican government a conditional
grant of thirty leagues square of land, bounded on the west by the
Sacramento river. Having purchased the stock, arms, and ammunition of
the Russian establishment, he erected a dwelling and fortification on
the left bank of the Sacramento, about fifty miles from its mouth, and
near what was termed, in allusion to the new settlers, the American
Fork. This formed the nucleus of a thriving settlement, to which
Captain Sutter gave the name of New Helvetia. It is situated at the
head of navigation for vessels on the Sacramento, in latitude 38° 33'
45" north, and longitude 121° 20' 05" west. During a residence of ten
years in the immediate vicinity of the recently discovered _placéras_,
or gold regions, Captain Sutter was neither the wiser nor the richer
for the brilliant treasures that lay scattered around him.[2]

In the year 1841, careful examinations of the Bay of San Francisco,
and of the Sacramento River and its tributaries, were made by
Lieutenant Wilkes, the commander of the Exploring Expedition; and a
party under Lieutenant Emmons, of the navy, proceeded up the valley of
the Willamette, crossed the intervening highlands, and descended the
Sacramento. In 1843-4, similar examinations were made by Captain,
afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, of the Topographical Engineers,
and in 1846, by Major Emory, of the same corps. None of these officers
made any discoveries of minerals, although they were led to
conjecture, as private individuals who had visited the country had
done, from its volcanic formation and peculiar geological features,
that they might be found to exist in considerable quantities.[3]

As is often the case, chance at length accomplished what science had
failed to do. In the winter of 1847-8, a Mr. Marshall commenced the
construction of a saw-mill for Captain Sutter, on the north branch of
the American Fork, and about fifty miles above New Helvetia, in a
region abounding with pine timber. The dam and race were completed,
but on attempting to put the mill in motion, it was ascertained that
the tail-race was too narrow to permit the water to escape with
perfect freedom. A strong current was then passed in, to wash it wider
and deeper, by which a large bed of mud and gravel was thrown up at
the foot of the race. Some days after this occurrence, Mr. Marshall
observed a number of brilliant particles on this deposit of mud, which
attracted his attention. On examining them, he became satisfied that
they were gold, and communicated the fact to Captain Sutter. It was
agreed between them, that the circumstance should not be made public
for the present; but, like the secret of Midas, it could not be
concealed. The Mormon emigrants, of whom Mr. Marshall was one, were
soon made acquainted with the discovery, and in a few weeks all
California was agitated with the startling information.

Business of every kind was neglected, and the ripened grain was left
in the fields unharvested. Nearly the whole population of Upper
California became infected with the mania, and flocked to the mines.
Whalers and merchant vessels entering the ports were abandoned by
their crews, and the American soldiers and sailors deserted in scores.
Upon the disbandment of Colonel Stevenson's regiment, most of the men
made their way to the mineral regions. Within three months after the
discovery, it was computed that there were near four thousand persons,
including Indians, who were mostly employed by the whites, engaged in
washing for gold. Various modes were adopted to separate the metal
from the sand and gravel--some making use of tin pans, others of
close-woven Indian baskets, and others still, of a rude machine called
the cradle, six or eight feet long, and mounted on rockers, with a
coarse grate, or sieve, at one end, but open at the other. The
washings were mainly confined to the low wet grounds, and the margins
of the streams--the earth being rarely disturbed more than eighteen
inches below the surface. The value of the gold dust obtained by each
man, per day, is said to have ranged from ten to fifty dollars, and
sometimes even to have far exceeded that. The natural consequence of
this state of things was, that the price of labor, and, indeed, of
every thing, rose immediately from ten to twenty fold.[4]

As may readily be conjectured, every stream and ravine in the valley
of the Sacramento was soon explored. Gold was found on every one of
its tributaries; but the richest earth was discovered near the _Rio
de los Plumas_, or Feather River,[5] and its branches, the Yuba and
Bear rivers, and on Weber's creek, a tributary of the American Fork.
Explorations were also made in the valley of the San Joaquin, which
resulted in the discovery of gold on the Cosumnes and other streams,
and in the ravines of the Coast Range, west of the valley, as far down
as Ciudad de los Angeles.

In addition to the gold mines, other important discoveries were made
in Upper California. A rich vein of quicksilver was opened at New
Almaden, near Santa Clara, which, with imperfect machinery,--the heat
by which the metal is made to exude from the rock being applied by a
very rude process,--yielded over thirty per cent. This mine--one of
the principal advantages to be derived from which will be, that the
working of the silver mines scattered through the territory must now
become profitable--is superior to those of Almaden, in Old Spain, and
second only to those of Idria, near Trieste, the richest in the world.

Lead mines were likewise discovered in the neighborhood of Sonoma, and
vast beds of iron ore near the American Fork, yielding from
eighty-five to ninety per cent. Copper, platina, tin, sulphur, zinc,
and cobalt, were discovered every where; coal was found to exist in
large quantities in the Cascade range of Oregon, of which the Sierra
Nevada is a continuation; and in the vicinity of all this mineral
wealth, there are immense quarries of marble and granite, for
building purposes.

Colonel Mason had succeeded Colonel Fremont in the post of governor of
California and military commandant. A regiment of New York troops,
under the command of Colonel Stevenson, had been ordered to California
before the conclusion of the treaty of peace, and formed the principal
part of the military force in the territory.

Colonel Mason expressed the opinion, in his official despatch, that
"there is more gold in the country drained by the Sacramento and San
Joaquin rivers, than will pay the cost of the [late] war with Mexico a
hundred times over." Should this even prove to be an exaggeration,
there can be little reason to doubt, when we take into consideration
all the mineral resources of the country, that the territory of
California is by far the richest acquisition made by this government
since its organization.

The appearance of the mines, at the period of Governor Mason's visit,
three months after the discovery, he thus graphically describes:

"At the urgent solicitation of many gentlemen, I delayed there [at
Sutter's Fort] to participate in the first public celebration of our
national anniversary at that fort, but on the 5th resumed the journey,
and proceeded twenty-five miles up the American Fork to a point on it
now known as the Lower Mines, or Mormon Diggins. The hill-sides were
thickly strewn with canvas tents and bush arbors; a store was erected,
and several boarding shanties in operation. The day was intensely hot,
yet about two hundred men were at work in the full glare of the sun,
washing for gold--some with tin pans, some with close-woven Indian
baskets, but the greater part had a rude machine, known as the cradle.
This is on rockers, six or eight feet long, open at the foot, and at
its head has a coarse grate, or sieve; the bottom is rounded, with
small cleats nailed across. Four men are required to work this
machine; one digs the ground in the bank close by the stream; another
carries it to the cradle and empties it on the grate; a third gives a
violent rocking motion to the machine; while a fourth dashes on water
from the stream itself.

"The sieve keeps the coarse stones from entering the cradle, the
current of water washes off the earthy matter, and the gravel is
gradually carried out at the foot of the machine, leaving the gold
mixed with a heavy, fine black sand above the first cleats. The sand
and gold, mixed together, are then drawn off through auger holes into
a pan below, are dried in the sun, and afterward separated by blowing
off the sand. A party of four men thus employed at the lower mines,
averaged $100 a day. The Indians, and those who have nothing but pans
or willow baskets, gradually wash out the earth and separate the
gravel by hand, leaving nothing but the gold mixed with sand, which is
separated in the manner before described. The gold in the lower mines
is in fine bright scales, of which I send several specimens.

"From the mill [where the gold was first discovered], Mr. Marshall
guided me up the mountain on the opposite or north bank of the south
fork, where, in the bed of small streams or ravines, now dry, a great
deal of coarse gold has been found. I there saw several parties at
work, all of whom were doing very well; a great many specimens were
shown me, some as heavy as four or five ounces in weight, and I send
three pieces, labeled No. 5, presented by a Mr. Spence. You will
perceive that some of the specimens accompanying this, hold
mechanically pieces of quartz; that the surface is rough, and
evidently moulded in the crevice of a rock. This gold cannot have been
carried far by water, but must have remained near where it was first
deposited from the rock that once bound it. I inquired of many people
if they had encountered the metal in its matrix, but in every instance
they said they had not; but that the gold was invariably mixed with
washed gravel, or lodged in the crevices of other rocks. All bore
testimony that they had found gold in greater or less quantities in
the numerous small gullies or ravines that occur in that mountainous

"On the 7th of July I left the mill, and crossed to a stream emptying
into the American Fork, three or four miles below the saw-mill. I
struck this stream (now known as Weber's creek) at the washings of
Sunol and Co. They had about thirty Indians employed, whom they payed
in merchandise. They were getting gold of a character similar to that
found in the main fork, and doubtless in sufficient quantities to
satisfy them. I send you a small specimen, presented by this company,
of their gold. From this point, we proceeded up the stream about eight
miles, where we found a great many people and Indians--some engaged in
the bed of the stream, and others in the small side valleys that put
into it. These latter are exceedingly rich, and two ounces were
considered an ordinary yield for a day's work. A small gutter not more
than a hundred yards long, by four feet wide and two or three feet
deep, was pointed out to me as the one where two men--William Daly and
Parry McCoon--had, a short time before, obtained $17,000 worth of
gold. Captain Weber informed me that he knew that these two men had
employed four white men and about a hundred Indians, and that, at the
end of one week's work, they paid off their party, and had left
$10,000 worth of this gold. Another small ravine was shown me, from
which had been taken upward of $12,000 worth of gold. Hundreds of
similar ravines, to all appearances, are as yet untouched. I could not
have credited these reports, had I not seen, in the abundance of the
precious metal, evidence of their truth.

"Mr. Neligh, an agent of Commodore Stockton, had been at work about
three weeks in the neighborhood, and showed me, in bags and bottles,
over $2000 worth of gold; and Mr. Lyman, a gentleman of education, and
worthy of every credit, said he had been engaged, with four others,
with a machine, on the American Fork, just below Sutter's mill; that
they worked eight days, and that his share was at the rate of fifty
dollars a day; but hearing that others were doing better at Weber's
place, they had removed there, and were then on the point of resuming
operations. I might tell of hundreds of similar instances; but, to
illustrate how plentiful the gold was in the pockets of common
laborers, I will mention a single occurrence which took place in my
presence when I was at Weber's store. This store was nothing but an
arbor of bushes, under which he had exposed for sale goods and
groceries suited to his customers. A man came in, picked up a box of
Seidlitz powders, and asked the price. Captain Weber told him it was
not for sale. The man offered an ounce of gold, but Captain Weber told
him it only cost fifty cents, and he did not wish to sell it. The man
then offered an ounce and a half, when Captain Weber _had_ to take
it. The prices of all things are high, and yet Indians, who before
hardly knew what a breech cloth was, can now afford to buy the most
gaudy dresses.

"The country on either side of Weber's creek is much broken up by
hills, and is intersected in every direction by small streams or
ravines, which contain more or less gold. Those that have been worked
are barely scratched; and although thousands of ounces have been
carried away, I do not consider that a serious impression has been
made upon the whole. Every day was developing new and richer deposits;
and the only impression seemed to be, that the metal would be found in
such abundance as seriously to depreciate in value.

"On the 8th of July, I returned to the lower mines, and on the
following day to Sutter's, where, on the 19th, I was making
preparations for a visit to the Feather, Yuba, and Bear Rivers, when I
received a letter from Commander A. R. Long, United States Navy, who
had just arrived at San Francisco from Mazatlan with a crew for the
sloop-of-war Warren, with orders to take that vessel to the squadron
at La Paz. Captain Long wrote to me that the Mexican Congress had
adjourned without ratifying the treaty of peace, that he had letters
from Commodore Jones, and that his orders were to sail with the Warren
on or before the 20th of July. In consequence of these, I determined
to return to Monterey, and accordingly arrived here on the 17th of
July. Before leaving Sutter's, I satisfied myself that gold existed in
the bed of the Feather River, in the Yuba and Bear, and in many of the
smaller streams that lie between the latter and the American Fork;
also, that it had been found in the Cosumnes to the south of the
American Fork. In each of these streams the gold is found in small
scales, whereas in the intervening mountains it occurs in coarser

"Mr. Sinclair, whose rancho is three miles above Sutter's, on the
north side of the American, employs about fifty Indians on the north
fork, not far from its junction with the main stream. He had been
engaged about five weeks when I saw him, and up to that time his
Indians had used simply closely woven willow baskets. His net proceeds
(which I saw) were about $16,000 worth of gold. He showed me the
proceeds of his last week's work--fourteen pounds avoirdupois of
clean-washed gold.

"The principal store at Sutter's Fort, that of Brannan and Co., had
received in payment for goods $36,000 (worth of this gold) from the
1st of May to the 10th of July. Other merchants had also made
extensive sales. Large quantities of goods were daily sent forward to
the mines, as the Indians, heretofore so poor and degraded, have
suddenly become consumers of the luxuries of life. I before mentioned
that the greater part of the farmers and rancheros had abandoned their
fields to go to the mines. This is not the case with Captain Sutter,
who was carefully gathering his wheat, estimated at 40,000 bushels.
Flour is already worth at Sutter's thirty-six dollars a barrel, and
soon will be fifty. Unless large quantities of breadstuffs reach the
country, much suffering will occur; but as each man is now able to pay
a large price, it is believed the merchants will bring from Chili and
Oregon a plentiful supply for the coming winter.

"The most moderate estimate I could obtain from men acquainted with
the subject, was, that upward of four thousand men were working in
the gold district, of whom more than one-half were Indians; and that
from $30,000 to $50,000 worth of gold, if not more, was daily
obtained. The entire gold district, with very few exceptions of grants
made some years ago by the Mexican authorities, is on land belonging
to the United States. It was a matter of serious reflection with me,
how I could secure to the government certain rents or fees for the
privilege of procuring this gold; but upon considering the large
extent of country, the character of the people engaged, and the small
scattered force at my command, I resolved not to interfere, but to
permit all to work freely, unless broils and crimes should call for
interference. I was surprised to hear that crime of any kind was very
unfrequent, and that no thefts or robberies had been committed in the
gold district.

"All live in tents, in bush arbors, or in the open air; and men have
frequently about their persons thousands of dollars worth of this
gold, and it was to me a matter of surprise that so peaceful and quiet
state of things should continue to exist. Conflicting claims to
particular spots of ground may cause collisions, but they will be
rare, as the extent of country is so great, and the gold so abundant,
that for the present there is room enough for all. Still the
government is entitled to rents for this land, and immediate steps
should be devised to collect them, for the longer it is delayed the
more difficult it will become. One plan I would suggest is, to send
out from the United States surveyors with high salaries, bound to
serve specified periods.

"The discovery of these vast deposits of gold has entirely changed the
character of Upper California. Its people, before engaged in
cultivating their small patches of ground, and guarding their herds
of cattle and horses, have all gone to the mines, or are on their way
thither. Laborers of every trade have left their work benches, and
tradesmen their shops. Sailors desert their ships as fast as they
arrive on the coast, and several vessels have gone to sea with hardly
enough hands to spread a sail. Two or three are now at anchor in San
Francisco with no crew on board. Many desertions, too, have taken
place from the garrisons within the influence of these mines;
twenty-six soldiers have deserted from the post of Sonoma, twenty-four
from that of San Francisco, and twenty-four from Monterey. For a few
days the evil appeared so threatening, that great danger existed that
the garrisons would leave in a body; and I refer you to my orders of
the 25th of July, to show the steps adopted to meet this contingency.
I shall spare no exertions to apprehend and punish deserters, but I
believe no time in the history of our country has presented such
temptations to desert as now exist in California.

"The danger of apprehension is small, and the prospect of high wages
certain; pay and bounties are trifles, as laboring men at the mines
can now earn in one day more than double a soldier's pay and
allowances for a month, and even the pay of a lieutenant or captain
cannot hire a servant. A carpenter or mechanic would not listen to an
offer of less than fifteen or twenty dollars a day. Could any
combination of affairs try a man's fidelity more than this? I really
think some extraordinary mark of favor should be given to those
soldiers who remain faithful to their flag throughout this tempting

"Many private letters have gone to the United States, giving accounts
of the vast quantity of gold recently discovered, and it may be a
matter of surprise why I have made no report on this subject at an
earlier date. The reason is, that I could not bring myself to believe
the reports that I heard of the wealth of the gold district until I
visited it myself. I have no hesitation now in saying that there is
more gold in the country drained by the Sacramento and San Joaquin
Rivers than will pay the cost of the present war with Mexico a hundred
times over. No capital is required to obtain this gold, as the
laboring man wants nothing but his pick and shovel and tin pan, with
which to dig and wash the gravel; and many frequently pick gold out of
the crevices of the rocks with their butcher knives, in pieces of from
one to six ounces.

"Mr. Dye, a gentleman residing in Monterey, and worthy of every
credit, has just returned from Feather River. He tells me that the
company to which he belonged worked seven weeks and two days, with an
average of fifty Indians (washers,) and that their gross product was
two hundred and seventy-three pounds of gold. His share (one seventh,)
after paying all expenses, is about thirty-seven pounds, which he
brought with him and exhibited in Monterey. I see no laboring man from
the mines who does not show his two, three, or four pounds of gold. A
soldier of the artillery company returned here a few days ago from the
mines, having been absent on furlough twenty days. He made by trading
and working, during that time, $1500. During these twenty days he was
travelling ten or eleven days, leaving but a week in which he made a
sum of money greater than he receives in pay, clothes, and rations,
during a whole enlistment of five years. These statements appear
incredible, but they are true.

"Gold is also believed to exist on the eastern slope of the Sierra
Nevada; and when at the mines, I was informed by an intelligent Mormon
that it had been found near the Great Salt Lake by some of his
fraternity. Nearly all the Mormons are leaving California to go to the
Salt Lake, and this they surely would not do unless they were sure of
finding gold there in the same abundance as they now do on the

"The gold 'placer' near the mission of San Fernando has long been
known, but has been little wrought for want of water. This is a spur
which puts off from the Sierra Nevada (see Fremont's map,) the same in
which the present mines occur. There is, therefore, every reason to
believe, that in the intervening spaces, of five hundred miles
(entirely unexplored) there must be many hidden and rich deposits. The
'placer' gold is now substituted as the currency of this country; in
trade it passes freely at $16 per ounce; as an article of commerce its
value is not yet fixed. The only purchase I made was of the specimen
No. 7, which I got of Mr. Neligh at $12 the ounce. That is about the
present cash value in the country, although it has been sold for less.
The great demand for goods and provisions, made by this sudden
development of wealth, has increased the amount of commerce at San
Francisco very much, and it will continue to increase."

_The Californian_, published at San Francisco on the 14th of August,
furnishes the following interesting account of the Gold Region:

"It was our intention to present our readers with a description of the
extensive gold, silver, and iron mines, recently discovered in the
Sierra Nevada, together with some other important items, for the good
of the people, but we are compelled to defer it for a future number.
Our prices current, many valuable communications, our marine journal,
and other important matters, have also been crowded out. But to enable
our distant readers to draw some idea of the extent of the gold mine,
we will confine our remarks to a few facts. The country from the Ajuba
to the San Joaquin rivers, a distance of about one hundred and twenty
miles, and from the base toward the summit of the mountains, as far as
Snow Hill, about seventy miles, has been explored, and gold found on
every part. There are now probably 3000 people, including Indians,
engaged collecting gold. The amount collected by each man who works,
ranges from $10 to $350 per day. The publisher of this paper, while on
a tour alone to the mining district, collected, with the aid of a
shovel, pick and tin pan, about twenty inches in diameter, from $44 to
$128 a day--averaging $100. The gross amount collected will probably
exceed $600,000, of which amount our merchants have received about
$250,000 worth for goods sold; all within the short space of eight
weeks. The largest piece of gold known to be found weighed four

"Labor has ever been high in California, but previous to the discovery
of the _placera_ gold, the rates ranged from $1 to $3 per day. Since
that epoch common labor cannot be obtained, and if to be had, for no
less price than fifty cents per hour, and that the most common.
Carpenters and other mechanics have been offered $15 a day, but it has
been flatly refused. Many of our enterprising citizens were largely
engaged in building, and others wish to commence on dwellings,
warehouses, and the like, but all have had to suspend for the lack of
that all important class of community, the working men."

The following extracts from the published journal of a physician in
California, give accounts of the reception of the news of the gold
discovery in San Francisco, with its consequent effects.

"_May 8th._--Captain Fulsom called at Sweeting's to-day. He had seen a
man this morning, who reported that he had just come from a river
called the American Fork, about one hundred miles in the interior,
where he had been gold washing. Captain Fulsom saw the gold he had
with him; it was about twenty-three ounces weight, and in small
flakes. The man stated that he was eight days getting it, but Captain
Fulsom hardly believed this. He says that he saw some of this gold a
few weeks since, and thought it was only 'mica,' but good judges have
pronounced it to be genuine metal. He talks, however, of paying a
visit to the place where it is reported to come from. After he was
gone, Bradley stated that the Sacramento settlements, which Malcolm
wished to visit, were in the neighborhood of the American Fork, and
that we might go there together; he thought the distance was only one
hundred and twenty miles.

"_May 10th._--Yesterday and to-day nothing has been talked of but the
new gold 'placer,' as people call it. It seems that four other men had
accompanied the person Captain Fulsom saw yesterday, and that they had
each realized a large quantity of gold. They left the 'diggings' on
the American Fork, (which it seems is the Rio de los Americanos, a
tributary to the Sacramento) about a week ago, and stopped a day or
two at Sutter's Fort, a few miles this side of the diggings, on their
way; from there they had travelled by boat to San Francisco. The gold
they brought has been examined by the first Alcalde here and by all
the merchants in the place. Bradley showed us a lump weighing a
quarter of an ounce, which he had bought of one of the men, and for
which he gave him three dollars and a half. I have no doubt in my own
mind about its being genuine gold. Several parties, we hear, are
already made up to visit the diggings; and, according to the newspaper
here, a number of people have actually started off with shovels,
mattocks, and pans, to dig the gold themselves. It is not likely,
however, that this will be allowed, for Captain Fulsom has already
written to Colonel Mason about taking possession of the mine on behalf
of the government, it being, as he says, on public land.

"_May 17th._--This place is now in a perfect furor of excitement; all
the work-people have struck. Walking through the town to-day, I
observed that laborers were employed only upon about half-a-dozen of
the fifty new buildings which were in the course of being run up. The
majority of the mechanics at this place are making preparations for
moving off to the mines, and several hundred people of all
classes--lawyers, store-keepers, merchants, &c.,--are bitten with the
fever; in fact, there is a regular gold mania springing up. I counted
no less than eighteen houses which were closed, the owners having

The mania continued to increase, and within a few months all the
principal towns were nearly emptied of their population. Gold was the
universal object, and splendid and rapid fortune the universal hope.
No occupation seemed to offer such a prospect as that of digging gold,
and, accordingly, those who were not able to bear the fatigues of such
work, or were at the head of any sort of business in the different
towns, had to pay enormous prices for the labor of subordinates who
performed the meanest services. The prices of all agricultural and
manufactured products became treble the previous rates.

Soon came the first waves of the tide of emigration that was to flood
the _placers_ of the gold region. The first influx consisted of
Mexicans of the province of Sonoma, Chilians, and some few Chinese.
These, principally took possession of the southern mines, or those on
the San Joaquin and its tributaries. Some few stopped at San
Francisco, and secured lots of ground which they knew would become
very valuable in a short time, and erected temporary stores and
dwellings. This gave the impulse to the progress of the town, and it
soon advanced rapidly in size and population. Then came the emigration
from the Atlantic States of the Union, and the whole territory felt
the progressive and enterprising spirit of the gold-seekers. The
Americans generally took possession of the mines upon the northern
tributaries of the Sacramento River; but as their numbers increased
they pushed towards the southern mines, and frequent collisions with
the foreigners were the consequence. Finally, a great number of the
latter were compelled to leave the country.


[1] A gold _placera_ was discovered some years ago, near the mission
of San Fernando, but it was very little worked, on account of the want
of water.

[2] Farnham's Adventures in California.--Wilkes's Narrative of the
Exploring Expedition.--Fremont's Narrative.

[3] See Farnham's Adventures. Wilkes's and Fremont's Narratives, and
Emory's Report.--In 1846, Eugenio Macnamara, a Catholic priest and
Missionary, obtained a grant of a large tract of land between the San
Joaquin and the Sierra Nevada, the Cosumnes and the Tulares in the
vicinity of San Gabriel, from Pio Pico, governor of the Californias,
for the purpose of establishing upon it a large colony of Irish
Catholics; but the grant was not ratified by the Central Government,
and the project was not carried into effect. There is no evidence that
Father Macnamara was aware of the existence of gold in the valley of
the San Joaquin.

[4] Official Despatch of Colonel Mason, Commander of the 10th Military
Department, August 17, 1848.--Letters of Thomas C. Larkin, U.S. Consul
at Monterey, to the Secretary of State, June 1, and June 28, 1848.

[5] Feather River is the first considerable branch of the Sacramento
below the _Prairie Buttes_. It has a course of about forty miles, and
empties into the main river about fifteen miles above New Helvetia.
Though the Sacramento is navigable for vessels only to that place,
boats can pass up one hundred miles further.



The adventures of the eager gold-seekers in the region of their hopes,
among the washings and the diggings of the _placers_, cannot but be
interesting. The toil to which the men have to submit if they would
obtain any thing like a satisfaction to their desires, is of a very
irksome character. In the summer season, the heat is intense, and the
principal part of the labor of washing and digging must be performed
exposed to the full blaze of the sun. In the "dry diggings," the
miners suffer greatly from the want of water. Most of the provisions
having to be transported from the towns on the Sacramento and San
Joaquin, soon grow unwholesome from exposure to the sultry air of the
day and the damp air of the night. This diet, conjointly with the
exposure of the miners, tends to produce intermittent fever and
dysentery. The miners generally reside in huts of a rude construction,
or in canvas tents, which afford but poor protection from the changes
of the weather.

The most prominent man in the neighborhood of the "diggins," is
Captain Sutter, the Daniel Boone of that part of the country. He was
formerly an officer in the Swiss guards of Charles X. of France. After
the revolution of 1830, in that country, he came to the United States.
Emigrating to California, he obtained a grant of land from the Mexican
government, and founded the settlement known as Sutter's Fort. Upon
his land, the first discovery of the richness of the soil was made,
and his house and the settlement around it has been, ever since, the
resort of persons going to and from the _placers_, and a depot for
provisions and articles used by the miners. Stores and workshops have
been established, and a considerable amount of business is transacted
there. Captain Sutter is held in very great respect by the people of
the settlement and those stopping at his house on the road to the
_placers_. Several versions of the account of the discovery of the
gold mines have been circulated, but the true one, in the Captain's
own words, is given in a work recently published.[6] The account is
here inserted, both on account of the interest connected with the
discovery, and in order to correct wrong versions of the matter.

"I was sitting one afternoon," said the Captain, "just after my
siesta, engaged, by-the-bye, in writing a letter to a relation of mine
at Lucerne, when I was interrupted by Mr. Marshall--a gentleman with
whom I had frequent business transactions--bursting hurriedly into the
room. From the unusual agitation in his manner, I imagined that
something serious had occurred, and, as we involuntarily do in this
part of the world, I at once glanced to see if my rifle was in its
proper place. You should know that the mere appearance of Mr. Marshall
at that moment in the fort was quite enough to surprise me, as he had
but two days before left the place to make some alterations in a mill
for sawing pine planks, which he had just run up for me, some miles
higher up the Americanos. When he had recovered himself a little, he
told me that, however great my surprise might be at his unexpected
reappearance, it would be much greater when I heard the intelligence
he had come to bring me. 'Intelligence,' he added, 'which, if properly
profited by, would put both of us in possession of unheard-of
wealth--millions and millions of dollars, in fact.' I frankly own,
when I heard this, that I thought something had touched Marshall's
brain, when suddenly all my misgivings were put an end to by his
flinging on the table a handful of scales of pure virgin gold. I was
fairly thunderstruck, and asked him to explain what all this meant,
when he went on to say, that, according to my instructions, he had
thrown the mill-wheel out of gear, to let the whole body of the water
in the dam find a passage through the tail-race, which was previously
too narrow to allow the water to run off in sufficient quantity,
whereby the wheel was prevented from efficiently performing its work.
By this alteration the narrow channel was considerably enlarged, and a
mass of sand and gravel carried off by the force of the torrent. Early
in the morning after this took place, he (Mr. Marshall) was walking
along the left bank of the stream, when he perceived something which
he at first took for a piece of opal--a clear transparent stone, very
common here--glittering on one of the spots laid bare by the sudden
crumbling away of the bank. He paid no attention to this; but while he
was giving directions to the workmen, having observed several similar
glittering fragments, his curiosity was so far excited, that he
stooped down and picked one of them up. 'Do you know,' said Mr.
Marshall to me, 'I positively debated within myself two or three times
whether I should take the trouble to bend my back to pick up one of
the pieces, and had decided on not doing so, when, further on, another
glittering morsel caught my eye--the largest of the pieces now before
you. I condescended to pick it up, and to my astonishment found that
it was a thin scale of what appears to be pure gold.' He then gathered
some twenty or thirty similar pieces, which on examination convinced
him that his suppositions were right. His first impression was, that
this gold had been lost or buried there by some early Indian
tribe--perhaps some of those mysterious inhabitants of the West, of
whom we have no account, but who dwelt on this continent centuries
ago, and built those cities and temples, the ruins of which are
scattered about these solitary wilds. On proceeding, however, to
examine the neighboring soil, he discovered that it was more or less
auriferous. This at once decided him. He mounted his horse, and rode
down to me as fast as it would carry him, with the news.

"At the conclusion of Mr. Marshall's account," continued Captain
Sutter, "and when I had convinced myself, from the specimens he had
brought with him, that it was not exaggerated, I felt as much excited
as himself. I eagerly inquired if he had shown the gold to the work
people at the mill, and was glad to hear that he had not spoken to a
single person about it. We agreed," said the Captain, smiling, "not to
mention the circumstance to any one, and arranged to set off early the
next day for the mill. On our arrival, just before sundown, we poked
the sand about in various places, and before long succeeded in
collecting between us, more than an ounce of gold, mixed up with a
good deal of sand. I stayed at Mr. Marshall's that night, and the next
day we proceeded some little distance up the South Fork, and found
that gold existed along the whole course, not only in the bed of the
main stream, where the water had subsided, but in every little
dried-up creek and ravine. Indeed, I think it is more plentiful in
these latter places, for I myself, with nothing more than a small
knife, picked out from a dry gorge, a little way up the mountain, a
solid lump of gold which weighed nearly an ounce and a half.

"On our return to the mill, we were astonished by the work-people
coming up to us in a body, and showing us small flakes of gold
similar to those we had ourselves procured. Marshall tried to laugh
the matter off with them, and to persuade them that what they had
found was only some shining mineral of trifling value; but one of the
Indians, who had worked at the gold mine in the neighborhood of La
Paz, in Lower California, cried out, 'Oro! oro!' We were disappointed
enough at this discovery, and supposed that the work-people had been
watching our movements, although we thought we had taken every
precaution against being observed by them. I heard, afterwards, that
one of them, a sly Kentuckian, had dogged us about, and that, looking
on the ground to see if he could discover what we were in search of,
he had lighted on some flakes of gold himself.

"The next day I rode back to the Fort, organized a laboring party, set
the carpenters to work on a few necessary matters, and the next day,
accompanied them to a point of the Fork, where they encamped for the
night. By the following morning I had a party of fifty Indians fairly
at work. The way we first managed was to shovel the soil into small
buckets, or into some of our famous Indian baskets; then wash all the
light earth out, and pick away the stones; after this, we dried the
sand on pieces of canvas, and with long reeds blew away all but the
gold. I have now some rude machines in use, and upwards of one hundred
men employed, chiefly Indians, who are well fed, and who are allowed
whisky three times a day.

"The report soon spread. Some of the gold was sent to San Francisco,
and crowds of people flocked to the diggings. Added to this, a large
emigrant party of Mormons entered California across the Rocky
Mountains, just as the affair was first made known. They halted at
once, and set to work on a spot some thirty miles from here, where a
few of them still remain. When I was last up to the diggings, there
were full eight hundred men at work, at one place and another, with
perhaps something like three hundred more passing backwards and
forwards between here and the mines. I at first imagined that the gold
would soon be exhausted by such crowds of seekers, but subsequent
observations have convinced me that it will take many years to bring
about such a result, even with ten times the present number of people

"What surprises me," continued the Captain, "is, that this country
should have been visited by so many scientific men, and that not one
of them should have ever stumbled upon the treasures; that scores of
keen eyed trappers should have crossed this valley in every direction,
and tribes of Indians have dwelt in it for centuries, and yet that
this gold should have never been discovered. I myself have passed the
very spot above a hundred times during the last ten years, but was
just as blind as the rest of them, so I must not wonder at the
discovery not having been made earlier."

The plan of operations adopted by most of the miners who were not
Indians or Californians, was to form bands of three, five or ten,
under the command of one of the number, whose name the party took, and
by which it was afterwards known. Some larger companies were formed in
the United States, and repaired to California, and their operations
were of course, on a more extensive scale; they having all the
necessary equipments of gold-washers and miners. Written rules were
generally drawn up for the government of the parties, varying in
particulars according to the peculiar views of the framers. These
rules provided for the _modus operandi_ of procuring the gold,
supplying the party with necessaries, attending to the sick, and the
division of the fruits of their labor.

One of the most frequented placers of California is called the
Stanislaus mine, situated near the Stanislaus River. It was one of the
first places worked to any extent by the gold-seekers, but not
satisfying the expectations of some of the most greedy, it has since
been partially abandoned. A description of this mine, and of the
living and operations of its workers in the winter of 1848-49, will
give a good general idea of the toils and privations endured by the
early gold-seekers in that region, and, also, of their mode of
procuring the precious metal at most of the mines. We extract from a
recently published work, distinguished for minuteness of detail and
accuracy of description.[7]

"The mine was a deep ravine, embosomed amidst lofty hills, surmounted
by, and covered with pine, and having, in the bottom itself, abundance
of rock, mud, and sand. Halliday and I encamped at the very lowest
part of the ravine, at a little distance from Don Emanuel's party; a
steep rock which towered above our heads affording us shelter, and a
huge, flat stone beneath our feet promising a fair substitute for a
dry bed. Here then we stretched our _macheers_ and blankets, and
arranged our saddles and bags, so as to make ourselves as comfortable
and warm as possible, although, in spite of our precautions and
contrivances, and of a tolerably good fire, our encampment was
bitterly cold, and we lay exposed to a heavy dew. We had given up our
horses into the charge of the Indians, and I saw to their being safely
placed in the _cavallard_, whilst Halliday went to chop wood; a task I
was too weak to perform. I cannot say we slept; we might more
correctly be said to have had a long and most uncomfortable doze, and
when morning broke, we were shivering with cold, and shook the dew in
a shower from our clothes. I consulted with my companion, and urged
upon him the prudence of our setting to work to construct ourselves a
sort of log cabin; otherwise I felt certain, from the experience of
the past night, our sojourn at the mines would be likely to prove
fatal to one or both of us. He was, however, far too eager to try his
fortune at digging to listen to my proposal, at which he even smiled,
probably at the bare idea of weather, privation, or toil, being able
to affect his powerful frame. I saw him presently depart up the
ravine, shouldering a pick, and glancing now and then at his knife,
whilst I proceeded in search of materials for constructing a temporary
place of shelter.

"As my strength was unequal to the task of felling timber, I
endeavored to procure four poles, intending to sink them into the
ground, and to stretch on the top of them a bed-tick I had reserved
for the purpose. The contrivance was a sorry one at the best, but
shelter was indispensable; and great was my disappointment--though I
procured the timber after a painful search--to find that the rocks
presented an insuperable obstacle to my employing it as I intended. My
efforts to sink the poles proved utterly futile, and I was at last
compelled to renounce the attempt in despair. I then packed up our
goods into as close a compass as possible; and, having requested one
of the Spaniards in Don Emanuel's party to keep watch over them,
departed to explore the ravine.

"Within a few paces of our encampment there was a large area of
ground, probably half a mile square, the surface of which consisted of
dark soil and slate, and was indented with innumerable holes of every
possible dimension, from six inches to as many feet or more, wide and
deep. In all of these lay abundance of water, of which large
quantities are to be found a little beneath the surface, the ravine
being supplied with it in great abundance by the rains that pour down
from the hills during the wet season. To the extreme right of our
camp, the ground assumed a more rocky character; and, from the vast
deposit of stagnant water, did not seem to offer many attractions to
the miners. Yet there was scarcely a spot in any of these places where
the crow-bar, the pick, or the jack-knife, had not been busy: evidence
that the whole locality must have been extremely rich in the precious
metal, or it would not have been so thoroughly worked.

"In crossing the ravine, I was obliged to leap from one mound of earth
to another, to avoid plunging ancle-deep in mud and water. It was
wholly deserted in this part, though formerly so much frequented;
and, with the exception of a few traders, who, having taken up their
station here when times were good, had not yet made arrangements for
removing to a more productive place, not a soul was to be seen.

"I walked on until I reached the trading-post of Mr. Anderson,
formerly our interpreter in the Lower Country, whom I felt delighted
to meet with again. His shed was situated in one of the dampest parts
of the mine, and consisted of a few upright poles, traversed by
cross-pieces, and covered in with raw hides and leaves, but yet much
exposed at the sides to the wind and the weather. He had a few barrels
of flour and biscuit, which he retailed at two dollars a pound; for he
made no difference between the price of the raw and the prepared
material. The flour would go further, it was true; but then the
biscuit required no cooking on the part of the miner, whose time was
literally money, and whose interest therefore it was to economize it
in every possible manner. He also sold unprepared coffee and sugar at
six Yankee shillings a pound; dried beef at one dollar and a half; and
pork, which was regarded as a great delicacy here, at two dollars for
the same weight. The various articles of which his stock-in-trade
consisted he had brought all the way from Monterey at considerable
labor and expense; but, by the exercise of extraordinary tact,
perseverance, and industry, he had succeeded in establishing a
flourishing business.

"I discovered, however, that he possessed another resource--by which
his gains were marvellously increased--in the services of seven or
eight Indians, whom he kept constantly at work, in the rear of his
shed, digging gold, and whose labor he remunerated with provisions,
and occasional presents of articles of trifling value to him, but
highly esteemed by the Indians. They were watched by an American
overseer, who was employed by him, to assist in the general business,
particularly in slaughtering; for, as beef was scarce, he used to send
his man in quest of cows and oxen; which he killed, cut up, salted and
dried, in his shed, and watching the most favorable moment for the
operation--namely, when meat could not be procured at the
'diggins'--never failed to realize his own price for it.

"Proceeding higher up the ravine, I observed a large tent erected on
the slope of a hill, within a few yards of the bottom, where the gold
is usually found. It was surrounded by a trench, the clay from which,
as it was dug up, had apparently been thrown out against the canvas,
forming a kind of embankment, rendering it at once water and
weather-proof. I ventured into it, encountering on my way an immense
piece of raw beef, suspended from the ridge-pole. Upon some stones in
front, inclosing a small fire, stood a frying-pan, filled with rich
looking beef collops, that set my mouth watering, and severely tested
my honesty; for, although acorns are all very well in their way, and
serve to stay the cravings of the stomach for awhile, I did not find
my appetite any the less sharp, notwithstanding the quantity I had
eaten. But I resisted the temptation, and penetrated further into the
tent. At one side of it lay a crow-bar, and an old saddle that had
seen rough service; yet not a soul appeared, and my eyes were again
ogling the collops, whilst an inward voice whispered how imprudent it
was to leave them frizzling there, when, all at once, a little man, in
a 'hickory shirt,' with his face all bedaubed with pot-black and
grease, darted out of some dark corner, flourishing in one hand a long
bowie knife, and in the other three by no means delicate slices of fat
pork, which he at once dropped into the frying-pan, stooping down on
one knee, and becoming immediately absorbed in watching the
interesting culinary process then going on in it.

"I came up next with a group of three Sonomeans, or inhabitants of
Sonoma, busily engaged on a small sandy flat--the only one I had
observed--at the bottom of the ravine. There was no water near,
although I noticed several holes which had evidently been sunk in
quest of it. These men were actively pursuing a process that is termed
'dry-washing.' One was shovelling up the sand into a large cloth,
stretched out upon the ground, and which, when it was tolerably well
covered, he took up by the corners, and shook until the pebbles and
larger particles of stone and dirt came to the surface. These he
brushed away carefully with his hand, repeating the process of shaking
and clearing until the residue was sufficiently fine for the next
operation. This was performed by the other men, who, depositing the
sand in large bowls hewn out of a solid block of wood, which they held
in their hands, dexterously cast the contents up before them, about
four feet into the air, catching the sand again very cleverly, and
blowing at it as it descended. This process being repeated, the sand
gradually disappeared, and from two to three ounces of pure gold
remained at the bottom of the bowl. Easy as the operation appeared to
me to be, I learned, upon inquiry, that to perform it successfully
required the nicest management, the greatest perseverance, and
especially robust lungs. The men I saw had lighted upon a productive
sand; but very often, indeed, those who adopt this mode of gold
washing toil long at barren soil before they discover the uselessness
of laboring thus arduously.

"I noticed, that although the largest proportion of the gold obtained
in this manner presented the appearance of a fine powder, it was
interspersed, here and there, with large scales of the precious
deposit, and with a few solid lumps. The metal was of a dingy hue,
and, at a cursory view, might easily have been mistaken for particles
of yellow clay, or laminæ of stone of the same color. The Sonomeans
placed the product of their labor in buckskin bags, which were hung
around their necks, and carefully concealed inside of their shirts.
They work in this fashion at the mines in their own country; but I
doubt if any other than a native constitution could very long bear up
against the peculiar labor of 'dry-washing' in such a climate and
under such difficult circumstances. I felt half tempted to try the
process myself, for the surface of this sandy bed was literally
sparkling with innumerable particles of the finest gold, triturated to
a polish by the running of the waters--as I conjectured; but I soon
discovered how fruitless my efforts would be. Had I possessed any
chemical agents at hand, however, I might soon have exhausted the bed
of its precious contents, and should, doubtless, have realized an
immense weight of the metal of the very purest quality.

"I may as well mention here, that of the various new machines
manufactured and sent out to California for the purpose of digging and
washing gold, the great majority have been found quite useless. There
are two or three of them, however, that have been employed with great
success. I have made a sketch of those most in use amongst the
diggers, as my readers may feel desirous of acquainting themselves
with the latest improvements introduced in the art of mining, as
practised in this country. They consist, in the first place, of the
washing-rocker, or 'cradle,' which has, in numerous instances, formed
the model for ruder machines, constructed by the miners themselves,
whilst in the mountains. The lid, at the bottom of which lie the holes
through which the gold and soil pass, is fastened by hinges at the
back, in order that it may be raised up, the more readily to throw
off, from time to time, the stones that accumulate. Three men are
required to work this rocker with success, and there are few processes
in which a smaller number could operate without extraordinary labor.
One person throws the soil upon the lid, another pours on the water,
whilst a third is engaged in rocking the cradle by the handle attached
to it for the purpose. In this way these men keep each other
constantly employed; and, indeed, this cradle, like its prototype, has
often proved the bond of union between individuals who would otherwise
have separated, for this simple reason, that one man could not work it
half so profitably alone. The cross pieces, observable at the bottom,
serve to intercept the gold as it flows towards the smaller end of the
machine, whilst the dirt is carried off by the admixture with the
water produced by the continual 'rocking.' As the earth becomes
thoroughly dissolved, the gold naturally gravitates to the bottom; and
thus it is impossible for any but the very finest particles of the ore
to escape.

"The second machine, in importance, is the gold-borer. It is
particularly useful in examining the bottom of streams, and consists
of a short conical cylinder at the end of a long handle, containing
inside, at its lower extremity, a valve, arranged so as to admit the
earth and gold, and prevent their escaping when the receptacle is
full. This instrument is used in the same manner as an augur. The
third machine, the pan, is also of late introduction, but has been
found rather too deep for the purpose for which it is intended.

"Notwithstanding the success which seemed to attend the labors of the
Sonomeans, I subsequently discovered that the entire quantity of gold
thus painfully obtained, disappeared at the gambling-stalls. They were
generally clad most wretchedly, many of them wearing nothing more than
a dirty shirt, a pair of light pantaloons, and the wide _sombrero_
peculiar to the inhabitants of this country and Mexico. Some few
sported a _serapa_, but they were men of superior native rank, of
which this garment is a distinctive characteristic.

"Continuing my route up the ravine, I met a man named Corrigan,
galloping along with two fine horses, one of which he was leading. He
stopped as soon as he recognized me, and we were soon engaged in a
very interesting conversation respecting the doings at the 'diggins.'
The substance of his information was, that he had made a great deal of
money at the mines by digging, but infinitely more by speculation. He
thought of buying a _ranché_, marrying, and settling down. He was then
going to seek for pasture for his horses; and, bidding me a hasty
good-bye, galloped off, and soon disappeared.

"As I advanced, the ground became drier and more sandy, rock and slate
of various kinds abounding; some quite soft and friable, yielding
readily to the pickaxe or the crowbar; and, in other places, so hard
as to resist the utmost strength of the miners. Several of the diggers
were perseveringly exploring the localities where the rotten sorts of
slate were found in the largest quantities, and I saw them pick out a
good deal of gold with their jack-knives. Their principal aim was to
discover what they termed 'a pocket,' which is nothing more than a
crevice between the blocks of slate, into which a deposit of gold has
been washed by the heavy rains from the higher districts, and which,
soon accumulating, swell into rapid torrents, which rush down these
ravines with extraordinary swiftness and force, sweeping every thing
before them.

"There did not appear to be many mining parties at the Stanislaus at
this particular period, for the encampments were generally from two to
five miles apart, the space between them increasing the higher you
advanced towards the mountains, to the foot of which the ravine
extended--altogether, a distance of many miles. The lower part of the
mine, I concluded from this fact, to be by far the richer, simply from
the circumstance I have mentioned; richer, comparatively, because here
the deposits of gold are more easily found and extracted; not richer,
in reality, as the metal must exist in immense quantities in the upper
regions, from which it is washed down by the rains and floods into the
lower districts. The virgin deposit would, doubtless, be difficult to
come at; but, if sought after at all, that it is to be sought in the
mountains and high lands, I feel persuaded.

"I turned back, after prosecuting my excursion until the ravine became
almost too rocky to allow me to proceed, and until I saw that the
'diggins' diminished materially in number. On clambering the hills at
the side, I beheld abundance of pines, oak, cedar, and palm; but no
grass, nor vegetation of any other kind, save prickly shrubs, with
here and there a patch of extremely dry moss. On my way back, I passed
several tents and huts erected by the miners, all of the very poorest
and most wretched description.

"I found Van Anker's party at dinner, in front of their tent. Van
showed me a leathern bag, containing several pounds' weight of very
pure gold, and which was carelessly tossed about from one to the other
for examination. It was the produce of his morning's work, he having
fortunately struck upon a large pocket.

"On inquiring whether, as there existed such strong temptation,
robberies were not very frequent, I was informed, that, although
thefts had occurred, yet, generally speaking, the miners dwelt in no
distrust of one another, and left thousands of dollars' worth in gold
dust in their tents whilst they were absent digging. They all felt,
intuitively, that honesty was literally the best policy, and a
determination to punish robbery seemed to have been come to by all as
a measure essential to the security and welfare of the mining
community, independent of any question of principle.

"Gambling and drinking were carried on, I found, to a most
demoralizing extent. Brandy and champagne, whenever they were brought
to the 'diggins,' realized enormous prices, varying from sixteen to
twenty dollars a bottle; and some of the men would, after accumulating
some hundred dollars, squander the whole in purchasing these
beverages. Believing the supply of gold to be inexhaustible, they
persisted in this reckless course, and discovered only when it became
too late to redeem their error, that even here gold cannot always be
procured. They went on until the _placers_ failed to yield, and were
then reduced to great extremities.

"The miners were by no means averse to lending 'dust' to those who
required it, notwithstanding that the lenders often experienced some
difficulty in getting back the advance. One of Van's party, for
instance, lent another six ounces of gold, which not being returned at
the stipulated period, nor for some time afterwards, he dunned his
debtor every meal, until the latter, who had quietly submitted to the
importunity, begged him to 'just wait ten minutes, and time it.' He
shouldered his pickaxe, as he said this, and going out of the shed,
returned within the time, bringing back more than sufficient to
liquidate the debt. This little incident created much amusement."

The whole of the gold region lies between the San Joachin and
Sacramento Rivers and the California range of mountains. The principal
mines are the Towallomie, the Stanislaus, the Macalamo, the Merced,
Fremont's Diggings, or Mariposa, the Calaveras, the Macassime, the
South, Middle, and North Forks, Bear Creek, Yuba, Feather River, and
the Sacramento. The mines are nothing more than so many ravines, which
run across from the range of mountains, and are flooded by the
torrents which pour down from the upper region during the rainy
season, and which have been supposed to bring the gold down with them.

The Macalamo Dry Diggings is considered one of the richest placers in
the gold region. It is a long ravine, the soil of which is red, and
sometimes blueish in places, sand predominating. The blue clay is
thought to be the richest by the diggers. The sides of the ravine are
so steep and irregular, that the miners are troubled to find resting
places of a night. The gold taken out of this mine runs large; the
average size of the lumps being that of a pea. Pieces have been taken
out of it that weighed above two pounds.

Instances of robbery and murder have not been few in the gold region,
as might be conjectured from a knowledge of the motley character of
the miners, and the temptations offered to avaricious spirits. Yet,
all things considered, the number of instances will not appear so very
extraordinary. Lynch law, the only resort of the wronged in pocket, or
the friends of the murdered, exercised its terrible power, and tended
to prevent the crimes that would, otherwise, have been frequent. An
instance of this summary justice we here relate, to illustrate the
means by which the miners protected their lives and property.

"A sailor, a deserter from the Ohio, took it into his head, one night,
to rob one of the volunteers, who had set up a drinking store. He had
already got two bags, containing about five thousand dollars' worth of
gold; but, not satisfied with them, grasped at a third, half full of
dollars in silver. The jingling of the coin awoke the owner, who,
springing up, gave the alarm, and, after a hot pursuit, the thief was
captured, and bound to a tree until morning. At about nine, a jury of
twelve miners sat to consider the case, a volunteer named Nutman
officiating for Judge Lynch. Of course, he was found guilty, and
sentenced to be hanged; but, some opposition being raised to depriving
him of life, and a milder punishment suggested; it was finally
determined that he should receive a hundred lashes on his bare back,
have his ears cut off, and his head shaved, so that he might be every
where recognized in the mining districts. This sentence gave general
satisfaction. The poor wretch was at once fastened by his hands to the
branch of a tree, and the fellows proceeded to shave his head, whilst
some sailors of the party set to work manufacturing cats. His feet
were then tied together to the foot of the tree, and when his head had
been shaved, a doctor lopped off his ears. He bled a good deal; but,
when the blood was staunched, they set to flogging him, and they
didn't spare him either. After this, they kicked him out.

"Well, he went off, and when he was about half a mile away, stole a
mule, and rode over to the 'Calaveras' diggins, where the animal was
claimed by the owner. He was thereupon tried for mule-stealing, and
sentenced to receive another flogging; but when the miners came to
strip him, they found his back so shockingly cut up, that they took
compassion on him, and contented themselves with driving him out of
the district, where he never appeared again."

During the summer season, when exposure and labor in the mines,
together with unwholesome food, produce a great prevalence of fever
and dysentery, the native Californians make use of a singular remedy.
It is called the temascal; being a sort of hot air bath, shaped
something like a sentry-box. It is built of wicker-work, and
afterwards plastered with mud until it becomes air tight. The mode of
application of this remedy is as follows:--A large fire is built close
up to the door of the structure--a narrow aperture, just large enough
for a man to squeeze through. This is allowed to burn itself out,
having while burning, heated to a very high degree the air in the
interior of the box. Into this the patient screws himself, and there
remains until a profuse perspiration is produced, which is checked
suddenly by a plunge into the chilly waters of the river. This is of
the nature of a Thompsonian remedy.

The absorbing interest with which the gold-seekers proceed in their
work is admirably depicted by one of the adventurers, in a book
published after his return.[8]

"Arriving on the _bar_, the scene presented to us was new indeed, and
not more extraordinary than impressive. Some with long-handled
shovels, delved among clumps of bushes, or by the side of large rocks,
never raising their eyes for an instant; others with pick and shovel
worked among stone and gravel, or with trowels searched under banks
and roots of trees, where, if rewarded with small lumps of gold, the
eye shone brighter for an instant, when the search was immediately and
more ardently resumed. At the edge of the stream, or knee deep and
waist deep in water, as cold as melted ice and snow could make it,
some were washing gold with tin pans or the common cradle rocker,
while the rays of the sun were pouring down on their heads, with an
intensity exceeding any thing we ever experienced at home, though it
was but the middle of April.

"The thirst for gold and the labor of acquisition overruled all else,
and totally absorbed every faculty. Complete silence reigned among the
miners; they addressed not a word to each other, and seemed averse to
all conversation. All the sympathies of common humanity, all the
finer and noble attributes of our nature seemed lost, buried beneath
the soil they were eagerly delving, or swept away with the rushing
waters that revealed the shining treasure."

This extract is suggestive of considerable reflection. The same amount
of attention given to any pursuit must produce results equally as
satisfactory as that given to gold-seeking. But gold carries with it
such obvious enjoyments to the grosser minds, that the pursuit of it
alone can attract their attention sufficiently to effect any thing
considerable. Could the pure enjoyments connected with the practice of
virtue be made as obvious to all minds, the result would be something
at which the philanthropist might rejoice.

The extremes of heat and cold, during the summer, in the valleys and
_cañons_ of the gold region, are very remarkable. From nine o'clock in
the morning till five in the afternoon, the heat is almost
intolerable. The sun's rays pour down through an atmosphere clear and
dry, and their power is increased by reflection from the sides of the
_cañons_ and mountains, and from the surface of the streams. During
the night, the air becomes so cold as to render blankets very
serviceable. This is caused by the waters of the different streams
rising during the night, their volume being increased by the melting
of the snows of the Sierra Nevada, by the heat of the previous day.

Thousands of Indians, belonging to the Snake, Shoshonee, and Crow
tribes, are at work at the mines. They are generally employed by some
of the wealthy white men, and are paid in provisions and a sort of
liquor made from California grapes, called pisco. What money or gold
they get for themselves is spent in gambling--a vice to which they are
most excessively addicted. Instances are not few of their having
staked the produce of their labor during some weeks subsequent to the
game. Many of the Indians desire no other pay than as much pisco as
they can drink, with a little acorn bread.

The native Californians form a goodly proportion of the gold-seekers.
Many of the men are accompanied by their wives, who are attended by
Indian girls. The graceful Spanish costume of the Californians adds
quite a feature to the busy scene at the mines. There may be seen the
long, lank forms of the Yankees, with their wide white trousers and
straw hats; the half-naked Indians; the native born Californians, with
their dusky visages and lustrous black eyes. The latter are generally
clad in a short, tight jacket, with lace trimming, and velvet
breeches, with a silk sash fastened round the waist. With regard to
the appearance of the women, and, also, for the sake of the
description of one of the evening entertainments in the gold region,
we quote from a recent tourist, to whom we have been indebted

"The appearance of the women is graceful and coquettish. Their
petticoats, short enough to display in most instances a well-turned
ankle, are richly laced and embroidered, and striped and flounced with
gaudy colors, of which scarlet seems to have the preference. Their
tresses hang in luxuriant plaits down their backs; and in all the
little accessories of dress, such as earrings, necklaces, &c., the
costume is very rich. Its distinguishing feature, however, is the
_reboso_, a sort of scarf, generally made of cotton, which answers to
the mantilla of Old Spain. It is worn in many different and graceful
fashions--sometimes twined round the waist and shoulders; at others,
hanging in pretty festoons about the figure, but always disposed with
that indescribable degree of coquettish grace which Spanish women have
been for ages allowed to possess in the management of the fan and the
mantilla. Since these arrivals, almost every evening a fandango is got
up on the green, before some of the tents. The term fandango, though
originally signifying a peculiar kind of dance, seemed to be used here
for an evening's dancing entertainment, in which many different _pas_
are introduced. I was present at a fandango a few nights ago, when a
couple of performers were dancing 'el jarabe,' which seemed to consist
chiefly of a series of monotonous toe and heel movements on the
ground. The motions of the foot were, however, wonderfully rapid, and
always in exact time to the music. But at these entertainments the
waltz seems to be the standing dish. It is danced with numerous very
intricate figures, to which however, all the Californians appear quite
_au fait_. Men and women alike waltz beautifully, with an easy,
graceful swinging motion.

"It is quite a treat, after a hard day's work, to go at nightfall to
one of these fandangos. The merry notes of the guitar and the violin
announce them to all comers; and a motley enough looking crowd, every
member of which is puffing away at a cigar, forms an applauding circle
around the dancers, who smoke like all the rest. One cannot help being
struck by the picturesque costume and graceful movements of the
performers, who appear to dance not only with their legs, but with all
their hearts and souls. During the interval between the dances,
coffee is consumed by the senoras, and the coffee with something
stronger by the senors; so that, as the night advances, the merriment
gets, if not 'fast and furious,' at least animated and imposing."

The dangers which the adventurers are subjected to encounter are often
increased by the hostility of the Indians. These, however, only molest
those who are daring enough to frequent the outskirts of the gold
region. There the Indians are treacherous, and will attack small
parties, even after smoking the pipe of peace with them. Their
principal weapons are bows and arrows; for though many of them have
guns in their possession, the scarcity of ammunition prevents them
from using them to any purpose. The following description of an
encounter with them by a small party, encamped in the valley of the
Bear River, then seldom frequented by white men, will give an idea of
their mode of attack:

"We were just on the point of returning to the camp to dinner, when
Dowling, who was standing near some sage bushes at the upper part of
the ravine, heard a rustling among them, and on moving in the
direction of the noise saw an Indian stealthily creeping along, who,
as soon as he perceived he was discovered, discharged an arrow which
just missed its mark, but lacerated, and that rather severely,
Dowling's ear. The savage immediately set up a most terrific whoop,
and ran off, but tumbled before he could draw another arrow from his
quiver, while Dowling, rushing forward, buried his mattock in the head
of his fallen foe, killing him instantaneously.

"At this moment we heard the crack of a rifle in the direction of the
camp, which, with the Indian's whoop at the same moment, completely
bewildered us. Every man, however, seized his rifle, and Dowling,
hastening towards us, told us of what had just occurred. All was still
for the next few moments, and I mounted a little hill to reconnoitre.
Suddenly I saw a troop of Indians, the foremost of them on horseback,
approaching at full speed. I hastily returned to my companions, and we
sought shelter in a little dell, determined to await there, and resist
the attack, for it was evident that the savages' intentions were any
thing but pacific.

"It was a moment of breathless excitement. We heard the tramp, tramp
of the horses coming on towards us, but as yet, they and their riders
were concealed from our view. I confess I trembled violently, not
exactly with fear, although I expected that a few moments would see us
all scalped by our savage assailants. It was the suddenness of the
danger which startled me, and made my heart throb violently; but at
that moment, just as I was reproaching myself with the want of
courage, a terrific yell rung through the air at a short distance from
us, and forty or fifty warlike Indians appeared in sight. My whole
frame was nerved in an instant, and when a shower of arrows flew
amongst us, I was the first man to answer it with a rifle-shot, which
brought one of the foremost Indians off his horse to the ground. I
instantly reloaded, but in the mean while the rifles of my companions
had been doing good service. We had taken up our position behind a row
of willow trees which skirted the banks of a narrow stream, and here
we were protected in a great measure from the arrows of our
assailants, which were in most cases turned aside by the branches. A
second volley of rifle-shots soon followed the first; and while we
were reloading, and the smoke had slightly cleared away, I could see
that we had spread consternation in the ranks of the Indian warriors,
and that they were gathering up their wounded preparatory to retiring.
I had my eye on an old man, who had just leaped from his horse. My
finger was on the trigger, when I saw him coolly advance, and, taking
one of his wounded companions, who had been shot through the leg, in
his arms, place him on a horse, then mounting his own, and catching
hold of the other animal's bridle, gallop off at full speed. Although
I knew full well that if the fortune of the day had gone against us,
these savages would not have spared a single man of our party, still I
could not find it in my heart to fire on the old chief, and he carried
off his wounded comrade in safety.

"In a few minutes the hill-sides were clear, and when we emerged from
our shelter, all that was visible of the troop of warriors was three
of them weltering in their blood, a bow or two, and some empty
quivers, and a few scattered feathers and tomahawks, lying on the

The grizzly bear is also one of the terrors encountered by the
gold-seekers. This animal grows to the size of four feet in height and
six in length. It is one of the most ferocious animals of North
America. Mules and cattle of various kinds, and even men, are attacked
by it, and its great strength generally enables it to come off with
its prey. Great quickness and courage are absolute essentials of those
who hunt these animals, or encounter them accidentally. An adventure
of two or three gold-seekers, on their road to the mines, accidentally
meeting with a grizzly bear, is thus shortly detailed in the journal
of a returned adventurer.[10]

"About half way from the _rancheria_ a loud braying, followed by a
fierce growl, attracted our attention, and in a few moments a
frightened mule, closely pursued by an enormous grizzly bear,
descended the hill-side within forty yards of where we stood leaning
on our rifles. As the bear reached the road, Higgins, with his usual
quickness and intrepidity, fired, and an unearthly yell from the now
infuriated animal told with what effect. The mule in the interval had
crossed the road, and was now scampering away over the plains, and
Bruin, finding himself robbed of his prey, turned upon us. I levelled
my rifle and gave him the contents with hearty good will, but the
wounds he had received only served to exasperate the monster, who now
made towards us with rapid strides. Deeming prudence the better part
of valor, we ran with all convenient speed in the direction of the
camp, within a hundred yards of which my foot became entangled in the
underbrush, and I fell headlong upon the earth. In another instant I
should have fallen a victim to old Bruin's rage, but a well-directed
ball from my companion's rifle entered his brain and arrested his
career. The whole party now came to our assistance and soon despatched
Mr. Grizzly. Dragging him to camp, we made a hearty supper from his
fat ribs, and, as I had probably been the more frightened of the two,
I claimed as an indemnity his skin, which protected me afterward from
the damp ground many a cold night. He was a monstrous fellow,
measuring nearly four feet in height, and six in length, and a stroke
from his huge paw would, had he caught us, have entirely dissipated
the golden dreams of Higgins and myself."

The same writer gives quite a graphic description of an attack of the
scourge of the miners, the disease called scurvy. He says:

"I was again dreaming of fortune and success, when my hopes were
blasted by an attack of a terrible scourge that wrought destruction
through the northern mines during the winter of 1848. I allude to the
land scurvy. The exposed and unaccustomed life of two-thirds of the
miners, and their entire subsistence upon salt meat, without any
mixture of vegetable matter, had produced this disease, which was
experienced more or less by one-half of the miners within my
knowledge. Its symptoms and progress may not be uninteresting. It was
first noticed in the 'Dry Diggings,' where, about the middle of
February, many persons were rendered unable to walk by swellings of
the lower limbs, and severe pains in them. It was at first supposed to
be rheumatism, and was treated as such. But it withstood the most
powerful applications used in that complaint, and was finally decided
to be scurvy. So long as the circumstances which caused it continued,
the disease made rapid progress. Many, who could obtain no vegetables,
or vegetable acids, lingered out a miserable existence and
died,--while others, fortunate enough to reach the settlements, where
potatoes and acids could be procured, recovered. I noticed its first
attack upon myself by swelling and bleeding of the gums, which was
followed by a swelling of both legs below the knee, which rendered me
unable to walk; and for three weeks I was laid up in my tent, obliged
to feed upon the very articles that had caused the disease, and
growing daily weaker, without any reasonable prospect of relief. There
were, at that time, about eight hundred persons at work on the river,
and hoping to get some medicine, I despatched one of my companions
one morning, with instructions to procure me, if possible, a dose of
salts, and to pay for it any price that should be asked. He returned
at night with the consoling news that he had failed, having found only
two persons who had brought the article with them, and they refused to
sell it at any price.

"I was almost in despair; with only a blanket between myself and the
damp, cold earth, and a thin canvas to protect me from the burning sun
by day, and the heavy dews by night, I lay day after day enduring the
most intense suffering from pain in my limbs, which were now becoming
more swollen, and were turning completely black. Above me rose those
formidable hills which I must ascend ere I could obtain relief. I
believe I should have died, had not accident discovered the best
remedy that could have been produced. In the second week of my
illness, one of our party, in descending the hill on which he had been
deer hunting, found near its base, and strewn along the foot-track, a
quantity of beans which sprouted from the ground, and were in leaf.
Some one, in descending the hill with a bag of them on his back, had
probably dropped them. My companion gathered a quantity and brought
them into camp. I had them boiled, and lived entirely on them for
several days, at the same time using a decoction of the bark of the
spruce tree. These seemed to operate magically; and in a week after
commencing the use of them, I found myself able to walk,--and as soon
as my strength was partially restored, I ascended the hill, and with
two companions walked into Culoma; and by living principally upon a
vegetable diet, which I procured by paying three dollars per pound for
potatoes, in a very short time I recovered."

Thus life in the gold region is made up of variety and contrast.
Sometimes the diggers and washers pass weeks busily engaged at their
toilsome occupation, without the monotony of the time and scene being
disturbed. Again, adventures and exciting incidents will be plentiful
and various. At one time, pleasant weather and fandangos offer easy
enjoyment; at another, extremes of weather, hard work, and bad food
render the life of the miner almost intolerable. Frequently, the
gold-seeker chances to meet spots that yield ample reward for his
toil; and often he works beneath the fierce rays of a broiling sun,
while his legs are in chilly water, and his day's toil scarce yields
more than enough to pay for his living. The trading-posts, situated at
and near the mines, do a far more certain and an equally profitable
business. They are generally the establishments of shrewd, speculating
Yankees, who know what sort of labor is requisite to make a
gold-seeker successful, and prefer to trust to the profits of
bargaining in provisions and mining necessaries for gold.

That the country is pregnant with an enormous quantity of the precious
metal is unquestionable. But that severe and weakening labor, together
with tough constitutions, are indispensable requisites for procuring
it, scarcely admits of a doubt. Very few spend any considerable time
in working at the "diggings," who do not suffer from exposure, and
lose a portion of their constitutional stability. So far, all attempts
at the construction of machines for washing the gold from the sand,
have been of little avail. Machines have been invented and carried out
to the gold region by some of the numerous companies, which, upon
trial, have soon been abandoned for the "cradle," and common wash
pan; but still, the field for invention is open, and the labor now
necessary for procuring the gold is susceptible of considerable
diminution. Of course, the means of transporting provisions and other
necessaries to the mines are constantly improving, as the country is
becoming settled; and thus, one great source of privation and disease
is rapidly diminishing.


[6] Four Months Among the Gold Finders of California, by J. Tyrwhitt
Brooks, M.D.

[7] Personal Adventures in Upper and Lower California, by William
Redmond Ryan.

[8] Sights in the Gold Region, or Scenes by the Way, by Theodore T.

[9] Four Months Among the Gold Finders of California, by J. Tyrwhitt
Brooks, M.D.

[10] Six Months in the Gold Mines, by E. Gould Buffum



At the time of the discovery of the existence of gold in the region of
the Sacramento, San Francisco was a very inconsiderable town. As soon
as the news of the discovery was spread among its inhabitants, it
became almost deserted. Indeed, at one time, there was only seven male
inhabitants left in the town. The site of the present city of San
Francisco was not then occupied by more than fifty houses in all.
These were occupied by a few foreign merchants and some native
Californians. The houses were rudely constructed, the principal
materials being adobés, or unburnt bricks. They were generally one
story high, and most of them were erected near the beach; while at the
rear of the "town," was a sandy plain terminated by a range of hills.
But as soon as the news of the gold discovery reached the United
States, and other countries, companies for mining purposes were
immediately formed, and emigrants soon crowded every route to the
"Land of Promise." Then San Francisco began to be the great receptacle
of the emigrants and the merchandise of various kinds necessary for
their maintenance. The following is a very complete picture of the
city after the spreading of the gold news, and the flood of emigration
had commenced.

"Numberless vessels, mostly from the United States, filled the bay, in
front of San Francisco, many of them being deserted by their crews,
and unable to procure others to take their places. On landing, I had
to clamber up a steep hill, on the top of which, and opposite to where
I stood, was a large wooden house, two stories high, and scarcely half
finished. In the rear of this, rose another and a steeper hill, whose
slopes were covered with a multiplicity of tents. To my right, ran a
sort of steep, or precipice, defended by sundry pieces of cannon,
which commanded the entrance to the harbor. I next came to the
'Point,' and, crossing it, found myself within the town.

"The first objects that attracted my notice were several canvas
houses, measuring from ten to forty feet square, some being
grog-shops, others eating establishments, and the larger set apart as
warehouses, or places of storage. The proprietors of the latter were
making enormous sums by the accommodation their tents afforded to the
hundreds of travellers who were arriving every day from different
parts, and who, being extremely embarrassed as to what they should do
with their luggage, were heartily glad to find any safe place to store
it in, and content to pay for the convenience.

"The spectacle which the beach presented from a convenient opening,
whence I could comprise the whole at a glance, was singularly
interesting and curious. A crowd of individuals, in motley garb, and
of every variety of race, might be seen pressing eagerly upward
towards the town, jostling and pushing one another, in their anxiety
to be first, yet looking eagerly about them, as if to familiarize
themselves at once with the country of their adoption. Here were
dandies from the United States and from France, picking their steps
mincingly, as they strove to keep pace with the sturdy fellows who
carried their luggage; their beaver hats, fashionable frock-coats,
irreproachable and well-strapped pantaloons, exciting the derisive
remarks of the spectators, the majority of them 'old Californians,'
whose rough labor at the 'diggins' had taught them to estimate such
_niaiseries_ at their proper value. By their side stalked the stately
and dignified Spaniard, covered with his broad-brimmed, low-crowned
_sombrero_, and gracefully enveloped in his ample _serapa_, set off by
a bright scarlet sash. He turns neither to the right nor to the left,
nor heeds the crowd about him, but keeps on the even tenor of his
way--though even he has occasionally to jump for it--presenting, in
his demeanor and costume, a striking contrast to the more bustling
activity of the Yankees, who are elbowing every one, in their anxiety
to go a-head. A lot of shopboys, too--mere lads, as spruce and neatly
attired as though they had just stepped out of some fashionable
emporium, mingle with the rest, and, as they enter the town, strike up
the popular parody--

     'Oh, California. That's the land for me!
     I'm bound for the Sacramento, with
     The wash-bowl on my knee.'

And presently, their brother-adventurers, excited by hopes of the
wildest kind, join vociferously in chorus, in the exuberance of their

"A group of Englishmen, muscular in form, and honest in feature, are
chaffering with the keen-witted Yankee porters for the carriage of
their luggage. There is an air of dogged resolution about them, that
plainly indicates they will not submit to what they evidently consider
an imposition. Such a sum for so slender a service! Well, then, they
can carry their baggage themselves: so they will; and, quickly
shouldering it, some depart in the track of the rest, whilst two or
three remain behind, to watch what is left, until their friends
return. They are manifestly well known to one another, and seem to be
almost intimate; the voyage has made them friends.

"Here come a number of Chilians and Peruvians, and a goodly number of
natives from the Sandwich Islands. A couple of Irishmen, too! I know
them by their vivacity, and by the odd trick they have of getting into
every body's way; to say nothing of their broad, merry faces. Their
property is in common, it seems; for they have only one small pack
between them.

"Here come ten or a dozen plainly but comfortably dressed mechanics;
hard-working men they seem, and just the sort of persons to make their
way in a country where the artisan occupies his proper position, and
where honest toil--and dishonest, too, sometimes--is almost certain to
reap a harvest. Far differently will you fare, and far preferable,
too, will be your lot, in regions where privation is the rule, to that
of many amongst your numerous fellow-travellers, unaccustomed as they
are to laborious occupations--with frames uninured to fatigue, and
constitutions unhabituated to scanty fare, to exposure to heat and
cold, and wet and sudden changes! Whilst you are succeeding in your
object, they will grow wearied, disappointed, and home-sick, and long
to be back again on the theatre of their former struggles.

"The human stream ceases not to flow from the vessels in the harbor;
no sooner is one boat-load disposed of than another arrives, and so
on, until the town is gorged with new-comers, who, after a few days'
sojourn, to recruit their strength, after the fatigues of a long and
irksome voyage, depart, and are seen no more for months; many,
perhaps, never to return. Very few of this vast multitude deserve the
epithet of poor. To get here at all requires money; and to maintain
one's self after getting here, the emigrant must have some little

"The majority of the emigrants are men occupying a respectable station
in society; some are even distinguished in their calling; but the
eager desire of making a fortune in a hurry has induced them to throw
up good employments and comfortable homes; to leave friends,
relatives, connexions, wife, children, and familiar associations, to
embark their strength, intelligence, and activity, in this venture.
All is bustle where they have landed: boats going to and fro; rafts
slowly discharging their cumbrous loads; porters anxiously and
interestedly civil; all excited; all bent on gain; ships innumerable
in the bay; mountains around; a clear, blue sky above; and the bright
waters dancing in the sun, until they touch the horizon in the
distance, blending their brightness with his golden track.

"I walked on until I came up to a group of men, who, like myself, were
looking on the busy scene before us with no small degree of interest.
I recognized amongst them two of the volunteers, with whom I forthwith
claimed acquaintance. The whole party had come from the mines, as was
easily to be seen from their appearance, which was something the worse
for wear, their countenances being weather-beaten and bronzed by
exposure; whilst their attire, consisting of buckskin coats, leather
leggings, and broad-brimmed hats, denoted the sort of labor in which
they had been recently engaged. I learned from them, in the course of
a subsequent conversation, that they had all of them been successful
at the 'diggings.' One of the number had made, or 'picked,' two
thousand dollars, and the rest, from that to nine thousand dollars
each, within the space of a few months. With this, however, they were
far from satisfied, most of them being determined to realize a large
fortune before they quitted the country; for not one of them seemed to
have the remotest intention of settling.

"The party had come down from the mines to make purchases, and to
enjoy a little recreation. They were admirable specimens of their
class--hardy in appearance and rough in demeanor; but shrewd, withal,
and toil-enduring. For the moment, their conversation turned upon the
prospects of the newly-landed emigrants--for I should have stated that
there were one or two arrivals in the harbor--and they were unsparing
of their remarks upon such of the new comers as by their dress, or any
physical peculiarity, offered a fair target for their witticisms,
which were not less pointed than coarse.

"The discovery of the gold mines, has done at once for San Francisco
what it was reasonable to anticipate time only could have effected;
and its progress in importance has far outstripped the most sanguine
expectations which could be based upon any hypothesis hazarded on the
strength of its admirable position and facilities for trade.
Nevertheless, its growth seems unnatural; and, looking at it as I saw
it then, it left on my mind the impression of instability, so
marvellous was it to gaze upon a city of tents, wood, and canvas,
starting up thus suddenly, forming but a halting-place to the
thousands who visited it; having for citizens a large majority of
gamblers and speculators; and presenting of civilization but the
rudest outline, and some of its worst vices. It was impossible,
indeed, for an observer to contemplate San Francisco, at this
particular period of its history, and not to feel that every thing
about it savored of transition. A storm or a fire must have destroyed
the whole in a few hours; for every house, shed, or tent, had
manifestly been constructed merely to serve the end of the actual
occupier; they were all adapted for trading, but not a convenience or
a comfort appertained to them, to indicate a desire or an intention of
settlement. Every day brought new-comers, and added to the number of
ephemeral structures which crowded the hill-sides. Mechanics of every
description of calling were at work, earnestly, busily, and
cheerfully; and, whichever way I turned, there was bustle and
activity; yet, withal, I felt that such a state of things was unsound,
because resting on what was essentially speculative, and I doubted not
but a great change must come before the city could be regarded as
substantially advancing. Comprised at a glance, it presented no other
appearance save that of a confused crowd of tenements, of every
variety of construction; some high, some low, perched upon the steep
hills, or buried in the deep valleys--but still tents and canvas every
where and any where, their numbers defying calculation, their
structure and position all analysis. There existed neither wells nor
ponds within a very considerable distance; and what struck me as most
singular, being aware that the Spaniards had a mission here, there was
no sign of a church. I subsequently ascertained that the site of the
Mission of Dolores, about five miles distant, had been preferred by
the Spaniards, and that divine service was performed there still.

"As I proceeded along the road leading into the principal street of
the city, I was uncomfortably reminded that it would soon become
necessary for me to select a place where I could procure refreshment;
and in connexion with this necessity, arose another consideration no
less important, namely, where I should lodge? There was no other mode
of solving the difficulty, save by an exploration of the localities;
accordingly, I kept these objects in view, whilst I also gratified my
curiosity by continuing my perambulations.

"In this same road, but nearer to the entrance of the main street than
I should say was, under any circumstances, altogether pleasant, stood
the _correl_ of the Washington Market, being a spacious area of
ground, inclosed with stakes, over which were stretched raw hides.
Owing to the large number of cattle slaughtered here for the use of
the inhabitants, the odor from this place was insufferable, and I
quickened my pace until my olfactory organs became sensible of a purer

"I turned into the principal street, and soon came up to the market
itself, which is a wooden house, about thirty feet square, kept by an
American. To my right, as I advanced, were some stores and hotels,
and a confectioner's shop of remarkably neat and clean appearance:
these were all one story, wooden buildings. One of the hotels was
appropriately designated as 'The Colonnade.' It was kept by a
volunteer named Huxley, and differed from every similar establishment
in the town, inasmuch as the proprietor allowed neither gambling nor
drunkenness on his premises. To this the 'Gotham Saloon,' a little
further on, offered a perfect contrast, for here there were several
_monté_ rooms and a large bowling-alley, where persons who had a taste
for the latter amusement might indulge in their favorite pastime for a
dollar a game. This saloon was likewise kept by two volunteers, as was
also the confectioner's by a fourth; so that three of the most noted
houses in the town were rented by men, who, a few months before,
scarcely possessed any thing save their enterprise and their industry,
but who were now on the high road to opulence. The more credit was due
to them, and others of their brethren whom fortune had similarly
favored, because, at first, they had deep-rooted prejudices to
encounter, which prudence and perseverance only could have enabled
them to overcome.

"I came next to the Square, or 'Plaza,' on one side of which, and
fronting it, stood the 'Miner's Bank,' established by a Mr. Wright, a
keen speculator, who had secured possession of a large extent of
landed property, which he was turning to the very best account. On the
left of the Plaza, I noticed a spacious-looking wooden building, two
stories high, called the 'Parker House;' but the handsome piazza in
front caused me to hesitate on the threshold; for I apprehended--and
not without reason--that, even in California, appearances must be
paid for; as, therefore, my purse was not overstocked, I prudently
sought a more modest establishment.

"I passed another hotel, similar to this one, but not quite so large,
and came presently to a low wooden house, of most unattractive and
unprepossessing exterior, which was dignified by the name of the
'_Café Français_.' As this seemed likely to suit my present
convenience, and to promise a scale of prices on a par with its
external appearance, I entered boldly, and seated myself at the
dining-table. I noticed, as I went in, that, notwithstanding the
poverty without, there was abundance within; the counter being
literally overcharged with French pastry, a variety of ingenious
culinary preparations, and some foreign liquors.

"After I had finished my repast, consisting of a beef-steak, two eggs,
and a couple of cups of coffee, I prepared to depart. I specify the
items of which my repast was made up, because of the price I paid for
them--namely, two dollars and a half. I was informed, on hazarding an
observation respecting the amount, that the charges were excessively
moderate, any thing in the shape of a dinner being usually charged one
dollar and fifty cents; half a dollar each for the eggs, which were
extras, was only a reasonable price for such luxuries, as they
frequently sold for double. I considered the information thus obtained
to be cheap, of its kind, and went away with a mental reservation not
to eat any more eggs in California, unless they were of another
description than the golden ones.

"As I repassed the 'Parker House,' the _hotel, par excellence_, of San
Francisco, I went in, knowing that, like all similar establishments,
there were the usual amusements going on within.

"This is not only the largest, but the handsomest building in San
Francisco; and, having been constructed at enormous expense, and
entirely on speculation, a concurrence of fortunate circumstances
alone, such as had followed upon the discovery of the gold mines,
could have insured its prosperity. It was now one of the most
frequented, fashionable, and firmly established hotels in the country;
and, in so far as it presented a model to the builders and settlers in
the town, was a signal illustration of the shrewdness and enterprise
of the Yankee character, and a standing credit to the projectors and

"It is built entirely of wood, and contains two very spacious
principal rooms; the one a dining-room, the other set apart for
billiards. Besides these, there are three saloons of lesser
dimensions, especially devoted to gambling, and two well supplied
bars--one below, to the right of the entry, the other in the
billiard-room. The portion of the hotel that is not set apart for the
usual offices and conveniences is divided off into innumerable
chambers, which are occupied by the superior classes of
emigrants--lawyers, doctors, money-brokers, _cum multis aliis_.

"The saloon contains two very handsome billiard-tables, which are
constantly occupied by players, chiefly Americans, some of them of
first-rate excellence. The charge was a dollar per game of a hundred,
and they were no sooner vacated by one party than another came in.

"The establishment contained nine gambling-tables, which were crowded
day and night, by the citizens and the miners; many of the latter
staking very large sums upon the turn of a card. The stakes, however,
varied from twenty-five cents to five thousand dollars; and the
excitement of some of the losers was frequently fearful to
contemplate. Some who gained largely prudently withdrew; and I was
informed that, a few days previously to my arrival, a new-comer from
the States, who was bound for the mines, having come into the saloon,
and tried his fortune at the _monte_ tables, luckily made twenty
thousand dollars, with which he returned home, by the steamer, two
days afterwards.

"The 'Golden Eagle,' (_l'Aguila d'Oro_) is another gambling
establishment, situated in one of the streets leading into the Plaza.
It is a canvas house, about fifty feet square, fitted up with the
requisites for play, and let out by the proprietor at the rate of
fifteen hundred dollars a month. Every available spot around the
tables was crowded to inconvenience by persons who were engaged deeply
in the game, the majority standing up and watching the chances with
countenances betokening the greatest excitement.

"I now proceeded to the City Hotel, a large but somewhat antiquated
building, constructed of _adobé_, after the Spanish fashion, but
hybridized by American improvements. The interior was even more
insufferable than the El Dorado, in respect of the boisterousness of
its frequenters. In the first room that I entered were five
gambling-tables, doing a 'smashing business'--a term employed,
somewhat in contradiction to its import, to denote prosperity. The
majority of the players were Americans and other foreigners,
intermixed with a goodly number of Spaniards of the lowest order.
There was the same excitement, the same recklessness, and the same
trickery here, as at the other gambling saloons, only infinitely more
noise and smoke, and swearing and inebriety.

"Here I met with another of the volunteers, who proposing a walk, we
went out together, and proceeded to the Plaza. I found a good many old
acquaintances set up in business at this spot; one, who had been a
captain, had recently turned money-broker, and now kept an office for
the exchange of coin and gold-dust, having entered into partnership
with a highly respectable and agreeable individual, of active business
habits, who promised to prove a great acquisition to the concern.

"We soon reached a low, long, _adobé_ building, situated at the upper
side of the square, and which my companion told me was the Custom
House. To the right of the Plaza stood the Saint Charles's Hotel, a
wooden edifice covered in with canvas, and the Peytona House, an
establishment of a similar description, in both of which we did not
fail to find the usual games carried on.

"The streets leading down to the water-side contain comparatively few
hotels or eating-houses, they being chiefly wood and canvas
trading-stores. I observed amongst them several newly opened auction
and commission-rooms, where goods were being put up, recommended and
knocked down in true Yankee style. An immense number of wooden
frame-houses in course of erection met our view in every direction;
and upon remarking that many of them appeared to have been purposely
left incomplete, I ascertained that this arose from the extreme
difficulty of procuring lumber, which, on account of its scarcity,
occasionally fetched an incredibly high price. A good deal of it is
brought from Oregon, and some from South America. Many of the larger
houses, but far inferior, notwithstanding, to such of the same kind as
could easily be procured in New York at a rental of from 300 to 400
dollars a-year, cost here at least 10,000 dollars to build them, the
lots on which they were erected being valued at sums varying from
30,000 to 50,000 dollars, according to the locality. Many spots of
ground, just large enough for a small trading-house or a tent to stand
upon, let at from 1200 to 2000 dollars.

"Amongst the various emigrants who daily flocked into the city--for
each day brought its fresh arrivals--were numerous Chinese, and a very
considerable number of Frenchmen, from the Sandwich Islands and from
South America. The former had been consigned, with houses and
merchandise, to certain Americans in San Francisco, to whom they were
bound by contract, as laborers, to work at a scale of wages very far
below the average paid to mechanics and others generally. The houses
they brought with them from China, and which they set up where they
were wanted, were infinitely superior and more substantial than those
erected by the Yankees, being built chiefly of logs of wood, or
scantling, from six to eight inches in thickness, placed one on the
top of the other, to form the front, rear, and sides; whilst the roofs
were constructed on an equally simple and ingenious plan, and were
remarkable for durability.

"These Chinese had all the air of men likely to prove good citizens,
being quiet, inoffensive, and particularly industrious. I once went
into an eating-house, kept by one of these people, and was astonished
at the neat arrangement and cleanliness of the place, the excellence
of the table, and moderate charges. It was styled the 'Canton
Restaurant;' and so thoroughly Chinese was it in its appointments, and
in the manner of service, that one might have easily fancied one's
self in the heart of the Celestial Empire. The barkeeper--though he
spoke excellent English--was a Chinese, as were also the attendants.
Every article that was sold, even of the most trifling kind, was set
down, in Chinese characters, as it was disposed of; it being the duty
of one of the waiters to attend to this department. This he did very
cleverly and quickly, having a sheet of paper for the purpose, on
which the article and the price were noted down in Chinese characters,
by means of a long, thin brush, moistened in a solution of Indian or
Chinese ink. As I had always been given to understand that these
people were of dirty habits, I feel it only right to state that I was
delighted with the cleanliness of this place, and am gratified to be
able to bear testimony to the injustice of such a sweeping assertion.

"As for the French, they seemed entirely out of their element in this
Yankee town; and this circumstance is not to be wondered at, when the
climate and the habits of the people are taken into consideration, and
also the strange deficiencies they must have observed in the ordinary
intercourse of life between the citizens, so different from the
polished address, common even amongst the peasantry in their rudest
villages; to say nothing of the difficulty of carrying on business
amongst a people whose language they did not understand. But their
universal goal was the mines; and to the mines they went, with very
few exceptions.

"Speaking of them reminds me of a '_Café Restaurant_,' in San
Francisco, kept by a very civil Frenchman, and situated on the way to
the Point. I mention it, because I one day made here the most
uncomfortable repast it had ever been my lot to sit down to. Yet this
was not owing to any lack of attention on the part of the proprietor,
to any inferiority in the quality of his provisions, or to any
deficiency of culinary skill in their preparation; but simply to the
prevalence of the pest to which I have already alluded as invading my
own tent, namely, the dust. The house was built chiefly of wood, and
had a canvas roof, but this was insufficient to keep out the
impalpable particles with which the air was charged, and which settled
upon and insinuated themselves into every article in the place. There
was dust on the counter, on the shelves, on the seats, on the
decanters, and in them; on the tables, in the salt, on my beef-steak,
and in my coffee. There was dust on the polite landlord's cheeks, and
in his amiable wife's eyes, which she was wiping with the corner of a
dusty apron. I hurried my meal, and was paying my score, when I caught
sight of my own face in a dusty-looking and dust-covered glass near
the bar, and saw that I too had become covered with it, my entire
person being literally encrusted with a coat of powder, from which I
experienced considerable difficulty in cleansing myself.

"Notwithstanding all I had seen of San Francisco, there yet existed
here a world apart, that I should never have dreamed of, but for my
being one day called upon to act upon a jury appointed to sit in
inquest over a person who had died there. This place was called the
'Happy Valley.'

"Previously to our repairing thither, we attended at the court-house,
to take the usual oath. Proceeding then through the lower part of the
town, we reached the beach, along which, by the water-side, we walked
for a distance of three miles--up to our ancles in mud and sand--until
we came to a spot where there were innumerable tents pitched, of all
sizes, forms, and descriptions, forming an irregular line stretching
along the shore for about two miles.

"The ground was, of course, low, damp, and muddy; and the most
unmistakeable evidences of discomfort, misery, and sickness, met our
view on every side, for the locality was one of the unwholesomest in
the vicinity of the town. Yet here, to avoid the payment of enormous
ground-rents, and at the same time to combine the advantage of cheap
living, were encamped the major portion of the most recently arrived
emigrants, and, amongst the rest, those of the ship Brooklyn, on one
of the passengers of which the inquest was about to be held.

"This, then, was the 'Happy Valley;' a term no doubt applied to it in
derision, taking into consideration the squalor, the discomfort, the
filth, the misery, and the distress that were rife there.

"I am satisfied that much of the crime and lawlessness that is
prevalent in California--particularly in towns like San Francisco,
where the ruder sex are congregated exclusively and in large
multitudes--is attributable to the want of the humanizing presence of
women. In San Francisco there were about ten thousand males, and
scarcely a hundred females; for, although in many parts of California
the latter outnumber the former, the national prejudice against color
was too strong for legitimate amalgamation to take place."

Such was San Francisco soon after the discovery of the riches of the
Sacramento region. From an insignificant settlement, sometimes the
resort of whaling-vessels, and of a few traders, it was quickly
transferred into a city, with an extensive and constantly increasing
commerce. In its streets and squares, erected where, just before, was
a desert plain, people of almost every nation were seen busily engaged
in traffic, or preparing for departure to the gold region. It seemed
the work of the enchanter.

Although, like San Francisco, _Monterey_ was almost deserted by its
inhabitants upon the receipt of information of the gold discovery, it
soon began to give signs of improvement. The bay, upon the shore of
which the town is located, is more exposed to the swell of the sea,
and to the north-west storms, than the Bay of San Francisco, and
therefore the harbor is inferior. Yet Monterey received a considerable
share of the tide of emigration. Those who stopped there were
generally persons who intended to make a permanent settlement, and
engage in mercantile pursuits; and, therefore, though the increase of
the town was not so rapid as that of San Francisco, it carried with it
more denotements of stability.

The town is situated on a short bend near the entrance of the bay,
upon its southern side. The point of land which partly protects its
harbor from the sea is called Point Pinos. A very neat and pretty
appearance is presented by the houses of the native Californians,
which are generally constructed of _adobés_ and white-plastered. Those
of the Americans are easily distinguished by their being built of logs
and planks, and presenting a more substantial, but rougher appearance.
The town is surrounded by hills, covered with lofty pine trees. Upon a
height which overlooks the town and harbor, a fort was built by the
Americans during the war with Mexico, and a military force continued
there till after the treaty of peace.

The country in the neighborhood of Monterey is fertile, and yields
ample reward to the agriculturist. There would, therefore, be no lack
of supplies of provisions, but for the indolence of the Californians,
owning the different _ranches_ in the surrounding country. From this
cause, great scarcity of provisions of all kinds is often the result.
Notwithstanding the additions made by Yankee enterprise and
innovation, the general manners and customs of the inhabitants of
Monterey retain all their old Spanish character; and some of the
customs of the natives, particularly their amusements, are heartily
joined in by the more susceptible of the new-comers. The fandango and
the serenade with the guitar, still hold their sway as freely and as
undisturbed as in old Spain. The winters are severely felt here. The
rain causes torrents of water to pour down from the hills in the rear
of the town, deluging the principal streets, and rendering their
passage almost impossible. During this period, the only resort of the
inhabitants for passing away the time is the vice of gambling, in
which they early become adepts. This gambling propensity, noticed
among the Californians, induced a considerable number of the initiated
to emigrate from the United States, and Monterey received a goodly
proportion of them. Such an increase of the population, however, could
not be considered desirable. Upon the whole, though in a less degree,
the effect of the golden attractions of California could be seen at
Monterey as at San Francisco. Though it did not spring at once from a
small settlement to a large city, it was considerably improved, and in
1849, it numbered more than a thousand inhabitants.

A short distance south of Monterey, is the town of _Santa Barbara_.
Its situation is one of the most beautiful in California. It is built
upon a plain ten miles in extent. In front is a broad bay, having a
smooth beach of nearly thirty miles in extent. On the right, towards
the water, is a lofty eminence rising nearly a thousand feet. Directly
back of the town is a range of almost impassable hills, running in a
diagonal direction. There is no harbor in the bay, and vessels are
obliged to anchor in an open roadstead; and when the south-east winds
prevail, they are in constant peril.

The progress of the town was not much affected by the gold mania. But
though it offers no attractions for mercantile or gold digging
purposes, it has others which will, no doubt, make it a favorite place
of residence. In 1849, it contained about one hundred and fifty
houses, built of _adobés_, and all one story in height. The town is
celebrated for being the residence of the aristocracy of California,
and for its beautiful women. Its inhabitants are principally
_rancheros_, who visit their _ranches_ two or three times in a year to
see to the marking and killing of their cattle, and then spend the
remainder of the year in the town, enjoying life as much as possible.
Indolence is the general vice. A horse to ride, plenty to eat, and
_cigaros_ to smoke constitute their _summum bonum_. Santa Barbara is
more celebrated for its fandangos than any other town on the coast.
These are open to all comers, and constitute the general pastime of an
evening. The climate is mild and spring-like, and, independent of the
attractions in the town, the surrounding country offers many of the
most beautiful rides in California. About a mile in the rear of the
town, at the top of a gentle slope, is the mission of Santa Barbara,
with its old, white walls and cross-mounted spires. The presiding
priest of California resides there, and a number of the converted
Indians still remain and cultivate the surrounding soil. The mission
is in a better condition than any other in the country.

_Ciudad de los Angeles_, or the City of the Angels, is situated a
hundred and ten miles south of Santa Barbara, at the end of an immense
plain, extending from the city twenty-five miles, to San Pedro, its
port. This is the garden spot of California. Before the discovery of
the gold mines, the City of the Angels was the largest town in the
country. It contains about two thousand inhabitants, most of whom are
wealthy _rancheros_, who dwell there to cultivate the grape. As in all
the towns of California, the houses are constructed of _adobé_ and
covered with asphaltum, which is found in great quantities near the
town. The northern section is laid out in streets, and is occupied by
the trading citizens; the southern section is made up of gardens,
vinyards and orchards, which are made extremely productive by
irrigating the soil with the water of a large stream running through
them. Many acres of ground are covered with vines, which, being
trimmed every year, are kept about six feet in height. In the fall of
the year, these vines are burdened with rich clusters of grapes; and,
in addition to these, great quantities of fruit of various kinds are
raised. The surrounding country abounds with game of all kinds. In the
rainy season, millions of ducks and geese cover the plains between Los
Angeles and San Pedro, while the neighboring hills abound with quails,
deer, elk, and antelope. The vineyards produce such quantities of
grapes, that many thousand barrels of wine and _aguardiente_--the
brandy of the country--are annually manufactured. The wine is of
various kinds; some of it being equal to the best produced in Europe.

The inhabitants of the City of the Angels, being generally of the
wealthy class of Californians, have always strongly adhered to the
institutions of Mexico. They offered the most strenuous resistance to
the American forces at the time of the conquest of California, but
were vanquished in two battles, and the city taken. All the customs
and amusements peculiar to the Spaniards and the countries which they
colonized, are here in full vogue. Music, dancing, singing,
slaughtering cattle, or gambling, are the usual pastimes of the
inhabitants. Yet, with these trifling occupations, attachment to the
Roman Catholic church and a careful observance of its ceremonies, is
characteristic of all. Upon the tolling of the bell, gaming, swearing,
dancing--every thing is stopped while the prescribed prayer is
muttered, and then all go on as before.

Though Los Angeles did not experience any increase of population
consequent upon the flood of emigration to California, its delightful
climate and its fertile soil are gradually procuring it such
consideration as will doubtless lead to the filling up of the
surrounding country.

_San Diego_ is the most southern town of Upper California. It is
situated on the coast, three miles north of the line separating Upper
and Lower California. The harbor is inferior only to that of San
Francisco. It is perfectly sheltered by land from the gales at all
seasons of the year. Vessels can lie within a cable's length of the
beach, there being no surf running upon it. The town is situated about
three miles from the beach, and is about the same size as Santa
Barbara. It is a place of far greater facilities and promise, however,
than the last mentioned town. San Diego has always been the most
important depot for hides, upon the coast; and there is no doubt that
an extensive inland trade will be carried on between it and the towns
in the interior, as the region of the Colorado and the Gila becomes
settled. Since the conquest of Upper California and the discovery of
the gold, the progress of the town has been rapid. From being an
inconsiderable settlement sustained principally by a mission, which
had early been established there, it has become a town of great
commercial promise. The climate being mild and pleasant, and the
surrounding country abounding in game and adapted for grazing, thus
making provisions abundant, San Diego is a very desirable place of

The town of San José is situated in a fertile valley, near the most
southern extremity of the Bay of San Francisco. On the south of the
town runs a small stream, and the place is surrounded by plains,
affording fine pasturage. Being situated on the direct route from the
southern ports to the gold mines, San José received a considerable
stimulus from their discovery. A profitable trade was soon
established, and the town improved very rapidly. It is now a town of
about four thousand inhabitants, and the increase still continues
rapid. In a greater degree than any of the older towns of California,
it has all the evidence of a thriving and progressive place. The
greater part of the buildings are constructed in a style which shows
the inroads of the taste of the people from the Atlantic States. A
number of Mormons settled here at an early period, and built a great
many neat wooden houses and cottages, which contrast favorably with
the heavy old _adobés_ residences of the native inhabitants. Flour and
saw-mills have been erected, but the scarcity of water is severely
felt by their proprietors.

San José in respect to climate and general abundance of the
necessaries and luxuries of life, is one of the most desirable places
of residence in California. Though situated a short distance inland,
and thus deprived of the facilities which contributed to the rapid
growth of San Francisco, the fertile plain surrounding it, and the
increase of the inland trade and travel will draw to the town and its
neighborhood a thriving, business population. The old mission of San
José is situated about ten miles from the town. The establishment and
the grounds belonging to it are in a state of decay. The population
there is about three hundred in number, most of whom are Indians, and
all of them in a degraded condition.

The emigration to the gold region caused many towns to spring up, as
if by magic, in its neighborhood, and on the route to it from San
Francisco. These were principally the stopping places of the
gold-seekers, or the seat of a trade in provisions and articles
manufactured in the States and transported thither. Some of these
towns have become of a size sufficient to warrant the assertion that
they will soon rival the cities of the Atlantic coast of the United
States. The progress of these places is aided by the enormous price of
real estate in San Francisco.

One of the most promising of the new towns is called Benicia. It is
situated on the Strait of Carquinez, thirty-five miles north of San
Francisco. The strait forms the entrance of Suisan into Pablo Bay.
The site of Benicia is a gentle slope, which, descending to the
water, becomes almost a plain. Vessels of the first class can lie at
anchor at its bank, and discharge their cargoes, and the harbor is
safe from violent winds. The town has been made the head-quarters of
the Pacific division of the United States army, and a site for a
navy-yard has been selected by Commodore Jones. The marks of
governmental favor show in what estimation the position of Benicia is
held. The town was laid out in 1848, by Robert Semple and Thomas O.
Larkin. Early in 1850, lots were selling at very high rates, and the
population numbered more than a thousand persons.

Between Benicia and Sacramento city, several towns have been laid out,
all in very favorable positions. The principal are--Martinez, on the
southern shore of the strait of Carquinez, nearly opposite Benicia;
New York of the Pacific, at the junction of the River San Joaquin with
the Bay of Suisan; Suisan, on the west bank of the Sacramento, at a
distance of eighty miles from San Francisco.

Next to San Francisco, Sacramento is the largest city in California.
It is situated on the eastern bank of the Sacramento River, one
hundred miles from San Francisco, and sixty-five from Suisan Bay. It
is located on a beautiful plain, which is not elevated more than ten
or twelve feet above the river at low water. This being insufficient
to protect it from the rise of the waters of the river, several
disastrous floods have occurred during the existence of the city. Up
to this point, the river is navigable for large class steamers. Ships
drawing not more than twelve feet of water may go up that far at all
seasons; and, besides these commercial advantages, Sacramento is the
natural trading depot for the richest portion of the mining regions.

Where the city of Sacramento now stands, at the time of the gold
discovery, there stood, "solitary and alone," a small fort. This
formed the nucleus, about which, at the commencement of the rush of
emigration, the town soon sprang into existence. Its increase has been
almost as rapid as that of San Francisco. During the rainy season of
the early part of 1850, the population numbered somewhere between
twenty and thirty thousand. But at that period, a considerable portion
of the gold-diggers made Sacramento and the other towns in the
neighborhood of the mines, their resort, to escape the severity of
spending the season at the open and exposed valleys of the gold
region. The city is regularly laid out, but its appearance evidences
the rapidity of its erection. The greater number of the houses and
stores in the neighborhood of the river are constructed of wood, while
the outskirts, particularly upon the south, are occupied by the tents
of the constantly-arriving overland emigrants. Before the commencement
of the last rainy season, the number of these emigrants reached two or
three thousand. They squatted upon the vacant lots which had been
surveyed and sold to other persons. This caused a considerable
agitation in the town, which continued till the disastrous flood swept
both the parties off the ground, and thus left the field clear for
another commencement. Sacramento is the grand receptacle of the
overland emigration, and this, combined with its commercial
facilities, will continue to give the city a superiority over the
majority of the other places in California.

Adjoining Sacramento city, is the town of Sutter. It is situated on
the highest and healthiest ground on the river. It is not, like
Sacramento, subject to an annual overflow. The town was originally
laid out by Captain Sutter and others; and is owned by Hon. John
McDougall, Lieutenant-Governor of California, and Captain Sutter. It
has a thriving business population, and its position, and the
fertility of the neighboring country will soon make it a place of

Stockton is to the southern portion of the gold region what Sacramento
is to the northern. It is situated upon a slough, or a succession of
sloughs, containing the back waters formed by the junction of the San
Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers. It is about fifty miles from the mouth
of the San Joaquin, and one hundred from San Francisco. The ground
upon which it is situated is high and is not subject to overflow.
Vessels drawing nine feet water can ascend the San Joaquin as far as
Stockton, and discharge their cargoes on the bank. In the latter part
of 1848, the town was laid out and a frame building erected by Charles
M. Weber. In eight months from that time, it contained a population of
about two thousand permanent residents, and a large number of
temporary residents, on their road to the mines. Communication is with
San Francisco by means of steamboats and launches, and the commerce of
the town is constantly increasing.

Other towns exist--on paper--in the neighborhood of San Francisco and
the gold region, and, doubtless, they will, in the course of time,
become settled by a thriving, go-ahead population from the Atlantic
States. Land speculation in California is as profitable a business as
gold-digging--and less toilsome. Many of the shrewd ones, who early
took advantage of this "tide in the affairs of men," have already
reached the goal of their hopes, an independent fortune. Those who saw
how things would turn out, and purchased land in the neighborhood of
the region which promised to receive the principal current of the
emigration to California, found themselves wealthy in the short space
of a few months.

The great influx of emigrants to Upper California has brought the
subject of the settlement of the peninsula into consideration. There
is but little doubt that Lower California will, sooner or later,
become the property of the United States, and then its settlement and
progress will be rapid. The coast upon the gulf affords many excellent
harbors, and the mountainous region of the interior gives abundant
evidence of mineral wealth, as far as it has been explored. Several
silver mines have been opened in different places, the principal of
which are at San Antonio, between La Paz and Cape San Lucas. Near
Loretto, the first settlement in California, extensive copper mines
have been opened, and lead and iron abound in all directions. The
pearl fishery of the gulf has already yielded an enormous wealth,
having been prosecuted from the time of the discovery of the
peninsula. The fishing season lasts from May till November, and more
than a hundred vessels are yearly engaged in the business. These
resources, despite the general unfitness of the country for
agricultural purposes, will soon attract their full share of
consideration, and cause an influx of emigrants and adventurers from
the United States and other countries. Some portions of the country
are susceptible of irrigation, and might thus be rendered fit for

The principal port of Lower California is La Paz, situated near the
mouth of the gulf. The bay on the shore of which the town is located,
is of great extent and beauty, and possesses a large number of rich
pearl oyster-beds--the pearl fishery having at one time supplied the
chief article of traffic on this part of the coast. The country around
the bay is elevated and picturesque, though rugged; the soil being
composed principally of rock and sand, wildly and irregularly covered
with the most prickly species of stunted bushes and shrubs of sunburnt
hue. The town of La Paz is neatly built and presents a pretty
appearance. The streets are lined with willow trees, and these meeting
overhead, form a delicious shade during the heat of the day. The
houses are all constructed of _adobés_, plastered white, and thatched
with the leaves of the palm tree. The beach is lined with palms,
cocoa-nut, fig and tamarind trees. La Paz was taken by the American
volunteers during the war with Mexico, and considerable destruction of
the orchards, gardens and houses of the town was the consequence. The
harbor offers great advantages for a naval station, and such,
doubtless, it will become.

San José, the most southern town of Lower California, is situated
about half-way between Cape San Lucas and Cape Palmo, on a sort of
desert plain, extending from the beautiful valley of San José to the
ocean. It is located about three miles from the beach, and is one of
the strangest creations in the shape of a town imaginable.

The heavy rains and freshets which occur in the wet season, in this
region, render every elevation invaluable as a preservative against
the dangers of sudden inundations; hence all the houses are built
upon steeps, rocks, and hillocks, necessarily irrespective of order;
so that, even in the most densely populated districts, barren hills,
as yet unoccupied by dwellings, are frequently to be met with, with
deep hollows in every part, converting mere visits into positive
enterprises, in most instances both tedious and disagreeable. To these
great natural disadvantages, the indolence of the inhabitants has
added others, their common practice being to dig for _adobé_ clay at
the nearest convenient spot, namely, for the most part, opposite their
own doors; thus, one would imagine that the site of the whole town had
been visited and disturbed by a succession of miniature earthquakes,
which, whilst they had left the houses themselves unshaken, had heaved
and perched them up in the most uncomfortable positions, and in the
most inaccessible places. In the very centre of the principal street,
which appears to have once upon a time been level, are three or four
immense clay-pits, serving as a receptacle for dead dogs, cats, bones,
vegetable refuse, and, in a word, every description of rubbish and
nuisance a very dirty population can convey to or discharge in them.

But a description of the town would be incomplete without adding that
it is dotted about in these hollows, and in the sand-holes in the
rocks, with patches of thorn, brush, and cacti, forming a singular yet
refreshing contrast with the general barrenness of the region itself,
the whole being surrounded by a bleak mountainous range, which
increases in elevation until it blends with the clear sky, far in the

The principal, indeed the only regular street in the town, is wide and
long, the houses being constructed of _adobés_ and cane, thatched with
palm leaves. It is blocked up at the remoter end by the fort, which
stands upon a wide foundation of rock of considerable elevation;
various portions of the _adobé_ walls connecting the crags having been
pierced, so as to allow artillery to be trained through the
embrasures, whilst, in other parts, there are numerous loop-holes for
musketry. There are some very awkward cavities amongst these rocks,
produced by digging for clay for the _adobé_ work. The fort is
flat-roofed and parapetted, having portholes for cannon; and below, in
the very centre of the building, occupying about a third of its entire
length, runs a thick wall, forming a crescent, well mounted with heavy
guns. At the end of this crescent, between it and the front wall, is
the entrance to the fort--a mere aperture, barely wide enough to allow
of one man's passing in.

These defences proved to be of great advantage to a small party of
Americans that landed at San José, during the war between the United
States and Mexico, and were compelled to take shelter in the old
quartel, or barracks. There they were surrounded by the Californians,
and stood a siege of several weeks', suffering incredible hardships.
The population of San José numbers about three thousand, the majority
being semi-Indians, or the pure descendants of the Mexicans. There is
little promise of any considerable increase in the size of the town,
owing to the natural disadvantages of situation.

The other towns of Lower California are--San Antonio, in the
neighborhood of an extensive silver mine, which has been worked for a
long time with considerable profit; Loreto, on the gulf coast, about
two hundred miles north of La Paz; San Domingo and Todos Santos, on
the Pacific coast. The latter town is situated on the bay of the same
name, and is the most northerly part of Lower California. The church
and mission buildings at this place are the largest and most imposing
structures of the kind in Lower California. The church has a handsome
front and a lofty steeple. The mission is the residence of the head of
the church in Lower California. There is every reason to believe,
that, when the richer portions of Upper California begin to get a
little crowded, the tide of emigration will be turned to the south,
and the ports of the peninsula will become of great commercial
importance. Then, if not before, the country will become the property
of the United States, either by way of purchase, or after the manner
of Texas.



The state of things which induced the people of California to form a
state government deserves to be fully set forth. Their condition was
without precedent in history; and from a statement of that condition,
it will be seen that the framing of a constitution and the
organization of a state government was the only resource of the
Californians. The representations of the report of Thomas Butler King
to the government of the United States will not be contradicted, and
these we insert.

"The discovery of the gold mines had attracted a very large number of
citizens of the United States to that territory, who had never
been accustomed to any other than American law, administered by
American courts. There they found their rights of property and person
subject to the uncertain, and frequently most oppressive, operation of
laws written in a language they did not understand, and founded on
principles, in many respects, new to them. They complained that the
alcaldes, or judges, most of whom had been appointed or elected before
the immigration had commenced, were not lawyers by education or
profession; and, being Americans, they were, of course, unacquainted
with the laws of Mexico, or the principles of the civil law on which
they are founded.

"As our own laws, except for the collection of revenue, the
transmission of the mails, and establishment of postoffices, had not
been extended over that territory, the laws of Mexico, as they existed
at the conclusion of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, regulating the
relations of the inhabitants of California with each other,
necessarily remained in force;[11] yet, there was not a single volume
containing those laws, as far as I know or believe, in the whole
territory, except, perhaps, in the governor's office at Monterey.

"The magistrates, therefore, could not procure them, and the
administration of justice was, necessarily, as unequal and fluctuating
as the opinions of the judges were conflicting and variable.

"There were no fee-bills to regulate costs; and, consequently, the
most cruel exactions, in many instances, were practised.

"The greatest confusion prevailed respecting titles to property, and
the decision of suits involving the most important rights, and very
large sums of money depended upon the dictum of the judge.

"The sale of the territory by Mexico to the United States had
necessarily cut off or dissolved the laws regulating the granting or
procuring titles to land; and, as our own land-laws had not been
extended over it, the people were compelled to receive such titles as
were offered to them, without the means of ascertaining whether they
were valid or not.

"Litigation was so expensive and precarious that injustice and
oppression were frequently endured, rather than resort to so uncertain
a remedy.

"Towns and cities were springing into existence; many of them without
charters or any legal right to organize municipal authorities, or to
tax property or the citizens for the establishment of a police, the
erection of prisons, or providing any of those means for the
protection of life and property which are so necessary in all civil
communities, and especially among a people mostly strangers to each

"Nearly one million and a half of dollars had been paid into the
custom-house, as duties on imported goods, before our revenue laws had
been extended over the country; and the people complained bitterly
that they were thus heavily taxed without being provided with a
government for their protection, or laws which they could understand,
or allowed the right to be represented in the councils of the nation.

"While anxiously waiting the action of Congress, oppressed and
embarrassed by this state of affairs, and feeling the pressing
necessity of applying such remedies as were in their power, and
circumstances seemed to justify, they resolved to substitute laws of
their own for the existing system, and to establish tribunals for
their proper and faithful administration.

"In obedience, therefore, to the extraordinary exigencies of their
condition, the people of the city of San Francisco elected members to
form a legislature, and clothed them with full powers to pass laws.

"The communities of Sonoma and of Sacramento city followed the

"Thus were three legislative bodies organized; the two most distant
being only one hundred and thirty miles apart.

"Other movements of the kind were threatened, and doubtless would have
followed, in other sections of the territory, had they not been
arrested by the formation of a State government.

"While the people of California were looking to Congress for a
territorial government, it was quite evident that such an organization
was daily becoming less suited to their condition, which was entirely
different from that of any of the territories out of which the new
States of the Union had been formed.

"Those territories had been at first slowly and sparsely peopled by a
few hunters and farmers, who penetrated the wilderness, or traveled
the prairies, in search of game or a new home; and, when thus
gradually their population warranted it, a government was provided for
them. They, however, had no foreign commerce, nor any thing beyond the
ordinary pursuits of agriculture, and the various branches of business
which usually accompany it, to induce immigration within their
borders. Several years were required to give them sufficient
population and wealth to place them in a condition to require, or
enable them to support, a State government.

"Not so with California. The discovery of the vast metallic and
mineral wealth in her mountains had already attracted to her, in the
space of twelve months, more than one hundred thousand people. An
extensive commerce had sprung up with China, the ports of Mexico on
the Pacific, Chili, and Australia.

"Hundreds of vessels from the Atlantic ports of the Union, freighted
with our manufactures and agricultural products, and filled with our
fellow-citizens, had arrived, or were on their passage round Cape
Horn; so that, in the month of June last, (1849) there were more than
three hundred sea-going vessels in the port of San Francisco.

"California has a border on the Pacific of ten degrees of latitude,
and several important harbors which have never been surveyed; nor is
there a buoy, a beacon, a lighthouse, or a fortification, on the whole

"There are no docks for the repair of national or mercantile vessels
nearer than New York, a distance of some twenty thousand miles round
Cape Horn.

"All these things, together with the proper regulations for the gold
region, the quicksilver mines, the survey and disposition of the
public lands, the adjustment of land titles, the establishment of a
mint and of marine hospitals, required the immediate formation of a
more perfect civil government than California then had, and the
fostering care of Congress and the Executive.

"California had, as it were by magic, become a State of great wealth
and power. One short year had given her a commercial importance but
little inferior to that of the most powerful of the old States. She
had passed her minority at a single bound, and might justly be
regarded as fully entitled to take her place as an equal among her
sisters of the Union.

"When, therefore, the reality became known to the people of that
territory that the government had done nothing to relieve them from
the evils and embarrassments under which they were suffering, and
seeing no probability of any change on the subject which divided
Congress, they adopted, with most unexampled unanimity and
promptitude, the only course which lay open to them--the immediate
formation of a State government.

"They were induced to take this step not only for the reason that it
promised the most speedy remedy for present difficulties, but because
the great and rapidly growing interests of the territory demanded it;
and all reflecting men saw, at a glance, that it ought not to be any
longer, and could not, under any circumstances, be much longer

"They not only considered themselves best qualified, but that they had
the right to decide, as far as they were concerned, the embarrassing
question which was shaking the Union to its centre, and had thus far
deprived them of a regularly organized civil government. They believed
that, in forming a constitution, they had a right to establish or
prohibit slavery, and that, in their action as a _State_, they would
be sustained by the North and the South.

"In taking this step, they proceeded with all the regularity which has
ever characterized the American people in discharging the great and
important duties of self-government.

"The steamer in which I was a passenger did not stop at Monterey; I
therefore did not see General Riley, nor had I any communication with
him until about the middle of the month, when he came to San
Francisco. A few days after my arrival, his proclamation calling a
Convention to form a State constitution, _dated the third of June_,
was received.

"The people acted in compliance with what they believed to be the
views of Congress, and conformably to the recommendations of the
proclamation; and proceeded, on the day appointed, to elect members to
a Convention for the purpose of forming a constitution, to be
regularly submitted to the people for their ratification or rejection,
and, if approved, to be presented to Congress, with a prayer for the
admission of California, as a State, into the Union."

According to the recommendation of General Riley, the civil governor
of California, an election of delegates to form a Convention was held
on the 1st of August, 1849. The number of delegates to be elected was
thirty-seven. General Riley, General Smith, and Thomas Butler King,
used every means to stimulate the people to hold the preparatory
meetings, and they were generally successful. But in some districts
scarcely any move was made until a few days before the election. In
one or two instances, the election was not held upon the day
appointed; but the Convention nevertheless admitted the delegates
elected in such cases.

The Convention was to meet on the 1st of September, at Monterey; but
it did not get regularly organized until the 4th of that month, when
Dr. Robert Semple, of the Sonoma district, was chosen president. The
proportion of the native Californian members to the American was about
equal to that of the population. Among the members was Captain John
Sutter, the pioneer settler of California, General Vallejo and
Antonio Pico, who had both been distinguished men in California,
before the conquest. The body, as a whole, commanded respect, as being
dignified and intellectual.

The Declaration of Rights was the first measure adopted by the
Convention. Its sections being general and liberal in their character,
were nearly all adopted by a unanimous vote. The clause prohibiting
the existence of slavery was the unanimous sentiment of the
Convention. The Constitution will be found in another part of this
work, and we will not here recapitulate its provisions. It combines
the best features of the Constitutions of the States east of the Rocky
Mountains, and is in most respects similar to that of the State of New

The most exciting questions discussed were, a clause prohibiting the
entrance of free people of color into the State, the boundary line,
and the great seal of the State. The first, the clause prohibiting the
entrance of free people of color into the State, passed first reading,
but was subsequently rejected by a large majority. The question of
suffrage occasioned some discussion, widely differing opinions being
entertained by the members. An article was adopted by the Convention,
excluding Indians and negroes, with their descendants, from the
privilege of voting; but it was subsequently modified by a proviso,
which gave the Legislature power of admitting Indians, or the
descendants of Indians to the right of suffrage by a two-thirds
concurrent vote. Under this provision, some of the most wealthy and
influential Californians are excluded from voting until permitted by
the Legislature.

The boundary question, which came up towards the close of the
Convention, was the most exciting theme. The point of dispute was the
eastern boundary line. The Pacific formed the natural boundary on the
west; the parallel of 42 degrees, the boundary on the north, and the
Mexican line, run in conformity with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,
the boundary on the south. The discussion, reconsideration and voting
upon the various propositions occupied nearly two days. Finally, the
line detailed in the Constitution was adopted.

The discussion upon the adoption of the Great Seal for the State was
amusing. Eight or ten designs were offered, and the members from the
different districts were all anxious to have their particular district
represented. The choice finally fell upon one offered by a Major
Garnett. The principal figure is Minerva, with spear and shield,
emblematic of the manner in which California was born, full-grown,
into the confederacy. At her feet crouches the grizzly bear. Before
him is the wheat-sheaf and vine, illustrating the agricultural
products of the country. Near them is the miner, with his implements.
In the distance is the Bay of San Francisco, and beyond that, the
Sierra Nevada, over which appears the word "Eureka." The closing
scenes of the Convention are described in graphic and vivid colors by
one who was an eye-witness to them, and recorded them upon the

"The members met this morning at the usual hour, to perform the last
duty that remained to them--that of signing the Constitution. They
were all in the happiest humor, and the morning was so bright and
balmy that no one seemed disposed to call an organization. Mr. Semple
was sick, and Mr. Steuart, of San Francisco, therefore called the
meeting to order by moving Captain Sutter's appointment in his place.
The chair was taken by the old pioneer, and the members took their
seats around the sides of the hall, which still retained the
pine-trees and banners, left from last night's decorations. The
windows and doors were open, and a delightful breeze came in from the
bay, whose blue waters sparkled in the distance. The view from the
balcony in front was bright and inspiring. The town below--the
shipping in the harbor--the pine-covered hills behind--were mellowed
by the blue October haze, but there was no cloud in the sky, and I
could plainly see, on the northern horizon, the mountains of Santa
Cruz and the Sierra de Gavilan.

"After the minutes had been read, the Committee appointed to draw up
an Address to the people of California, was called upon to report, and
Mr. Steuart, Chairman, read the Address. Its tone and sentiment met
with universal approval, and it was adopted without a dissenting
voice. A resolution was then offered to pay Lieutenant Hamilton, who
is now engaged in engrossing the Constitution upon parchment, the sum
of $500 for his labor. This magnificent price, probably the highest
ever paid for a similar service, is on a par with all things else in
California. As this was their last session, the members were not
disposed to find fault with it, especially when it was stated by one
of them that Lieutenant Hamilton had written day and night to have it
ready, and was still working upon it, though with a lame and swollen
hand. The sheet for the signer's names was ready, and the Convention
decided to adjourn for half an hour and then meet for the purpose of

"I amused myself during the interval by walking about the town. Every
body knew that the Convention was about closing, and it was generally
understood that Captain Burton had loaded the guns at the fort, and
would fire a salute of thirty-one guns at the proper moment. The
citizens, therefore, as well as the members, were in an excited mood.
Monterey never before looked so bright, so happy, so full of pleasant

"About one o'clock the Convention met again; few of the members,
indeed, had left the hall. Mr. Semple, though in feeble health, called
them to order, and, after having voted General Riley a salary of
$10,000, and Mr. Halleck, Secretary of State, $6000 a year, from the
commencement of their respective offices, they proceeded to affix
their names to the completed Constitution. At this moment a signal was
given; the American colors ran up the flag-staff in front of the
government buildings, and streamed out on the air. A second afterward
the first gun boomed from the fort, and its stirring echoes came back
from one hill after another, till they were lost in the distance.

"All the native enthusiasm of Captain Sutter's Swiss blood was
aroused; he was the old soldier again. He sprang from his seat, and,
waving his hand around his head, as if swinging a sword, exclaimed;
'Gentlemen, this is the happiest day of my life. It makes me glad to
hear those cannon: they remind me of the time when I was a soldier.
Yes, I am glad to hear them--this is a great day for California!'
Then, recollecting himself, he sat down, the tears streaming from his
eyes. The members with one accord, gave three tumultuous cheers, which
were heard from one end of the town to the other. As the signing went
on, gun followed gun from the fort, the echoes reverberating grandly
around the bay, till finally, as the loud ring of the _thirty-first_
was heard, there was a shout: 'That's for California!' and every one
joined in giving three times three for the new star added to our

"There was one handsome act I must not omit to mention. The captain of
the English bark Volunteer, of Sidney, Australia, lying in the harbor,
sent on shore in the morning for an American flag. When the first gun
was heard, a line of colors ran fluttering up to the spars, the stars
and stripes flying triumphantly from the main-top. The compliment was
the more marked, as some of the American vessels neglected to give any
token of recognition to the event of the day.

"The Constitution having been signed and the Convention dissolved, the
members proceeded in a body to the house of General Riley. The visit
was evidently unexpected by the old veteran. When he made his
appearance, Captain Sutter stepped forward, and having shaken him by
the hand, drew himself into an erect attitude, raised one hand to his
breast as if he were making a report to his commanding officer on the
field of battle, and addressed him as follows:

"'GENERAL: I have been appointed by the delegates, elected by the
people of California to form a Constitution, to address you in their
names and in behalf of the whole people of California, and express the
thanks of the Convention for the aid and coöperation they have
received from you in the discharge of the responsible duty of creating
a State government. And, sir, the Convention, as you will perceive
from the official records, duly appreciates the great and important
services you have rendered to our common country, and especially to
the people of California, and entertains the confident belief that you
will receive from the whole of the people of the United States, when
you retire from your official duties here, that verdict so grateful to
the heart of the patriot: 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant.'

"General Riley was visibly affected by this mark of respect, no less
appropriate than well deserved on his part. The tears in his eyes, and
the plain, blunt sincerity of his voice and manner, went to the heart
of every one present. 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I never made a speech in
my life. I am a soldier--but I can _feel_; and I do feel deeply the
honor you have this day conferred upon me. Gentlemen, this is a
prouder day to me than that on which my soldiers cheered me on the
field of Contreras. I thank you all from my heart. I am satisfied now
that the people have done right in selecting delegates to frame a
Constitution. They have chosen a body of men upon whom our country may
look with pride; you have framed a Constitution worthy of California.
And I have no fear for California while her people choose their
representatives so wisely. Gentlemen, I congratulate you upon the
successful conclusion of your arduous labors; and I wish you all
happiness and prosperity.'

"The General was here interrupted with three hearty cheers which the
members gave him, as Governor of California, followed by three more,
'as a gallant soldier, and worthy of his country's glory.' He then
concluded in the following words: 'I have but one thing to add,
gentlemen, and that is, that my success in the affairs of California
is mainly owing to the efficient aid rendered me by Captain Halleck,
the Secretary of State. He has stood by me in all emergencies. To
him I have always appealed when at a loss myself; and he has never
failed me.'


"This recognition of Captain Halleck's talents and the signal service
he has rendered to our authorities here, since the conquest, was
peculiarly just and appropriate. It was so felt by the members, and
they responded with equal warmth of feeling by giving three
enthusiastic cheers for the Secretary of State. They then took their
leave, many of them being anxious to start this afternoon for their
various places of residence. All were in a happy and satisfied mood,
and none less so than the native members. Pedrorena declared that this
was the most fortunate day in the history of California. Even Carillo,
in the beginning one of our most zealous opponents, displayed a
genuine zeal for the Constitution, which he helped to frame under the
laws of our republic."

The elections for the various officers under the new Constitution took
place on the 13th of November, 1849. Peter H. Burnett was chosen
Governor, and John McDougall, Lieutenant-Governor. George W. Wright
and Edward Gilbert were chosen to fill the posts of representatives in
Congress. The first State Legislature met at the capital, the pueblo
de San José, on the 15th of December, and elected John C. Fremont and
Wm. M. Gwin, Senators to Congress. Every branch of the civil
government went at once into operation, and admission into the Union
as a State seems all that is necessary to complete the settlement of
affairs in California.


[11] See American Insurance Company, et al. _vs._ Canter, 1st Peters'
Supreme Court Reports, 542.

[12] Bayard Taylor, El Dorado, or Adventures in the Path of Empire.



With regard to the population, climate, soil, productions, &c., we
extract from Mr. King's Report, as giving the most reliable and
complete information.

"Humboldt, in his 'Essay on New Spain,' states the population of Upper
California, in 1802, to have consisted of

     Converted Indians,             15,562
     Other classes,                  1,300

"Alexander Forbes, in his 'History of Upper and Lower California,'
published in London, in 1839, states the number of converted Indians
in the former to have been, in 1831,

     Of all other classes, at        4,342

"He expresses the opinion that this number had not varied much up to
1835, and the probability is, there was very little increase in the
white population until the emigrants from the United States began to
enter the country in 1838.

"They increased from year to year, so that, in 1846, Colonel Fremont
had little difficulty in calling to his standard some five hundred
fighting men.

"At the close of the war with Mexico, it was supposed that there were,
including discharged volunteers, from ten to fifteen thousand
Americans and Californians, exclusive of converted Indians, in the
territory. The immigration of American citizens in 1849, up to the 1st
of January last, was estimated at eighty thousand--of foreigners,
twenty thousand.

"The population of California may, therefore, be safely set down at
115,000 at the commencement of the present year.

"It is quite impossible to form any thing like an accurate estimate of
the number of Indians in the territory. Since the commencement of the
war, and especially since the discovery of gold in the mountains,
their numbers at the missions, and in the valleys near the coast, have
very much diminished. In fact, the whole race seems to be rapidly

"The remains of a vast number of villages in all the valleys of the
Sierra Nevada, and among the foot-hills of that range of mountains,
show that at no distant day there must have been a numerous
population, where there is not now an Indian to be seen. There are a
few still retained in the service of the old Californians, but these
do not amount to more than a few thousand in the whole territory. It
is said there are large numbers of them in the mountains and valleys
about the head-waters of the San Joaquin, along the western base of
the Sierra, and in the northern part of the territory, and that they
are hostile. A number of Americans were killed by them during the last
summer, in attempting to penetrate high up the rivers in search of
gold; they also drove one or two parties from Trinity River. They
have, in several instances, attacked parties coming from or returning
to Oregon, in the section of country which the lamented Captain Warner
was examining when he was killed.

"It is quite impossible to form any estimate of the number of these
mountain Indians. Some suppose there are as many as three hundred
thousand in the territory, but I should not be inclined to believe
that there can be one-third of that number. It is quite evident that
they are hostile, and that they ought to be chastised for the murders
already committed.

"The small bands with whom I met, scattered through the lower portions
of the foot-hills of the Sierra, and in the valleys between them and
the coast, seemed to be almost the lowest grade of human beings. They
live chiefly on acorns, roots, insects, and the kernel of the pine
burr; occasionally, they catch fish and game. They use the bow and
arrow, but are said to be too lazy and effeminate to make successful
hunters. They do not appear to have the slightest inclination to
cultivate the soil, nor do they even attempt it--as far as I could
obtain information--except when they are induced to enter the service
of the white inhabitants. They have never pretended to hold any
interest in the soil, nor have they been treated by the Spanish or
American immigrants as possessing any.

"The Mexican government never treated with them for the purchase of
land, or the relinquishment of any claim to it whatever. They are
lazy, idle to the last degree, and, although they are said to be
willing to give their services to any one who will provide them with
blankets, beef, and bread, it is with much difficulty they can be made
to perform labor enough to reward their employers for these very
limited means of comfort.

"Formerly, at the missions, those who were brought up and instructed
by the priests made very good servants. Many of these now attached to
families seem to be faithful and intelligent. But those who are at
all in a wild and uncultivated state are most degraded objects of
filth and idleness.

"It is possible that government might, by collecting them together,
teach them, in some degree, the arts and habits of civilization; but,
if we may judge of the future from the past, they will disappear from
the face of the earth as the settlements of the whites extend over the
country. A very considerable military force will be necessary,
however, to protect the emigrants in the northern and southern
portions of the territory."

So much for the population of California at the commencement of the
present year, (1850.) By its close, it is highly probable, the number
will reach two hundred thousand, exclusive of the Indians. Such a
population, composed, for the most part, of those who are impregnated
with the active, progressive spirit of the American people, will
undoubtedly conduct California to a brilliant position among the stars
of the republic. With regard to the climate of the country, various
conflicting statements have been promulgated, which arises from the
visits of those who make the statements having been made to different
portions of the country, and stating the climate of a portion as the
climate of the whole. Mr. King's Report furnishes the most accurate
account of the changes of the temperature, and the state of the
atmosphere throughout the year, together with an explanation of their
causes. He says--

"I come now to consider the climate. The climate of California is so
remarkable in its periodical changes, and for the long continuance of
the wet and dry seasons, dividing, as they do, the year into about two
equal parts, which have a most peculiar influence on the labor
applied to agriculture and the products of the soil, and, in fact,
connect themselves so inseparably with all the interests of the
country, that I deem it proper briefly to mention the causes which
produce these changes, and which, it will be seen, as this report
proceeds, must exercise a controlling influence on the commercial
prosperity and resources of the country.

"It is a well-established theory, that the currents of air under which
the earth passes in its diurnal revolutions, follow the line of the
sun's greatest attraction. These currents of air are drawn towards
this line from great distances on each side of it; and, as the earth
revolves from west to east, they blow from north-east and south-east,
meeting, and, of course, causing a calm, on the line.

"Thus, when the sun is directly, in common parlance, over the equator,
in the month of March, these currents of air blow from some distance
north of the Tropic of Cancer, and south of the Tropic of Capricorn,
in an oblique direction towards this line of the sun's greatest
attraction, and forming what are known as the north-east and
south-east trade winds.

"As the earth, in its path round the sun, gradually brings the _line_
of attraction north, in summer, these currents of air are carried
_with_ it; so that about the middle of May the current from the
north-east has extended as far as the 38th or 39th degree of north
latitude, and by the twentieth of June, the period of the sun's
greatest northern inclination, to the northern portions of California
and the southern section of Oregon.

"These north-east winds, in their progress across the continent,
towards the Pacific Ocean, pass over the snow-capped ridges of the
Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, and are, of course, deprived
of all the moisture which can be extracted from them by the low
temperature of those regions of eternal snow, and consequently no
moisture can be precipitated from them, in the form of dew or rain, in
a higher temperature than that to which they have been subjected.
They, therefore, pass over the hills and plains of California, where
the temperature is very high in summer, in a very dry state; and, so
far from being charged with moisture, they absorb, like a sponge, all
that the atmosphere and surface of the earth can yield, until both
become, apparently, perfectly dry.

"This process commences, as I have said, when the line of the sun's
greatest attraction comes north in summer, bringing with it these vast
atmospheric movements, and, on their approach, produce the dry season
in California; which, governed by these laws, continues until some
time after the sun repasses the Equator in September, when, about the
middle of November, the climate being relieved from these north-east
currents of air, the south-west winds set in from the ocean charged
with moisture--the rains commence and continue to fall, not
constantly, as some persons have represented, but with sufficient
frequency to designate the period of their continuance, from about the
middle of November until the middle of May, in the latitude of San
Francisco, as the _wet season_.

"It follows, as a matter of course, that the _dry season_ commences
first, and continues longest in the southern portions of the
territory, and that the climate of the northern part is influenced in
a much less degree, by the causes which I have mentioned, than any
other section of the country. Consequently, we find that, as low down
as latitude 39°, rains are sufficiently frequent in summer to render
irrigation quite unnecessary to the perfect maturity of any crop which
is suited to the soil and climate.

"There is an extensive ocean current of cold water, which comes from
the northern regions of the Pacific, or, perhaps, from the Arctic, and
flows along the coast of California. It comes charged with, and emits
in its progress, cold air, which appears in the form of fog when it
comes in contact with a higher temperature on the American coast, as
the gulf-stream of the Atlantic exhales vapor when it meets, in any
part of its progress, a lower temperature. This current has not been
surveyed, and, therefore, its source, temperature, velocity, width,
and course, have not been accurately ascertained.

"It is believed, by Lieutenant Maury, on what he considers sufficient
evidence--and no higher authority can be cited--that this current
comes from the coasts of China and Japan, flows northwardly to the
peninsula of Kamtschatka, and, making a circuit to the eastward,
strikes the American coast in about latitude 41° or 42°. It passes
thence southwardly, and finally loses itself in the tropics.

"Below latitude thirty-nine, and west of the foot-hills of the Sierra
Nevada, the forests of California are limited to some scattering
groves of oak in the valleys and along the borders of the streams, and
of red wood on the ridges and in the gorges of the hills--sometimes
extending into the plains. Some of the hills are covered with dwarf
shrubs, which may be used as fuel. With these exceptions, the whole
territory presents a surface without trees or shrubbery. It is
covered, however, with various species of grass, and, for many miles
from the coast, with wild oats, which, in the valleys, grow most
luxuriantly. These grasses and oats mature and ripen early in the dry
season, and soon cease to protect the soil from the scorching rays of
the sun. As the summer advances, the moisture in the atmosphere and
the earth to a considerable depth, soon becomes exhausted; and the
radiation of heat, from the extensive naked plains and hill-sides, is
very great.

"The cold, dry currents of air from the north-east, after passing the
Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, descend to the Pacific, and
absorb the moisture of the atmosphere, to a great distance from the
land. The cold air from the mountains, and that which accompanies the
great ocean current from the north-west, thus become united; and vast
banks of fog are generated, which, when driven by the wind has a
penetrating, or _cutting_, effect on the human skin, much more
uncomfortable than would be felt in the humid atmosphere of the
Atlantic, at a much lower temperature.

"As the sun rises from day to day, week after week, and month after
month, in unclouded brightness during the dry season, and pours down
its unbroken rays on the dry, unprotected surface of the country, the
heat becomes so much greater inland than it is on the ocean, that an
under-current of cold air, bringing the fog with it, rushes over the
coast range of hills, and through their numerous passes, towards the

"Every day, as the heat, inland, attains a sufficient temperature, the
cold, dry wind from the ocean commences to blow. This is usually from
eleven to one o'clock: and, as the day advances, the wind increases
and continues to blow till late at night. When the vacuum is filled,
or the equilibrium of the atmosphere restored, the wind ceases; a
perfect calm prevails until about the same hour the following day,
when the same process commences and progresses as before; and these
phenomena are of daily occurrence, with few exceptions, throughout the
dry season.

"These cold winds and fogs render the climate at San Francisco, and
all along the coast of California, except the extreme southern portion
of it, probably more uncomfortable, to those not accustomed to it, in
summer than in winter.

"A few miles inland, where the heat of the sun modifies and softens
the wind from the ocean, the climate is moderate and delightful. The
heat, in the middle of the day, is not so great as to retard labor or
render exercise in the open air uncomfortable. The nights are cool and
pleasant. This description of climate prevails in all the valleys
along the coast range, and extends throughout the country, north and
south, as far eastward as the valley of the Sacramento and San
Joaquin. In this vast plain, the sea-breeze loses its influence, and
the degree of heat in the middle of the day, during the summer months,
is much greater than is known on the Atlantic coast in the same
latitudes. It is dry, however, and probably not more oppressive. On
the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada, and especially in the deep
ravines of the streams, the thermometer frequently ranges from 110° to
115° in the shade, during three or four hours of the day, say from
eleven until three o'clock. In the evening, as the sun declines, the
radiation of heat ceases. The cool, dry atmosphere from the mountains
spreads over the whole country, and renders the nights cool and

"I have been kindly furnished, by Surgeon-General Lawson, U.S. Army,
with thermometrical observations, taken at the following places in
California, viz: At San Francisco, by Assistant-Surgeon W. C. Parker,
for six months, embracing the last quarter of 1847 and the first
quarter of 1848. The monthly mean temperature was as follows: October,
57°; November, 49°; December, 50°; January, 49°; February, 50°; March,

"At Monterey, in latitude 36° 38' north and longitude 121° west, on
the coast, about one degree and a half south of San Francisco, by
Assistant-Surgeon W. S. King, for seven months, from May to November
inclusive. The monthly mean temperature was: May, 56°; June, 59°;
July, 62°; August, 59°; September, 58°; October, 60°; November, 56°.

"At Los Angeles, latitude 34° 7', longitude west 118° 7', by
Assistant-Surgeon John S. Griffin, for ten months, from June, 1847, to
March, 1848, inclusive. The monthly mean temperature was: June, 73°;
July, 74°; August, 75°; September, 75°; October, 69°; November, 59°;
December, 60°; January, 58°; February, 55°; March, 58°. This place is
about forty miles from the coast.

"At San Diego, latitude 32° 45', longitude west 117° 11', by
Assistant-Surgeon J. D. Summers, for the following three months of
1849, viz: July, monthly mean temperature, 73°; August 75°; September,

"At Suttersville, on the Sacramento River, latitude 38° 32' north,
longitude west 121° 34', by Assistant-Surgeon R. Murray, for the
following months of 1849: July, monthly mean temperature, 73°; August,
70°; September, 65°; October, 65°.

"These observations show a remarkably high temperature at San
Francisco during the six months from October to March inclusive; a
variation of only eight degrees in the monthly mean, and a mean
temperature for the six months of 51 degrees.

"At Monterey, we find the mean monthly temperature of the seven months
to have been 58°. If we take the three summer months, the mean heat
was 60°. The mean of the three winter months was a little over 49°;
showing a mean difference, on that part of the coast, of only 11°
between summer and winter.

"The mean temperature of San Francisco, for the three winter months,
was precisely the same as at Monterey--a little over 49°.

"As these cities are only one degree and a half distant from each
other, and both situated near the ocean, the temperature at both, in
summer, may very reasonably be supposed to be as nearly similar as the
thermometer shows it to be in winter.

"The mean temperature of July, August, and September, at San Diego,
only 3° 53' south of Monterey, was 72°. The mean temperature of the
same months at Monterey was a little over 59°; showing a mean
difference of 13°.

"This would seem to indicate that the cold ocean current is thrown off
from the southern part of the coast by Point Conception, and the
islands south of it; and consequently its influence on the climate of
San Diego is much less than at Monterey and San Francisco.

"At Los Angeles, 40 miles distant from the coast, the mean temperature
of the three months was 74°; of the three autumn months, 67°; of the
three winter months, 57°.

"At Suttersville, about one hundred and thirty miles from the ocean,
and four degrees north of Los Angeles, the mean temperature of August,
September, and October, was 67°. The mean temperature of the same
months at Monterey was 59°; showing a difference of 8° between the
sea-coast and the interior, on nearly the same parallel of latitude. A
much greater difference would undoubtedly appear, if we had
observations for the spring and summer months of Suttersville and the
gold mines.

"These variations in the climate of California account for the various
and conflicting opinions and statements respecting it.

"A stranger arriving at San Francisco in summer is annoyed by the cold
winds and fogs, and pronounces the climate intolerable. A few months
will modify, if not banish his dislike, and he will not fail to
appreciate the beneficial effects of a cool, bracing atmosphere. Those
who approach California overland, through the passes of the mountains,
find the heat of summer, in the middle of the day, greater than they
have been accustomed to, and, therefore, may complain of it.

"Those who take up their residence in the valleys which are situated
between the great plain of the Sacramento and San Joaquin and the
coast range of hills, find the climate, especially in the dry season,
as healthful and pleasant as it is possible for any climate to be
which possesses sufficient heat to mature the cereal grains and edible
roots of the temperate zone.

"The division of the year into two distinct seasons--dry and
wet--impresses those who have been accustomed to the variable climate
of the Atlantic States unfavorably. The dry appearance of the country
in summer, and the difficulty of moving about in winter, _seem_ to
impose serious difficulties in the way of agricultural prosperity,
while the many and decided advantages resulting from the mildness of
winter, and the bright, clear weather of summer, are not appreciated.
These will appear when I come to speak of the productions of
California. We ought not to be surprised at the dislike which the
immigrants frequently express to the climate. It is so unlike that
from which they come, that they cannot readily appreciate its
advantages, or become reconciled to its extremes of dry and wet.

"If a native of California were to go to New England in winter, and
see the ground frozen and covered with snow, the streams with ice, and
find himself in a temperature many degrees colder than he had ever
felt before, he would probably be as much surprised that people could
or would live in so inhospitable a region, as any immigrant ever has
been at what he has seen or felt in California.

"So much are our opinions influenced by early impressions, the
vicissitudes of the seasons with which we are familiar, love of
country, home, and kindred, that we ought never to hazard a hasty
opinion when we come in contact with circumstances entirely different
from those to which we have all our lives been accustomed."

These remarks explain the reason of the diversity of opinion expressed
by persons who have visited California, in a very satisfactory manner.
The Italian climate of Los Angeles has received the praises of nearly
all who have visited that city or its neighborhood. The thermometrical
observations detailed in the above account seem to prove that much of
the unfavorable opinions expressed concerning the climate is the
result of hasty judgment, and a dislike of that which is different
from that to which we have been used.

The soil of California has also been the subject of various and
conflicting statements. Many of those who have spent some months in
the country, and returned to publish their hastily gathered
observations, either set down the soil as totally unfit for
agricultural purposes, or, having been located in some garden spot the
great portion of their time of residence there, pronounce it
unsurpassed for richness and fertility. As Mr. King visited California
with the sole object of making accurate observations upon the
territory and its resources, the statements of the character of the
soil which are given in his report will carry greater weight than any
other. He says--

"The valleys which are situated parallel to the coast range, and those
which extend eastwardly in all directions among the hills, towards the
great plain of the Sacramento, are of unsurpassed fertility.

"They have a deep black alluvial soil, which has the appearance of
having been deposited when they were covered with water. This idea is
strengthened by the fact that the rising grounds on the borders of
these valleys, and many hills of moderate elevation, have a soil
precisely like that of the adjoining plains.

"This soil is so porous that it remains perfectly unbroken by gullies,
notwithstanding the great quantity of water which falls in it annually
during the wet season. The land in the northern part of the territory,
on the Trinity and other rivers, and on the borders of Clear Lake, as
far as it has been examined, is said to be remarkably fertile.

"The great valley of the Sacramento and San Joaquin has evidently
been, at some remote period, the bed of a lake; and those rivers,
which drain it, present the appearance of having cut their channels
through the alluvial deposit after it had been formed. In fact, it is
not possible that they could have been instrumental in forming the
plain through which they pass. Their head-waters come from the extreme
ends of the valley, north and south; and, were it not for the supply
of water received from the streams which flow into them from the
Sierra Nevada, their beds would be almost, if not quite, dry in the
summer months. The soil is very rich, and, with a proper system of
drainage and embankment, would, undoubtedly, be capable of producing
any crop, except sugar-cane, now cultivated in the Atlantic States of
the Union.

"There are many beautiful valleys and rich hill-sides among the
foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada, which, when the profits of labor in
mining shall be reduced so as to cause its application to agriculture,
will probably support a large population. There is said to be a rich
belt of well-timbered and watered country extending the whole length
of the gold region between it and the Sierra Nevada, some twenty miles
in width. There is no information sufficiently accurate respecting the
eastern slope of the great snowy range to enable us to form any
opinion of its general character or soil. Some of its valleys have
been visited by miners, who represent them as equal to any portion of
the country to the westward of it.

"The great valley of the Colorado, situated between the Sierra Madre
and the Sierra Nevada, is but little known. It is inhabited by
numerous tribes of savages, who manifest the most decided hostility
towards the whites, and have hitherto prevented any explorations of
their country, and do not permit emigrants to pass through it.
Therefore, parties from Santa Fé, on their way to California, are
compelled to make a circuit of near a thousand miles northward to the
Salt Lake, or about the same distance southward by the route of the
Gila. Although this valley is little known, there are indications that
it is fertile and valuable.

"The name of the river 'Colorado' is descriptive of its waters; they
are as deeply colored as those of the Missouri or Red River, while
those of the Gila, which we know flows through barren lands, are

"It would seem impossible for a large river to collect sediment enough
in a sandy, barren soil, to color its waters so deeply as to give it a
name among those who first discovered and have since visited its
shores. The probability, therefore, is, that this river flows through
an alluvial valley of great fertility, which has never been explored.
This conjecture is strengthened by the fact that the Indians who
inhabit it are hostile, and oppose, as far as they can, all persons
who attempt to enter or explore it. This has been their uniform course
of conduct respecting all portions of the continent which have been
fertile, abounding in game and the spontaneous productions of the

"As this valley is situated in the direct route from Santa Fé to
California, its thorough exploration becomes a matter of very great
importance, especially as it is highly probable that the elevated
regions to the north of it, covered with snow during most of the year,
will force the line of the great national railway to the Pacific
through some portion of it.

"The soil I have described, situated west of the Sierra Nevada, and
embracing the plain of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, covers an
area, as nearly as I can estimate, of between fifty and sixty thousand
square miles, and would, under a proper system of cultivation, be
capable of supporting a population equal to that of Ohio or New York
at the present time."

If this account be accurate, the soil of California will yield a rich
reward to the agriculturist, and become a strong attraction to
permanent settlers, who are willing to trust to the more certain
returns for labor spent in tilling it. It is agriculture, undoubtedly,
which must give stability to the increase of the country, and,
whatever may be the value of the gold mines, furnish California with
her substantial wealth. Few cities or towns ever had a permanent
prosperity which had not a neighboring country fit for agricultural

The quantity and quality of the present productions of California,
other than her mineral wealth, is an important subject for inquiry.
Previous to the discovery of the gold, the exportable products
consisted almost exclusively of hides and tallow; the inhabitants
paying more attention to the raising of horses and cattle than to the
cultivation of the soil. The reason is found in the general
characteristic of the Californians--indolence. Horses were raised to
gratify their passion for riding; and cattle, because they afforded a
subsistence at a very small cost of labor. As to what are, and what,
by the character of the soil and climate, might be, the products of
California, and how the wants of the people are to be supplied, we
quote Mr. King's remarks:

"Beef cattle, delivered on the navigable waters of the Bay of San
Francisco, are now worth from $20 to $30 per head; horses, formerly
worth from $5 to $10, are now valued at $60 to $150. The destruction
of cattle for their hides and tallow has now entirely ceased, in
consequence of the demand for beef. This demand, will, of course,
increase with the population; and it would seem that, in a very few
years, there will be none to supply the market.

"If we estimate the number of cattle now in California at 500,000
head, which is believed to be about the number, and the population at
120,000 for the year 1850--a low estimate--and suppose it to increase
one hundred thousand per annum, there will be in the Territory or
State, in 1854, five hundred and twenty thousand people.

"If we adopt the estimate of those well acquainted with the demand, of
half a beef, on an average, to each inhabitant, it appears there will
be a consumption, in 1850, of 60,000 head; in 1851, of 110,000; in
1852, of 160,000; in 1853, of 210,000; in 1854, of 260,000--making an
aggregate of 800,000, which would absorb all the present stock, with
its natural increase.

"This is a very important matter, as connected with the amount of
supply which that country will ultimately require from the Atlantic
States of the Union. There is no other country on earth which has, or
will ever possess, the means of supplying so great a demand.

"It is now a well-established fact among the immigrants to California,
that oxen possess greater powers of endurance than mules or horses;
that they will perform the distance with loaded wagons in less time,
and come in at the end of the journey in better condition.

"Cows are now driven in considerable numbers from Missouri, and the
time cannot be far distant when cattle from the Western States will be
driven annually by tens of thousands to supply this new market.

"If California increases in population as fast as the most moderate
estimate would lead us to believe, it will not be five years before
she will require more than one hundred thousand head of beef cattle
per annum, from some quarter, to supply the wants of her people.

"It must not be supposed that salt provisions may supply this vast
demand. Those who have attempted to live on such food, during the dry
season, have been attacked with scurvy and other cutaneous diseases,
of which many have died.

"There is no climate in the world where fresh meat and vegetables are
more essential to human health. In fact, they are indispensable.

"It must not be inferred that cattle driven across the plains and
mountains, from the Western States, will be fit for beef on their
arrival in California. But one winter and spring, on the luxuriant
pastures of that country, will put them in a condition which would
render them acceptable in any Atlantic market.

"These grazing grounds are extensive enough to support five times as
many cattle as may be _annually_ required; therefore, there will be no
scarcity of food for them.

"I am acquainted with a drover who left California in December last,
with the intention of bringing in ten thousand sheep from New Mexico.
This shows that the flocks and herds east of the Rocky Mountains are
looked to already as the source from which the markets on the Pacific
are to be supplied.

"The climate and soil of California are well suited to the growth of
wheat, barley, rye, and oats. The temperature along the coast is too
cool for the successful culture of maize as a field crop. The fact
that oats, the species which is cultivated in the Atlantic States, are
annually self-sowed and produced on all the plains and hills along the
coast, and as far inland as the sea-breeze has a marked influence on
the climate, is sufficient proof that all the cereal grains may be
successfully cultivated without the aid of _irrigation_.

"It is quite true that _this auxiliary_ was extensively employed at
the missions, and undoubtedly increased the product of all crops to
which it was applied, as it will in any country on earth if skilfully
used. This does not prove, however, that it was _essentially
necessary_ to the production of an ample reward to the husbandman. The
experience of all the old inhabitants is sufficient evidence of this.
If their imperfect mode of culture secured satisfactory returns, it is
reasonable to presume that a more perfect system would produce much
greater results. There is abundant evidence to prove that, in the rich
alluvial valleys, wheat and barley have produced from forty to sixty
bushels from one bushel of seed, _without irrigation_.

"Irish potatoes, turnips, onions, in fact all the edible roots known
and cultivated in the Atlantic States, are produced in great
perfection. In all the valleys east of the coast range of hills, the
climate is sufficiently warm to mature crops of Indian corn, rice, and
probably tobacco.

"The cultivation of the grape has attracted much attention at the
missions, among the residents of towns, and the rural population, and
been attended with much success, wherever it has been attempted. The
dry season secures the fruit from those diseases which are so fatal in
the Atlantic States, and it attains very great perfection.

"The wine made from it is of excellent quality, very palatable, and
can be produced in any quantity. The grapes are delicious, and
produced with very little labor. When taken from the vines in bunches,
and suspended in a dry room by the stems, they become partially dry,
retain their flavor, and remain several weeks, perhaps months, without

"Apples, pears, and peaches are cultivated with facility, and there is
no reason to doubt that all the fruits of the Atlantic States can be
produced in great plenty and perfection.

"The grasses are very luxuriant and nutritious, affording excellent
pasture. The oats, which spring up the whole length of the sea-coast,
and from forty to sixty miles inland, render the cultivation of that
crop entirely unnecessary, and yield a very great quantity of
nutritious food for horses, cattle, and sheep. The dry season matures,
and I may say cures, these grasses and oats, so that they remain in an
excellent state of preservation during the summer and autumn, and
afford an ample supply of forage. While the whole surface of the
country appears parched, and vegetation destroyed, the numerous flocks
and herds which roam over it continue in excellent condition.

"Although the mildness of the winter months, and the fertility of the
soil, secure to California very decided agricultural advantages, it is
admitted that _irrigation_ would be of very great importance, and
necessarily increase the products of the soil, in quantity and
variety, during the greater part of the dry season. It should,
therefore, be encouraged by government, in the survey and disposition
of the public lands, as far as practicable.

"The farmer derives some very important benefits from the dry season.
His crops in harvest time are never injured by rain; he can with
perfect confidence permit them to remain in his fields as long after
they have been gathered as his convenience may require; he has no
fears that they will be injured by wet or unfavorable weather. Hence
it is that many who have long been accustomed to that climate prefer
it to the changeable weather east of the Rocky Mountains.

"As already stated, the forests of California, south of latitude 39°,
and west of the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada, are limited to
detached, scattering groves of oak in the valleys, and of red wood on
the ridges and on the gorges of the hills.

"It can be of no practical use to speculate on the causes which have
denuded so large an extent of country, further than to ascertain
whether the soil is or is not favorable to the growth of forest trees.

"When the dry season sets in, the entire surface is covered with a
luxuriant growth of grass and oats, which, as the summer advances,
become perfectly dry. The remains of all dead trees and shrubs also
become dry. These materials, therefore, are very combustible, and
usually take fire in the latter part of summer and beginning of
autumn, which commonly passes over the whole country, destroying, in
its course, the young shrubs and trees. In fact, it seems to be the
same process which has destroyed or prevented the growth of forest
trees on the prairies of the Western States, and not any quality in
the soil unfriendly to their growth.

"The absence of timber and the continuance of the dry season are apt
to be regarded by farmers, on first going into the country, as
irremediable defects, and as presenting obstacles, almost
insurmountable, to the successful progress of agriculture. A little
experience will modify these opinions.

"It is soon ascertained that the soil will produce abundantly without
manure; that flocks and herds sustain themselves through the winter
without being fed at the farm-yard, and, consequently, no labor is
necessary to provide forage for them; that ditches are easily dug,
which present very good barriers for the protection of crops, until
live fences can be planted, and have time to grow. Forest trees may be
planted with little labor, and in very few years attain a sufficient
size for building and fencing purposes. Time may be usefully employed
in sowing various grain and root crops during the wet or winter
season. There is no weather cold enough to destroy root crops, and,
therefore, it is not necessary to gather them. They can be used or
sold from the field where they grow. The labor, therefore, required in
most of the old States to fell the forests, clear the land of rubbish,
and prepare it for seed, may here be applied to other objects.

"All these things, together with the _perfect security of all crops in
harvest time, from injury by wet weather_, are probably sufficient to
meet any expense which may be incurred in irrigation, or caused, for a
time, by a scanty supply of timber.

"In the northern part of the territory, above latitude 39°, and on the
hills which rise from the great plain of the Sacramento and San
Joaquin to the foot of the Sierra Nevada, the forests of timber are
beautiful and extensive, and would, if brought into use, be
sufficiently productive to supply the wants of the southern and
western portions of the State."

It is not to be expected that the labor and attention necessary for
the improvement of the soil will be given to that object, so long as
the continued discovery of gold and other metals promise an easy road
to wealth. Many who were prosperously engaged in agricultural
employments, in the most fertile regions, have abandoned it, lured by
the golden bait, and shouldered the pick and shovel to try their luck
or perseverance at gold digging. The gardens and the vineyards of Los
Angeles have been deserted for the barren hills and ravines where the
precious dust abounds. In this state of things, California must become
an extensive market for the products of the Atlantic States of the

The extent and value of the public domain, and the validity of the
titles to various tracts of land in California, will, doubtless, be
the cause of much litigation and disturbance, as the country becomes
more thickly settled. The relation in which the claimants of land
granted to them under the Mexican government, stand towards the
government of the United States, is clearly and fully set forth by Mr.
King, in his California report. He says--

"It is not known whether the Jesuits who founded the mission, or their
successors the Franciscans, ever did, or do now, hold any title from
the Spanish crown to the lands which they occupied. Nor has any
investigation been made to ascertain how far those titles, if they
ever existed, have been invalidated by the acts of the priests, or the
decrees of the Mexican government.

"A superficial view of the matter would be very apt to lead to the
supposition that the Jesuits, so celebrated for wisdom and cunning,
would not fail to secure that which, at that time, would probably have
been obtained by merely asking for it--a royal decree, granting to
them all the lands they might require in that remote country for
ecclesiastical purposes. There have been some intimations to that
effect, but nothing is distinctly known. These missions embrace within
their limits some of the most valuable lands in the Territory, and it
is very important that it should be ascertained whether they belong to
the Government, or may be justly claimed by individuals.

"Most of the land fit for cultivation, south of latitude 39°, and west
of the valley of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, is claimed under what
purport to be grants from the Mexican government.

"On most of these grants, the minerals and metals are reserved to the
government: conditions were coupled with many of them which have not
been complied with. In others, the boundaries described embrace two or
three times as much land as the grant conveys.

"The Mexican law required all grants made by the provincial
government, with few exceptions, to be confirmed by the supreme
government. The great distance which separated them, and the
unfrequent or difficult means of communication, made a compliance with
the law so expensive and tardy that it came to be almost disregarded.

"There were other causes which led to this neglect.

"Previous to the treaty with Mexico and the immigration of American
citizens to that country, land was not regarded as of much value,
except for grazing purposes. There was room enough for all.
Therefore, the claimants or proprietors did not molest one another, or
inquire into the validity of titles.

"These extensive grants are described by natural boundaries, such as
mountains, bays, and promontories, which, in many instances, might
allow of a variation of several miles in the establishment of a corner
with chain and compass.

"By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the United States purchased all
the rights and interests of Mexico to and in California. This purchase
not only embraced all the lands which had not been granted by Mexico,
but all the reserved minerals and metals, and also reversionary rights
which might accrue to Mexico from a want of compliance on the part of
the grantees with the conditions of their grants, _or a want of
perfection in the grants_.

"It will be perceived that this is a subject of very great importance,
not only to the people of California, but to the United States, and
calls for prompt and efficient action on the part of the Government.
It is believed that the appointment of competent commissioners, fully
empowered to investigate these titles, in a spirit of kindness towards
the claimants, with power to confirm such titles as justice may seem
to demand, or with instructions to report their proceedings and awards
to Congress, for confirmation or rejection, will be the best and
perhaps the only satisfactory mode of adjusting this complex and
difficult question."

He also makes the following observations and recommendations
concerning the extent and value of the land, to which the title of the
government is unquestionable, and the best mode of improving it.

"The lands in the northern part of the Territory, above the 39°, have
not been explored or granted. They are supposed to embrace an area of
about twenty millions of acres, a large portion of which is doubtless
valuable for its timber and soil.

"Comparatively few grants have been obtained in the great valley of
the Sacramento and San Joaquin.

"This vast tract, therefore, containing, as is estimated, from twelve
to fifteen millions of acres, belongs mostly to the Government. South
of this valley, and west of the Colorado, within the limits of
California, as indicated in her Constitution, there are said to be
extensive tracts of valuable, unappropriated land; and, on
investigation, it will probably appear that there are many of them in
detached bodies, which have not been granted.

"I do not speak of the gold region, embracing the entire foot-hills of
the Sierra Nevada, some five hundred miles long and sixty miles broad,
in connection with the public domain, which may be embraced in the
general land system for sale and settlement, for reasons which will be
hereafter assigned.

"The survey of the public lands on a system suited to the interests of
the country is a matter of very great importance. In the inhabited
portions of the Territory, the boundaries of Mexican grants, running
as they do in all directions, will render the system of surveys by
parallels of latitude and longitude quite impracticable.

"In all parts of the country, irrigation is desirable, and its
benefits should be secured, as far as possible, by suitable surveys
and legal regulations. Most of the valleys are watered by streams
sufficiently large to be rendered very useful. It would, therefore,
seem wise to lay off the land in conformity to the course of the
hills and streams which bound and drain the valleys.

"A system of drainage, which would also secure irrigation, is
absolutely necessary to give value to the great plain of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin. This valley is so extensive and level
that, if the rivers passing through it were never to overflow their
banks, the rain which falls in winter would render the greater portion
of it unfit for cultivation. The foundation of such a system can only
be established in the survey and sale of the land.

"_This can be done by laying out canals and drains, at suitable
distances, and in proper directions, and by leaving wide margins to
the rivers, that they may have plenty of room to increase their
channels when their waters shall be confined within them by

"It would be well also to regulate the price of these lands, so as to
meet, in some degree, the expense of draining them.

"This system would, when agriculture shall become a pursuit in
California, make this valley one of the most beautiful and productive
portions of the Union."

With regard to the present state of the commerce and of the commercial
resources of California, it is observed, that her resources are
confined almost entirely to the metallic wealth of the country, and
that such a state of things would seem unfavorable to an extensive
commercial intercourse. Undoubtedly, this metallic wealth of itself,
could not long maintain an extensive commerce with the various nations
of the earth. But when the _mineral_ wealth begins to be developed, as
it soon will, there will be no lack of return freights for vessels
arriving with supplies. The quicksilver mines already yield an
enormous profit, and will soon be extensively worked. Respecting the
present state of the commerce of the country, extent of her resources,
and facilities of communication with the Atlantic States of the Union,
and other countries, Mr. King's Report furnishes the following

"Gold is the product of the country, and is immediately available, in
an uncoined state, for all the purposes of exchange. It is not there,
as in other countries, where the productions of the earth and of art
are sent to markets--foreign or domestic--to be exchanged for the
precious metals, or other articles of value. There, gold not only
supplies the medium of domestic trade, but of foreign commerce.

"At first view, this state of things would seem to be unfavorable to
an extensive intercourse with other parts of the world, because of the
want of return freights of _home production_ for the vast number of
vessels which will arrive with supplies.

"These vessels, however, making no calculations on return cargoes,
will estimate the entire profits of the voyage on their outward
freights, and become, on their arrival, willing carriers for a
comparatively small consideration.

"This tendency in the course of trade, it would seem, must make San
Francisco a warehouse for the supply, to a certain extent, of all the
ports of the Pacific, American, Asiatic, and the Islands.


"Almost every article now exported by them finds a ready market in
California, and the establishment of a mint will bring there also the
silver bullion, amounting to more than ten millions per annum, from
the west coast of Mexico, and, perhaps, ultimately from Chili and
Peru, to be assayed and coined.

"Vessels bound round Cape Horn, with cargoes for markets on the
American coast of the Pacific, can, by taking advantage of the
south-east trade winds, and 'standing broad-off the Cape,' make the
voyage to San Francisco in as short a time as they can to Valparaiso,
or any port south of California. Vessels have sailed from our Atlantic
ports to San Francisco in less than one hundred days, and they have
been, in more than one instance, over one hundred and twenty days in
going from Panama to San Francisco.

"This astonishing difference in time and distance was caused by the
course of the winds, and the gulf-stream of the Pacific, mentioned in
my remarks on the climate of California.

"The vessels from our Atlantic ports took advantage of the winds by
steering _from the Cape_ as far into the Pacific as to be enabled to
take a course west of the gulf-stream in sailing northward, thus
availing themselves first of the south-east, then of the north-east
'trades,' and avoiding opposing currents.

"The vessels from Panama were kept back by calms, adverse winds, and
currents. It will be perceived, therefore, that there can be no
inducement for vessels bound round Cape Horn, with mixed or assorted
cargoes, to stop at Valparaiso, Callao, Guayaquil, or any port on the
west coast, because the exports of all those places will seek a market
at San Francisco; and their supply of merchandise, as _return
freight_, will be delivered at less expense than it can be by vessels
direct from Atlantic ports, American or European. This tendency of
trade to concentrate at San Francisco will be aided by the course of

"Gold dust is worth but $17 per ounce in Chili. It is worth $18 at the
United States mint. If, therefore, a merchant of Valparaiso has ten
thousand ounces in San Francisco, received in payment for lumber,
barley, flour, or other produce, and desires an invoice of goods from
the United States or Europe, he will gain $10,000 at the outset by
sending his gold to New York, besides saving something on the freight
and insurance, and at least one month's interest.

"The countries on the west coast of America have no exports which find
a market in China, or other parts of Asia. San Francisco will,
therefore, become not only the mart of these exports, but also of the
products and manufactures of India, required in exchange for them,
which must be paid for, principally, in gold coin or gold dust.
Neither gold coin nor gold dust will answer as a remittance to China.
Gold, in China, is not currency in any shape, nor is it received in
payment of import duties, or taxes on land, or on the industry of the

"The value of pure gold in China is not far from $14 the ounce. Hence,
the importer of manufactures and products of India into San Francisco
will remit the gold coin or dust direct to New York, for investment in
sterling bills on London. These bills will be sent to London, and
placed to the credit of the firm in China from whom the merchandise
has been received, and who, on learning of the remittance having gone
forward to their agents, will draw a _six months' sight bill_ for the
amount, which will sell in China at the rate of four shillings and
_two_ pence or _three_ pence per dollar.

"I have a statement before me from one of the most eminent merchants
and bankers of New York, who was for many years engaged extensively in
the India trade, which shows that the profit or gain on ten thousand
ounces of gold, thus remitted, would be

                                                   $33,434 44
     And that the loss on the same quantity,
     sent direct to China, would be                 15,600 00
     Total difference in profit and loss in favor
     of the remittance to New York,                $50,034 44

"It will thus be perceived that nature has so arranged the winds and
currents of the Pacific, and disposed of her vast treasures in the
hills and mountains of California, as to give to the harbor of San
Francisco the control of the commerce of that ocean, as far as it may
be connected with the west coast of America.

"Important as the commerce of the Pacific undoubtedly is, and will be,
to California, it cannot now, nor will it ever compare in magnitude
and value to the domestic trade between her and the older States of
the Union.

"Two years ago, California did not probably contain more than fifteen
thousand people. That portion of it which has since been so
wonderfully peopled by American citizens was, comparatively, without
inhabitants, without resources, and not supplied with the common
comforts of shelter afforded by a forest country.

"Notwithstanding the great distances immigrants have been compelled to
travel to reach the territory, more than one hundred thousand have
overcome all difficulties and spread themselves over its hills and
plains. They have been supplied from distances as great as they
themselves have passed with not only the necessaries, but the comforts
and many of the luxuries of life. Houses have been imported from
China, Chili, and the Atlantic States of the Union. All the materials
required in building cities and towns have been added to the wants of
a people so numerous, destitute, and remote from the sources of

"These wants will exist as long as immigration continues to flow into
the country, and labor employed in collecting gold shall be more
profitable than its application to agriculture, the mechanic arts, and
the great variety of pursuits which are fostered and sustained in
other civilized communities.

"This may be shown by mentioning the prices of a few articles. Last
summer and autumn, lumber was sold in San Francisco at $300 to $400
per thousand feet. At Stockton and Sacramento City, at $500 to $600.
At these prices, it could be made in the territory, and many persons
were engaged in the business. I perceive, by recent accounts, that the
price had fallen at San Francisco to $75. At this price, it _cannot_
be made where labor is from $10 to $15 per day; and the difficulties
attending its manufacture are much greater than in the Atlantic
States. Lumber can be delivered in our large lumber markets for an
_average_ of the various qualities of $16, and freighted to San
Francisco for $24, making $40 per thousand feet. This price would
cause the manufacture of it in California to be abandoned. We may add
$20 per thousand, to meet any increase of price in the article itself,
or in the freight, and the result would be the same.

"It is probable that the demand, for several years to come, will not
be less than twenty millions of feet per annum, which, at $40 per
thousand, will be $800,000.

"When California comes to have a population of 200,000, which she will
have before the close of the present year, she will require nearly
half a million barrels of flour from some quarter, and no country can
supply it so good and cheap as the old States of the Union. Including
freight and insurance, this may be set down as an item of about
$5,000,000. The article of clothing, allowing $20 to each person,
would be $4,000,000.

"There is no pretension to accuracy in these items, and they may be
estimated too high; but it is quite as probable they are too low.

"We have no data on which to found a calculation of what the value of
the trade between the States east of the Rocky Mountains and
California will be during the current year. I will venture the
opinion, however, that it will not fall short of twenty-five millions
of dollars. It may go far beyond that sum. At present, I can conceive
no cause which will retard or diminish immigration.

"If the movement shall continue five years, our commerce with that
territory may reach one hundred millions per annum. This is doubtless
a startling sum; but it must be borne in mind that we have to build
cities and towns, supply machinery for mining, coal for domestic
purposes, and steam navigation, and all the multifarious articles used
in providing the comforts and luxuries of life, for half a million of
people, who will have transferred themselves to a country which is to
produce, comparatively, nothing except minerals and the precious
metals, and whose pursuits will enable them to purchase, at any cost,
whatever may be necessary for their purposes.

"It is difficult to imagine or calculate the effect which will be
produced on all the industrial pursuits of the people of the Old
States of the Union, by this withdrawal from them of half a million of
producers, who, in their new homes and new pursuits, will _give
existence_ to a commerce almost equal in value to our foreign trade.
Let no one, therefore, suppose he is not interested in the welfare of
California. As well may he believe his interests would not be
influenced by closing our ports and cutting off intercourse with all
the world.

"The distance round Cape Horn is so great that bread-stuffs and many
other articles of food deteriorate, and many others are so perishable
in their nature that they would decay on the passage. This would be
the case particularly with all kinds of vegetables and undried fruits.
Until some more speedy mode of communication shall be established by
which produce can be transferred, the farmers and planters of the old
States will not realize the full value of this new market on the

"Many other important interests will be kept back, especially the
consumption of coal. The American steamers, now on that ocean, those
on their way there, and others shortly to be sent out, will consume
not far from one hundred thousand tons of coal per annum. The scarcity
of wood in California will bring coal into general use as fuel, as
soon as it can be obtained at reasonable prices. Suppose there may be,
three years hence, forty thousand houses, which shall consume five
tons each per annum. This, with the steamers, would be a consumption
of three hundred thousand tons. If delivered at $20 per ton, it would
compete successfully with the coal from Vancouver's Island and New
Holland, and amount to $6,000,000.

"The construction of a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama would
secure the market for those articles against all competition.

"Some idea may be formed of the demand for them from the prices paid
in San Francisco last autumn. Coal was sold at $60 to $100 per ton;
potatoes $16 per bushel; turnips and onions for 25 to 62½ cents each;
eggs from $10 to $12 per dozen.

"The distance from Chagres to New York has recently been run in seven
days. The same speed would carry a steamboat from Panama to San
Francisco in ten days. Allow three days to convey freight across the
Isthmus, on a railway, and both passengers and freight will be
conveyed from New York to San Francisco in twenty days.

"This celerity of movement would secure for American produce the
entire market of California. Sailing vessels may be successfully
employed between our Atlantic and gulf ports and the terminus of the
railway on this side of the Isthmus; and _propellers_ from Panama to
San Francisco. These latter vessels will be found peculiarly suited to
that trade; they can use their steam through the calms of the Bay of
Panama, and against head-winds and currents going north, and their
sails with favorable winds and currents coming south.

"These modes of conveyance, in connection with the railroad across the
Isthmus, would be sufficiently expeditious and economical to turn the
tide of commerce, between the Atlantic and Pacific States of the
Union, into that channel. The tendency of our commerce on the Pacific
to promote the employment of ocean steamers is of much importance as
connected with the defence of our extensive line of coast from
latitude 32° to 49°, the protection of the whale fishery, and other
branches of trade on that ocean. The establishment of a line of heavy
steamers to China would promote all these objects; increase our
intercourse with that country, and probably be the means of opening
communications with Japan. Money wisely employed in promoting these
objects, it is believed, would add more to the power and prosperity of
the country than its expenditure on any _general system_ of
fortification at the present prices of labor and materials. There is
one point, however, of such vast importance that no time should be
lost in taking the necessary steps to render it perfectly
impregnable--that is, the entrance to the harbor of San Francisco. On
the strength of the works which may be erected to defend that passage
will depend the safety of California in time of war with a maritime
power. Permit a hostile fleet to cast anchor in the harbor of San
Francisco, and the country would be virtually conquered.

"The coast has not been surveyed, nor has its outline been correctly
ascertained. There are many rocks above and below the water-line, and
small islands not mentioned or indicated on any chart, which render
navigation near the land, especially at night, extremely dangerous.

"An accurate survey of the coast, to commence at the most important
points, the construction of lighthouses, and the placing of buoys in
proper positions, are objects of much importance, and, it is not
doubted, will attract the early attention of Government."

We come now to that which has built up so rapidly this empire of the
Pacific--the metallic and mineral wealth of California. As to the
extent of the region, and indications of the existence of the gold,
together with the attendant geological formations, the statements of
Mr. King's report will not be, nor have not been, gainsayed; but as to
the origin of the gold, whether in combination with quartz, or mixed
with the sands of the ravines and streams, various opinions have been
expressed by those who have spent considerable time in working and
observing the different formations. That due weight may be given to
both of the principal theories, we extract the observation and opinion
of a person who favors the idea of the gold having been scattered over
the country, by a tremendous volcanic eruption.

"The gold found in every placer in California bears the most
indubitable marks of having, at some time, been in a molten state. In
many parts it is closely intermixed with quartz, into which it has
evidently been injected while in a state of fusion; and I have myself
seen many pieces of gold completely coated with a black cement that
resembled the lava of a volcano. The variety of form, which the placer
gold of California has assumed, is in itself sufficient evidence of
the fact, that it has been thrown over the surface while in a melted
state. The earliest comparisons of the California gold were to pieces
of molten lead dropped into water. The whole territory of the gold
region bears the plainest and most distinct marks of being volcanic.
The soil is of a red, brick color, in many places entirely barren, and
covered with a flinty rock, or pebble, entirely parched in the summer,
and during the rainy season becoming a perfect mire. The formation of
the hills, the succession of gorges, the entire absence of fertility
in many portions, distinctly exhibit the result of a great up-heaving
during past times. But there is one phenomenon in the mining region
which defies all geological research founded upon any other premises
than volcanic formation. Throughout the whole territory, so generally
that it has become an indication of the presence of gold, a white
slate rock is found, and is the principal kind of rock in the mining
region. This rock, instead of lying as slate rock does in other
portions of the earth, in horizontal strata, is perpendicular, or
nearly so; seeming to have been torn up from its very bed and left in
this position. On the banks of the Middle Fork are several
excavations, which can only be accounted for upon the supposition,
that they were at some time volcanic craters. There is one of these on
the mountain side, about five miles below the "Big Bar;" from which,
running down to the base of the mountains, is a wide gorge entirely
destitute of verdure, while the earth around it is covered with
shrubbery. This, I am fully convinced, was the bed of the lava stream
that was thrown up from the crater; and in searching for gold at the
very foot of it, I found several pieces entirely covered with the
black cement or lava, of which I have previously spoken. From all
these evidences, I am fully satisfied that at some early date in the
world's history, by some tremendous volcanic eruption, or by a
succession of them, gold, which was existing in the form of ore, mixed
with quartz rock, was fused and separated from its surrounding
substances, and scattered through every plain, hill, and valley, over
an immense territory. By its own gravity, and the continual washing of
the rains, it sank into the earth until it reached a rock, or hard,
impenetrable clay. It still continued washing and sliding down the
hill-side, until it reached the rivers or ravines, and in the former
was washed along with its current until it settled in some secure
place in their beds, or was deposited upon their banks; and in the
latter rested among the crevices of rocks."[13]

The following from Mr. King's report, presents the opposite theory,
with its evidence in full. The two accounts are at variance both in
regard to fact and theory. But that of Mr. King, who enjoyed every
facility of obtaining information from observation, and from the
statements of intelligent miners, is considered most reliable, in
respect to matters of fact, and, therefore, of more dependence in
forming a theory. He says--

"The principal formation, or substratum, in these hills, is talcose
slate; the superstratum, sometimes penetrating to a great depth, is
quartz. This, however, does not cover the entire face of the country,
but extends in large bodies in various directions--is found in masses
and small fragments on the surface, and seen along the ravines and in
the mountains, overhanging the rivers, and in the hill-sides in its
original beds. It crops out in the valleys and on the tops of the
hills, and forms a striking feature of the entire country over which
it extends. From innumerable evidences and indications, it has come to
be the universally admitted opinion, among the miners and intelligent
men who have examined this region, that the _gold, whether in detached
particles and pieces, or in veins, was created in combination with the
quartz_. Gold is not found on the surface of the country presenting
the appearance of having been thrown up and scattered in all
directions by volcanic action. It is only found in particular
localities, and attended by peculiar circumstances and indications. It
is found in the bars and shoals of the rivers; in ravines, and in what
are called the 'dry diggings.'

"The rivers, in forming their channels, or breaking their way through
the hills, have come in contact with the quartz containing the gold
veins, and by constant attrition cut the gold into fine flakes and
dust, and it is found among the sand and gravel of their beds at those
places where the swiftness of the current reduces it, in the dry
season, to the narrowest possible limits, and where a wide margin is,
consequently, left on each side, over which the water rushes, during
the wet season, with great force.

"As the velocity of some streams is greater than that of others, so is
the gold found in fine or coarse particles, apparently corresponding
to the degree of attrition to which it has been exposed. The water
from the hills and upper valleys, in finding its way to the river, has
cut deep ravines, and, wherever it has come in contact with the
quartz, has dissolved or crumbled it in pieces.

"In the dry season, these channels are mostly without water, and gold
is found in the beds and margins of many of them in large quantities,
but in a much coarser state than in the rivers; owing, undoubtedly, to
the moderate flow and temporary continuance of the current, which has
reduced it to smooth shapes, not unlike pebbles, but has not had
sufficient force to cut it into flakes or dust.

"The dry diggings are places where quartz containing gold has cropped
out, and been disintegrated, crumbled to fragments, pebbles, and dust,
by the action of water and the atmosphere. The gold has been left as
it was made, in all imaginable shapes; in pieces of all sizes, from
one grain to several pounds in weight. The evidences that it was
created in combination with quartz are too numerous and striking to
admit of doubt or cavil. _They are found in combination in large

"A very large proportion of the pieces of gold found in these
situations have more or less quartz adhering to them. In many
specimens, they are so combined they cannot be separated without
reducing the whole mass to powder, and subjecting it to the action of

"This gold, not having been exposed to the attrition of a strong
current of water, retains, in a great degree, its original

"These diggings, in some places, spread over valleys of considerable
extent, which have the appearance of an alluvion, formed by washings
from the adjoining hills, of decomposed quartz and slate earth, and
vegetable matter.

"In addition to these facts, it is, beyond doubt, true that several
vein-mines have been discovered in the quartz, from which numerous
specimens have been taken, showing the minute connection between the
gold and the rock, and indicating a value hitherto unknown in

"These veins do not present the appearance of places where gold may
have been lodged by some violent eruption. It is combined with the
quartz, in all imaginable forms and degrees of richness.

"The rivers present very striking, and, it would seem, conclusive
evidence respecting the quantity of gold remaining undiscovered in the
quartz veins. It is not probable that the gold in the dry diggings,
and that in the rivers--the former in lumps, the latter in dust--was
created by different processes. That which is found in the rivers has
undoubtedly been cut or worn from the veins in the rock, with which
their currents have come in contact. All of them appear to be equally
rich. This is shown by the fact that a laboring man may collect nearly
as much in one river as he can in another. They intersect and cut
through the gold region, running from east to west at irregular
distances of fifteen to twenty, and perhaps some of them thirty, miles

"Hence it appears that the gold veins are equally rich in all parts of
that most remarkable section of country. Were it wanting, there are
further proofs of this in the ravines and dry diggings, which
uniformly confirm what nature so plainly shows in the rivers."

It is an interesting inquiry--what was the amount of the golden
treasure collected during the years 1848 and '49? The satisfaction of
this inquiry will enable us to form some faint conception of the value
of the gold region, and the dependence which may be placed upon its
yield for a commercial return. Premising that the gold was first
discovered in May, 1848, and that intelligence of it was not received
in the United States till late in the following autumn, Mr. King, in
his report, proceeds in making an estimate of the quantity accumulated
till the close of 1849:

"No immigration into the mines could, therefore, have taken place from
the old States in that year. The number of miners was, consequently,
limited to the population of the territory, some five hundred men
from Oregon--Mexicans, and other foreigners, who happened to be in the
country, or came into it during the summer and autumn--and the
Indians, who were employed by or sold their gold to the whites.

"It is supposed there were not far from five thousand men employed in
collecting gold during that season. If we suppose they obtained an
average of one thousand dollars each--which is regarded by well
informed persons as a low estimate--the aggregate amount will be

"Information of this discovery spread in all directions during the
following winter; and, on the commencement of the dry season in 1849,
people came into the territory from all quarters--from Chili, Peru,
and other States on the Pacific coast of South America; from the west
coast of Mexico, the Sandwich Islands, China, and New Holland.

"The immigration from the United States came in last, if we except
those who crossed the Isthmus of Panama, and went up the coast in
steamers, and a few who sailed early on the voyage round Cape Horn.

"The American immigration did not come in by sea, in much force, until
July and August, and that overland did not begin to arrive until the
last of August and first of September. The Chilenos and Mexicans were
early in the country. In the month of July, it was supposed there were
fifteen thousand foreigners in the mines. At a place called Sonoranian
Camp, it was believed there were at least ten thousand Mexicans. They
had quite a city of tents, booths, and log-cabins; hotels,
restaurants, stores, and shops of all descriptions, furnished whatever
money could procure. Ice was brought from the Sierra, and ice creams
added to numerous other luxuries. An inclosure made of the trunks and
branches of trees, and lined with cotton cloth, served as a sort of
amphitheatre for bull-fights. Other amusements, characteristic of the
Mexicans, were to be seen in all directions.

"The foreigners resorted principally to the southern mines, which gave
them a great superiority in numerical force over the Americans, and
enabled them to take possession of some of the richest in that part of
the country. In the early part of the season, the Americans were
mostly employed on the forks of the American, and on Bear, Uba, and
Feather Rivers. As their numbers increased, they spread themselves
over the southern mines, and collisions were threatened between them
and the foreigners. The latter, however, for some cause, either fear,
or having satisfied their cupidity, or both, began to leave the mines
late in August, and by the end of September many of them were out of
the country.

"It is not probable that, during the first part of the season, there
were more than five or six thousand Americans in the mines. This would
swell the whole number, including foreigners, to about twenty thousand
the beginning of September. This period embraced about half the
season, during which gold may be successfully collected in the rivers.

"Very particular and extensive inquiries respecting the daily earnings
and acquisitions of the miners lead to the opinion that they averaged
an ounce per day. This is believed by many to be a low estimate; but,
from the best information I was able to procure, I am of opinion it
approaches very near actual results. The half of the season, up to the
1st of September, would give sixty-five working days, and to each
laborer, at $16 per ounce, $1,040. If, therefore we assume $1,000 as
the average collected by each laborer, we shall probably not go beyond
the mark.

"This would give an aggregate of $20,000,000 for the first half of the
season--$15,000,000 of which was probably collected by foreigners.
During the last half of the season, the number of foreigners was very
much diminished, and, perhaps, did not exceed five thousand. At this
time, the American immigration had come in by land and sea, and the
number of our fellow-citizens in the mines had, as was estimated,
increased to between forty and fifty thousand. They were most of them
inexperienced in mining, and it is probable the results of their
labors were not so great as has been estimated for the first part of
the season, and experienced miners. Assuming that the average of half
an ounce per day ought to be considered as reasonable, it would give
an aggregate of about $20,000,000. If from this we deduct one-fourth
on account of the early commencement of the wet season, we have an
estimate of $15,000,000; at least five of which was collected by
foreigners, who possessed many advantages from their experience in
mining and knowledge of the country.

"These estimates give, as the result of the operations in the mines
for 1848 and 1849, the round sum of $40,000,000; one-half of which was
probably collected and carried out of the country by foreigners.

"From the best information I could obtain, I am led to believe that at
least $20,000,000 of the $40,000,000 were taken from the rivers, and
that their richness has not been sensibly diminished, except in a few
locations, which had early attracted large bodies of miners. This
amount has principally been taken from the northern rivers, or those
which empty into the Sacramento; the southern rivers, or those which
flow into the San Joaquin, having been, comparatively, but little
resorted to until near the close of the last season. These rivers are,
however, believed by those who have visited them, to be richer in the
precious metal than those in the northern part of the gold region."

Adopting the hypothesis that the gold found in these streams had been
cut or worn away from the veins in the quartz through which they have
forced their way, and considering the fact that they are all equally
productive, we may conjecture what a vast amount of treasure remains
undisturbed in the veins which run through the masses of rock over a
space of forty or fifty miles wide, and near five hundred miles long.
Such an estimate would almost defy our belief; yet, if the hypothesis
is true, there is no reason to doubt that the value of the gold which
that region will yield, is almost beyond calculation.

The quicksilver mines of California are believed to be numerous,
extensive, and very valuable. The largest and most profitable one yet
opened is situated near San José, and belongs to, or is claimed by,
Mr. Forbes, of Tepic, in Mexico. The cinnabar ore, which produces the
quicksilver, is easily procured, and machinery has been put in
operation, which enables the proprietor to make an extensive profit.
The value of the quicksilver mines, by being so near the gold region,
is considerably increased; quicksilver being almost indispensable in
gold mining.

Extensive beds of silver, iron, and copper ores are believed to exist
in the territory, but their existence and value is not accurately
ascertained, the allurements held out by the continued success of the
gold-miners and the continued discovery of new and profitable
_placers_ being too strong to permit any search for the baser, but
more useful metals. Respecting the propriety of the establishment of a
mint in California, Mr. King makes the following observations--

"I have already alluded to the propriety of establishing a mint in
California. This is important in many respects. At this time, there is
not coin in the country to supply a currency. Much difficulty is
experienced in procuring enough to pay the duties on imported goods.
The common circulating medium is, therefore, gold dust, which is sold
at $15 50 to $16 per ounce. In the mines, it is frequently sold much
lower. The miners, the laboring men, are the sufferers from this state
of things.

"Those who purchase and ship gold to the Atlantic States make large
profits: _but those who dig lose what others make_.

"I have estimated that there will be $50,000,000 collected during the
current year. At $16 per ounce, that sum will weigh 3,125,000 ounces.

"Gold, at the United States mint, is worth $18 per ounce, making a
difference in value on that quantity, between San Francisco and New
York, of $6,250,000, which would be saved to the miners by the
establishment of a mint.

"I have also suggested its importance as a means of promoting and
increasing our trade with the west coast of Mexico and South America.

"It is not doubted that the construction of a railway across the
Isthmus of Panama, and, perhaps, the establishment of other lines of
communication between the two oceans, will give to the products and
manufactures of the older States of the Union command of the market of
California to the exclusion, in a great degree, of those of the west

"A mint will, therefore, become of the utmost importance, to give such
marketable value to silver bullion as to enable the merchants of those
countries to keep up and increase the intercourse with our principal
ports on the Pacific.

"The silver bullion shipped to Europe from the west coast of Mexico
amounts to more than ten millions of dollars per annum. From the
countries on the west coast of South America, probably an equal
quantity. That from Mexico goes to pay for European importations into
her ports on the Atlantic side.

"A market at San Francisco for this bullion will be the means of
substituting American and Chinese fabrics for those of European
manufacture in all those countries. This will greatly increase the
trade between China and California."

A bill for the establishment of a mint at San Francisco was introduced
into Congress, during the present session, (1849-50) and passed both
houses; thus securing to California the advantages mentioned in the
above extract, by Mr. King.

We have thus given a complete description of California, in respect to
population, climate, soil, productions, commercial resources, and
metallic and mineral wealth, as accurate and comprehensive as the most
authentic sources could furnish, or as could be ascertained at the
present time. Although the territory already contains a large
population and has produced a great amount of treasure in the short
duration of its existence; although it is already a large State,
which has _sprung_ into existence, as it may be termed, there is every
evidence that this is but the "beginning of the end." "The greatest is
behind." To what such commercial facilities, mineral and metallic
resources, and an active and progressive population will conduct
California, it is easy to imagine. They will build up a State, which,
although the member of a confederacy, will be powerful enough to
maintain itself, independent of the aid to be derived from the Union.
Its ports will be the resort of the vessels of all nations, and its
valleys and hill-sides will become the homes of an agricultural
population, reaping the rich reward of their toil. Canals and
railroads, the children of enterprise, will soon intersect the
territory, transport the riches of one section to another, and
increase the social communication of the inhabitants. Such a State
will add greatly to the power of the confederated republic, and form
an additional stimulus to the rapid filling up of the vast territory
situated between California and her sister States.


[13] Six Months in the Gold Mines, by E. Gould Buffum.



The various routes taken by the emigrants to California have afforded
almost as much matter for discussion as the territory itself. The
shortest and most travelled route is that by way of the Isthmus of
Panama; and of this we shall first give a description, with
recommendations to travellers, and the experience of some who have
taken that route to the "land of promise."

Both steam and sailing vessels are constantly engaged in carrying
freight and passengers from the principal ports of the Atlantic States
to Chagres, the principal port on the eastern coast of the Isthmus.
Tickets which will carry passengers to Chagres, and, after crossing
the Isthmus, from Panama to San Francisco, can be purchased in New
York, from whence to Chagres, the passage generally occupies about
eight days, and has been accomplished in seven. The harbor of Chagres
is a small but good one, for vessels of less than two hundred tons
burden. It is protected by hills on all sides and towards the ocean,
by a beetling cliff, jutting out into the sea, on the summit of which
is the ancient and somewhat dilapidated castle of San Lorenzo. At the
base of this cliff is the channel which forms an entrance to the town.
Ignorance of this fact caused the wreck of several of the vessels
which went from the United States to Chagres soon after the receipt of
the news of the gold discovery. The following is a description of
Chagres and its inhabitants in the early part of 1849. It has since
improved considerably, on account of the travel across the Isthmus.

"The first thing which struck our wondering gaze on entering Chagres,
was its bee-hive appearance. It is a strange, fantastic, and
oddish-looking town, situated in a deep, dark hollow or cove. It
consists of some forty or fifty huts, with pointed palm-thatched
roofs, and reed walls. Nor were the innumerable buzzards which were
flying about or resting on the houses, together with the energetic
gesticulation of the natives when in conversation, as we drew near, at
all calculated to lessen the picturesque effect of a first view. The
surrounding country was any thing but devoid of interest and beauty.
All had a strange, equatorial look; while the green hills around,
clothed with rich tropical verdure, and the graceful and shadowy palm
and cocoanut, with other strange fantastic trees, together with the
ruins of the large old Spanish castle, on the heights above the town,
gave to the scenery a very beautiful and picturesque aspect.

"Most of us were soon ashore and rambling through the town. We landed
at the beach, on some logs, which, during the rainy season, are
necessary to preserve the pedestrian from a quagmire, in the midst of
dense foliage that was here luxuriant to the water's edge, surrounded
by about thirty canoes and some forty or fifty huge black fellows,
mostly in the garb in which nature arrayed them. We passed on beneath
a burning sun, which in the shade brought the thermometer to 90° of
Fahrenheit. A majority of the natives are black, but some are of a
deep copper or mulatto color. The thick lips and woolly head of the
African; the high cheek-bones, straight hair, and dogged look of the
Indian; and the more chisled features and finely expressive eyes of
the Spaniard, are all here, though often so blended, that it is
difficult to say to which race they chiefly owe their origin. In truth
they are a mongrel race, but generally have the most magnificent,
large, dark, expressive eyes I have ever seen. These, when in
conversation, which is almost continual, they use to some purpose,
while the incessant rapid clatter of their tongues, and their violent
gesticulations and grimaces, are often quite ludicrous. The females,
some of whom have rather pretty faces, and particularly fine eyes,
were dressed out in the most tawdry finery, with divers furbelows,
flounces, and ruffles, encircling the shoulders, where the dress
begins, and terminating somewhere about or below the knee. Some of the
younger ones were entirely _model artiste_, at least so far as their
clothing was concerned, but the forms of most were rather indifferent.
Many were sitting or lounging about the doors or in the cabins, eating
tamarinds, oranges, and other fruit, surrounded by hairless dogs,
pigs, naked children, turkey-buzzards, and some other _little_ live
stock, forming altogether quite a congruous and homogeneous mixture.

"In a Country like this, where the temperature is so nearly alike
throughout the year, there is a natural tendency to indolence and
sloth, and it is remarkable what an influence the climate exerts on
the character of the people. Here nature with a bounteous hand
spontaneously fructifies the earth, and the natives, with few wants to
supply, pluck the fruit and are satisfied; and with few necessities
for enterprise and industry, such is their love of indolence, that all
the charms of existence appear to consist in dreaming away life in
quiet and repose. Basking beneath a tropical sun, or listlessly
reclining on nature's downy couch, days--years--are passed in drowsy
languor and supine sloth.

"But the influx of men from rougher climes and bleaker regions will
probably exercise a salutary influence, by showing them the advantages
of industry and patient toil. Already they begin to perceive this, to
some extent, and though such dear lovers of money, that in closing a
bargain they will jabber their _patois_, or bad Spanish, with uncouth
gesticulations, for half a day, the majority of them are unwilling to
make any extra bodily effort to procure it; but when persuaded by
liberal offers to undertake a task, it is astonishing with what dogged
perseverance they will often pursue it, what weights they can support,
and what toil they can endure."[14]

It is recommended that passengers from the States should remain as
short a time in Chagres as possible. The exhalations from its
malarious atmosphere are extremely prejudicial to the health of the

From Chagres, the travellers proceed in canoes up the Chagres river,
to Gorgona, a distance of about fifty miles, or eight miles further,
to Cruces. The canoes are mostly owned by the natives, and the
greatest care is necessary to get them to keep their agreement. The
usual plan by which their services are secured, is this: A bargain is
made with the owner of the canoe, stipulating for the necessary
captain and poles-men, and then some of the party going up the river
in the canoe, take possession of it, and maintain it, while one goes
before the alcalde, and pays the whole amount agreed upon, taking a
receipt in Spanish. This precaution is rendered necessary; the
proprietor of the canoe returning the money to those who engaged it,
on finding he can obtain a greater price from others. At the present
time, vessels, steam and sailing, are being constructed at Chagres,
for the passage up the river, the increase of the Isthmus travel
rendering it both necessary and profitable.

The beauty of the country through which the Chagres river flows has
been the theme of frequent praise. Its banks are filled with all the
luxuriant verdure which tropical climes produce. The tamarind, the
date, the pomegranate, the plantain, the banana, the cocoanut, the
lime, the citron, and the pine apple, are abundant. Flowers of every
hue send forth their fragrance upon the air, rendering its sweetness
delightful to the senses. Orange groves are numerous, and the fruit is
as plentiful as the apple of the Southern States of the Union.
Mountains, hills, and valleys diversify the prospect, while the ear is
filled with the melodious notes of thousands of birds, native of the
tropics, their music contrasting with the discordant noise of the
parrots, mackaws, and chattering monkeys. Such a scene is worth the
travel to the Isthmus, and the toils sometimes endured in crossing it.

Several small towns and ranches are scattered along the banks of the
river. The first is Gatun, ten or twelve miles above Chagres. About
ten miles further is Dos Hermano; further on, Pûro Blanco, and
Palenquillá last, about two-thirds of the way to Gorgona. These are
stopping places for the canoes, where refreshments and supplies can be

At night, parties that land are compelled to build fires to keep off
the wild beasts and venomous serpents, which abound in the
neighborhood of the river, and to disperse the myriads of insects with
which the air teems. Alligators of a large size, are to be seen lying
on the banks in the day time, basking in the sun. Above Palenquillá
are some powerful currents, which it requires considerable toil to
move against. The river is in some places a half a mile wide, and in
others, not more than thirty yards. The boatmen are exceedingly
indolent, and require constant driving and coaxing to keep them
moving; but sometimes, when they are prevailed upon to go to work,
they will exhibit an endurance and perseverance almost astonishing.
They have been frequently known to work at the poles, pushing the boat
along, for twenty-four hours, without rest. The difficulty of
ascending the Chagres river, may be appreciated, when it is stated,
that although Gorgona is only fifty miles from the town of Chagres, it
frequently occupies as high as forty hours for the canoes to reach
that place. Stoppages are, of course, numerous, both on account of the
tiring of the boatmen and for refreshment.

"Gorgona is located upon a bend of the river, from which a fine view
of the river and valley is obtained. The valley is here about five
miles wide, the mountains rising from it in successive ranges, and
with increasing elevations. It is an admirable location for a town,
and must become one of considerable importance--especially should it
be on the route of the proposed railroad across the Isthmus. It has a
far better appearance than Chagres; the streets are laid out with some
pretensions to regularity. It is the head of canoe navigation, and
steamboats of light draft can approach it. The dwellings or huts are
of a better class than those at Chagres; they have an unfinished
Catholic church that looks rude and ragged, but nevertheless, it is a
church. The carrying trade is now almost the only business pursued by
its inhabitants; what they did before the gold of California began to
invite a swarm of adventurers across the Isthmus, to the town is more
than can be divined. Theirs must have been as near a pastoral or
primitive life, as any that can be seen in our day. The soil is
teeming with the evidences of its richness--inviting the hand of man
to its cultivation, by showing what it is capable of doing without
it--but it is undisturbed, save in a few stinted spots of less size
than our ordinary kitchen gardens. All else is left to spontaneous
production. They have herds of cattle; these, with game, flesh, fish,
and fowl, easily procured, must have been their principal sustenance.
But it is with them as with the rest of the world, wants increase with
the facilities for gratifying them. They are rapidly changing their
habits since they have an opportunity to earn money and luxuries, that
they have been strangers to, are brought within their means and their

During the _dry season_, which lasts from December till June, the
road from Gorgona to Panama is generally preferred; at other times,
the canoes proceed up the river about eight miles, to the town of
Cruces, and take the road leading from that place to Panama. Each of
these routes shall receive our consideration, and their respective
advantages and disadvantages be set forth. It is advisable, that
travellers should rest as short a time as possible at Gorgona, as
accommodations are of very poor character. Mules and a small species
of mustang are easily obtained, but the mule is far preferable. Some
travellers find it a great relief to walk a part of the distance, and,
with that intention, parties hire mules or horses in the proportion of
two to every three travellers. The baggage will have to be placed
under the charge of the native muleteers, but, from their observed
habits of filching wherever they get a chance, it is advisable not to
trust them out of sight. There are several places upon the route where
refreshments can be procured; but most of the travellers start at
daylight from Gorgona, and push directly through to Panama, in one
day. This is the best mode of proceeding, if the fatigue is found to
be endurable; for it is above all things important that in such a
climate too great fatigue should be avoided. The following account of
a journey to Panama by way of the Gorgona road, and descriptions of
the road is from a recently published narrative:

"We arose from cot and hammock, flea-bitten, and but little refreshed,
though ready to start on what we deemed our perilous journey across
the Isthmus. Hour after hour elapsed, till the most pleasant part of
the day was gone, and the sun shone with torrid fervor; but still our
mules were not ready, our host keeping them back, as we afterwards
learned, to obtain a higher rate. Annoyed beyond endurance at the
delay, and the tardy movements of the worthless set around us, we
scoured the town, and at length succeeded in obtaining four
miserable-looking little animals at eight dollars a-piece. Another was
still wanting, and, by an offer of ten dollars, I at length succeeded
in getting a tolerably good one. Though so wretched in appearance, we
found these animals capable of great endurance.

"Glad that the vexatious and irritating events of the morning, which
the cupidity and dogged laziness of these slothful mongrels had
produced, were happily ended, we hastily swallowed a cup of bad
coffee, handed by a damsel nearly _nude_, and mounting our
_Rosinantes_, we started at a brisk canter, beneath a broiling sun,
while our _guido_, all stripped and on foot, trotted off in advance.

"For the first mile, the way was very pleasant over a nearly level
plain, at the termination of which there were stronger indications of
rougher riding, for we soon began to descend a nearly perpendicular
precipice, the only pass, down which was a narrow mule-way, where,
step by step, these animals had worn a passage, over rocks, loose
stones, sand and mud. We at length reached the bottom of the ravine,
and, crossing a brook, which in some parts was a wide and deep chasm,
we commenced a toilsome ascent on the opposite side, over a similar
pathway, surrounded by scenery of wild and unknown plants and trees,
on the mountain and glen, through whose dense foliage a breath could
scarcely penetrate. The fervent atmosphere produced an almost stifling
sensation, while the deathlike silence that reigned throughout,
disturbed only by the audible footfall of our animals, as we slowly
wound around the tortuous ascent, made the journey peculiarly toilsome
and solitary.


"For the first few miles I followed closely at the heels of our guide,
and would often pause and turn to examine the apparently almost
impassable route I had traversed, watch the progress of the rest of
the party, and wonder at the security with which their
cautiously-stepping and sagacious animals would gradually overcome
seemingly insurmountable obstacles. These mustangs and mules, early
trained to travel 'in the wild mountain track,' are capable of great
endurance, and certainly possess much more knowledge than most of
their riders, when exercised upon what they consider the safest and
surest stepping-place, and best mode of proceeding. I urged mine
repeatedly, to make him choose a path, which to all appearance was
preferable to his own, but to no purpose. He would turn half round,
and in a slow, solemn way, put his nose to the ground, and looking
keenly about the place, would cautiously put one foot forward, then
another, then a third and a fourth, when, poised on all drawn under
him, and close together, he would have a better opportunity for
further inspection, which having satisfactorily accomplished, another
equally deliberate and cautious step would be made as before, down
what, to all appearance, was an impracticable route, and so on, until
the difficulty was overcome. Finding that he knew so much better than
I did, how, where, and when he ought to travel, I invariably threw the
reins to him, when hazardous passes or other obstacles were to be
surmounted. The result was always fortunate. One or two of the party,
however, were satisfied that 'horses should not have their own way,'
and whipped and spurred theirs to such an extent, to compel compliance
with their better judgment, that the issue was as I had anticipated.
One was thrown over his horse's head into a mud puddle, and the other,
with horse and all, stuck fast in a quagmire, from which it was not
easy to extricate him. Should these lines ever meet the eye of those
worthy gentlemen, I trust they will pardon the liberty I have taken in
recording here their feats of muleship. It is true that mine stumbled
on some loose stones once or twice, in descending hills, and my
efforts alone with the reins saved both him and me from a fall; but
for unmistakeable judgment in traversing these perilous
mountain-passes, I must admit he proved himself the better of the two.

"Thus we trudged on, often over difficult, and sometimes dangerous
ways. Occasionally we would have to go up or down, as the case might
be, for nearly half a mile at one time, through a chasm or sluice,
probably worn in the mountains by the torrents of water that descend
during the rainy season. These gully-holes are often ten and fifteen
feet deep throughout their entire extent, and the passes are so
narrow, as barely to admit of one horse or mule passing through at a
time; the rider, to avoid a severe contusion, or probably a broken
limb, in turning the sharp angles, being compelled to place his feet
as near the animal's head as possible, and in this manner he can ride
in perfect safety, though some little management is requisite to
maintain an equilibrium. Before entering these defiles, the muleteers
shout at the top of their voices, and stop for a short time,
continuing the shouting as they advance, to apprize others at the
opposite extremity of the pass, that the way is already occupied. This
is necessary and important, for if two on horseback were to meet in
one of these narrow but crooked paths, the scene between the Quaker
and Dandy would have to be re-enacted, for many newspapers would have
to be read, and many segars smoked, before either could turn out of
the way for his neighbor.

"Continuing on, we passed two or three _hackalas_, or huts, by the
way, and after several brief but pleasant stoppages at the various
brooks and mountain-rills, we at length came out on a beautiful
undulating meadow, where picturesque villas and shadowy trees decked
the verdant plain, and soon thereafter the towers of Panama were in
view. The sun was just setting as we entered the suburbs, and a flood
of purple glory rested on the sky, reflected back by the sparkling
waters of the Pacific, which brought the distant mountains into bolder
relief, and cast a deeper shadow through the twilight groves. Half an
hour's ride over the paved street, brought us to the city, which we
entered at the 'Gorgona gate,' passing through a heavy stone arch
way, supporting a cupola, in which hangs the alarm bell mounted by a

Such is the character of the Gorgona road to Panama. With regard to
the Crucis road, we may observe that it is a common practice, for most
of those who take the Gorgona road in going to Panama, on their
return, to take the Crucis road, no doubt hoping that the difficulties
and toil to be encountered are less than those they know are to be met
with upon the other. The following account of a return journey by way
of the Crucis road, with the full character of the route, is given in
the journal of a returned adventurer.

"I had passed three days in Panama; and, feeling desirous of
continuing my journey, I had no sooner concluded this arrangement,
than I got my mule saddled, and my box and carpet-bag packed in the
regular Isthmus fashion. The mule I obtained, like most of his
fellows, was little better than a mere skeleton; but still it was the
best I could procure, and I was fain to content myself with it. Some
of my friends endeavored to persuade me that it was better to proceed
on foot; but I knew the muddy and stony nature of the road, and
thought it infinitely more comfortable to ride a slow animal than
subject myself to the sufferings that I must experience from these

"The negro, I had hired, brought to my hotel a long frame of bamboo,
with a sort of basket at the end, into which he crammed my luggage.
This frame had two straps fastened to the upper part of it, through
one of which he slipped his arm, whilst he passed the other over his
left shoulder, and attached it under the latter to the frame which was
now on his back. This contrivance not only effectually secures the
load in its place, but protects the shoulders of the bearer from the
continual friction they would otherwise undergo.

"A large party had preceded me; but I felt no anxiety to overtake it,
as there was little or no danger of my encountering violence on the
route. I was armed with a good revolving pistol, in the event of any
thing of the sort presenting itself; so that, all things considered, I
was just as well pleased to be left to my own society.

"I proceeded on my route with my sable attendant, and found the
commencement pleasant enough travelling, the road for some distance
being paved with large and regularly cut stone. This, however, soon
terminated in abundance of sand; the route still continuing dry, and
comparatively easy to what I had expected to find it. Soon after we
had quitted the paved road, the negro stopped and asked my permission
to take a few things to his family, who lived in a small hut to our
left. Apprehensive that he was meditating an escape with my luggage, I
replied that I had no objection, provided he would leave his basket in
my care. He accordingly took the frame off his back, and, separating a
small bundle containing provisions from my baggage, he took his
departure. I took care, however, to keep him in sight and saw him
enter a wretched-looking bamboo-hut at a little distance from the
route. He remained absent a considerable time; and, having paid him
half his wages in advance, according to the usual custom with these
people, who are exceedingly distrustful, I began to fear that he was
about to desert me, and therefore called out lustily, until at last I
saw him reluctantly emerge from the hut, and make his way towards me.
These negroes being constantly in the habit of deserting travellers on
the route, and stealing their baggage whenever the opportunity
presents itself, I was particularly careful not to lose sight of my

"A few miles further on, I again found myself on a stone road, said to
have been paved by Cortes to facilitate the passage of his troops from
the Atlantic to the Pacific coast; and, although I have travelled
rougher and steeper routes in Lower California, I cannot say that I
have ever encountered such a combination of petty difficulties and
annoyances. The road is, for the greater part, barely wide enough to
admit of one mule passing with its packs, the sides forming steep
embankments, composed chiefly of rich clay, out, in many places, of
large rocks, through which a passage had evidently been cut with great
labor. But little of the country can be seen on either side, owing to
the height of these embankments; but now and then the traveller
obtains a glimpse of dense thickets, and occasionally of undulating
hills, the summits of which are covered with a deep perennial green.
The recent rains having poured in torrents down the steep sides of the
road, every cavity and crevice was filled with water and mud. Owing to
the nature of the soil, and the constant traffic across the route from
the time it was originally cut through, innumerable stones and flags
had sunk considerably below the level of their original position;
whilst a few had retained their places, as if to serve as
stepping-stones to the traveller over the wet and mud. It is a task of
incessant and wearying exertion, however, even for those who are
mounted on mules, to avoid floundering into some of these pitfalls and
quagmires at every step they make.

"The mules themselves are, as I have already stated, so worn-out, and
broken-down, that it requires the utmost vigilance and care on the
part of their riders to prevent them dropping, and precipitating them
into the mire. In order to guard as much as possible against this
contingency, whenever ladies travel this route, they are obliged to
discard the side-saddle, and resort to a less feminine style of
equitation. I overtook a party of about twenty persons on the road,
amongst whom was a married lady on her way to the States; and I
watched her rather curiously, to observe how she got over the
difficulties that beset her. Being fortified with that article of male
attire, the figurative possession of which is said to denote domestic
ascendency, she thought it incumbent upon her, I suppose, to display
all the courage and nerve that should properly be encased in it.
Several times, when I fancied that both she and her mule were on the
point of being capsized, she recovered herself with admirable presence
of mind, and seemed to enjoy the risk exceedingly.

"As to myself, I floundered on as well as I could with a mule
tottering beneath me from sheer exhaustion, and sinking every minute
up to his knees in mud. It seemed to me that we were making little or
no progress; and I became thoroughly tired and disheartened. I do not
know any temptation, however powerful, that would again induce me to
encounter the never-ending series of difficulties and annoyances that
laid in wait for me at every step; and I must candidly own, that even
the force of female example, of which I had so merry a specimen before
me, did not at all shame me into a less impatient endurance of them.

"The negroes whom I met on their way to and from Panama excited my
astonishment, from the amount of physical exertion which they seemed
capable of undergoing. With their legs and feet bare, and nothing but
a cloth around their loins, they carried enormous burdens on their
backs, stepping from stone to stone with wonderful strength and
dexterity. These poor creatures must lead the most wretched and
laborious of all the painful modes of existence to which their race is
condemned; and not even long habit, or their peculiar physical
construction, can divest it of its distressing character in the eyes
of a stranger. They all bear, on their hard and wrinkled faces, the
stamp of overtaxed strength; but they seemed content with their lot,
and will, doubtless, regret the formation of a better route, as
tending to depreciate the value of their services. Notwithstanding the
toilsome and laborious nature of their occupations, however, the
carriers of Panama are the hardiest and most muscular race to be seen
here; for the rest of the population, both white and black, are of
comparatively sickly and diminutive appearance.

"Moving somewhat like a ship in a storm, rising and sinking
alternately at stern and bow, surmounting first one huge stone, then a
deep mud hole, then another stone, and then a small lake, my mule and
myself at last reached Crucis in the evening, the whole distance
traversed not being above twenty miles."[16]

The town of Crucis is a place very similar to Gorgona, but not so
large. The houses are built of cane and plastered with mud. No
attention is given to arrangement, and but a small portion is so
constructed as to bear any resemblance to a street. The climate is
unhealthy, and travellers from the United States make as short a stay
there as possible. Doubtless, with the increase of travel, the
character of the town and its accommodations will improve; but the
heat and humidity of the atmosphere, particularly just after the rainy
season, cause a great deal of injury to the health of people from the
United States, and will prevent any considerable settlement of
Anglo-Saxons in the town.

Panama, the terminus of the varied and difficult route across the
Isthmus, is situated on the shore of an extensive and beautiful bay.
It contains about eight thousand inhabitants, most of whom are
negroes. Being one of the old Spanish towns, upon the decline of the
Spanish power, the place fell into decay. The houses are generally of
stone or brick, two and three stories in height, whitewashed or
covered with a coat of plaster, and are invariably surrounded by a
balcony protected from sun and rain by the roofs of the houses
extending over them. The town is regularly arranged, the strait and
narrow streets intersecting each other at right angles. The
substantial character of the buildings as well as the evidences of
neglect and decay, strike the traveller at the same time. A wall was
built by the Spaniards, around the portion of the town nearest the
bay, but at least one half of the population reside beyond its limits,
and it is in a dilapidated state. A venerable, decayed, but still
imposing cathedral; a grand _plaza_, or open common--a general
characteristic of Spanish built towns; several churches, partly in
ruins; the ruins of the College of Jesuits, which cover a large
extent, and of two monasteries, of which the walls and bells alone
remain; and the frowning walls and towers of the battery, fronting the
bay, are the principal features of the town of Panama. Since the
commencement of the emigration to California, a number of Americans
have established hotels and eating-houses in the town, and good
accommodations are, therefore, to be obtained by travellers.

The atmosphere at Panama is particularly injurious to people from the
northern climes, and great care must be taken by travellers during
their stay at that place. It is best to avoid eating fruit altogether;
but, if indulged in, it should be in very inconsiderable quantities.
Exposure to the mid-day sun is a frequent cause of sickness among the
travellers, and should be avoided, as well as exposure to the rain.
During the rainy season, the _vomito_ is often prevalent among the
inhabitants of Panama, and is generally a fatal disease; but there is
a great deal less travel across the Isthmus during that season, on
account of the sickliness of the climate and the difficulties of the
route. A sort of bilious fever and dysentery are the most common forms
of disease among travellers from the north; but both may be avoided by
proper care.

From Panama, steamships of superior size and accommodation, convey
passengers to San Francisco. Starting from the front of the city, the
beautiful bay, with its semi-circular shores skirted with green
foliage and inclosed with high mountains, and the lofty islands of
Flamingo, Perico, Taboga, and others, present themselves to the view.
At the island of Taboga, all the vessels that come into the bay obtain
their supplies, and the Pacific Mail Steamship Company have
established their depot for coal, &c., on its shores. After obtaining
all the necessary supplies the steamship moves out of the bay,
rounding Point Mala. The voyage upon the Pacific, with all its variety
of incident and scenery, then commences. The principal annoyance of
travellers is the almost intolerable heat of the sun and furnaces of
the steamship united. Water-spouts and different species of whale are
frequent sights. North of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, the steamer nears
the land, and the bold mountain coast of Mexico breaks upon the view,
and, at night, the passengers enjoy a view of the glaring light
produced by the burning volcano of Colima; though the volcano itself
is but imperfectly seen being at the distance of ninety miles from the
vessel. Soon after this fades from the view, the islands off the town
of San Blas appear, and an immense white rock, isolated from the sea,
serving as a lighthouse to ships steering for the port. At San Blas,
the steamships remain some time, to obtain supplies of coal, fresh
fruits, and provisions. These indispensables having been procured, the
vessel proceeds upon her voyage. Cape Corientes next appears, and,
soon afterwards, the entrance to the Gulf of California is approached;
and then, Cape San Lucas, the extreme southern point of California,
with its mountains and rocky shores, is hailed by the traveller as the
first portion of the "promised land" that greets his sight. Passing
along the western coast of the peninsula, the island and bay of
Magdalena appear, with shores three or four thousand feet above the
sea. Next, the towering ridges of Cerros Isles are passed, and the
bold, rocky shores of the peninsula are in continual view. The change
of the temperature of the air is generally keenly felt by those who do
not take care to provide against it. Within a few days after leaving
Panama, the thermometer falls from 95° to 55°, and such a change must
have an injurious effect, if additional clothing is not put on to meet

The first portion of Upper California, or, the "Golden Land," which
presents itself to the voyagers, is the Ceronados, two high,
round-topped rocks off the port of San Diego. Then the beautiful,
semi-circular harbor is entered, and if wanting, supplies are obtained
from the town. From the harbor of San Diego, the vessel proceeds along
the coast of California, and the towering peaks of the coast range of
mountains, engage the attention. The high promontory of St. Vincent is
passed, and then the open bay of Monterey is entered, and passengers
are either let off the steamer or taken aboard as necessity may
occasion. From Monterey the steamer keeps along the coast, and
mountainous shores alone meet the view, until the voyagers come in
sight of the Farallones, two large detached rocks at the southern side
of the entrance to the bay of San Francisco. Then the Golden Gate, as
the strait or entrance is called, is entered by the steamer, and the
perpendicular cliffs and hills upon each shore afford matter for
wonder. The strait is about three miles long, and from one to two
miles broad. As the vessel reaches its terminus, the great bay of San
Francisco opens to the view, looking like a miniature ocean. Bird
Island, Wood Island, Angel Island, with the beautiful little bay of
Sancelito, successively meet the gaze, and very soon the steamer is
anchored, having reached her destination. Such is the Isthmus route to
the "gold region." It is the shortest route, or the one which occupies
the least time in traversing, presents great variety, and upon the
whole, its beauties and pleasures outnumber the difficulties and


We now proceed to give the general character and direction of that
which is considered the best land route to California, and which is
the most travelled by emigrants. The principal advantage possessed by
this route may be stated in a few words. It is the shortest route to
the bay of San Francisco and the gold region. The Indians upon the
route are friendly and very few acts of hostility have been committed.
The trail is plain and good where there are no physical obstructions.
To these must be added the certainty of the emigrants reaching their
place of destination, in good season; which will not exist, if new and
unexplored routes are attempted. The greatest calamities and
sufferings have been endured by those who have either taken an
entirely different route, or deviated from the line which we will
describe. Advice concerning the time of starting, preparations, &c.,
will be interspersed in the description.

The starting point, and the general rendezvous for emigrants, is the
town of Independence, Missouri, situated about six miles from the
Missouri River, on the south side of it. This town has been, for many
years, the principal outfitting point for the Santa Fe traders, and
contains about two thousand inhabitants. Emigrants should be at the
starting place by the 20th of April, and start upon their journey as
soon thereafter as the grass will permit. The outfit of companies of
emigrants would be too tedious to mention, and as it varies
considerably, from differences of means and taste, a description would
hardly be accurate. But there are certain things which are
indispensable to those who take this route, and these we will mention.
With respect to wagons and teams, the lightest wagon that can be
constructed of sufficient strength to carry 2,500 pounds weight, is
the vehicle most desirable. This can be drawn by three or four yokes
of oxen, or six mules; oxen are usually employed for this purpose.
Pack mules can only be employed by parties of men; but the journey can
be made in great deal less time with mules than with oxen. The
provisions taken by the companies, consist mainly of flour, bacon,
coffee, and sugar; besides these indispensables, there is rice,
crackers, salt, pepper, and other luxuries of light weight. As to the
quantity necessary, that may be determined by considering the length
of the route and the average number of miles which the emigrants
travel per day. From Independence to the first settlement in
California, which is near the gold region, it is about two thousand
and fifty miles--to San Francisco, 2,290 miles. Oxen teams travel
about fifteen miles per day upon an average. At that rate, it would
require one hundred and thirty-one days to reach the first settlement
in California. Allowance should be made for stoppages by accident.
Every man should be provided with a good rifle, a pair of pistols,
with a quantity of ammunition, and a bowie knife and hatchet, in his
belt. A set of carpenter's tools is also necessary.

Starting from Independence, and travelling a few miles over a good
road, the first prairie opens upon the view. This is called the Blue
Prairie, and presents a surface undulating and clothed with rich
verdure. In crossing this prairie, violent storms often overtake the
emigrants, and to those who have not been accustomed to it, the scene
during the storm is terrifically grand. Fourteen miles travel upon
the prairie brings the emigrants to the "Blue Creek," which is
fordable, except after a heavy rain. Fording the creek and crossing
the timbered bottom of the stream, another magnificent prairie is
entered, which is beyond the Missouri line, and within the Indian
territory. Sixteen miles travel over this beautiful plain brings the
emigrant to Indian Creek, the banks of which usually serve for a place
of encampment. The prairie offers the best pasturage for cattle; but
constant watching is necessary to keep them from straying away and
returning to the settlements. From Indian Creek, the emigrants proceed
across the prairie, along the Santa Fe trail, for about fifteen miles,
and then leave it, turning off to the right hand. Crossing several
deep ravines, which are very difficult of passage in rainy weather,
the emigrants arrive on the banks of the Werkarusa Creek. This is
another favorite place of encampment, groves of trees being on each
side of it. From this creek, the route is over the high-rolling
prairie, upon a smooth and hard trail. The want of water is the only
annoyance that is experienced by the travellers, and a long day's
journey is necessary to bring them to the nearest creek--a branch of
the Kansas River. The banks of the creek are steep, and considerable
toil is requisite to cross it.

The crossing of the Kansas River is the next difficulty to be met.
There is a regular ferry about five miles from where the emigrants
cross the tributary creek. At that place the river is never more than
two hundred yards wide, even after heavy rains. The wagons are placed
in boats, owned by the Indians, and transported to the opposite shore
for the sum of one dollar per load. The oxen and horses are compelled
to swim across. Following the trail for about three miles, a place of
encampment, on the banks of Soldier Creek, is reached. The soil in the
neighborhood of the Kansas is luxuriantly productive, and the most
refreshing verdure meets the eye along the trails from that river to
Soldier Creek. The route is then pursued over a flat plain--boggy in
some places--for several miles, till another creek is reached, the
banks of which are steep, and this, as in other cases, make its
crossing a matter of great toil. The trail then runs over a high,
undulating country, presenting every variety of scenery, as far as
Black Paint Creek, near which are two Kansas Indian villages. The
Kansas are a friendly tribe, and if they were not, they are not
powerful enough to attack large parties of emigrants. They are
somewhat disposed to pilfer whatever they can conveniently, and
require close watching.

After crossing the creek, the trail is followed through a fertile
valley, across Hurricane Creek, which is somewhat difficult of
passage, and then over an open and rolling prairie, broken by small
branches and ravines. Many places, convenient for encamping, are to be
found on the route, some of which have springs of pure cold water.
Farther on, the ground becomes more broken, and Vermilion Creek, a
large and rapid stream, is reached. Its banks are steep, and its
fording very toilsome and difficult. Between this creek and the Big
Blue, there is neither wood nor water to be obtained, and therefore,
it is customary for the emigrants to fill their casks at this place.
The ground between the two streams, a distance of ten miles, is more
broken than any upon the former part of the route, and on arriving at
the Big Blue, a steep descent is made to the low, bottom lands near
the river. The usual width of the Big Blue is about a hundred yards,
at which time alone it is fordable. It becomes much swollen by heavy
rains, and very rapid in its current.

Arising from the bottom of the Big Blue River, the emigrants are again
upon the high and undulating prairie. Every variety of scenery is
presented to the view, and springs of water, issuing from the cliffy
banks of the small branches and ravines, and shaded by groves of trees
offer many places for rest and refreshment. Fourteen miles from the
Big Blue, one of its tributaries, exceedingly difficult to cross with
large wagons and teams, is met with. After passing it, the trail runs
over a smooth inclined plane for the distance of twelve miles, to
another encamping place for emigrants, upon the banks of a small
creek. From that creek there is a gradual ascent for the distance of
about fourteen miles, and then a beautiful valley, through which flows
a small stream, meets the eye of the wearied emigrants, and offers
groves of oak to serve for places of rest. Then there is another
gradual ascent, through a country which is more sandy and less fertile
than any met with upon the former part of the route, for more than
twenty miles. The Little Blue is then reached, and the train continues
along up the banks of the stream for the distance of about fifty
miles; the road being dry and firm, except in a few ravines. The trail
then diverges from the stream to the right, ascending over the bluffs,
into the high table land of the prairie, and continues to ascend
gradually until the bluffs overlooking the valley of the Platte River,
are reached. The soil along this part of the trail is sandy, and the
grass rather scarce; but water can be obtained at several places.

The Platte River is about one hundred and fifty yards in breadth where
the trail reaches it. The current is sluggish and turbid, and the
water is very shallow. The trail continues along the banks of the
river, the course of which is nearly from west to east, and the road
is all that could be wished for travelling. The bluffs which skirt the
valley present considerable variety, and as the route is continued,
they become more elevated and broken. The soil of the valley becomes
less fertile and the vegetation is thin and short. After traversing
the valley of the Platte for the distance of one hundred and thirty
miles, the trail crosses the river and continues along the northern
bank of the south fork for about twelve miles, when it diverges from
the stream to pass over the prairie to the north fork. The distance
from the south to the north fork of the Platte, by the emigrant trail,
is about twenty-two miles, without water. The country between the two
streams is high and rolling. The soil is poor, the grass short, and no
trees or shrubs are visible. The trail descends into the valley of the
north fork of the Platte, through a pass known as Ash Hollow. There is
but one steep or difficult place for wagons in the pass, and in the
valley will be found a spring of pure cool water. At this place, there
is a sort of post office, where letters are left by emigrants, with
requests that they shall be taken to the States by those who pass this

For several miles from Ash Hollow the trail passes over a sandy soil,
which is very soft, but which afterwards becomes firmer. The scenery
then presents the aspect of barrenness and desolation. Sand and rocks
are all that meet the view for many miles. The landscape then assumes
a greener and more refreshing appearance, and groves of trees relieve
the emigrants from pursuing their way any farther during the day.
Farther on, the well-known landmark, called the "Chimney Rock," which
can be seen at a great distance, is met by the emigrants. It is
composed of soft rock, and is several hundred feet high. The scenery
in the neighbourhood of the rock is very remarkable and picturesque.
There are a number of rocky elevations which present the appearance of
vast temples and pyramids, with domes and spires partially in ruins.
Over a sandy soil, the trail is pursued for about twenty miles, the
surrounding scenery being of the most sublime and singular character.
Near a remarkable rocky conformation, called "Scott's Bluff," the
trail leaves the river, and runs over a smooth valley in the rear of
the bluff. It there ascends to the top of the dividing ridge, from
which the Rocky Mountains can be seen. Descending from the ridge, it
passes over a barren country, broken by deep chasms and ravines, for
about twelve miles, when Horse Creek is reached. From that creek, the
trail is followed to the Platte River, where a place for encampment is
found, though the grass is very indifferent. Continuing for several
miles through a barren country, the trail is followed to "Fort
Bernard," a small building, rudely constructed of logs, used as a
trading-post. Eight miles farther on, is Fort Laramie, or Fort John,
as it is sometimes called. This fort has been the principal
trading-post of the American Fur Company. It is situated in the
Laramie River, near its junction with the Platte, and is six hundred
and seventy-two miles from Independence. The building is
quadrangular, and is constructed of _adobé_, or sun-dried bricks. Its
walls are surmounted by watch-towers and its gate is defended by two
brass swivels.

From Fort Laramie, the trail continues on through a broken country, to
the Platte River, a distance of twenty miles. Crossing a small creek
which empties into the Platte, it proceeds through the dry bed of one
of its branches, over a deep sand for six or eight miles, and reaches
the summit of a high ridge. From thence it descends into a narrow
valley, through which flows a small stream of pure water. Another
ridge of hills is then ascended, and a wild, desolate, but picturesque
scene is presented to the view. Numerous lofty mountain peaks, barren
rocks, and a vast prospect of low conical hills are the principal
features. Through a country, the principal features of which are of
this description, the trail is followed, and the monotony of the
journey is only relieved by an occasional stoppage at a refreshing
spring of water. The trail gradually ascends towards the summit of the
Rocky Mountains, and the country becomes more broken and sterile, till
it reaches Beaver Creek, a tributary of the Platte. There the grass
and water are good, and the wood is abundant. The country exhibits
every indication of fertility upon the trail leading from Beaver
Creek, and pure and limpid streams are frequent, until the Platte
River is again struck and followed upon its southern bank, for the
distance of about eighteen miles. The river is then forded, and the
trail ascends the high bluffs overlooking the valley, and proceeds
over several miles of table-land till the valley of the Platte is
again reached. At this point, the trail finally leaves the Platte,
and, ascending the bluffs on the right, passes over an arid plain
diversified with immense piles of rocks, deep ravines and chasms, and
presenting a wide-spread sterility and desolation, for the distance of
forty miles. Water is to be obtained in very small quantities and at
few places on this part of the trail, and, therefore a scarcity should
be provided for before leaving the Platte. At the end of that
distance, the trail descends into a small valley, where spring water
can be obtained and some refreshing shade. Ascending from this valley,
the trail gradually ascends to the summit of a dividing ridge, from
which a view of the Sweetwater River Mountains can be obtained.
Descending from the ridge, a small stream, the grassy banks of which
serve for an encampment, is soon reached. Farther on is a well-known
landmark among the mountains, called Independence Rock. It is an
isolated elevation, composed of masses of rock, about one hundred feet
in height, and a mile in circumference, standing near the northern
bend of the Sweetwater River, and between the ranges of mountains
which border the valley of that stream.

The trail proceeds up the Sweetwater River, and passes a remarkable
fissure in the Rocky Mountain wall, which is called the Devil's Gate.
The fissure is about thirty feet in breadth, and the perpendicular
walls on each side of the channel of the stream which flows through
it, are nearly three hundred feet high. The trail leaves the river
about twelve miles from where it first strikes it, and then returns to
it after traversing about sixteen miles. It again diverges from the
river and crosses a broken and arid plain, which presents but few
signs of vegetation. Passing through a gap between two ranges of
granite mountains, the first view of the Wind River Mountains is
obtained. The trail then proceeds through a narrow valley several
miles in length, the surface of which is white with an alkaline
efflorescence, and then returns to the Sweetwater River. Continuing up
the valley of the Sweetwater, occasionally leaving the bank of the
stream and passing over the rolling and barren tablelands, it crosses
two small creeks which present good places for encampment. Several
miles farther on, the trail crosses the Sweetwater River, and then
leaves it finally, making a gradual ascent to the South Pass of the
Rocky Mountains, or the dividing ridge which separate the waters of
the Atlantic and Pacific.

After the summit of the ridge is reached, the trail passes two or
three miles over a level surface, and then descends to the spring,
well known to emigrants as the "Pacific Spring." The water from this
spring is emptied into the Colorado River of the West, which river
empties into the Gulf of California. This Pacific Spring is two miles
west of the South Pass, and nine hundred and eighty-three miles from
Independence, Missouri.

From the Pacific Spring, the trail passes over an arid, undulating
plain, in a west-by-north course, for about twenty-eight miles, when
the "Little Sandy" River, a branch of the Green or Colorado River,
presents itself, and furnishes the first water after leaving Pacific
Spring. From the Little Sandy River, the trail passes over a plain of
white sand or clay, and within twelve miles reaches the Big Sandy
River, and passes along it for about eighteen miles, and then strikes
off and crosses the Green River, or Colorado of the West. This river
is shallow and only about seventy yards broad. The trail then
continues down the Green River a short distance, and then, making a
right angle, ascends the bluffs bordering the valley of the stream, in
nearly a west course. The country then becomes still more broken and
barren, and the trail ascends gradually to the summit of a ridge, from
which it descends to the banks of the Black Fork, a tributary of the
Green River. This Black Fork is crossed several times upon the route,
but is not more than sixty yards wide and is very shallow. The trail
leaves it to cut off the bends and then returns to it. The scenery
along this part of the route is interesting, but the soil is
frightfully sterile. Diverging from the stream the trail passes over a
barren plain with no vegetation upon it except the wild sage, so
common even in the most sterile country, and then passes through a
bottom of grass, offering a good place for an encampment.

Near this place is Fort Bridger, a small trading-post established by a
Mr. Bridger. The buildings are two or three rudely constructed log
cabins, and they are situated in a handsome fertile bottom, on the
banks of a small stream. This fort is about eleven hundred miles from
Independence, Missouri. From Fort Bridger, many parties anxious to
explore the country, take the route by way of the south end of the
great Salt Lake. But the scarcity of water and the other difficulties
encountered in crossing the sterile plains and the great Salt Desert
should be sufficient to deter emigrants with families from taking that
direction. Oxen could not travel fast enough from one watering-place
to another, and must necessarily perish from thirst. Besides, the
route is but poorly defined, and may be wandered from very easily.

The trail of the old route, and the one taken by most of the
emigrants, leaves Fort Bridger, and pursues a north-westerly course,
through the Bear River valley, which it leaves at a remarkable
landmark called Sheep Rock, and crossing a dividing ridge reaches Fort
Hall, by the valley of the Portneaf River. This fort was established
by the Hudson Bay Company, and it is the seat of a considerable trade
in furs with the Indians and trappers. From Fort Hall the trail
continues on till it reaches the valley of Mary's River. There a
tolerably fertile soil and refreshing vegetation greets the eye of the
travel-worn emigrant. The trail crosses the river five or six times in
as many miles, in order to take advantage of the narrow bottoms made
by the windings of the stream. The bottom is skirted by very high
ranges of mountains to where the trail leaves it, and turning to the
right ascends over low, gravelly hills. Descending from the summit of
a ridge of hills, it passes through a valley where good grass and
water can be obtained--the valley containing several springs of pure
cold water. Emerging from this valley through a narrow gap, the trail
passes into another still more extensive, and pursues a south-westerly
direction for about twenty miles, keeping near the margin of Mary's
River. A succession of low hills are crossed, and another valley is
reached. During the journey through these valleys, the emigrants are
exposed to the fiery rays of the sun, and the hot winds from the
desert are very oppressive. The trail then follows the course of the
river in a direction nearly north-west, through valleys, or plains of
great extent, and mountainous defiles, occasionally following a bend
of the river towards the south-west. The greater portion of these
valleys is barren, but there are frequent fertile spots near the
boiling springs. The only Indians met on this part of the route are
the diggers, and they do not possess the power to do much harm, if
they even were hostile; but they are friendly. The want of water is
the principal annoyance.

Passing over the desolate valleys and hills that border Mary's River,
the trail descends into a large circular basin, in which a place for
encamping is found, but with little water. From this basin, it crosses
some considerable elevations and then a totally barren plain ten miles
wide. Beyond this, water and grass of tolerable quality are soon
found; and there, if possible, a supply should be obtained sufficient
to last for a long day's journey. Rounding the base of a mountain, the
trail takes a south-west course, across a totally barren plain. No
sign of the river, or the existence of any water is exhibited. Near
the southern edge of the plain, which is twenty miles in extent, some
pools of standing water are found, and the place is known as the "Sink
of Mary's River." From these pools to the Truckee, or Salmon Trout
River, the distance is forty-five miles. The trail is followed over
the hills of ashy earth, in which the mules often sink to their
bellies, and over a ground destitute of any vegetation, except
occasional clumps of wild sage. A ridge of mountains is then ascended
by an easy inclined plain, and a view of the distant range of Sierra
Nevada is obtained on reaching the summit. The intervening valley
presents as barren a prospect as the country immediately preceding it.
Descending into it, numerous boiling springs are found, which often
serve to delude the thirsty emigrants. But by damming up the streams
which flow from them, the water may be cooled, and, although
impregnated with salt, sulphur, and magnesia, it may quench the
thirst. The phenomenon of mirage is frequently presented to the view
of the emigrants, and it very often assumes the appearance of things
unknown to that desert region, such as lakes, cascades, and foaming
and tumbling waters. About twelve miles from the springs, a ridge of
sandy hills, running across the valley, is ascended, and then an
elevated plain of about ten miles in extent is crossed by the trail.
Over this plain the travelling is very laborious--the sand being very
deep. But at length the Truckee River is reached, and water, grass and
trees, larger than any upon the former part of the route for five
hundred miles preceding, greet the wearied and thirsty emigrant.

The Truckee River is about fifty feet in breadth with a shallow but
rapid current of clear water. The bottom land is exceedingly fertile,
and game is sometimes to be obtained in its neighborhood. The trail
crosses the Truckee very frequently, in its winding course, but the
country being agreeable, this is not considered toilsome by the
emigrant, after traversing the barren plains in the vicinity of Mary's
River. The course of the Truckee is nearly from the south-west to the
north-east, and in some places it passes between very high mountains,
affording scarcely room for travellers to pass. Sometimes the trail is
followed through fertile valleys and then over barren hills and rocky
passes till the summit of a gap in the mountains is reached, and a
pleasant valley opens to the view, offering a fine place for
encampment. The trail then turns to the left, and proceeds in a
southerly direction, crossing the Truckee several times, until the
Truckee Lake breaks upon the view. This small sheet of water is
surrounded by lofty mountains, except upon the side where its outlet
flows from it. The trail strikes the shore of the lake at its eastern
end, and continues around its north-eastern side over a very
difficult, boggy road. Having reached the upper end of the lakes, the
trail leaves the shore on the right hand, ascends over some rocky
hills, and, crossing some deep ravines and swampy ground, arrives at
the base of the crest of the Sierra Nevada. Then comes the ascent of
the steep pass--a work of difficulty and danger. The mules are
compelled to leap from crag to crag, and, when heavily laden, are
often precipitated backward in climbing the almost perpendicular

Having attained the summit of the pass, the view is inexpressibly
grand and comprehensive. A mile journey upon the top of the mountain
brings the traveller to a small lake, surrounded by good grass, which
is often used as a place of encampment. Leaving the lake on the right
hand, the trail descends over the rocky ground for a few miles, and
then enters a beautiful valley about five miles long. Through this
valley, which is called the Yuba valley, by the emigrants, flows the
Yuba River, a tributary of the Feather River, and the scene of
considerable gold digging and washing. This is the commencement of the
gold region, and after their journey through the wilderness, here the
emigrants greet the "promised land." From this point to Sacramento
city, the great terminus of the overland emigration, it is about sixty
miles; but the trading post of Yuba, Johnson's ranche, Vernon, and the
other posts, offer convenient intermediate resting places.

We have thus sketched the general character of the principal overland
route to California, and have followed the trail of the emigrant over
all the difficulties and obstacles which present themselves upon the
route. That there are portions of the journey which are productive of
considerable suffering, and which demand stout hearts and strong
constitutions to meet them, is not to be doubted. But they are few
compared with the dangers to be encountered by deviating from the
particular trail whose course we have followed. The want of water is
the principal source of annoyance towards the lake part of the route,
but this occurs in few places. The longest distance to be travelled
without finding water, is about forty-five miles--from the "Sink" of
Mary's River to Truckee River, and this may be prepared for. It is a
matter of great importance, that the delay upon the route should be as
little as possible. Great suffering and many deaths have been caused
by delaying too long at different camping places. It should be made an
urgent duty to get over as much ground every day as possible, and to
keep in the old trail.

The overland route which we have sketched, and the route by way of
Chagres and Panama, are the two routes by which most of the California
emigrations had proceeded; but there are others projected, and some
have been followed. Many persons have proceeded to California through
Mexico; but the difficulty and delay in the matter of passports, and
the opposition of the Mexicans to armed parties of another country
passing their territory, must prove weighty objections to any such
route. Another has been projected, and will probably be opened. It is
a route across the territory of Nicaragua, in Central America. This
will be the shortest and most convenient route to the gold region,
and will absorb the greater portion of the travel thither; but the
overland route will always be taken by those who have been accustomed
to a country life, or have a thirst for adventure. It presents the
greatest variety of scenery--some of it of a character not to be seen
elsewhere; and affords opportunities for studying nature in all her
visible forms; and, though attended with toils and dangers, which will
daunt the feeble, it possesses the strongest attractions for the
lovers of variety, and the hardy adventurer who has confidence in his
own powers of endurance.


[14] Diary of a Physician in California, by James L. Tyson, M.D.

[15] Diary of a Physician in California, by James L. Tyson, M.D.

[16] Personal Adventures in California, by W. Redmond Ryan.



Believing that every event which in any way affects the interests or
welfare of California is important to those who have watched her
progress and have been astonished at her rapid rise, we will in this
and a subsequent chapter, bring the narrative up to the time of
issuing this work.

The city of San Francisco, in the midst of her progress and
prosperity, has been twice visited by the destroying element of fire.
The first calamity of this kind occurred on the morning of the 25th of
December, 1849. The fire consumed all that portion of the city on and
near the plaza, involving a loss, at California prices, of over a
million of dollars. Fortunately, it was the rainy season. If the fire
had occurred during the dry season, and the prevalence of the furious
gales, the whole city, composed, as it was, of canvas tents and wooden
houses, must have been destroyed. The event did not materially affect
the progress of the city; for the burnt district was entirely rebuilt
within twenty days.

The second great fire occurred on the night of the 4th of May, 1850.
It broke out in the United States Hotel, situated on the plaza, or
Portsmouth Square--the very heart of the city. The flames soon spread
to the adjoining buildings, and several of the principal hotels were
destroyed. Nothing could stop the progress of the fire but the tearing
down of a whole block of houses on one of the streets leading from the
Square. Five entire blocks of the business portion of the city were
destroyed--involving a loss of about a million of dollars. To show the
amount of enterprise and energy existing in San Francisco, no better
opportunity is afforded than to look at the state of things in that
city, ten days after the fire. We extract from the Alta Californian of
the 15th of May, the following remarks:

"THE BURNED DISTRICT.--Intimately as we are acquainted with the
predominant spirit of energy and enterprise of our city, we have
almost wondered at the rapidity with which the burned district is
being again built up. It exceeds the speed with which the work was
accomplished after the December fire. Already, in Portsmouth Square,
the Bella Union and St. Charles, houses of public resort, are opened
and hourly thronged. In Washington Street, two dry goods stores, 'La
Amarilla' and Juan Cima's, are opened and stocked, and on both sides
of the way buildings are nearly completed, and will be ready for
occupation by the latter end of this week. In fact, the ruins are more
than half covered over, and except that the new edifices are not of so
elegant a character or so substantially built, even, as previously,
they will present a handsome appearance.

"The fact of the business season having now fairly commenced, and the
necessity of being alive to take advantage of it, has materially
accelerated operations. The present busy hum created by the
industrious mechanic, will soon give way to the usual activity and
bustle of mercantile trade, and ere the departure of the next steamer
a casual observer would be scarcely able to realize the devastation of
the 4th inst. Notwithstanding the immense amount of property
destroyed, which was not at all over-estimated, business has not been
so generally depressed, even momentarily, as it was feared and
anticipated. Our community have risen again to the surface of the
waters with cork-like buoyancy, and the sad and gloomy faces of the
early part of last week have brightened by the prosperous hopes
anticipated in the future. Never was calamity taken with more
fortitude and philosophy than in this city. And if to win success is
but to deserve, then those who have suffered will meet with their just
reward. _Nil desperandum_ seems to be the popular motto, amalgamated
with the David Crocket principle, enlarged and improved. We are
satisfied that nothing can retard or check the prosperity, rapid
growth, advancement and importance of this, the principal city and
seaport of the Pacific coast. _Viva_ San Francisco!"


The annexed extract from the Message of the Mayor of San Francisco
gives an idea of the quantity of disease and destitution in that
city. No doubt San Francisco is the grand receptacle for all who
become diseased in any way at the mines or other places in the
interior; and this may serve to account for the extraordinary
statements contained in the Message--

"During the last nine months, an expense of eighty thousand dollars
has been incurred for the support of the sick and destitute, who have
been thrown penniless upon our shores, and found friendless and
homeless in our streets, and for the burial of those who have died
without sufficient means to defray the expenses of interment. If these
enormous expenditures are continued, (and it is evident from the rapid
growth of the population, that they must seriously increase, unless
some new system is adopted,) it will readily be perceived that a very
large portion of the revenue of the city will be absorbed in defraying
the expenses of the hospital department alone. Something therefore
must speedily be done to remedy this great drain upon the public

As an indication of the vast increase of the commerce of San
Francisco, it is stated that, in six days in the month of May, 1850,
there arrived at that port seventy-six vessels, freighted with cargoes
to find a market there. Several large steamboats have been put upon
the Sacramento and the Bay of San Francisco, and they are reaping
extraordinary profits. The trip from San Francisco to Sacramento City
was, a few years ago, a work of some days, but it is now performed in
less than nine hours.

The reports from the mines continue to be of the most favorable
character. Gold has been discovered upon Trinity River, about two
hundred miles north of Sacramento City, and the digging has proved to
be equal to that of any of the other placers. The mouth of the river,
which empties into Trinity Bay, has been surveyed, and, being
considered a very good harbor, a town has been projected, to be
situated upon the shore at the mouth of the river. Rich diggings have
been opened near Mariposa, and on one occasion, a mass of gold and
quartz, weighing fifty pounds, was taken from them, and sold for
sixteen hundred dollars. Several important discoveries have been made
on the Mokulumne River. Out of one hole, three men, in two days, took
the sum of four thousand dollars. It is thought that more bullion will
be obtained during the dry season of the present year, 1850, than has
been received since the commencement of the gold-digging. This seems
to falsify the predictions of some persons, that the gold region would
be speedily exhausted.

The following is an account of some bloody transactions upon the North
Fork of the American River. We extract it from the Pacific News of May
15th, 1850:--

"About two weeks ago, a party of Indians came stealthily upon a few
miners who were sleeping after their work was over in their tents on
the North Fork, some twenty miles above Auburn. Before the Indians
gave any warning to the whites of their presence, they killed two,
wounded another, and then succeeded in making their escape. On Friday
of last week, a trader, who was travelling with his team, was
surrounded by Indians when about fifteen miles above Auburn. The
arrows from their bows took effect upon his person, and he only saved
his life by a precipitous flight. They carried off his coat which he
left in his wagon, with $600 worth of gold dust in the pocket. They
also robbed his wagon of several valuable articles. Upon receiving
news of this attack at Auburn, a number of men set out on horseback,
in pursuit of the Indians. They overtook them in a valley not far from
Auburn, and found a large party of them drawn up to meet them. The
Indians were armed with bows and arrows and had one gun. The whites
attacked them, and soon put them to flight. The Indians left a
considerable number of dead behind them, and it is supposed that they
carried off many more. Two of the whites were wounded with the arrows
of the Indians, but not fatally.

"It is believed by many of the miners that there are white men among
the Indians, inciting them to hostilities. It is pretty certain that a
German doctor has been leading them on in their attacks. A meeting was
held at Auburn, last Monday evening, to raise a company of volunteers
for the purpose of scouring the country, and making war upon the
Indians wherever found, so long as they maintain a hostile position,
and a number of men were enrolled."

A portion of the Indians of the eastern part of California have always
manifested their hostility to the whites, and have taken numerous
occasions to wreak their vengeance upon those whom they consider the
invaders of their country. But the pursuit of such a course will only
hasten their own destruction. They are in no condition to contend with
the whites, and their proper course would be to conciliate those whom
they cannot resist. The following account of an exterminating
expedition against the Indians is from the Alta Californian of the
first of June. To our thinking, the punishment far exceeded the
offence, and the officer who gave the order for extermination, is
culpable in a high degree.

"We have received particulars of the recent slaughter of a large body
of Clear Lake Indians by an expedition sent out against them from the
United States garrisons at Sonoma and Benecia. The tribe that incurred
this terrible punishment, comprises the natives of Sonoma and Napa
valleys, and has maintained, in general undisturbed peaceful relations
with the white settlers of that section of California. Last summer,
however, a stubborn family Indian offered an indignity to the wife of
one Kelsey, who had resided in the country some nine years, for which
he was taken before a magistrate and sentenced to receive one hundred
lashes. After this punishment, on the same day, we are informed
Kelsey, sought the wretched offender, and laid him dead at his feet,
shooting him in the presence of several gentlemen, who remonstrated
with him on the barbarity of the deed. This man Kelsey was afterwards
murdered, as was also a brother-in-law, by the Indians of the
neighborhood. Since then repeated acts of violence have been visited
upon the natives, and our readers will remember the accounts which we
published a few months since, of outrages committed in Sonoma and
Napa, by a party of desperate white men. The Indians were driven to
the mountains, and subsequently made depredatory incursions upon their
old masters, driving away cattle, and indulging their natural
propensity to steal. Complaints were made,--doubtless the accounts of
their conduct highly colored,--to the garrisons of Benecia and Sonoma,
and on the 1st of the month an expedition was fitted out against them,
composed of a detachment of infantry, and a company of dragoons, under
command of Lieutenant Davidson, (seventy-five in all,) with orders to
proceed against the Clear Lake Indians, and _exterminate_, if
possible, the tribe.

"The troops arrived in the vicinity of the lake, and came unexpectedly
upon a body of Indians numbering between two and three hundred. They
immediately surrounded them, and as the Indians raised a shout of
defiance and attempted escape, _poured in a destructive fire
indiscriminately upon men, women, and children_. 'They fell,' says our
informant, 'as grass before the sweep of the scythe.' Little or no
resistance was encountered, and the work of butchery was of short
duration. The shrieks of the slaughtered victims died away, the roar
of muskets then ceased, and stretched lifeless upon the sod of their
native valley were the bleeding bodies of these Indians--nor sex, nor
age was spared; it was the order of extermination fearfully obeyed.
The troops returned to the stations, and quiet is for the present

Here is the account of more Indian troubles.

depredations of the Indians of the Sacramento valley and outrages
committed by them, General Thomas J. Green, 1st Division, State
Militia, ordered out two companies of Mounted Volunteers, under
command of Captain Allgiers and Captain Charles Hoyt, and marched from
Oro, on the 17th of May, in the direction of Deer Creek. On the same
day Lieutenant Bell, of Captain A.'s company, with ten men,
encountered a large number of Indians, killed five, and took six

"On the 18th the command scoured the country in the region of Deer
Creek and Bear River. On the 19th, the trail to Colonel Holt's mill,
where he was murdered, was taken, the villages found to be deserted,
and the white settlement abandoned.

"On the 20th, the Indians, two or three hundred strong, were
discovered within two miles of Bear River, upon an elevated conical
hill. An engagement took place, in which eleven Indians were killed
and a number wounded. About fifty of the state volunteers were
engaged. None were killed, but Captain Hoyt, Lieutenant Lewis, and Mr.
Russell were wounded. Major Frederick Emory (brother of Major Emory,
United States Topographical Engineers of the boundary Commission,) was
accidentally shot through the thigh with a rifle ball. He was
aid-de-camp to General T. J. Green.

"On the 25th, the Indian Chiefs Weimer, Buckler, and Pooliel, came in,
by permission, and entered into a treaty of peace between the three
tribes, severally represented, and the State of California and
Government of the United States. The treaty is sensible and

In the following, among other interesting intelligence, will be found
an account of that which was expected long before it occurred--the
resistance of some of the numerous body of foreign gold-seekers to the
tax imposed upon them. The license tax is certainly a just one; but
the foreigners presumed upon their number and strength, that they had
power sufficient to resist its imposition. The easy excitability of
the Americans, upon any subject connected with their own soil is well
known; and it is exceedingly strange that a serious collision did not
take place. We extract from the Alta Californian, of June 1st, 1850.

The _Alta Californian_ has letters from Stockton to May 22d. On the
Tuolumne, but little gold digging has been effected since last fall
along the banks. The gold is under water, and preparations were making
by companies to dam the streams to get at it. This work has been
actively going on for five or six months. There is want of men at this
kind of work, and eight or ten dollars a day is readily obtained. The
diggings at Jamestown, Sonora, &c., have been partially deserted on
account of new diggings discovered at Columbia, three miles from
Sonora, at the last accounts some two thousand persons had collected
there, and town lots were selling at high prices.

Sonora is growing very rapidly, being in the centre of an extensive
mining region. It is likely to be next to Stockton in size and
importance. Discoveries of rich placers have been made in its vicinity
lately; some of the richest holes at Columbia are thirty, forty, and
fifty feet deep. A serious difficulty has broken out at Sonora. A
number of foreigners refused to comply with the law taxing them for
the privilege of working the mines. A time was fixed by the collector
to summon a posse of American citizens to prevent them from working.
The day previous to the time fixed, the foreigners paraded with guns,
&c., and reinforcements of Americans were sent for from the
neighboring towns. A letter from Stockton, dated May 22d, adds:

"In the evening, the sheriff, Mr. Work, was accosted by a Mexican, who
asked him if he was not an officer, or the officer who intended to
enforce the payment of the license. On replying that he was, the
Mexican made an attempt to stab him, when a person standing by, named
Clark, with a single stroke of a bowie knife, nearly severed his head
from his body. Thirty armed Americans soon arrived from Mormon Gulch,
and the whole American population were on the alert all night.

"At last accounts there were two or three hundred Americans at Sonora,
under arms, and others were hourly arriving. On Monday the excitement
had somewhat abated. Hundreds of the Mexicans and Chileans were
packing up and leaving for Stockton. Many of them disclaimed having
had any intention of resorting to arms, and all were evidently more or
less frightened at the aspect of affairs. It appears that the Mexicans
who took part in the disturbance, were led on by some hot-headed
Frenchman, lately arrived from France, of the Red Republican order.
They found, however, that the majority of the Spaniards were not
disposed to join them, and it is supposed that the whole affair will
blow over without any very serious consequences. The affair will
probably be a severe blow to business, for the present, in Sonora."

The _Stockton Times_ has a letter from Sonora, giving the details of
this difficulty. The foreigners said they were willing to pay four or
five dollars per month, but that the amount demanded was utterly
beyond their power to pay. They made this statement at an interview
with the Governor. The letter goes on as follows:

"During the discussion, an American who wished to get out of the
crowd, began elbowing his way from the place where he stood, when a
Mexican or Chilian, in front of him, drew a pistol. In a moment a
dozen revolvers were out, and a precipitate retreat was made by the
foreigners. No shot was fired, but the Mexicans were alarmed, and the
town was cleared in five minutes. Our peace now seemed threatened by
about five thousand men outside, and no inconsiderable alarm was
created in town. The citizens armed themselves, and expresses were
sent to Mormon Creek and Sullivan's Diggings, from which places about
five hundred well armed Americans arrived, and marched through the
streets with guns and rifles on their shoulders. The demonstration was
sufficient; the crowds in the vicinity soon dispersed, and quiet was
restored. The only thing to be feared, is the misguided zeal of our
own citizens, who although generally sympathizing with the discontent
occasioned by the unjust tax, are incensed that the foreigners should
presume to take the law into their own hands, and may not be willing
to allow the affair to rest where it is.

A serious affray took place this afternoon, in which a Mexican was
seriously wounded. A man was noticed parading the streets with two or
three pistols and a knife in his belt; the man was intoxicated, and
the sheriff arrested him, or rather took his arms from him. While in
the act, a Mexican came up behind and made a stab at the officer with
a large knife. The murderous intent was frustrated by a bystander,
who, with a bowie knife, struck the man, wounding him severely. Mr.
Work, the sheriff, was happily untouched.

This state of affairs, if allowed to last, will ruin the prosperity of
the whole southern mines, and your own town of Stockton will be the
first to suffer thereby.

_Monday, May 20._--A guard was kept up all last night, but every
thing was quiet, and as I said yesterday, I believe the danger, if any
was to be apprehended, had passed away. But the excitable feelings of
the hundreds of Americans now under arms had to be indulged, and
hearing that a camp, mostly composed of foreigners, situated about
seven miles from Sonora, had mounted Mexican, Chilian, and French
flags, (what truth there is in the report, I know not,) they have
started out this morning to avenge the insult, and chastise the
temerity of the "greasers" and "outsiders." I sincerely trust there
will be good sense enough in the party to refrain from wanton

Gov. Burnett has sent Hon. John Bidwell and Judge H. A. Schoolcraft in
charge of the block of stone contributed by California to the
Washington Monument. It is thus described:

"This block of gold-bearing quartz, is from the Mariposa diggings,
near Fremont's mines, and weighs about one hundred and twenty-five
pounds. In shape it is irregular, approaching a square, its sides
varying from eighteen to twenty inches in length. It averages in
thickness nine inches--across its face diagonally it is twenty-one
inches by measurement. Very little gold is perceptible to the naked
eye, but it is estimated to contain about eighty dollars worth."

Since the above events were recorded, another most disastrous fire has
occurred in the city of San Francisco. It broke out in the Sacramento
House, situated in the wealthiest portion of the city, on the 17th of
June, 1850, at eight o'clock, A.M., and in the short space of three
hours, about two-thirds of the wealthiest district was consumed. The
shipping in the harbor was only saved by the greatest exertion. The
entire loss is estimated at from three to four millions of dollars.
This event occurring so soon after the previous fire, has had a
depressing and gloomy effect upon the business operations, not only of
San Francisco, but of Sacramento City also. Many of the heaviest
trading houses have been entirely ruined; and others brought to the
verge of it. Several individuals, including the Mayor of the city,
distinguished themselves by their noble and generous exertions to
arrest the progress of the fire and save property.

The emigration to California by way of the overland route is six times
as great during the present year as it was in 1849. The last company
left Council Bluffs, on the 15th of June. They brought up the rear of
near four thousand wagons, ten or twelve thousand persons, and about
twenty thousand head of horses and cattle. The continued success of
the gold diggers and the extraordinary prospect in regard to the
quantity that will be obtained during the mining season of 1850,
serves to keep up the excitement and to allure the emigrant to the
golden land.

There is a prospect that the seat of government of California will be
removed from San José to the proposed new city of Vallejo, about
twenty miles above San Francisco, near the Straits of Carquinez, and
at the junction of the Napa and San Pablo Bays. The new city has
already been surveyed, and a company of influential capitalists
organized, with the determination to "go ahead," whether the capital
is or is not established at this point. The site no doubt presents
many advantages for a large commercial city, not possessed by San
Francisco. The distance from the "Golden Gates," (as the entrance
from the Pacific to the succession of bays connected with the harbor
of San Francisco is termed) is about the same as San Francisco. The
harbor is one of the safest and most commodious in the world, and the
commissioners appointed by the general government to make surveys and
decide upon the best location, have to recommend Mare's Island, half a
mile from Vallejo, as the naval depot of the United States in
California. The climate of Vallejo is delightful, and the place is
never subjected to those strong and cold northerly winds which render
San Francisco so disagreeable as a residence and so dangerous as a
commercial city. There is plenty of marble for building purposes in
the immediate vicinity of Vallejo, and plenty of limestone at a
convenient distance, and easily obtainable. The new city will command
a most beautiful view of San Pablo Bay and of the country adjacent,
and the Napa valley (through which the Napa River flows, and near the
mouth of which the city is located,) and the Sonoma valley in the
vicinity are among the most fertile in California. Near Vallejo are
also mineral springs, possessing similar properties, and said to equal
the celebrated Congress Springs at Saratoga.



For the purpose of presenting all that is connected with that precious
metal, that has built up a state within a few years, and of making the
reader fully acquainted with all that is necessary for the gold-seeker
to know, we will now describe, in some detail, the natural history,
character of gold, and the mode of determining its presence and value.

Gold _invariably_ exhibits something of the peculiar yellow color
which it is known to possess in a pure state; but this color is
modified by various metals with which it may be mixed. Thus it may be
described as having various shades of gold-yellow; occasionally
approaching silver-white, occasionally resembling brass-yellow of
every degree of intensity, and even verging on steel-gray in some
specimens from South America.

The lustre of gold is highly metallic and shining, and owing to the
small amount of oxidation at its surface, it preserves its shining
lustre even after long exposure in contact with other substances. Thus
the shining particles are often seen in sand when the quantity is
barely sufficient to repay the cost of working, notwithstanding the
value of the metal. Even however, if the surface is dull, the true
color and appearance are easily restored by rubbing, and when polished
it takes a very vivid lustre, which is preserved for a long time in
the atmosphere.

Although in the division which has been introduced into gold-yellow,
brass-yellow, and grayish-yellow, native gold seems with some slight
modifications to agree with the geological relations of its varieties,
yet this mode of arrangement deserves little serious notice. The
gold-yellow varieties comprise the specimens of the highest
gold-yellow colors, though there are some among them which have rather
a pale color; they include most of the crystals and of the imitative
shapes, in fact the greater part of the species itself. The
brass-yellow native gold is confined to some of the regular and
imitative shapes of a pale color (which is generally called
brass-yellow,) and, as it is said, of a less specific gravity than the
preceding one; but this does not seem to have ever been ascertained by
direct experiment. The grayish-yellow native gold occurs only in those
small flat grains which are mixed with the native platina, and possess
a yellow color a little inclining to gray; they are said to have the
greatest specific gravity of them all. The real foundation of this
distribution seems to be the opinion that the first are the purest,
the second mixed with a little silver, and the third with platina. It
is not known whether the latter admixture really takes place, but it
is certain that several varieties of gold-yellow native gold contain
an admixture of silver.[17]

In color and lustre, inexperienced persons might mistake various
substances for gold; these are chiefly iron and copper pyrites, but
from them it may be readily distinguished, being softer than steel and
very malleable; whereas iron pyrites is harder than steel, and copper
pyrites is not malleable; for although the latter mineral yields
easily to the point of a knife, it crumbles when we attempt to cut or
hammer it, whereas gold may be separated in thin slices, or beaten out
into thin plates by the hammer. There can thus be no possible
difficulty in distinguishing these various minerals in a native state,
even with nothing but an ordinary steel knife. From any other
minerals, as mica, whose presence has also misled some persons, gold
is easily known by very simple experiments with a pair of scales, or
even by careful washing with water, for gold being much heavier than
any other substance found with it (except platina and one or two
extremely rare metals,) will always fall first to the bottom, if
shaken in water with mud, while mica will generally be the last
material to fall. This is the case, however fine or few the particles
of either mineral may be.

Gold therefore can be distinguished by its relative weight or specific
gravity, and by its relative hardness, from other bodies which
resemble it. It is described generally as soft, completely malleable
and flexible, but more accurately as softer than iron, copper or
silver, but harder than tin or lead. It is useful to know facts of
this kind, as a simple experiment that can be made with instruments at
hand, is often more valuable than a much more accurate examination
requiring materials not immediately available. Thus if it is found
that a specimen (perhaps a small scale or spangle) is readily
scratched by silver, copper or iron, and scratches tin and lead, it
may, if of the right color and sinking rapidly in water, be fairly
assumed to be gold.

The weight of gold, as of all substances, it is convenient to estimate
relatively, and in comparison with the weight of an equal volume of
water. The relative weight, or _specific gravity_, as it is called, of
gold, is remarkably high, the lightest varieties being twelve times
heavier than water, and pure gold nineteen times. This is expressed by
saying that the specific gravity of native gold is 12-19, and the
number determined by comparing the weight of the mineral in water and

As the value of gold depends almost entirely on its specific gravity,
and this test, therefore, is of the greatest practical importance, it
will not be out of place if we here explain some very simple apparatus
for the determination of this point.

If the specimen then is large enough to be suspended conveniently by a
thread, weigh it first in air by a fine balance, expressing the result
in grains, and taking care previously to remove dust or loosely
adhering particles. Then suspend it by a horsehair from the scale-pan
(it is convenient to have a hook attached to it for this purpose,) and
thus suspended, immerse it and re-weigh it in water, taking care that
it is covered on all sides by at least half an inch of water, and
carefully brushing off with a feather any bubbles of air that adhere
to the surface. The results may then be noted as follows:--

     Weight of substance in the air in grains
     Deduct weight of ditto in water

This result gives the weight of a bulk of water equal to that of the
specimen, and by dividing the weight of the specimen in air by this
number, the specific gravity is obtained.

                             weight of substance in air
     Specific gravity   ---------------------------------
                             weight of equal bulk of water

If, however, the substance is in the form of fine sand, or very small
lumps, it is better, after weighing it carefully, to take a small dry
phial furnished with a stopper; counterpoise this phial accurately in
the weight-scale by shot or strips of lead, then fill it completely
with pure water, taking care that no bubbles of air are left in, and
weigh the quantity of water it contains: afterwards empty the bottle
and dry it inside.

Next fill the bottle about two-thirds full of the powder to be
examined, weigh this and record the weight. Then fill the bottle once
more with water, taking care, as before, that all bubbles are expelled
and none of the powder washed out. Once more weigh it.

We have then to make the following calculation:

     Weight of powder and water in grains        =
     Deduct weight of powder alone               =
     Difference (weight of water left in bottle) =

     Weight of bottle full of water in grains    =
     Weight of water left in bottle              =
     Difference (weight of water displaced }     =
     by, and equal in bulk to, powder)     }

                              weight of powder in air
     The specific gravity =   --------------------------
                              weight of water displaced.

It may be useful to know the specific gravity of various substances at
all resembling gold in weight or appearance, and we therefore append
the following short table. The specific gravity of water is assumed to
be unity:--

     Osmium                21-1/5
     Platinum              19-1/2 - 22 not hammered.
     Iridium               18-7/10
     Gold                  15-3/4 - 19-1/4 ditto
     Mercury               13-1/2
     Palladium             11-7/10
     Lead                  11-1/4
     Rhodium               10-3/5
     Silver                10
     Copper                 7-3/4 - 8
     Brass                  8-1/2
     Lead ore (galena)      7-1/2
     Copper pyrites         5
     Iron pyrites           4
     Diamond                3-1/2
     Sand                   2-3/5 - 3

By the help of this table the value[18] of auriferous sand may also be
in some degree estimated, since, as will be seen, the specific gravity
of most of the sands is under 3, while that of the most impure gold is
12; so that if the specific gravity of the sands themselves, when
experimented on, is much greater than that of ordinary sand, it is
likely that the excess will be for the most part gold, in a district
otherwise known to be auriferous: the greater the specific gravity,
too, the greater probability there is, of this being the cause. It may
also be worth while to mention here, that the specific gravity of
those pepitas or lumps of gold which present a fine yellow color
varies generally from 14-7/10 to 18-8/10; but when much paler they may
range as low as 12-1/2, which is that of a mineral called _electrum_,
which will be described presently, and which is a mixture of silver
and gold.

When a piece of gold is broken (which is not done without
difficulty--greater in proportion to its purity,) the fractured edges
are very uneven and torn, exhibiting a peculiar fibrous appearance,
known to mineralogists as "fine hackly." This fracture indicates that
the mineral is _torn asunder_ and not really broken, and is a proof of
considerable toughness.

The form in which gold is found is various. It is sometimes
crystalline, in eight or twelve-sided regular figures, passing into
cubes, but the crystals are generally small and rare. In case of such
crystals being found, it is well worth knowing that they possess a
value as mineral specimens far beyond that of the gold which they

More frequently the metal is found in lumps or grains, called by the
Spaniards _pepitas_, varying in size from that of a pin's head to
masses weighing, as has been already mentioned, nearly one hundred
pounds troy. The term _pepita_ is only applied to grains of some
magnitude, and the most common limits of size are from that of a small
pin's head to that of a nut or gooseberry.

When much smaller and still rounded, they are called _gold dust_, and
when flattened, _scales_ or _spangles_. In nature, and when seen in
veins of quartz, gold often occurs _foliated_, or in leafy expansions
of extreme thinness, or in branchy (_dendritic_) forms, probably made
up of minute crystals. It is in the form of very minute grains that
the metal is generally disseminated through rocks and auriferous ores
of various metals, and these are reduced according to circumstances
in methods that will be alluded to in a future chapter. In pepitas and
small grains it is carried down by streams and deposited in their
beds, the pepitas being usually most abundant where there is reason to
suppose considerable disintegration of the surface, and where the
action of denuding causes to a great extent is evident. The coast of
Africa and the rivers of Europe are examples of the former case, while
the Siberian deposits and those of California would appear to belong
to the latter.

The following are examples of the constituent parts of various
specimens of gold obtained from different gold districts, and will
form a useful guide for comparison.

_Table showing the Composition of Native Gold.[19]_

                        Locality.          | Gold. |Silver.|Copper.| Iron.
 Auriferous sand of Schabrowski, near      |       |       |       |
   Katherinenburg, Siberia (G. Rose)       | 98·76 |  0·16 |  0·35 |  0·06
 Boruschka, near Nijny-Tagilsk, Siberia    |       |       |       |
  (Rose)                                   | 94·41 |  5·23 |  0·39 |  0·04
 Brazil (Darcet)                           | 94·00 |  6·85 |       |
 Beresovsk, Siberia (Rose)                 | 93·78 |  5·94 |  0·08 |
 Sand near Miask, Siberia (Rose)           | 92·47 |  7·27 |  0·06 |  0·08
 Bogota (Boussingault)                     | 92·00 |  8·00 |       |
 Washings near Miask, Siberia (Rose)       | 89·35 | 10·65 |       |
 Gold of Senegal (Darcet)                  | 86·97 | 10·53 |       |
 Auriferous sand, Nijny-Tagilsk, Siberia   |       |       |       |
  (Rose)                                   | 83·85 | 16·15 |       |
 Trinidad gold, (Boussingault)             | 82·40 | 17·60 |       |
 Transylvanian gold (Ditto)                | 64·52 | 35·48 |       |
 Mine of Sinarowski in the Altai (Rose)    | 60·08 | 38·38 |  0·33 |

The gold from California, according to the assay of Mr. Warwick of New
York, yields 89·58 per cent, pure gold, and is therefore, about equal
to that obtained from the washings of Miask (the richest district in
Western Siberia, and that producing the largest pepitas,) and
superior, as the assayer remarks, to the gold dust from Senegal.

There is a remarkable mixture of native gold with silver occasionally
found in Siberia, and known under the name of _electrum_. Its color is
pale brass-yellow, passing into silver-white. It occurs in small
plates and imperfect cubes, and possesses many of the characters of
gold, but it consists only of 64 per cent. of that metal, and 36 per
cent. silver. It is at once known by its low specific gravity, which
does not exceed 12.

Other mixtures of gold are (1) a _rhodium-gold_ found in Mexico, and
containing 34 to 43 per cent. of rhodium, having a specific gravity of
15½-16·8, and a clear, dirty yellow color; and (2) a _palladium-gold_
(containing 9·85 per cent. palladium, and 4·17 per cent. silver) found
in Brazil and elsewhere in South America, in small crystalline grains
of pale yellow color. The auriferous ores of tellurium, including
silver, have hitherto only been found in Transylvania. Their color is
steel-gray, and they tarnish on exposure. The variety called
graphic-gold, or graphic tellurium, consists of about 60 per cent. of
tellurium, 30 per cent. gold, and 10 per cent. silver, and is worked
chiefly as an ore of gold. Another variety, "yellow gold glance,"
yields somewhat less tellurium, gold and silver, and as much as 20 per
cent. of lead.

Having now explained at some length the more manifest characteristics
of gold, namely, its color, hardness, and specific gravity, it is
necessary, before explaining the mode of separating it from associated
minerals, that we should here give some account of the behavior of
this metal under the blowpipe, and when exposed to simple chemical
tests. The assay of gold and its accurate analysis, we postpone for
the present.

The method of blowpipe analysis, although exceedingly useful, is not
absolutely necessary in the case of gold, because of the many readier
ways of determining the metal, but it seems advisable to state the
appearances presented. All the varieties are readily fusible into a
globule, which when the gold is pure, is unaltered by the continuance
of the heat. In this respect it differs entirely from iron and copper
pyrites, which, on being exposed to the flame, give off sulphur fumes
and undergo considerable change. In the case of gold containing other
metals, these, with the exception of silver; may generally be got rid
of by continuing the heat in the exterior flame with the addition of a
little nitre. Before the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe, the metal is
volatilized in the form of a purple oxide.

Gold is not acted on by any of the acids alone. When exposed to the
mixture of nitric with hydrochloric acid (in the proportion of one
part nitric to four of hydrochloric) called _aqua regia_, it dissolves
without residue, the solution giving a purple precipitate with
protochloride of tin, and a brown precipitate with protosulphate of
iron. Electrum, the mixture of silver with gold above alluded to, is
only partially soluble in aqua regia, giving a residue of chloride of
silver. The solution is acted on by protosulphate of iron, as already

The following simple mode of detecting attempts at imposition in gold
dust is worthy of being recorded in this place.

Place a little gold dust in a glass tube or earthenware saucer, and
pour nitric acid upon it; then hold the glass or saucer over a flame,
or upon a few embers, until red flames (nitric vapors) arise; if it be
pure gold, the liquid will not become discolored; but if pyrites or
brass-filings should have been mixed with it, the acid will become
turbid, green, and black, discharging bubbles of gas. After the
ebullition has ceased, the residue should be washed with water, and
acid again poured upon it, when the same effect may be observed, but
in a less degree; and if the experiment be repeated till all
effervescence ceases, it will finally leave the gold dust pure.


[17] Mohs' Mineralogy, by Haidinger, vol. ii. p. 438.

[18] A _very rough_ estimate of the value of specimens of native gold
may be obtained by multiplying the specific gravity by 4; the result
gives the value in shillings nearly.

[19] Abridged from Dufresnoy's "Mineralogie."



The history of the laws of a State affords the best idea of its social
condition--present and prospective; for they are framed from the
necessity of circumstances and the demands of the inhabitants. We may,
therefore, see the condition and the progress of the Californians in
their legislative transactions.

The California Legislature adjourned on the 22d April. They have
passed a law creating a State assayer, until a mint be established in
California. Among the one hundred and forty-three acts and joint
resolutions passed, we notice the following:

To incorporate the cities of Benecia, San Diego, San Jose, Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara, and a general act
for the incorporation of cities; concerning the State revenue, etc.,
and its management; creating loans temporarily, appropriations, and
other fiscal acts; relating to the appointment of pilots, regulating
the duties of harbor masters, declaring certain rivers, etc.,
navigable, creating health officers for San Francisco, creating a
marine hospital, regulating quarantine at San Francisco, providing for
the inspection of steamboats; subdividing the State into counties,
establishing county seats and providing for the complete organization
of all the counties; organizing the supreme court, providing for the
early publication of the laws, organizing district courts throughout
the State, establishing a municipal court in San Francisco, abolishing
all laws in force in the State, except such as were passed by this
Legislature, adopting the common law, regulating the interest of
money, public ferries, notaries public, jails and jailers, limited
partnerships, roads and highways, public elections, volunteer
companies, wills, militia, liens of mechanics and others, descents and
distributions, bills of exchange and promissory notes, constables,
coroners, guardians, fraudulent conveyances and contracts, the rights
of husband and wife, incorporation of colleges, marriages,
auctioneers, government and protection of the Indians, settlement of
the estates of deceased persons, proceedings against debtor by
attachment; creating the office of State assayer, melter and refiner
of gold, to regulate Senatorial and Assembly districts, prescribing
the mode of maintaining and defending possessory actions on lands
belonging to the United States; to prevent the importation of
convicts; for the better regulation of the mines and the government of
foreign miners, the national Washington monument, pay of chaplain, the
Pacific railway, and concerning grants of land by the General
Government to commissioned officers who served in the late war with

Here we have all the machinery necessary for the full regulation of a
large, commercial, agricultural, manufacturing, and mining community.
The session of the Legislature must have been laborious, indeed; but
the members have acquitted themselves of their arduous duties rapidly
and well. One great measure adapted by the Legislature was the
substitution of the common law for the uncertain civil law which
existed in California when ceded to the United States. The whole legal
administration will now conform to that of most of the other States of
the Union. The provisions in the Constitution for the purpose of
education, have been nobly carried out by an act for the incorporation
of colleges.

Agriculture in California appears to be improving, and as it is
getting to be as profitable as any thing else, it is attracting
increased attention. Boxes of garden seeds which had cost nine
dollars, have been sold for one hundred dollars, and scythes which
cost three dollars, sold for forty-five dollars. The seeds which were
sent around Cape Horn, were almost useless, while those which went
over the Isthmus, hermetically sealed, came up first. One man near San
Jose, has made fifty thousand dollars by raising potatoes. What toil
in digging and washing gold would be necessary to realize that amount!

Among the recent mining incidents, the following is remarkable:--Last
winter, three men accidentally struck upon a rich deposit of gold, in
a gulch about twelve miles from Knight's Ferry, on the Stanislaus
River, and four or five miles back from it. They worked this vein with
great success, managing to keep it a secret, until an Indian,
wandering through the locality, discovered the secret, and
communicated it to his tribe. The next day, several hundred Indians
fell to work, with the same success; but as they spent their earnings
in gambling and drinking at night, they incautiously let out the
secret, and it spread among the whites. The latter, without scruple,
took possession of the ground, and set the Indians adrift. An alcalde
was elected, the ground staked off, and allotted to the several
claimants. This gulch, although rifled of its richest treasures,
afforded good digging for a large number of persons, for some weeks,
many carrying away, when the water failed, a thousand dollars and
upwards, as the result of their labors. The three discoverers of the
gulch, took away with them about forty pounds of gold to each man, all
scraped up in the short space of seven weeks.

Imitation lumps of gold have been made and brought into circulation in
California. The State Assayer states that above forty specimens have
been brought to his notice. They are generally in size from four to
five ounces to a pound in weight--quartz, and every thing else
necessary to make them look right, properly intermixed.

It has been definitely settled that gold does exist in the vicinity of
San José. Specimens have been taken to San Francisco.

Several artesian wells have been constructed at San Francisco, since
the second great fire, and it is thought that others will soon add to
the comfort and convenience of the people of that city. The want of
good water for drinking purposes, has been the most serious objection
to San Francisco as a place of residence; and additional incentive to
exertion in the matter is furnished by the constant apprehension of
destructive fires.[20]

Coal has been discovered in California, in various places, and is
reported to abound in considerable quantities in the neighborhood of
San Francisco. Every day developes some new wealth of this land of
treasure, and we regard the discovery of the abundance of coal as in
the highest degree important to the residents of California. Even amid
the news of the extraordinary yield of the gold region during the
present year, 1850, when a single vessel, in one trip, brings
$2,000,000 worth of gold dust to the United States we can pause to
notice the discovery of the more useful substances.

The Trinity River and Humboldt Harbor, in the north-western part of
California, have lately become a resort for the superfluous population
of the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions. The harbor is pronounced a
very good one, and the discovery of abundance of gold on the branches
of Trinity River, will, doubtless, contribute to the building of a
large town upon its shores.

In the middle of June, there was much excitement in San Francisco,
caused by the reported discovery of a gold lake, among the mountains
between the South Fork of Feather River and the Yuba. One man was said
to have got $7000 in four days, and a party of ten Kanakas were
reported to have got $75,000 in a week. A vast number of people were
by this means attracted to the sources of the Feather and Yuba Rivers,
and though they found the lake story a hoax of a vile character, they
found tolerably fair diggings, which would console them for their

The following extract from the Placer Times of the 17th of July, 1850,
under the head of "Great Discoveries of Gold--Gold Lake," will afford
the reader a lively conception of the degree of excitement caused in
California by every new announcement of a newly discovered locality
abounding in gold:

"We were inclined to give only an average degree of credit to stories
that have reached us during the past few days, of the unprecedented
richness which this locality has developed. A few moments passed in
Marysville on Saturday, convinced us that there is much more show of
reality in this last _eureka report_, than usually attaches to the
like. In a year's experience of local excitements from the same cause,
we have seen none equal to what now prevails in that town. It has
visited all the inhabitants indiscriminately, lawyers, doctors and
judges, traders, teamsters, mechanics and gamblers. Our readers know
we are the last to justify the circulation of unfounded or exaggerated
reports, but we deem it right to conceal nothing of what may prove
(for aught that we can see to the contrary) one of the most astounding
discoveries in the modern history of diggings. The specimens brought
into Marysville are of a value from $1600 down. Ten ounces is reported
as no unusual yield to a panfull, and the first party of sixty, which
started out under the guidance of one who had returned successful,
were assured that they would not get less than $500 each per day. We
were told that the previous morning two hundred had left the town
with a full supply of provisions and four hundred mules. Those who
could not go were hiring others in their stead. The length of the
journey and the quantity of provisions required, there being no stores
in the region, rendered an outfit rather expensive. Mules and horses
had doubled in value, and $400 were considered no more than enough to
furnish a proper start.

The distance to Gold Lake was first reported two hundred miles; the
best informed, however, say that it is but little more than half of
that. It lies at a very considerable elevation among the mountains
that divide the waters of the South Fork of Feather from those of the
north branch of the Yuba. The direction from Marysville is a little
north of east. The story has of course spread ere this far and wide
among the miners high up on the Feather and Yuba, and the spot will be
as crowded as all other good places are, ere the tardy adventurer from
this region could reach it. The region of the Gold Lake wonders is a
new one, however, and lies between what are established to be diggings
of unsurpassed richness. It is our belief that it is better for one
who has got some initiation into the gold mysteries, (if there be
any,) not to be content in old 'used up' localities, but to push along
to the great field yet unexplored; and that, though the search be long
and laborious, the _big lift_ is ultimately pretty sure for those who
are patient and persevering."

  [Illustration: MONTEREY.]

The same paper of July 18th, contains additional particulars, having a
tendency to add plausibility to the reports. Among other things, a man
by the name of McLelland came into Marysville on the 17th, with $7000,
the result of four days' labor at Gold Lake. Whatever may be the
truth of the reports, there is no doubt of one thing--the whole
population of Marysville and its vicinity have become infected by the
news, and are taking up their march thitherwards in crowds.

The Transcript speaks rather doubtingly on the subject; it says--"The
reports come as a general thing, through teamsters and other persons
whose interest it is to give as favorable accounts as possible. The
statements are very conflicting."

To this we may add the statement of a gentleman who reached this city
from Marysville, direct, on Tuesday night. The excitement, he says, is
great; but no one could give any definite information of the locality
or of its productiveness. Yet all seemed to think there was no doubt
in the matter, and as many as could get away were starting, or getting
ready to push for the new El Dorado. Upon his way down, on board the
boat, he conversed with a man who professed to have explored that
region lately, although he did not claim to know where Gold Lake was.
But between the North Fork of the Yuba and Feather Rivers, at the foot
of the great chain of mountains, he reported a series of lakes of
various dimensions, and "two thousand people," prospecting all about.
The snow was very deep--"six feet"--and but little gold.

The following extract from the Placer Times, is the most positive
information within our knowledge.

On the arrival of the "Lawrence," yesterday, from Marysville, we
received more news of the Gold Lake excitement, now prevailing in
those parts. It promises to spare no one. Many who would not be
understood to have yielded to it, seek, under various pretences, to
get away--some pleading business in other quarters of the mines;
others desiring the recreation of a country jaunt. It is reported
that, up to Thursday last, two thousand persons had taken up their
journey; that many who were working good claims, and had made
considerable progress, were deserting them for the new discovery.
Mules and horses were almost impossible to be obtained. A supply from
this quarter was expected daily, and most anxiously awaited. Although
the truth of the report rest on the authority of but two or three who
have returned from Gold Lake, yet but few are found who doubt their
marvellous revelations. The first man who came into Marysville took
out a party of forty as guide, on condition they paid him one hundred
dollars each if his story was verified, and offering his life as a
forfeit for any deception.

"This party, it is understood, came near losing their way, from the
difficulty the guide found in retracing his path, after the snow had
melted. Fortunately, however, they encountered another man, who was on
his way returning, and he showed the track. The second person has
since left with a much larger party, who are to give him two hundred
dollars each, and the same forfeit is provided. The spot is described
as very difficult of approach, and it is feared that many will lose
their way. A party of ten Kanakas are reported to have wintered at
Gold Lake, subsisting chiefly on the flesh of their animals. They are
said to have taken out about $75,000 the first week. The lake is not
large, and, after the wet season ceases, has no outlet; at present,
however, the water runs over the basin, and finds its way into the
North Fork of Feather River. At a lower stage, it admits of easy
drainage, and the undertaking is already projected.

"Of course the most extravagant anticipations are founded on the
result of this work, induced by the yield from the borders of the lake
which have already been realized. The "placer" proper is very limited,
and little encouragement is given as to the character of the
surrounding country; indeed, it is probably entirely unexplored, as
the region lies about as far up among the snows as the most
adventurous have yet penetrated."

The Yuba River is destined to be thoroughly rifled of its wealth.
Three miles above the new town of Lina, a company has turned the river
from its course, and made it run through a lateral slough. Prospecting
of the bed has proved very satisfactory, and the shares in the
company's stock have sold at a high rate.

As was apprehended, various difficulties have occurred between the
owners of land at Sacramento City, and a large number of squatters
upon it. The ground was bought and surveyed, and the title to
ownership was perfect. But the number of emigrants who arrive at
Sacramento at particular seasons forces them to encamp outside of the
regularly built town, and when thus encamped, they consider themselves
as settlers, and are unwilling to give up possession of the ground.
The power of the law has been called into requisition several times to
eject these squatters.

The emigrants to California by way of the Great Salt Lake route have
endured terrible hardships during the present year. The rigors of the
season, and the want of water, have been but secondary matters. The
Indians, always unfriendly, have been particularly hostile, and
several battles between them and the emigrants have taken place. In
one of the battles, thirty Indians were killed, while the whites had
several wounded, but none killed. It is supposed that the assailants
belonged to the Utahs. The Salt Lake City is the great refuge of the
belated emigrants upon that route, and the Mormons are hospitable to
all who visit them for shelter, or for mere curiosity.

The great body of the emigrants continue to take the old route, which
we have elsewhere described, and find that it is the safest and
shortest of the land routes. Judging from the statements of the number
of emigrants who have passed Fort Laramie this season, we should say,
that the route could scarcely be called a wilderness, when it is
impossible to travel thirty miles without meeting with parties and
families of whites. Part of this tide of emigration will flow to
Oregon, no doubt, on account of the fertile lands to be there
obtained; but the golden land will get the bulk of it.

In a recent tour through the region bordering on Moqueleme River, in
California, a couple of gentlemen from Stockton, discovered a cave or
grotto of great extent. They found that it contained large quantities
of stalactite, and saw evidences of gold. The Indians who accompanied
the gentlemen were horror stricken at their audacity, when they
entered a cave which tradition said no man returned from alive. The
skeleton of a human being was found at some distance from the opening.

An event has occurred which will no doubt exercise a great influence
on California affairs. This is the discovery of the existence of
abundance of gold in Oregon territory. The discovery created great
excitement through the various cities and towns of Oregon, and the
northern towns of California. That which is exhibited, shows an
entirely different character to any of that dug in the mines of
California. It contains large quantities of platina, and is said to be
of a richer character. The mines just discovered are situated about
two hundred miles from Oregon City. The consequences of this discovery
may be easily apprehended. Oregon will secure a larger share of the
emigration from the Atlantic States than she had before, and her
progress will be rapid, for her soil and climate render the country an
attractive place of residence. But will the progress of California be
less rapid in consequence of this? We think not. The united
attractions of the two territories will operate for the benefit of
both, and only tend to increase the quantity of emigration.


[20] The _Alta Californian_, of the 1st of May, 1850, furnishes us
with an interesting account of the origin and meaning of the names of
places in the new State. We have elsewhere alluded to the name
California, as being derived from _caliente_ and _fornalla_, two
Spanish words, together signifying _hot furnace_.

_Pueblo de los Angeles--City of the Angels._ So named from the
fertility of the soil, the geniality of the climate, &c.

San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz,
San Francisco, were all originally Catholic missionary stations and
were so named by the priests.

_Monterey_ signifies literally king of forests, and was so called in
honor of Count Monterey, as well as from the neighboring forest of
massive pines and other trees.

_Contra Costa_, the name of a county, signifies opposite coast, from
its being opposite San Francisco. _Mount Diablo_, which is in this
county, was named from the following circumstance:

In 1806 a military expedition from San Francisco marched against the
tribe "Bolgones," who were encamped at the foot of the mount; the
Indians were prepared to receive the expedition, and a hot engagement
ensued in the large hollow fronting the western side of the mount. As
the victory was about to be decided in favor of the Indians, an
unknown personage, decorated with the most extraordinary plumage, and
making divers movements, suddenly appeared near the combatants. The
Indians were victorious, and the incognitio (Puy) departed toward the
mount. The defeated soldiers, on ascertaining that the spirit went
through the same ceremony daily and at all hours, named the mount
"Diablo," in allusion to its mysterious inhabitant, that continued
thus to make his strange appearance, until the tribe was subdued by
the troops in command of Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga, in a second
campaign of the same year. In the aboriginal tongue "Puy" signifies
"Evil Spirit;" in Spanish it means Diablo, and Devil in the
Anglo-American language.

_Calaveras_ signifies skulls, and the creek thus styled was named from
the fact of three thousand skulls having been found lying on its banks
by its early discoverers. They were the remnants of a great battle
between the Indians.

_Tuolumne_, which has been spelt so many different ways in the letters
from California, is a corruption of the Indian word "talmalamme," a
cluster of stone wigwams.

_Mariposa_ means butterfly. The river was so named in 1807, by a
hunting party of Californians, from the fact of their encampment there
having been surrounded by myriads of most gorgeous butterflies.

_Solano_ was so named after a celebrated Catholic missionary.

_Yolo_ is a corruption of the Indian word "Yoloy," and means a place
abounding with rushes.

_Marin_ was so designated after a great Indian chief, who made war so
desperately against the Spaniards.

_Sonoma_ is an Indian word, signifying valley of the moon. The Indians
so named the valley in which the present town of that title is

_Napa_ was the name of the Indian tribe who inhabited the valley of
the same name.

_Mendocino_ was so named after the first Viceroy of Mexico.

_Yuba_, a corruption of "uba," originally alluded to the immense
quantities of vines which shaded the river.

_Butte_ is a French word signifying hill, and was given by a party of
hunters from the Hudson Bay Company to a range of high hills in the
valley of the Sacramento. From thence the county is named.

_Coluse_ county was so called after an Indian tribe of which it was
the name.

_Shalta_ county is so styled after an Indian tribe also.



We have followed the narrative of the events in the history of
California up to the present time. We have traced her progress from
her first settlement up to the time when she appears as a sovereign
republican State; and we have seen the effects of her vast metallic
wealth working wonders in a short space of time. We have seen her
towns before and after the gold discovery, and marked the contrast;
and we have seen her territory become thickly peopled, and her
resources developed in a space of time which other territories less
favored, would require for an infancy. We have also considered her
soil, climate, productions, and population, and exhibited each subject
as fully as our information warranted. But in order to give a clear
conception of the general character of California and her resources
and capabilities, and to enable the reader to obtain an idea of the
bright future to which she is destined, we have concluded to add
another chapter upon the general state of things there at the present

California is now a State--in organization at least, if not in being a
member of the Union. The country has become thoroughly American in its
government and laws. A Constitution is adopted as a State organization,
which bears the impress of enlightened sentiment and just principles.
The most liberal provisions have been made in that instrument for the
grand end of public education. The power and capability of the people
to rule themselves has been recognized in the matter of electing
nearly all the officers of the government--including the judges of the
various courts over which the State has control. The Legislature, in
the course of a laborious session, has abolished the old civil law
which ruled the country under the Mexican government, and continued
after the acquisition of the territory by the United States, and have
substituted the common law of England and many of the States in the
Union. In taking this step, they were actuated by sound policy. Few of
those who were subjected to be tried, or to have their suits decided
by the rules of this civil code were aware of the nature of these
rules; and from their crude and unintelligible character, it would
have been a long time before they could have been fully or certainly
informed. The old common law is that to whose rules they have
conformed in the older States, and which is better suited to their
habits and principles of action.

But with her complete State organization, California has applied for
admission into the Union, and from various causes, without reason, as
we conceive, has not yet been admitted to her claim. This delay,
continued through a long session of Congress, has somewhat irritated
the Californians, who are anxiously watching the doings of Congress.
The state of feeling on the subject is clearly stated in one of the
California papers; and it is worthy of attention. We extract it.

"SHALL CALIFORNIA BE ADMITTED?--We desire once more to state calmly
and firmly the grievances under which the State of California labors,
in order that Congress, in her hesitation, which may terminate in an
open refusal to admit us as equal sharers in the benefits, as we are
of the burdens of the general government, may not act in ignorance of
the true state of feeling existing here upon a point so vital to our

"California feels that she has been made the sport of gambling
politicians long enough. This is the universal sentiment of one
hundred thousand citizens of this State, expecting daily
reinforcements which will swell the number to an aggregate of two
hundred and fifty thousand before the second session of the present
Congress. She feels that such a mass of men, born under the flag of
the Union, have a right to some of the privileges which they were
taught to suppose it typified. She feels that she has no right to be
taxed and not protected--to be taxed, and not represented, to be
taxed, and nothing but taxed. Nothing else has been done for her. We
hear of no Indian agent in the country. American citizens are
slaughtered weekly if not daily by savages on our border. An agent of
the Postoffice Department has been sent here, but his power to put
into successful operation a thorough mail system, commensurate with
the wants of the people, has been effectually crippled from the want
of an appropriation to meet the necessary expenses. We are without
admiralty courts; yet the interests of the commerce of the Pacific are
centring in the Bay of San Francisco. We are paying millions into the
treasury of the United States yearly. Our custom-house is thronged
daily with captains and consignees of vessels, paying government dues,
which eventually come from the pockets of the citizens of the whole
State; yet there is hardly a possibility that one dollar in a thousand
will ever be expended for our benefit.

"This state of things is unnatural--too much so for a quiet endurance,
unless stern necessity is at the bottom. Were there any reason why we
should be treated thus, we could patiently suffer on. But there is
none. And now a sentiment is fast gaining ground here, that it is the
intention of Congress--or a portion of Congress, to throw us back upon
a territorial organization. It may not be amiss to state that
California, under no circumstances, will give up her State
organization. She has just escaped from the crudities and
unintelligibilities of the Mexican code. Under it, she would still be
laboring, had the action of Congress been awaited. Neither to this
state of vassalage to institutions foreign to the habits and education
of her citizens, nor to a second vassalage of territorial government
under Congress, will she submit now. She knows her interests too well
for this. If we are driven to take matters into our own keeping, the
responsibility rests not upon us, neither should the odium, if any
attaches. Should Congress ever come to its senses, and do what naked
justice demanded months ago, California will ever be ready and proud
to form one of the States of the Union; but it is asking too much that
she should offer herself a willing sacrifice on the altar of

This is strongly and firmly said; and we hope that it will exercise
some influence on those to whose attention it is directed. Nothing can
be more unjust in politics than taxation without a due compensation of
protection and of law. There is scarcely any prospect, however, that
California will be required to go back to a territorial organization.
Such a request would be absurd in the highest degree, and none but
ultras recommend it.

Whether California be admitted into the Union at the present session
of Congress, or not, we may consider her Constitution and many of her
laws necessary for carrying out the provisions of the Constitution, as
fixed and operative. We have then, in a knowledge of their laws, a
view of the character of society in California, in many particulars,
but there are others which require further observation. One feature
strikes the observer at first glance. It is the variety of nation
which marks the population of the principal cities of California.
There may be seen the rapid, yet prudent Yankee, with a sharp eye to
the main chance, and a ready comprehension of the consequences of a
bargain or a speculation; the cool, slow, and heavy-moving Englishman,
wishing to be sure of his game, and, therefore, late in grasping for
it; the lively and sociable Frenchman, contrasting appearances and
manners with things in Paris; the coarse-looking German, with a lively
conception of the wealth of the country, and a deep consideration of
the means of grasping a goodly share of it; the half-Spanish native of
California, with his love of indolence, and easy of satisfaction; the
Chilian, with the ferocity and the cowardice of the descendants of the
Spaniards, and loving fandangoes and riding horses, as intensely as
the Californians, the Chinese, with dirty, but industrious habits, and
the native Indians--a mean, degraded specimen of that noble race that
once were lords of the American forests.

At the present time, it is a matter of doubt, whether the Americans or
the foreigners predominate in the population of California. It is
certain that the former have things pretty much their own way in the
various cities and in the mines. But that may be from a want of unity
of action among the foreigners. The habits and modes of life belonging
to the Americans are generally prevalent in the cities; but in the
smaller and older towns, the native Californians conduct every thing
in the old Spanish mode. The difference between the society of Los
Angeles and Sacramento City, is wide, and affords a good contrast
between the restless, enterprising, utilitarian spirit of the
Americans, and the indolent, pleasure-loving spirit of the
Californians. With the Americans, in the cities where they are in the
majority, business is the uppermost consideration upon all occasions,
and profit and loss, and chances of obtaining a competency, the
constant subject of thought. With the Californians, the enjoyment of
the present, which alone is theirs, is at all times a matter of prime
importance; and gambling, drinking, dancing, guitar-playing, and
riding on horseback, are the principal sources of their pleasures.
Which of these modes of passing away life is the most philosophical,
we leave to the speculative. But it is apparent in California, that
the energy of the American character is exercising a great influence
on the descendants of the Spaniards. Their spirit is infectious. In
some of the towns upon the coast, one half of the buildings are
occupied by persons who have emigrated from the Eastern States; and
the contrast between their log and brick houses, and the _adobé_
houses of the Californians, is singular, and seems as if the old dead
looking trunk of the tree had suddenly sent out new branches full of
life and freshness.

All the vices consequent upon a heterogeneous population, suddenly
thrown together and stimulated to an extraordinary degree of activity,
have fully exhibited themselves in California. Nearly every body in
the mining regions carries deadly weapons of some sort, and with the
promptings of avarice, and the excitement of passion, many shocking,
secret murders, and many open, revengeful encounters are continually
occurring. The practice of carrying deadly weapons can only be
abolished when a stronger feeling of security, induced by a confidence
in the protection of the laws, shall take the place of constant dread.
The mining population is of as mixed a character as that in the
commercial cities; and national jealousies will occur occasionally.
The elation consequent upon successful gold digging and speculating,
leads to excess in drinking and gambling, and these lead to frequent
quarrels and deadly encounters. The remedy for these things is only to
be found in the reaction to which a few years will lead, when the
power of the law shall be supreme throughout the gold region.

The principal thing which has contributed in some degree to influence
the prospect and the labors of the miners, is the government tax upon
the foreigners who wish to work upon the public lands in digging and
washing gold. The tax is certainly a just one, but many are of
opinion that it is too high. A lighter tax would more readily receive
the assent of the mass of foreigners; but whether it is not just that
they should pay a tax of eight dollars for every ounce of gold they
obtain from the land of others, is another question. The greater
portion of the gold region belongs to the government, and was paid for
by the government. The people of the United States should, therefore,
have the sole right to occupy it; and it is but just, that those
people of foreign nations who wish to reap a profit from it either by
digging gold or cultivating the ground, should pay for the use of it.
The effect of the tax is, that those who must pay it, either must give
up mining or work harder to reap sufficient profit. In either case,
the country is benefited.

The mining region is constantly increasing in extent. The _placers_
first worked still yield a profit sufficient to reward the gold seeker
for his labor, and the frequent discovery of new ones by parties
prospecting, keeps up the heat of excitement. The region is constantly
extending towards the north. The vicinity of Trinity River is the most
northern part of California where gold is obtained in any considerable
quantity, and the source of the San Joaquin, is the most southern. The
entire region embraced between these two points is known to abound in
the precious metal, and is traversed by the gold "prospecters." Of the
gold obtained, a great quantity--a third, at least, remains in the
country. Another is carried out of California by the foreigners, and
the remainder is sent to the Atlantic States of the Union. This is but
a rough estimate; but it seems warranted by the facts of the number of
foreigners in the country, and the necessary current money of the
residents. Certain it is, that were we to judge of the quantity of
gold obtained in California, by the amount received in the United
States, we would fall far too short of the truth.

The growth of the commerce of California necessarily carries with it
the growth of all those cities and towns which have any commercial
advantages, or which are connected with the various ports. Not only
has San Francisco constantly in her harbor a tremendous fleet of
merchant vessels from all parts of the world, pouring into her lap the
commodities necessary to a new country and a rapid building city, and
Sacramento, the commerce of the mines continually passing through it,
but all the towns along the coast have felt the impulse, and have
become the seat of a traffic of some sort. San Diego, Santa Barbara,
San Pedro, and Monterey, are all commercial ports, which have become
the resort of those traders who wish to escape the crowd of
competitors to be met with at the more northern towns, and to have a
pleasant place of residence besides. Los Angeles, twenty-five miles
from the port of San Pedro is the centre of an extensive inland trade,
and from its being a delightful place of residence, will contribute to
the building up of San Pedro in a greater degree than the commerce of
San Pedro can influence it.

At present, San Francisco is a city of about thirty thousand
inhabitants, and in spite of the repeated visitations of the calamity
of destructive fire, it has suffered no stoppage in its rapid
progress. On the contrary, these fires seem to give a new impulse to
the energy and enterprise of its inhabitants, and, by impressing upon
them the utility of building their houses and stores of the more
substantial brick, to have been of permanent benefit. Like the water
of a rapid river, which, meeting with a serious obstacle in its
course, is checked for the moment and then, having gathered new
strength, surmounts the barrier and springs forward with renewed
energy, San Francisco has pursued her course. The late fire, decidedly
the most disastrous the new city has experienced, produced for awhile
a general stand in business. But the go-aheadative principle was too
strong for a continuance of a stagnation; and all the sufferers set
about doing their utmost to retrieve their fortunes. Success must wait
upon such persevering energy.

Sacramento City is fast treading upon the heels of her commercial
sister city. Improvements are constantly being made to the appearance
of the city and the comfort of its inhabitants. A levee is in course
of construction, which, it is thought, will effectually protect the
city from being flooded during the season of the rise of the river.
The overland emigration of which Sacramento is the goal, contributes
to swell the population rapidly; and, during the rainy season the
greater portion of the population of the northern mines flock into the
city for refuge till the digging season commences.

Stockton, Benicia, San José, and Sutter are each increasing the number
of their residents and their trade very fast. The first is the depot
of the southern mines; the second, the military and naval station,
chosen by the government officers; the third is the capital of the
State; the last is a thriving town, near Sacramento, but in a better

One of the most interesting features of California is the number of
the missions in various parts of the State. They are and will continue
to be interesting, because of their age, and the self-denying and
energetic labors with which they are connected. They were the centres,
established by a few Catholic priests, from which the rays of
enlightenment and civilized enjoyment were spread to the native
Indians of California. Each mission was a little principality, with
many leagues of land attached, with some thousand head of cattle, and
all the neighboring Indians subject to the control of the padre, and
cultivating the land for their own and the padre's benefit. In 1800,
these missions were sixteen in number, and three only have been added
since that time. They are named and located as follows:--San Rafael
and San Francisco Solano, north of San Francisco Bay; Dolores, near
San Francisco; Santa Clara and San José, near Pueblo San José; San
Juan, Santa Cruz and Carmel, near Monterey; Soledad, San Antonio, and
San Miguel, in the valley of Salina River; San Luis Obispo, La
Purisima, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, and San Buenaventura, near Santa
Barbara; San Gabriel and San Fernando, near Los Angeles; and San Luis
Rey, San Juan Capistrano and San Diego, on the coast, south of Los

The wealth and power of these missions have fled, and they are all,
more or less, in a state of decay. The Indians who were prospering
under the care of the priests have either taken refuge in the
mountains or linger about the old mission buildings, in a degraded and
ignorant state. The immense quantity of land which was once attached
to them has been taken from them from time to time, and now they but
seem the ruins of former greatness. The beauty of the country
surrounding those of the missions which are still existing, and the
picturesque appearance of those which are in ruins make them well
worthy a visit to the lover of the antiquated.

The usual attendant of the American enterprise, the printing press,
has found its way to California, to contribute to the information and
convenience of the people. Several papers are in extensive circulation
in the cities and towns, and projects for others have been formed. The
principal are the _Alta Californian_, the _Pacific News_, the
_Courier_, and the _Placer Times_. The three first are published in
San Francisco, and the last at Sacramento.

The want of facilities for transportation must be severely felt in the
interior settlements of California. Steam vessels of the swiftest and
most commodious character are the means of easy communication and
transportation between San Francisco and the towns on Suisan Bay and
the Sacramento, as far as Sacramento City. Communication by the same
means will doubtless, soon be established between the different ports
on the coast. But railroads and canals are requisites for increasing
the social communication and drawing the people of all parts of the
State more closely together. These, however, will not be long in
demand, after the State has been admitted into the Union. The
companies for such purposes will feel secure in their charter, and
receive assistance from the government. There is nothing more
efficacious in binding a people together and maintaining peace and
harmony of action, than the mechanical facility of communication. The
Atlantic States of the Union afford plentiful illustration and
evidence of this assertion. Mark the differences of habit and
sentiment in those States, where the means of intercourse between the
inhabitants are comparatively few and far between. The interests of
the different sections of a large State are of course, dissimilar, and
produce the widest separation of feeling and opinion, which cannot be
harmonized without the facilities of intercourse afforded by railroads
and canals. In no State are there greater means of communication
between the people of the different sections, than in Massachusetts;
and in no State is there a more harmonious action in the Legislative
department of the government. Let the railroads and canals be so
constructed in California as soon as possible, and the effect will be
the same.

We have elsewhere mentioned and characterized the different harbors of
California. There has been one other surveyed and pronounced
excellent, and the beginning of a town made upon its shores. This is
called Humboldt, after the distinguished traveller. It is about one
hundred and seventy-five miles north of San Francisco. The river
formerly called Pigeon, but now Trinity, empties into it. The harbor
is sheltered from the south-west winds, but is exposed to the
north-west. The north-west winds prevail from November till March, and
are severe; but the south-west winds during the remainder of the year,
are violent, and the harbor that is sheltered from them is considered
a good one.

The Indians who inhabit a large portion of California, have been, and
will be, the subject of considerable trouble to the white residents.
It is a matter of the first importance for their safety, and that of
the Indians themselves, that agents should be sent among them, with
power to negotiate and settle all claims made by them and disputes
arising between them and the whites, else, a destructive war will be
the consequence. They should be induced to relinquish their claims to
the soil of California as far as the Sierra Nevada, and receive due
compensation therefor. But for the want of properly constituted agents
from the government, they have been either driven from their old
haunts by the mountaineers and other settlers, or remain amongst the
whites to be a constant source of trouble. The Shoshonees, or Snakes,
are the most numerous tribe to be found within the limits of the
State, but there are others which are more warlike and untameable.
They have all suffered considerably from the aggressions of the white
emigrants, and their attacks upon individuals and parties are but the
promptings of revenge, which should be taken into consideration.
Lately, a war of extermination against the whole number of certain
tribes was commenced on account of the doings of one or two of them.
Few of them are provided with better weapons than bows and arrows,
and, of course, they can make but a poor resistance to the rifles of
the white men. In illustration of the treatment of the Indians, we
quote an account of the doings of a war party against them, described
in the work of a California tourist:--

"A few days before our arrival in the mines, five men from Oregon,
named Robinson, Thompson, English, Johnson, and Wood, were murdered by
Indians while engaged in gold digging. Having but one rifle, they
imprudently left it in their tent. This the Indians some thirty or
forty in number, first secured, and then commenced their attack with
bows and arrows. The Oregonians defended themselves some time,
repeatedly driving the Indians with no other weapons than the stones
they found on the _bar_ where they were at work, but upon reaching the
edge of the _bar_, they were each time obliged again to retreat. At
length three of them, stuck full of arrows, were exhausted with loss
of blood and overcome; while the other two attempted to escape by
crossing the fork, one succeeding in reaching the other side, but both
finally meeting the fate of the others. One of the warriors of the
tribe who participated in these murders was afterwards taken prisoner,
and furnishing the above narration, his life was spared on condition
that he should guide the whites to their _rancheria_.

"Accordingly, on the 16th of April, a war party was made up of about
twenty young mountaineers, mostly Oregon men, and including also the
young Greenwoods. Well mounted, and equipped with the enormous
gingling California spurs, they rode up to Old Greenwood's for a
review from the old man preparatory to starting. Each man carried
besides his inseparable rifle, a long Spanish knife usually mounted
with silver, and stuck in the folds of his deerskin leggings; and many
were also provided with a brace of pistols or bowie knife, worn in the
red Mexican sash around the waist. Old Greenwood shouted 'Mind the
scalps and squaws for me, and be sure you bring 'em all in, boys,' and
away they went, at a thundering _lope_, eager for revenge."

The day afterwards, the party returned. They were preceded by a party
of Peruvians and Chilians, with a number of their _peones_, or slaves.

"Following closely this motley group, came on foot a body of about
sixty California Indians. Warriors and boys, squaws with _papooses_
tied on boards and slung at the back, all were prisoners. Clustered
together like sheep driven to the slaughter, they hastened through the
gorge with uncertain steps, the perspiration rolling off their faces
now pale with fright. Many of them were quite naked, and the men and
boys especially, looked more like ourang-outangs than human beings.

"In flank and rear rode the war party, which had left the Culloma
Valley two days previous. Every man's rifle lay across the pommel of
his saddle, and dangling at both sides hung several reeking scalps.
Among them was a dashing young mountaineer named John Ross, who had
two scalps for his share, and sticking in his sash was the
red-sheathed bowie knife, which the writer had sold him a few days
previous for an ounce of gold dust. Used previously to sever the rinds
of pork, or shovel in rice and frijoles, it had now been 'wool
gathering' or collecting wigs for old Greenwood's fancy stores.

"'Well done, boys,' shouted Grover, 'you have given it to them this
time; now, what's the news?' In reply to this inquiry, we learned that
the captured Indian had led them the night before according to
promise, to their _rancheria_, on Weber's Creek, where some of them
showing fight and others attempting escape, they were fired upon and
some twenty to thirty were killed. Their chief fought until shot the
third time, rising each time to his knees and discharging his arrows,
Ross finally killing, cutting off his head and scalping him. Their
_rancheria_ was then searched and burned; the Indians delivering up
the papers of the Oregon men, obtained at the time of their murder,
and confessing that they had afterwards burned their bodies to ashes
on the mountains.

"The subsequent facts were related to the writer by his highly
esteemed friend, Mr. Donald Grant, a native of bonnie Scotland, who
was one of our party to the mines, and an eye witness to the scene;
not having left on his return to San Francisco till the following

"Arriving in the Culloma valley with their prisoners, the mountaineers
and miners had a grand revel and jollification to celebrate their
achievement. During the day most of the prisoners were released, but a
few squaws and seven warriors were retained. The latter were
questioned and examined relative to their participation in the murder
of the Oregonians. Nothing being elicited to prove their guilt, it was
nevertheless determined that they should die; because being bad
looking and strong warriors, it was believed they were participators
in the murders. Accordingly the consumption of champaigne and brandy
continued till sunset. At that hour the seven Indians were brought
forth, and knowing well their fate, one of them put up his hand as a
signal, and all leaped along the valley in rapid flight. Quick as
thought the rifles began to crack in every direction, while old
Greenwood raving around his cabin remonstrated at the deed, tossed his
arms aloft with violent denunciation; and stooping down gathered the
dust in his palms, and sprinkled it on his head, swearing he was
innocent of their blood. Meantime, John Greenwood stood beside the old
man in stoic silence, too brave to participate in the massacre, but
too much of a crow to utter his disapproval. But frantic with
excitement the others thought only of revenge, and the balls whistling
in every direction laid five of the warriors dead in the valley and
mortally wounding another, only one escaping unscathed. The dying rays
of the sun deserting the bloody scene, yet lingered on the mountain
top, and the smoke of the discharge rolled in thick volume, like a
pall over the corpses of the slain, while that solitary warrior
turned from his distant height, to gaze after his companions, a
moment in vain. But his heart quivered with vengeance, and the thin
white locks of the old man in the valley, still mingled with the gray
twilight, like the sackcloth and ashes of despair.

"And this is what they call fighting the Indians! A few days before
only, we saw a young mountaineer wild with rage, threaten the life of
an American who had ventured to suggest, that the murders committed by
these Indians were provoked by many previous murders by the whites,
and that they should be avenged by the death of the _guilty_ among the
Indians, and not by an _indiscriminate_ slaughter."

We cannot think highly of the civilization of the white men who take
such unmerciful and indiscriminate revenge as this. Such are not the
means to gain the Indians over to a peace. Revenge only breeds
revenge; and those who commit such slaughter in retaliation for the
murder of one or two men must look to the consequences.

The great body of the travel to California is at present by way of the
Isthmus of Panama; but those who intend to settle permanently in the
State, and who will increase the real population of it, take the
overland route from Independence, Missouri. The shortest and best
route for commercial purposes will soon be opened across Nicaragua.
This will have many advantages over the old Isthmus route, but will
not cause that one to be abandoned altogether. Chagres has become
somewhat Americanized, and so have Gorgona, Cruces, and Panama. Travel
has been somewhat facilitated by the addition of American boats on the
Chagres River, and the provision of the mountain mules for the rough
road to Panama, in sufficient number to lower the price of travel and
decrease the delay.

The facilities of intercourse between California and the States east
of the Rocky Mountains will tend to cement her to the Union by all the
ties of trade and mutual interest. The people of that State, being at
so great a distance from the rest of the States, would seem to be alien
to them in interest, and, therefore, that an independent government
would contribute most to their prosperity. But mechanical influences--the
telegraph--the railroad and the steam vessel--annihilate distance, and
will be the means of attaching the Californians to the confederacy. In
her union with the other States, there is her strength. She will add
much to their wealth and power, but her free institutions--entirely
American, require the support of the confederacy which produced
them--at least, until the State has reached her maturity.

What will be the future California is a question which admits of a
ready answer. If she retains her present boundaries, with her
extensive sea coast, and her progress bears any proportion to that
since the conquest, in fifty years--it is a warranted conclusion--the
State will surpass any of those upon the Atlantic coast. For, what
State has such united commercial facilities and vast resources? Where
are such internal wealth and such splendid harbors to be found united?
It is probable, however, that the State may be divided, after the
population has reached a sufficient number. It is the opinion of some
of the members of the present Congress, that there is too much sea
coast for one State to possess, and that has been made an objection to
her admission into the Union, with her present boundaries. But it is
of little weight at this time. After the State has existed a few
years, the utility of such a division as is proposed will be manifest
or disproved. In the mean time, let California be admitted into the
Union as her people have created her, and then she will have every
thing necessary for her to go on in the fulfilment of a glorious

The gold discoveries in New Mexico and Oregon will have but a slight
influence on California affairs. Yet for that slight influence, they
deserve to be mentioned. The recent discoveries in New Mexico, would
seem to indicate that the El Dorado of the early Spanish voyagers has
been found, and nearly in the place to which their attention was
directed by the Indians. A late number of the Houston Telegraph, says:

"That preparations are in progress in all parts of the State, for a
grand expedition to the gold region that has been discovered in New
Mexico, not far from the ruins of the celebrated city of Grand
Quivira. Gold mines have been found all along the great chain of
mountains extending from the sources of the Arkansas and Platte
Rivers, by Santa Fe, to the Puerto. Immense excavations are shown
along the feet of these mountains, and the ruins of vast cities
indicate that these mines were once worked by millions of people. The
geographical formations of this region are so similar to those of the
gold regions of California, that they appear to be identical, and
contain similar deposits of the precious metals. These facts have been
made known throughout Texas, and the Telegraph would not be surprised
to find that the emigration to the gold region of Texas, in the
ensuing autumn, should exceed the emigration to California."

The "consummation devoutly to be wished" has been attained. California
has at length been admitted to take her place as a star of the
confederated republic. The bill for that object passed the House of
Representatives on the 7th of September, 1850, by a vote of yeas, one
hundred and fifty, nays fifty-six. It had previously passed the Senate
by a no less decisive majority. The announcement of the passage of the
bill was received with the greatest enthusiasm by its friends, and
considerable excitement upon the part of its opponents. The most
constant exertions were made by members from the Southern States to
defeat the bill by adjournment and by numerous amendments, but they
were unavailing. California triumphed.



Since the foregoing chapters were written, events of considerable
importance have transpired in California. Remarkable political steps
have been taken, and disastrous accidents by flood and fire have

The crimes of robbery and murder becoming of so frequent occurrence in
San Francisco that all security of person and property was threatened
with destruction, a meeting of citizens was called, and it was
resolved to organize a Vigilance Committee, for the summary trial and
execution of offenders. This was an open manifestation of contempt for
the constituted authorities, and they protested against it. But a
majority of the citizens of San Francisco, feeling that extraordinary
measures were necessary, supported those persons who were appointed
upon the Committee. Such officers generally abuse the extensive
authority conferred upon them; but justice requires that we should
say, that the members of the San Francisco Vigilance Committee acted
throughout with a due appreciation of an awful responsibility. Several
persons were arrested, tried, convicted and hung. One or two were
notorious criminals, who had often been up before the regular courts,
and always contrived to elude justice. By the certain and summary
measures of the Committee, security was in a great measure restored,
and the members then surrendered their authority--acknowledging the
entire supremacy of the courts.

In October, 1851, the State elections occurred. The contest was
spirited. The Democrats were generally successful. John Bigler, their
gubernatorial candidate, was elected by about thirteen hundred
majority over Mr. Reading, the candidate of the Whigs. At the
succeeding session of the Legislature, John B. Weller, formerly of
Ohio, was elected to the Senate of the United States, to succeed John
C. Fremont, who had resigned his seat. Mr. Weller had long been a
prominent member of the Democratic party. He commanded the Ohio
regiment in the Mexican war. It was believed that he would be an
efficient colleague of the industrious and practical Senator Gwin.

The Chinese portion of the population of California has gradually
become quite numerous. They have proved themselves steady, energetic
and useful citizens. Gov. Bigler, however, had a different estimation
of them. As they do not respect the oaths and forms established by law
for the regulation of business in California, he thought they could
not be bound sufficiently in their bargains to suit the business
community; and accordingly he recommended to the Legislature, that
some measures should be adopted for checking Chinese immigration. This
called forth a spirited remonstrance from the Chinese citizens of San
Francisco. They argued with much reason, that they had conducted
themselves properly ever since they had entered California, and that
there was no real ground of complaint against them. The methods of
binding them were explained, it is believed, to the general
satisfaction of the business community. We should think that Chinese
labor would be in great demand in California, as the "Celestials" not
only work for less than the Americans, but can endure more toil and

In October, 1852, events occurred in the Mexican State of Sonora,
which the Californians could not but regard with much interest. Count
de Raousset-Boulbon, a French adventurer, was the prime actor, in a
brief but stirring drama, in that quarter. He had come to California
in search of fortune. Being unsuccessful, he went to Mexico.

At the period of his arrival there the Province of Sonora was
devastated by the Alpaca Indians, who committed all sorts of
depredations with impunity. Count de Raousset-Boulbon presented
himself to the Mexican Government, and offered to deliver Sonora from
the red-skins with which it was infested. The Mexican Government was
ready to fall upon the neck of M. de Raousset-Boulbon. "I am a
Frenchman. I know the country. I understand war. I will answer for
every thing," said the Count. "Good," said the government, "we will
place an army of ten thousand men at your disposal." "Thank you," said
M. de Raousset-Boulbon, "keep your army; it would only get in my way.
Give me some muskets, and two hundred thousand francs, and leave the
rest to me." He received the required sum, returned to Sonora,
organized a corps of Frenchmen, resolute men like himself, and
proceeded to hunt down the Indians. The merchants of the country,
delighted with the successes obtained by their defender against a set
of rascals who had so long been masters of their provinces, sent
subsidies to M. de Raousset-Boulbon, put themselves under his
protection, and assured him that neither he nor his troops should ever
want for any thing if he would only continue the war. The Count closed
with the offer. But the popularity of the young general, and the
success of his little army, alarmed the Mexican Government.

They issued an order requiring him to quit the country with his
forces. Count de Raousset-Boulbon replied, that the merchants and
land-owners of the country having placed Sonora under his immediate
protection, he felt it due to his honor not to abandon them, and
consequently he distinctly refused to obey the order. The Mexican
Government then sent a frigate to blockade the principal port of
Sonora. Count de Raousset-Boulbon took the frigate. The government
sent Gen. Blanco, at the head of an army, against the French
commander. A battle was fought, and after a short but fierce struggle,
superior numbers triumphed, and the French were defeated. A treaty
was then negotiated, by the terms of which, Count Boulbon agreed to
quit Sonora, in consideration of receiving a large sum of money.

It is the prevailing opinion that this movement originated in a mere
restless spirit of adventure. But there are some sagacious statesmen
at Washington and some keen-eyed politicians in California, who regard
it as having had the object of organizing a powerful French state,
which might check the progress of the great North American
confederacy. Senator Bell, of Tennessee, predicted that such a design
would be entertained, and such a movement executed by the French. It
is well that the people of California should be upon their guard. A
republic can have no safe neighbors but republics. There are a large
number of Frenchmen in California; but if the Americans are vigilant
there is nothing to be feared from them.

On the 2d of November, 1852, the presidential election was held
throughout the United States. The Democrats carried California for
their electoral ticket, pledged to vote for Franklin Pierce, of New
Hampshire, and William R. King, of Alabama. The state election
occurred at the same time, and in this, also, the Democrats were
completely successful.

About the same time, destructive fires occurred in various parts of
California. The greater part of the city of Sacramento was laid in
ashes by a conflagration, which occurred on the 2d of November. Of
this terrible disaster, the San Francisco Herald of the 4th of
November, gives the following account:--

At 11½ o'clock on Tuesday evening, a fire broke out in the millinery
shop of Madam Lanos, on J street, near the corner of Fourth. The
inspectors were counting the votes, and a numerous crowd were awaiting
the decision of the judges, so that no time was lost in delay. With
astonishing rapidity the fire spread from building to building--up,
down and across the street, in five minutes. The Crescent City Hotel,
on the opposite side of the street, was in flames, and being of
inflammable materials and of large size, sent the fiery torrent in
every direction. The hardware store of Pawoth, Eels & Co. communicated
the flames to the brick block adjoining, which was speedily burned to
the ground, and carried the fire up street on both sides, until it
reached Eighth street, and on the south side of J street. On the
corner side, from Brown, Kenny & Co.'s brick block, which caught from
the Crescent City fire, there was nothing to stay its progress but the
Overton Block, on the corner of Third and J streets, on the one side,
and Scudder, Carroll & Co. on the other. For a time the superhuman
exertions put forth seemed to check, and it was hoped would entirely
subdue the fire, and the boom of the powder, like artillery, that was
deposited in every building, by the hook and ladder boys, was deemed
the signal for the arrest and staying of the fire on this line. In
vain, however; the wind, heretofore blowing towards the levee,
increased to a gale and changed to the north, thus turning the fire
broadside on, and in five minutes it had spread to M. street.


From J and Third, the fire curled around Scudder & Carroll's, and
extended to Dr. Morrell's drug store, on the south side of J street,
which proved a barrier for a time. These buildings, of wood, were
built in 1849, and as combustible as powder. The flames caught the
wooden building opposite, and spread to the rear on I street. At this
time, W. R. McCall & Co.'s building caught on the roof. The burning of
their building sealed the fate of all to the levee, on both sides of
the street, and bearing down the length of the city, the flames
extended, soon wrapping the Orleans Hotel. The buildings all around
were blown up with the rapidity of magic, carts standing ready with
25lb. kegs of powder. The Union office next fell, the proprietors
saving two presses, type and paper sufficient for a few days' supply.
The Tahama block, containing Page, Bacon & Co.'s, Swift's and Grimes'
banking offices, saved, wind changing, blowing directly south from
them. J. B. Starr's store also made a wall to prevent the further
spread of the fire in that direction. At this moment the fire reached,
from the levee, J and K street to Tenth, one sea of fire, crumbling
every thing to ashes. The large brick store of J. A. Haines, the brick
blocks on K--with the exception of that of the Lady Adams Co. on K,
between First and K streets--are a pile of ruins. The L. A. Co.'s
buildings stand prominent and erect this morning, a monument to the
proprietor's sagacity and good sense. The families on the line below K
street, were busy removing their valuables and furniture, when the
flames crossed the brick barrier, and swept with remorseless fury down
and across, licking with its forked tongue from street to alley,
apparently shrivelling the wooden buildings with a single breath. The
inmates of the hospital, seventy in number, were taken in season to
the levee, and from thence to a suitable house, by Drs. Briarly and
Williams. The City market, filled with hay, and the hospital, were the
last on that line of the fire, where the citizens effectually stopped
its further progress. On F street the brick building of Reynolds & Co.
made but a light barrier, the roof falling in almost immediately, with
three of No. 3's engine men, who were burned to death. Every thing to
Eighth street, on the north, and Ninth Street on the south side of J
street to Twelfth street, on K down to N street on the southeast,
through N and M to the levee--the El Dorado, supposed impregnable
hitherto, as also Merritt's, Dr. Morrill's, Scudders', and Case &
Co.'s are completely gutted.

Thus far the number of lives ascertained to be lost are six. Three of
No. 3's Engine Company's men, who fell with the roof of Reynolds &
Co.'s building, were swallowed up alive; the confusion of the morning,
and the scattering of people, prevented a roll call to ascertain the
names of the gallant but unfortunate firemen. A lady, next door to the
place where the fire originated, is also reported burnt. The number
scorched is enormous, all of whom, however, are carefully attended to
by surgeons on board the Camanche. Every assistance possible was
proffered by the captains and agents of the steamers, whose vessels
were soon crowded with females. The levee was strewn with merchandise
of every description, and the wind blowing from the northwest threw
the sparks from the goods and saved them all. At 5 A.M., the fire had
nearly ceased, the smouldering embers throwing huge clouds of smoke
and lurid flashes, bringing desolation to the hearts of all who
witnessed the sickening sight. The losses cannot be less than

On the evening of the 9th of November, another great fire occurred at
San Francisco. Of this the California Whig of Nov. 10, gives the
following account:--

Last evening, at half past eight o'clock, our citizens were alarmed by
the dreadful cry of fire, which proved to be too well founded, for in
less than five minutes the whole city was illumed by the lurid glare
of the flames.

There is much contradiction as to where the fire originated, but it is
pretty generally conceded that it was in the upper story of the frame
building on the corner of Merchant and Kearny streets, occupied by
some lodgers.

In a very short time all the buildings on the corner of the street
were in a blaze, and wholly beyond the power of human aid to save. The
close proximity of the building to the Union, on the opposite corner,
rendered the probability of its destruction almost certain. In a very
few minutes the latter building caught. In the meantime the frame
buildings on Merchant, and between that and Clay streets caught, and
were in a blaze.

The whole force of the fire department were promptly on the spot, with
their apparatus, and put into the most effective service. Never since
they have been in organization have they displayed their unequalled
energy and training as they did on this occasion.

Fortunately for the safety of the lower part of the city, there was
but little air stirring, and a slight misty rain had fallen during the
day and evening, which checked the tendency of the fire to spread
towards the bay. Had it not been for this, the mass of sparks falling
upon the roofs of the frame buildings on the east side of Montgomery
street, must have extended it to the whole lower side of the city.
These buildings were covered with men provided with wet blankets,
buckets of water, and every thing necessary to extinguish the flames,
should they communicate to their roofs.

The fire burnt eastward to the buildings of Messrs. Austin & Lobdell,
fronting on Clay street, and that of Mr. Naglee, fronting on Merchant
street. On the north side of Merchant it took the Union Hotel, and all
the buildings fronting on that street, down towards Montgomery, to
Bolton and Barron's building. It did not cross over to Washington in
any instance. This is the second time that the building of Messrs.
Austin & Lobdell has proved an effectual barrier to the progress of a
fire, and without receiving the least injury itself, or damaging the
goods within it.

Nothing but the determined and unparalleled efforts of the firemen
prevented the fire from extending to the south side of Clay street; as
it was, some $10,000 damage was done to goods and buildings upon that

The fire broke out, as we have said, at half past eight o'clock, and
it was not until a quarter past ten that it was checked or its further
spread prevented, and the engines worked for some time longer.

The records of the different courts in the old City Hall were removed,
but thrown into the utmost confusion.

In the midst of the excitement, Mr. Masalski, a gentleman well known
to the community as the former keeper of the Sacramento House, rushed
to the scene of disaster, and shortly afterwards returned to his
dwelling. He was immediately seized with the most alarming symptoms,
and in a few moments breathed his last. Dr. Guatier, who attended him
in his last moments, says that it is difficult to pronounce upon the
cause of his death, other than that it was brought about by congestion
of the brain, but what was the immediate cause of this congestion he
is unable to say at present.

It is of course impossible for us to give a correct estimate of the
losses sustained, but we have heard it variously estimated as from
$150,000 to $200,000.

Other destructive fires occurred at Marysville, Sonora, Stockton, San
Diego and in the agricultural districts, an immense amount of property
being destroyed. In the cities, the damage was repaired, with an
astonishing rapidity, but some individuals were utterly ruined--the
results of years of labor being swept away in a single night. The
cities of California are now generally supplied with fire engines and
hook and ladder companies. But these machines are not always

The mining news contained in California papers of November, 1852, is
very interesting.

A letter dated Nevada, Oct. 24, says that the continued dry weather
has given unusual opportunities and facilities to miners now working
in the river channels. At the best these operations are very
precarious in their nature--necessarily attended with a vast outlay,
and frequently, where the most sanguine hopes were entertained, the
results have been most unfortunate. The time for working in the rivers
is usually confined to a very limited period, the water being seldom
or never sufficiently low to work to advantage earlier than September;
it follows, therefore, that every additional week of dry weather is of
the utmost value to such as are thus engaged. Luckily for them, the
present dry season has been unusually protracted, consequent upon
which, the rivers are at an exceedingly low stage, and the success of
the miner proportionate to this advantage. On the other hand, those
interested in ravine and hill mining (by far the greater proportion of
the miners,) are anxiously awaiting the wet season for a supply of
water--without which, all their labor is fruitless.

The Bear River and Auburn Water Company's canal is so far completed as
to be available to the miners by the first rains, notwithstanding the
great expense and time attending its construction, arising from a want
of experience, and so far beyond the calculations of its projectors.
This work traverses an extensive and rich mining country, totally
dependent upon the canal for water, which cannot be exhausted for many

The discovery of a continuation of the celebrated Coyote lead, in
Nevada, from which so many millions of the precious metals were
extracted in '50 and '51, is now established beyond a doubt. As yet it
is not developed to any great extent, but enough, however, to give
employment to a goodly number of miners. The character of the lead
continues to be similar to the old mines, in appearance and
productiveness. A few weeks' further investigation of the locality
will no doubt give a new impetus to mining operations here, which have
latterly been somewhat stagnant.

The Sacramento Journal says:--We have been shown a lot of the gold
taken out of the Mokelumne run, valued at $2,500, which was superior
to any thing we ever examined before. The pieces of glittering ore
were of sizes varying from a cucumber seed up to a pumpkin seed, and
all in that flat, oval shape so peculiarly characteristic of Mokelumne
gold. It was sent down from the store of D. L. Angier, in Calaveras
county, and we are informed that the same company of six men that
disposed of it, have taken out of the claim $36,000 of the same kind
of specimens.

Gold has been found in considerable quantities in the mountains back
of San Buenaventura. The existence of the gold was made known by the
Indians to some white men, who, on visiting the spot indicated, were
rewarded with six ounces of the precious metal. The prospect is said
to be good.

Three quartz mills have recently commenced operations in Scott valley.
We have not received any definite information as to what these mills
have accomplished, but are informed that one of them is producing gold
in great abundance.

The Columbia Mining Company took out 12 lbs. of gold in one day, and 8
lbs. at night--making in all 20 lbs. The same gentleman informs us
that miners generally in that vicinity are doing remarkably well.

New diggings have been discovered near the American ranche. Those
working there are getting well paid, in coarse, heavy gold. They are
making from $12 to $20 per day to the man. The diggings are ravine
diggings, and can be worked all winter.

A convention of the quartz miners of Nevada county was to have been
held at Nevada on the 13th of November, to adopt measures having for
their purpose more unity of operation and greater security of labor
and capital.

The San Francisco papers of Jan. 1, 1853, contain most interesting
intelligence of the state of the gold region. The following is the
most important:--

The present winter is conceded to be the most severe experienced in
this country since it has been populated by Americans. During the last
fortnight it has been raining and snowing continually in the
mountains and valleys, and we are daily in the receipt of accounts of
disasters and suffering in all parts of the state. The waters have
been unusually high, and communication through the mining regions
almost entirely cut off, either by snow or overflowed streams. The
rivers have been swelled to such an extent as to inundate all the low
lands, causing immense damage, destroying stock and agricultural

The whole country between Tehama and Sacramento city was entirely
under water, whilst Marysville was partly inundated, and though
Sacramento city was well protected by a levee, the lower portions were
submerged. The waters at the present time have subsided, although the
rains still continue. On the mountain streams, the loss of mining
implements has been great, and all work for the present is suspended.
Bridges have been swept away, and ferries destroyed, and some few
lives lost. The southern portion of the mining district has suffered
equally with the northern. Stockton has been inundated partially, and
property to a considerable amount destroyed. The bridges on the
Calaveras, Stanislaus, and other streams have been swept away, and
communication with the mining towns for a while suspended. The flood
has been universal, and the waters higher than in the memorable winter
of 1849.

The great scarcity of provisions, and the consequent high prices, have
occasioned much suffering and distress already, and it is feared that
many will actually die from starvation. Many miners subsist entirely
on beef and potatoes, whilst in other portions of the mines there are
hundreds who have nothing at all but barley and potatoes. In portions
of Yuba and Sierra county the snow was already ten feet deep, and
still falling, and the miners actually reduced to absolute want.

In one place they held a meeting and forced a trader to sell what
flour he had on hand at 45 cents per pound, and all who were able to
leave did so, thus leaving the provisions for those who were unable to
find their way through the snows to the valleys. In some places cabins
are entirely covered with snow, and the roofs of many have been
crushed in, thus cutting off the last chance of protection. The
accounts received may be greatly exaggerated--nevertheless, there is
much suffering and distress, and it is not improbable that some may
perish by starvation.

A few days since, we were visited with a terrible southeast gale,
which prevailed for two days. Several light tenements were blown down,
and some injury done to the shipping in the harbor. For a day or two,
communication by stage with San Jose was cut off, owing to the sudden
rise of the intermediate streams.

Several important decisions have been rendered in our courts, among
which is the decision of the State Supreme Court, recognizing the
right of native claimants of land to the summary remedy of ejectment
where they are disturbed by squatters. This applies to parties who are
in possession of their claims, and relieves them from what, by a
previous decision of the court, was a necessity, that they should
incur first the expensive process of a writ of right in order to prove
their title.

The Land Commission are making considerable progress in the
adjudication of claims. Of these, the most important, perhaps, is
that of Mr. Fremont, to a large tract of land on the head waters of
the Mariposa river. The Commission recognizes his claim to the land,
but does not undertake to decide upon his title to the mineral wealth,
which, as is well known, is embraced within the limits of the grant.

A convention of Quartz Miners, held at Nevada, have adopted a code of
laws for the government of those working quartz veins in that country.

Barley has been used for bread in some places in the interior, and is
found to be a good substitute for flour.

Farmers are getting their lands ready for the crops of the next year,
and it is understood that considerable quantities of wheat will be
sown. Preparations are also being made for the erection of grist
mills, and it is not likely another season will find us so dependant
upon foreign supply for breadstuffs.

There was considerable excitement in California, during the latter
part of December, about a supposed monopoly of flour. The article had
been very scarce and high for some time, and the exorbitant rates it
commanded were attributed in a great measure to an organized effort to
force up prices. Indignation meetings were held in the interior, and
in San Francisco several of the public prints endeavored to expose the
supposed plots of the speculators. The timely arrival of cargoes from
Chili and elsewhere, however, soon caused a decline, and the
excitement on the subject consequently abated.

Vallejo has been made the capital of the state. It possesses many
advantages of situation, and promises to be a large city. If the
government should continue to have its seat there, Vallejo may prove
a formidable rival to San Francisco.

At Sacramento city much alarm prevailed, in consequence of the rise of
the water in the river and its tributaries. The papers say:--

The warm and unprecedented heavy rains of the last forty-eight hours
have brought down upon us an avalanche of water from the snowy regions
skirting the forks of the American River, and swollen the latter
stream to a greater height than at any former period of the present

At 9 o'clock, yesterday morning, the water was even with its natural
banks, and soon after commenced percolating through the unfinished
embankments at the gaps of the old levee. These were speedily torn
away by the force of the current, and the water, now running on
unobstructed through the breach of the new levee, and so on down
towards the city.

By dusk last evening, that portion of the town lying south of J and
east of Fifth street, was entirely submerged, to the depth of from one
to three feet. During the whole of yesterday the rain poured down in
torrents, and the weather was warmer than we have known it for a month
past. The American river continued to rise, up to a very late hour,
and, at last accounts, was eleven and a half feet higher than on

It is useless to deny the fact that the highest mark has not yet been
reached, for there is a great body of snow that, under the influence
of the present storm, must dissolve, and find its way to the
Sacramento. The latter stream also rose steadily during Thursday, but
still lacks some two feet of being up to the top of the levee.

There is no danger whatever of the embankment yielding at any point in
front of the city--the only danger to be apprehended is that it may
not prove sufficiently high to retain the stream within its
appropriate bounds.

A small breach was discovered early yesterday morning in the new
levee, near Dudley's farm, but it was repaired before any damage was

There was a rumor prevailing last evening that Lisle's bridge had been
swept away, but could be traced to no reliable source.

Every body is busily engaged in making preparations to meet the
anticipated flood. Merchants and shopkeepers, and all having property
on the ground floor, are raising them above high water mark--boats are
moored at the doors--vehicles of every description, stock, grain,
tents, hay, provisions and people, are crowded together on the public
square, and every available dry nook and corner is occupied.

The Marysville Express of the 20th, says: "The water is within three
or four inches as high as it was at the last flood, when it was 6½
inches higher than ever known before. The rain is still falling
heavily, and when we consider the enormous, almost frightful, quantity
of snow in the mountains, the most alarming fears may most reasonably
be entertained. All seem to join in the belief that the present will
exceed any previous flood known."

The accounts we receive from the mining districts are really heart
rending; death by cold and starvation has visited many poor
unfortunates, while as yet the tale of horrors is but half told. It
was feared that as intelligence should be received from the
mountains, we shall have to record the sad fate of many more.

Great quantities of gold are still obtained in California. The average
value of the gold dust brought by each steamer of the Panama line is
about $500,000. This is an astonishing production; and we are almost
ready to believe the enthusiastic declarations of the first
adventurers in this El Dorado, that the gold region is inexhaustible.

Emigration to California continues to be extensive. Most of those who
intend to become permanent settlers proceed by the overland route,
from Independence, Missouri, to Sacramento City. Late in the summer of
every year, a relief train is sent from the settled portion of
California, to meet the emigrants. Many persons are thus saved from
death by starvation. The expense of the relief train is a
consideration of little importance, when its object is borne in mind.
Had the same measure been adopted soon after the gold discovery, many
of those whose bones are bleaching on the plains, would have survived
to become useful citizens of California.

Interesting proceedings have taken place in the United States Senate,
in regard to the Tehuantepec route to California. The Mexican
government has shown a disposition to prevent the construction of a
road across Tehuantepec, which some senators think should be promptly
rebuked. In a recent speech upon the subject, Mr. Mason, of Virginia,
said that the acquisition of California and the intervening territory,
placed this Government in the position of having some of its
dependencies almost inaccessible. The discovery of the gold in
California, made the subject of a communication with that region, of
the deepest importance, and has naturally drawn the eyes of the world
to the necessity of securing some safe, reliable, and speedy right of
way to the Pacific Ocean. Panama has been sought, and it has been used
as a place of transit, without any serious objection on the part of
any government there. Mexico alone has interposed an obstacle to this
desired communication with the Pacific. Mexico, from whom our
territory was derived, and who is our neighbor and sister Republic,
has alone refused the right of way to the world, and has not only
refused the right of transit to other nations, but has also set aside
an existing grant of that right. For years, enterprises have been
projected to connect the two Oceans at Tehuantepec. In view of the
vast importance of this connection, the minds of the people of the
United States have been concentrated upon the discovery of that plan
which shall be the least expensive, and at the same time the most
certain and efficient, to unite the two Oceans by means of travel or
transportation. Mr. Mason read a table showing the distance between
New York and San Francisco by the Chagres route, to be 6650 miles;
between New Orleans and San Francisco, by way of Chagres, 5675 miles;
between New York and San Francisco, by the Tehuantepec route, 4970;
between New Orleans and San Francisco, by the Tehuantepec, 3740 miles.
The average time from New York to San Francisco, by the Chagres route,
was 28 days, and the shortest 24 days. The average time by the
Tehuantepec route was 19 days, and the shortest 15. From New Orleans,
by way of Tehuantepec, the average time would be 14 days and
the shortest 12 days.

It is believed that spirited action on the part of our government will
secure from Mexico the recognition of a right of way across
Tehuantepec, which, according to Senator Mason's able representation,
is but a matter of justice. Mexico is at present almost ready to fall
to pieces, most of its states, or provinces, being in successful
rebellion. She is not, therefore, in a condition to resist a
formidable foreign power. It is lamentable when a government is weak,
and yet dares to be unjust. The people of California have a
considerable stake in the decision of the Tehuantepec question.

The gold region is constantly being extended by new
discoveries--especially in the north-eastern section of the state. In
the meantime the old mines continue to yield a good profit to
industrious laborers. Before the recent flood, the mining news from
the Mariposa diggings was very favorable--the miners averaging from
$25 to $30 a day. On Cottonwood Creek, Shosta Valley, operations were
also well rewarded--one company making $100 per day to the hand. The
number of persons engaged in mining and crushing the gold-bearing
quartz is very large, and the yield rewards the toil.

The miners still occasionally take upon themselves the punishment of
offenders. Recently, a half-breed Mexican, named John Bathus, having
stolen $800 in gold dust from S. B. Star, on the Klamath, was caught,
tried by the miners of the district, convicted, sentenced to be shot,
and executed accordingly. About the same time, a man named Morrison,
having committed a theft among the miners on Humbug Creek, was caught,
and received twelve lashes on his bare back. These cases, however,
occurred in wild districts, where the laws of the State are but
imperfectly executed, and where summary measures can alone secure the
miner in possession of his hard-earned property.

The Indians in the State are very troublesome, in spite of the strong
regular force kept in vigilant service. The most recent disturbances
have occurred in Trinity County, whither Gen. Hitchcock was compelled
to despatch a company of United States troops. Prompt and vigorous
measures being adopted, the savages were quieted. Other disturbances
in that section of the country about the mouth of the Klamath, were
terminated as promptly.

A late number of the Shasta Courier says, the Indians on Churn Creek,
on the east side of the Sacramento river, have become very annoying to
the whites. They have stolen a great many mules, and are constantly
watching for opportunities to take human life. But recently, a man
named Henry Welden, was pursued for several miles by a band of these
Indians, and narrowly escaped with his life. In consequence of these
outrages, a company of miners was formed for the purpose of driving
the savages to a safer distance, or exterminating them. The company
was equipped for efficient service in the mountains. The Indians fled
before them, and could not be overtaken.

Several months previous the Indians on the Gila were incited to war by
some reckless Mexicans. Several expeditions were sent against them
from Fort Yumas, and recently the savages have been so far quieted,
that the country is now considered safe for emigrants.

Among the new and most remarkable _placers_, are the gold bluffs,
situated near the mouth of the Klamath river, about thirty miles north
of Trinidad. The approach to them by land is over a plain of sand,
into which the traveller sinks ankle-deep at every step. The bluffs
stretch along some five or six miles, and present a perpendicular
front to the ocean of from 100 to 400 feet in height. In ordinary
weather the beach is from 20 to 50 feet in width, composed of a
mixture of gray and black sand, the latter containing the gold in
scales so fine that they cannot be separated by the ordinary process
of washing; so that resort must be had to chemical means. The beach
changes with every tide, and sometimes no black, auriferous sand is to
be seen on the surface. By digging down, it is found mixed with gray
sand, which largely predominates. The violence of the surf renders
landing in boats impracticable. When the beach was discovered early in
1851, several tons of goods were landed from a steamer despatched
thither, by means of lines from the vessel to the shore. The Pacific
Mining Company have made good profits in working the bluffs and the
sand of the beach.

Tunneling has been carried on quite extensively in the mining region.
Some of the tunnels through solid rock are wonderful achievements. At
Duggan's Flat, a party bored 150 feet in the solid rock before finding
the gold.

Professor Forrest Shepherd, of New Haven, has made some remarkable
discoveries of thermal action in California. In one place where there
was nothing on the surface to attract attention, on digging down the
heat increased so rapidly that at the depth of two feet he could not
bear his hand in the earth, and the thermometer indicated a
temperature of 130 degrees. At another place, after wandering for four
days through dense thickets, he came upon a chasm a thousand feet
deep, through which flowed a stream, the banks of which, on the 8th of
February, were covered with vegetation. Following up the stream, the
earth grew so hot as to burn the feet through the boots. There was no
appearance of lava, and the rocks were being dissolved by a powerful
_catalytic_ action. From innumerable orifices steam was forced to the
height of two hundred feet. The number of spouting geysers and boiling
springs, on a half mile square, exceeded two hundred. The Professor,
in the course of a lecture delivered at San Jose, said he did not
doubt that silver, lead, and iron abounded in California.

The legislation of Congress in regard to California has sometimes been
of a very unsatisfactory character. By an act passed in 1850, the
Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to contract upon the most
reasonable terms with the proprietors of some well-established
assaying works then in successful operation in California, who should
perform such duties in assaying and fixing the value of gold in grains
and lumps, and in forming the same into bars, as should be prescribed
by the Secretary of the Treasury, and the assayer was to fix the stamp
of the United States, indicating the degree of fineness and value,
upon each bar or ingot. This was a measure of convenience, and the
merchants of the California ports had then ample means of paying their
custom house duties. In 1852, however, Congress passed an act,
creating a branch mint of the United States in California: and to this
act was appended a clause, repealing the act which authorized the
office of Assayer, as soon as public notice was given of the creation
of the branch mint. In consequence of this legislation, the Assayer's
office was abolished, and yet there was no mint for coining in the
golden land. Time was required for making the necessary appropriation
of money, erecting buildings, and constructing machinery, all of which
had not been considered. The clause of the former act which made the
stamped ingots receivable for duties was repealed. The merchants of
California had no means of paying their duties at the custom house,
and great excitement and confusion ensued. Finally, an arrangement was
made with the Collector of San Francisco, under which uncoined gold
could be received in payment of duties, and then business went on as
usual. Care is one of the first essentials of beneficial legislation.
The circumstance that the people of California are so far from the
seat of the federal government, requires a strict attention in
legislators, to prevent evils which cannot be quickly remedied.

The people of California seem to be deeply interested in the
construction of a great railroad from the Mississippi to the Pacific.
At San Diego, several meetings have been held, and reports adopted,
advocating and exhibiting the advantages of a southern route for the
proposed railroad. The route which the meetings favored is to start
from the Gulf of Mexico or some of its tributaries, and passing
through Texas, Louisiana, and New Mexico to California, and strike the
Pacific at San Diego. Its entire length would not exceed sixteen
hundred miles, whilst it would have the advantages, as alleged by the
report, of passing through a section in which universal summer
prevails, and of affording opportunities for lateral roads connecting
with the cities of Mexico, through which a large trade might be
obtained. The subject has been brought to the consideration of
Congress, and that body has prudently appropriated a large sum for a
survey of the various routes proposed.





The delegates of the people assembled in Convention, have formed a
constitution, which is now presented for your ratification. The time
and manner of voting on this constitution, and of holding the first
general election, are clearly set forth in the schedule. The whole
subject is, therefore, left for your unbiassed and deliberate

The Prefect (or person exercising the functions of that office) of
each district, will designate the places for opening the polls, and
give due notice of the election, in accordance with the provisions of
the constitution and schedule.

The people are now called upon to form a government for themselves,
and to designate such officers as they desire, to make and execute the
laws. That their choice may be wisely made, and that the government
so organized may secure the permanent welfare and happiness of the
people of the new State, is the sincere and earnest wish of the
present Executive, who, if the constitution be ratified, will, with
pleasure, surrender his powers to whomsoever the people may designate
as his successor.

Given at Monterey, California, this 12th day of October, A.D., 1849.
     B. RILEY,

Brevet Brig. General, U.S.A., and Governor of California.
     H. W. HALLECK,
     Brevet Captain and Secretary of State.

       *       *       *       *       *




SEC. 1. All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain
inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending
life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and
pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

SEC. 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is
instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people;
and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the
public good may require it.

SEC. 3. The right of trial by jury shall be secured to all, and remain
inviolate for ever; but a jury trial may be waived by the parties, in
all civil cases, in the manner to be prescribed by law.

SEC. 4. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and
worship, without discrimination or preference, shall for ever be
allowed in this State; and no person shall be rendered incompetent to
be a witness on account of his opinions on matters of religious
belief; but the liberty of conscience, hereby secured, shall not be so
construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices
inconsistent with the peace or safety of this State.

SEC. 5. The privilege of the writ of _habeas corpus_ shall not be
suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public
safety may require its suspension.

SEC. 6. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor shall cruel or unusual punishments be inflicted, nor
shall witnesses be unreasonably detained.

SEC. 7. All persons shall be bailable, by sufficient sureties: unless
for capital offences, when the proof is evident or the presumption

SEC. 8. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise
infamous crime (except in cases of impeachment, and in cases of
militia when in actual service, and the land and naval forces in time
of war, or which this State may keep with the consent of Congress in
time of peace, and in cases of petit larceny under the regulation of
the Legislature,) unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury;
and in any trial in any court whatever, the party accused shall be
allowed to appear and defend in person and with counsel, as in civil
actions. No person shall be subject to be twice put in jeopardy for
the same offence; nor shall he be compelled, in any criminal case, to
be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use without just compensation.

SEC. 9. Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his
sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that
right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty
of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions on indictments
for libels, the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and if it
shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libellous is true,
and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the
party shall be acquitted: and the jury shall have the right to
determine the law and the fact.

SEC. 10. The people shall have the right freely to assemble together,
to consult for the common good, to instruct their representatives, and
to petition the legislature for redress of grievances.

SEC. 11. All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation.

SEC. 12. The military shall be subordinate to the civil power. No
standing army shall be kept up by this State in time of peace; and in
time of war no appropriation for a standing army shall be for a longer
time than two years.

SEC. 13. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any
house, without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, except in
the manner to be prescribed by law.

SEC. 14. Representation shall be apportioned according to population.

SEC. 15. No person shall be imprisoned for debt in any civil action on
_mesne_ or final process, unless in cases of fraud; and no person
shall be imprisoned for a milita fine in time of peace.

SEC. 16. No bill of attainder, _ex post facto_ law, or law impairing
the obligation of contracts, shall ever be passed.

SEC. 17. Foreigners who are, or who may hereafter become, _bona fide_
residents of this State, shall enjoy the same rights in respect to the
possession, enjoyment, and inheritance of property, as native born

SEC. 18. _Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, unless for the
punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State._

SEC. 19. The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable seizures and
searches, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but on
probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly
describing the place to be searched, and the persons and things to be

SEC. 20. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war
against it, adhering to its enemies, or giving them aid and comfort.
No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the evidence of two
witnesses to the same overt act, or confession in open court.

SEC. 21. This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to impair
or deny others retained by the people.



SEC. 1. Every white male citizen of the United States, and every white
male citizen of Mexico, who shall have elected to become a citizen of
the United States, under the treaty of peace exchanged and ratified at
Queretaro, on the 30th day of May, 1848, of the age of twenty-one
years, who shall have been a resident of the State six months next
preceding the election, and the county or district in which he claims
his vote thirty days, shall be entitled to vote at all elections which
are now or hereafter may be authorized by law: Provided, that nothing
herein contained shall be construed to prevent the Legislature, by a
two-thirds concurrent vote, from admitting to the right of suffrage,
Indians or the descendants of Indians, in such special cases as such a
proportion of the legislative body may deem just and proper.

SEC. 2. Electors shall, on all cases except treason, felony, or breach
of the peace, be privileged from arrest on the days of the election,
during their attendance at such election, going to and returning

SEC. 3. No elector shall be obliged to perform militia duty on the day
of election, except in time of war or public danger.

SEC. 4. For the purpose of voting, no person shall be deemed to have
gained or lost a residence by reason of his presence or absence while
employed in the service of the United States; nor while engaged in the
navigation of the waters of this State, or of the United States, or of
the high seas; nor while a student of any seminary of learning; nor
while kept at any almshouse, or other asylum, at public expense; nor
while confined in any public prison.

SEC. 5. No idiot or insane person, or person convicted of any infamous
crime, shall be entitled to the privileges of an elector.

SEC. 6. All elections by the people shall be by ballot.



The powers of the government of the State of California shall be
divided into three separate departments: the Legislature, the
Executive, and Judicial; and no person charged with the exercise of
powers properly belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise
any functions appertaining to either of the others; except in the
cases hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.



SEC. 1. The legislative power of this State shall be vested in a
Senate and Assembly, which shall be designated the Legislature of the
State of California, and the enacting clause of every law shall be as
follows: "The people of the State of California, represented in Senate
and Assembly, do enact as follows."

SEC. 2. The sessions of the Legislature shall be annual, and shall
commence on the first Monday of January, next ensuing the election of
its members; unless the Governor of the State shall, in the interim,
convene the Legislature by proclamation.

SEC. 3. The members of the Assembly shall be chosen annually, by the
qualified electors of their respective districts, on the Tuesday next
after the first Monday in November, unless otherwise ordered by the
Legislature, and their term of office shall be one year.

SEC. 4. Senators and Members of Assembly shall be duly qualified
electors in the respective counties and districts which they

SEC. 5. Senators shall be chosen for the term of two years, at the
same time and places as Members of Assembly; and no person shall be a
Member of the Senate or Assembly, who has not been a citizen and
inhabitant of the State one year, and of the county or district for
which he shall be chosen six months next before his election.

SEC. 6. The number of Senators shall not be less than one third, nor
more than one half, of that of the Members of Assembly; and at the
first session of the Legislature after this Constitution takes effect,
the Senators shall be divided by lot as equally as may be, into two
classes; the seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated
at the expiration of the first year, so that one half shall be chosen

SEC. 7. When the number of Senators is increased, they shall be
apportioned by lot, so as to keep the two classes as nearly equal in
number as possible.

SEC. 8. Each house shall choose its own officers, and judge of the
qualifications, elections, and returns of its own members.

SEC. 9. A majority of each house shall constitute a quorum to do
business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may
compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under
such penalties as each house may provide.

SEC. 10. Each house shall determine the rules of its own proceedings,
and may with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members elected,
expel a member.

SEC. 11. Each house shall keep a journal of its own proceedings, and
publish the same; and the yeas and nays of the members of either
house, on any question, shall, at the desire of any three members
present, be entered on the journal.

SEC. 12. Members of the Legislature shall, in all cases except
treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest,
and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session
of the Legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement
and after the termination of each session.

SEC. 13. When vacancies occur in either house, the Governor, or the
person exercising the functions of the Governor, shall issue writs of
election to fill such vacancies.

SEC. 14. The doors of each house shall be open, except on such
occasions as in the opinion of the house may require secrecy.

SEC. 15. Neither house shall, without the consent of the other,
adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in
which they may be sitting.

SEC. 16. Any bill may originate in either house of the Legislature,
and all bills passed by one house may be amended in the other.

SEC. 17. Every bill which may have passed the Legislature, shall,
before it becomes a law, be presented to the Governor. If he approve
it, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his
objections, to the house in which it originated, which shall enter the
same upon the journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such
reconsideration, it again pass both houses, by yeas and nays, by a
majority of two-thirds of the members of each house present, it shall
become a law, notwithstanding the Governor's objections. If any bill
shall not be returned within ten days after it shall have been
presented to him (Sunday excepted,) the same shall be a law, in like
manner as if he had signed it, unless the Legislature, by adjournment,
prevent such return.

SEC. 18. The Assembly shall have the sole power of impeachment; and
all impeachments shall be tried by the Senate. When sitting for that
purpose, the Senators shall be upon oath or affirmation; and no person
shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the
members present.

SEC. 19. The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Secretary of State,
Comptroller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Surveyor-General, Justices
of the Supreme Court, and Judges of the District Courts, shall be
liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office; but judgment in
such cases shall extend only to removal from office, and
disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust or profit, under
the State; but the party convicted, or acquitted, shall nevertheless
be liable to indictment, trial and punishment, according to law. All
other civil officers shall be tried for misdemeanors in office, in
such manner as the Legislature may provide.

  [Illustration: CROSSING THE ISTHMUS.]

SEC. 20. No Senator or member of Assembly shall, during the term for
which he shall have been elected, be appointed to any civil office of
profit, under this State, which shall have been created, or the
emoluments of which shall have been increased, during such term,
except such office as may be filled by elections by the people.

SEC. 21. No person holding any lucrative office under the United
States, or any other power, shall be eligible to any civil office of
profit, under this State; provided, that officers in the militia, to
which there is attached no annual salary, or local officers and
postmasters whose compensation does not exceed five hundred dollars
per annum, shall not be deemed lucrative.

SEC. 22. No person who shall be convicted of the embezzlement or
defalcation of the public funds of this State, shall ever be eligible
to any office of honor, trust, or profit, under the State; and the
Legislature shall, as soon as practicable, pass a law providing for
the punishment of such embezzlement, or defalcation as a felony.

SEC. 23. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence
of appropriations made by law. An accurate statement of the receipts
and expenditures of the public moneys shall be attached to, and
published with, the laws, at every regular session of the Legislature.

SEC. 24. The members of the Legislature shall receive for their
services, a compensation to be fixed by law, and paid out of the
public treasury; but no increase of the compensation shall take effect
during the term for which the members of either house shall have been

SEC. 25. Every law enacted by the Legislature, shall embrace but one
object, and that shall be expressed in the title; and no law shall be
revised, or amended, by reference to its title; but in such case, the
act revised, or section amended, shall be re-enacted and published at

SEC. 26. No divorce shall be granted by the Legislature.

SEC. 27. No lottery shall be authorized by this State, nor shall the
sale of lottery tickets be allowed.

SEC. 28. The enumeration of the inhabitants of this State shall be
taken, under the direction of the Legislature, in the year one
thousand eight hundred and fifty-two, and one thousand eight hundred
and fifty-five, and at the end of every ten years thereafter; and
these enumerations, together with the census that may be taken, under
the direction of the Congress of the United States, in the year one
thousand eight hundred and fifty, and every subsequent ten years,
shall serve as the basis of representation in both houses of the

SEC. 29. The number of Senators and Members of Assembly, shall, at the
first session of the Legislature, holden after the enumeration herein
provided for are made, be fixed by the Legislature, and apportioned
among the several counties and districts to be established by law,
according to the number of white inhabitants. The number of Members of
Assembly shall not be less than twenty-four, nor more than thirty-six,
until the number of inhabitants within this State shall amount to one
hundred thousand: and after that period, at such ratio that the whole
number of Members of Assembly shall never be less than thirty, nor
more than eighty.

SEC. 30. When a congressional, senatorial, or assembly district, shall
be composed of two or more counties, it shall not be separated by any
county belonging to another district; and no county shall be divided,
in forming a congressional, senatorial, or assembly district.

SEC. 31. Corporations may be formed under general laws, but shall not
be created by special act, except for municipal purposes. All general
laws and special acts passed pursuant to this section may be altered
from time to time, or repealed.

SEC. 32. Dues from corporations shall be secured by such individual
liability of the corporators, and other means, as may be prescribed by

SEC. 33. The term corporations, as used in this article, shall be
construed to include all associations and joint-stock companies,
having any of the powers or privileges of corporations not possessed
by individuals or partnerships. And all corporations shall have the
right to sue, and shall be subject to be sued, in all courts, in like
cases as natural persons.

SEC. 34. The Legislature shall have no power to pass any act
granting any charter for banking purposes; but associations may be
formed under general laws, for the deposit of gold and silver; but no
such association shall make, issue, or put in circulation, any bill,
check, tickets, certificate, promissory note, or other paper, or the
paper of any bank, to circulate as money.

SEC. 35. The Legislature of this State shall prohibit, by law, any
person or persons, association, company, or corporation, from
exercising the privileges of banking, or creating paper to circulate
as money.

SEC. 36. Each stockholder of a corporation, or joint-stock
association, shall be individually and personally liable for his
proportion of all its debts and liabilities.

SEC. 37. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to provide for the
organization of cities and incorporated villages, and to restrict
their power of taxation, assessment, borrowing money, contracting
debts, and loaning their credit, so as to prevent abuses in
assessments, and in contracting debts, by such municipal corporations.

SEC. 38. In all elections by the Legislature, the members thereof
shall vote _viva voce_, and the votes shall be entered on the journal.



SEC. 1. The supreme executive power of this State shall be vested in a
chief magistrate, who shall be styled the Governor of the State of

SEC. 2. The Governor shall be elected by the qualified electors, at
the time and places of voting for Members of Assembly, and shall hold
his office two years from the time of his installation, and until his
successor shall be qualified.

SEC. 3. No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor (except
at the first election) who has not been a citizen of the United States
and a resident of this State two years next preceding the election,
and attained the age of twenty-five years at the time of said

SEC. 4. The returns of every election for Governor shall be sealed up
and transmitted to the seat of government, directed to the Speaker of
the Assembly, who shall, during the first week of the session, open
and publish them in presence of both houses of the Legislature. The
person having the highest number of votes shall be Governor; but in
case any two or more have an equal and the highest number of votes,
the Legislature shall by joint-vote of both houses, choose one of said
persons, so having an equal and the highest number of votes, for

SEC. 5. The Governor shall be commander-in-chief of the militia, the
army, and navy of this State.

SEC. 6. He shall transact all executive business with the officers of
government, civil and military, and may require information in writing
from the officers of the executive department, upon any subject
relating to the duties of the respective offices.

SEC. 7. He shall see that the laws are faithfully executed.

SEC. 8. When any office shall, from any cause, become vacant, and no
mode is provided by the constitution and laws for filling such
vacancy, the Governor shall have power to fill such vacancy by
granting a commission, which shall expire at the end of the next
session of the Legislature, or at the next election by the people.

SEC. 9. He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the Legislature by
proclamation, and shall state to both houses, when assembled, the
purpose for which they shall have been convened.

SEC. 10. He shall communicate by message to the Legislature, at every
session, the condition of the State, and recommend such matters as he
shall deem expedient.

SEC. 11. In case of a disagreement between the two houses, with
respect to the time of adjournment, the Governor shall have power to
adjourn the Legislature to such time as he may think proper; Provided
it be not beyond the time fixed for the meeting of the next

SEC. 12. No person shall, while holding any office under the United
States, or this State, exercise the office of Governor, except as
hereinafter expressly provided.

SEC. 13. The Governor shall have the power to grant reprieves and
pardons after conviction, for all offences except treason, and cases
of impeachment, upon such conditions, and with such restrictions and
limitations, as he may think proper, subject to such regulations as
may be provided by law relative to the manner of applying for pardons.
Upon conviction for treason he shall have the power to suspend the
execution of the sentence until the case shall be reported to the
Legislature at its next meeting, when the Legislature shall either
pardon, direct the execution of the sentence, or grant a further
reprieve. He shall communicate to the Legislature, at the beginning of
every session, every case of reprieve, or pardon granted, stating the
name of the convict, the crime of which he was convicted, the sentence
and its date, and the date of the pardon or reprieve.

SEC. 14. There shall be a seal of this State, which shall be kept by
the Governor, and used by him officially, and it shall be called "The
Great Seal of the State of California."

SEC. 15. All grants and commissions shall be in the name and by the
authority of the people of the State of California, sealed with the
great seal of the State, signed by the Governor, and countersigned by
the Secretary of State.

SEC. 16. A Lieutenant-Governor shall be elected at the same time and
place, and in the same manner as the Governor; and his term of office,
and his qualifications, shall also be the same. He shall be President
of the Senate, but shall only have a casting vote therein. If, during
a vacancy of the office of Governor, the Lieutenant-Governor shall be
impeached, displaced, resign, die, or become incapable of performing
the duties of his office, or be absent from the State, the President
of the Senate shall act as Governor, until the vacancy be filled, or
the disability shall cease.

SEC. 17. In case of the impeachment of the Governor, or his removal
from office, death, inability to discharge the powers and duties of
the said office, resignation or absence from the State, the powers and
duties of the office shall devolve upon the Lieutenant-Governor for
the residue of the term, or until the disability shall cease. But when
the Governor shall, with the consent of the Legislature, be out of the
State in time of war, at the head of any military force thereof, he
shall continue commander-in-chief of all the military forces of the

SEC. 18. A Secretary of State, a Comptroller, a Treasurer, an
Attorney-General and Surveyor-General, shall be chosen in the manner
provided in this Constitution; and the term of office, and eligibility
of each, shall be the same as are prescribed for the Governor and

SEC. 19. The Secretary of State shall be appointed by the Governor, by
and with the advice and consent of the Senate. He shall keep a fair
record of the official acts of the Legislature and Executive
Departments of the Government; and shall, when required, lay the same,
and all matters relative thereto, before either branch of the
Legislature: and shall perform such other duties as shall be assigned
him by law.

SEC. 20. The Comptroller, Treasurer, Attorney-General and
Surveyor-General, shall be chosen by joint vote of the two Houses of
the Legislature, at their first session under this Constitution, and
thereafter shall be elected at the same time and places, and in the
same manner, as the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor.

SEC. 21. The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Secretary of State,
Comptroller, Treasurer, Attorney-General, and Surveyor-General, shall
each at stated times during their continuance in office, receive for
their services a compensation, which shall not be increased or
diminished during the term for which they shall have been elected; but
neither of these officers shall receive for his own use any fees for
the performance of his official duties.



SEC. 1. The judicial power of this State shall be vested in a Supreme
Court, in District Courts, in County Courts, and in Justices of the
Peace. The Legislature may also establish such municipal and other
inferior courts as may be deemed necessary.

SEC. 2. The Supreme Court shall consist of a Chief Justice, and two
Associate Justices, any two of whom shall constitute a quorum.

SEC. 3. The Justices of the Supreme Court shall be elected at the
general election, by the qualified electors of the State, and shall
hold their office for the term of six years from the first day of
January next after their election; provided that the Legislature
shall, at its first meeting, elect a Chief Justice and two Associate
Justices of the Supreme Court, by joint vote of both houses, and so
classify them that one shall go out of office every two years. After
the first election, the senior Justice in commission shall be the
Chief Justice.

SEC. 4. The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction in all
cases when the matter in dispute exceeds two hundred dollars, when the
legality of any tax, toll, or impost, or municipal fine is in
question: and in all criminal cases amounting to felony, or questions
of law alone. And the said court and each of the Justices thereof, as
well as all district and county judges, shall have power to issue
writs of habeas corpus, at the instance of any person held in actual
custody. They shall also have power to issue all other writs and
process necessary to the exercise of the appellate jurisdiction, and
shall be conservators of the peace throughout the State.

SEC. 5. The State shall be divided by the first Legislature into a
convenient number of districts, subject to such alteration from time
to time as the public good may require; for each of which a district
judge shall be appointed by the joint vote of the legislature, at its
first meeting, who shall hold his office for two years from the first
day of January next after his election; after which, said judges shall
be elected by the qualified electors of their respective districts, at
the general election, and shall hold their office for the term of six

SEC. 6. The District Courts shall have original jurisdiction, in law
and equity, in all civil cases where the amount in dispute exceeds two
hundred dollars, exclusive of interest. In all criminal cases not
otherwise provided for, and in all issues of fact joined in the
probate courts, their jurisdiction shall be unlimited.

SEC. 7. The Legislature shall provide for the election, by the people,
of a Clerk of the Supreme Court, and County Clerks, District
Attorneys, Sheriffs, Coroners, and other necessary officers; and shall
fix by law their duties and compensation. County Clerks shall be,
_ex-officio_, Clerks of the District Courts in and for their
respective counties.

SEC. 8. There shall be elected in each of the organized counties of
this State, one County Judge who shall hold his office for four years.
He shall hold the County Court, and perform the duties of Surrogate,
or Probate Judge. The County Judge, with two Justices of the Peace, to
be designated according to law, shall hold courts of sessions, with
such criminal jurisdiction as the Legislature shall prescribe, and he
shall perform such other duties as shall be required by law.

SEC. 9. The County Courts shall have such jurisdiction, in cases
arising in Justices Courts, and in special cases, as the Legislature
may prescribe, but shall have no original civil jurisdiction, except
in such special cases.

SEC. 10. The times and places of holding the terms of the Supreme
Court, and the general and special terms of the District Courts within
the several districts, shall be provided for by law.

SEC. 11. No judicial officer, except a Justice of the Peace, shall
receive to his own use, any fees, or perquisites of office.

SEC. 12. The Legislature shall provide for the speedy publication of
all statute laws, and of such judicial decisions as it may deem
expedient; and all laws and judicial decisions shall be free for
publication by any person.

SEC. 13. Tribunals for conciliation may be established, with such
powers and duties as may be prescribed by law; but such tribunals
shall have no power to render judgment to be obligatory on the
parties, except they voluntarily submit their matters in difference,
and agree to abide the judgment, or assent thereto in the presence of
such tribunal, in such cases as shall be prescribed by law.

SEC. 14. The Legislature shall determine the number of Justices of the
Peace, to be elected in each county, city, town, and incorporated
village of the State, and fix by law their powers, duties, and
responsibilities. It shall also determine in what cases appeals may be
made from Justices' Courts to the County Court.

SEC. 15. The Justices of the Supreme Court, and Judges of the District
Court, shall severally, at stated times during their continuance in
office, receive for their services a compensation, to be paid out of
the treasury, which shall not be increased or diminished during the
term for which they shall have been elected. The County Judges shall
also severally, at stated times, receive for their services a
compensation to be paid out of the county treasury of their respective
counties, which shall not be increased or diminished during the term
for which they shall have been elected.

SEC. 16. The Justices of the Supreme Court and District Judges shall
be ineligible to any other office, during the term for which they
shall have been elected.

SEC. 17. Judges shall not charge juries with respect to matters of
fact, but may state the testimony and declare the law.

SEC. 18. The style of all process shall be "The People of the State of
California;" the prosecutions shall be conducted in the name and by
the authority of the same.



SEC. 1. The Legislature shall provide by law, for organizing and
disciplining the militia, in such manner as they shall deem expedient,
not incompatible with the constitution and laws of the United States.

SEC. 2. Officers of the militia shall be elected, or appointed, in
such manner as the Legislature shall from time to time direct; and
shall be commissioned by the Governor.

SEC. 3. The Governor shall have power to call forth the militia, to
execute the laws of the State, to suppress insurrections, and repel



The Legislature shall not in any manner create any debt or debts,
liability or liabilities, which shall singly, or in the aggregate,
with any previous debts or liabilities exceed the sum of three hundred
thousand dollars, except in case of war, to repel invasion, or
suppress insurrection, unless the same shall be authorized by some law
for some single object or work, to be distinctly specified therein,
which law shall provide ways and means, exclusive of loans, for the
payment of the interest of such debt or liability, as it falls due,
and also pay and discharge the principal of such debt or liability
within twenty years from the time of the contracting thereof, and
shall be irrepealable until the principal and interest thereon shall
be paid and discharged; but no such law shall take effect until, at a
general election, it shall have been submitted to the people, and have
received a majority of all the votes cast for and against it at such
election; and all money raised by authority of such law shall be
applied only to the specific object therein stated, or to the payment
of the debt thereby created; and such law shall be published in at
least one newspaper in each judicial district, if one be published
therein, throughout the State, for three months next preceding the
election at which it is submitted to the people.



SEC. 1. The Legislature shall provide for the election, by the people,
of a Superintendent of Public Instruction, who shall hold his office
for three years, and whose duties shall be prescribed by law, and who
shall receive such compensation as the Legislature may direct.

SEC. 2. The Legislature shall encourage, by all suitable means, the
promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural
improvement. The proceeds of all lands that may be granted by the
United States to this State for the support of schools, which may be
sold or disposed of, and the five hundred thousand acres of land
granted to the new States, under an act of Congress distributing the
proceeds of the public lands among the several States of the Union,
approved A.D. 1841; and all estates of deceased persons who may have
died without leaving a will, or heir, and also such per cent. as may
be granted by Congress on the sale of lands in this State, shall be
and remain a perpetual fund, the interest of which, together with all
the rents of the unsold lands, and such other means as the Legislature
may provide, shall be inviolably appropriated to the support of Common
Schools throughout the State.

SEC. 3. The Legislature shall provide for a system of Common Schools,
by which a school shall be kept up and supported in each district at
least three months in every year: and any school district neglecting
to keep up and support such a school, may be deprived of its
proportion of the interest of the public fund during such neglect.

SEC. 4. The Legislature shall take measures for the protection,
improvement, or other disposition of such lands as have been, or may
hereafter be, reserved or granted by the United States, or any person
or persons to this State for the use of a University; and the funds
accruing from the rents or sale of such lands, or from any other
source, for the purpose aforesaid, shall be and remain a permanent
fund, the interest of which shall be applied to the support of said
university, with such branches as the public convenience may demand
for the promotion of literature, the arts and sciences, as may be
authorized by the terms of such grant. And it shall be the duty of the
Legislature, as soon as may be, to provide effectual means for the
improvement and permanent security of the funds of said University.



SEC. 1. Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be
proposed in the Senate or Assembly; and if the same shall be agreed to
by a majority of the members elected to each of the two houses, such
proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on their journals,
with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the Legislature
then next to be chosen, and shall be published for three months next
preceding the time of making such choice. And if, in the Legislature
next chosen, as aforesaid, such proposed amendment or amendments shall
be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house,
then it shall be the duty of the Legislature to submit such proposed
amendment or amendments to the people, in such manner, and at such
time, as the Legislature shall prescribe; and if the people shall
approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of the
electors qualified to vote for members of the Legislature voting
thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become part of the

SEC. 2. And if, at any time, two-thirds of the Senate and Assembly
shall think it necessary to revise and change this entire
Constitution, they shall recommend to the electors, at the next
election for members of the Legislature, to vote for or against the
convention; and if it shall appear that a majority of the electors
voting at such election have voted in favor of calling a convention,
the Legislature shall, at its next session, provide by law for calling
a convention, to be holden within six months after the passage of
such law; and such convention shall consist of a number of members not
less than that of both branches of the Legislature.



SEC. 1. The first session of the Legislature shall be held at the
Pueblo de San Jose, which place shall be the permanent seat of
government, until removed by law; provided, however, that two-thirds
of all the members elected to each house of the Legislature shall
concur in the passage of such law.

SEC. 2. Any citizen of this State who shall, after the adoption of
this Constitution, fight a duel with deadly weapons, or send or accept
a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, either within the
State or out of it; or who shall act as second, or knowingly aid or
assist in any manner those thus offending, shall not be allowed to
hold any office of profit, or to enjoy the right of suffrage under
this Constitution.

SEC. 3. Members of the Legislature, and all officers, executive, and
judicial, except such inferior officers as may be by law exempted,
shall, before they enter on the duties of their respective offices,
take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that I will
support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of
the State of California: and that I will faithfully discharge the
duties of the office of ----, according to the best of my ability."
And no other oath, declaration, or test, shall be required as a
qualification for any office or public trust.

SEC. 4. The Legislature shall establish a system of county and town
governments, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable,
throughout the State.

SEC. 5. The Legislature shall have power to provide for the election
of a board of supervisors in each county; and these supervisors shall,
jointly and individually, perform such duties as may be prescribed by

SEC. 6. All officers whose election or appointment is not provided for
by this constitution, and all officers whose offices may hereafter be
created by law, shall be elected by the people, or appointed as the
Legislature may direct.

SEC. 7. When the duration of any office is not provided for by this
constitution, it may be declared by law; and if not so declared, such
office shall be held during the pleasure of the authority making the
appointment; nor shall the duration of any office, not fixed by this
constitution, ever exceed four years.

SEC. 8. The fiscal year shall commence on the first day of July.

SEC. 9. Each county, town, city, and incorporated village, shall make
provision for the support of its own officers, subject to such
restrictions and regulations as the Legislature may prescribe.

SEC. 10. The credit of the State shall not in any manner be given or
loaned to, or in aid of, any individual, association, or corporation;
nor shall the State, directly or indirectly, become a stockholder in
any association or corporation.

SEC. 11. Suits may be brought against the State, in such manner, and
in such courts, as shall be directed by law.

SEC. 12. No contract of marriage, if otherwise duly made, shall be
invalidated, for want of conformity to the requirements of any
religious sect.

SEC. 13. Taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the State. All
property, in this State, shall be taxed in proportion to its value, to
be ascertained as directed by law; but assessors and collectors of
town, county, and State taxes, shall be elected by the qualified
electors of the district, county, or town, in which the property taxed
for State, county, or town purposes is situated.

SEC. 14. All property, both real and personal, of the wife, owned or
claimed by her before marriage, and that acquired afterwards by gift,
devise, or descent, shall be her separate property; and laws shall be
passed more clearly defining the rights of the wife, in relation as
well to her separate property, as to that held in common with her
husband. Laws shall also be passed providing for the restoration of
the wife's separate property.

SEC. 15. The Legislature shall protect by law, from forced sale, a
certain portion of the homestead and other property of all heads of

SEC. 16. No perpetuities shall be allowed, except for eleemosynary

SEC. 17. Every person shall be disqualified from holding any office of
profit in this State, who shall have been convicted of having given or
offered a bribe, to procure his election or appointment.

SEC. 18. Laws shall be made to exclude from office, serving on juries,
and from the right of suffrage, those who shall hereafter be convicted
of bribery, perjury, forgery, or other high crimes. The privilege of
free suffrage shall be supported by laws regulating elections, and
prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence thereon,
from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper practice.

SEC. 19. Absence from this State on business of the State, or of the
United States, shall not affect the question or residence of any

SEC. 20. A plurality of the votes given at any election shall
constitute a choice, where not otherwise directed in this

SEC. 21. All laws, decrees, regulations and provisions, which from
their nature require publication, shall be published in English and



The boundary of the State of California shall be as follows:--

Commencing at the point of intersection of the 42d degree of north
latitude with the 120th degree of longitude west from Greenwich, and
running south on the line of said 120th degree of west longitude until
it intersects the 39th degree of north latitude; thence running in a
straight line in a south-easterly direction to the River Colorado, at
a point where it intersects the 35th degree of north latitude; thence
down the middle of the channel of said river, to the boundary line
between the United States and Mexico, as established by the treaty of
May 30th, 1848; thence running west and along said boundary line to
the Pacific Ocean, and extending therein three English miles; thence
running in a north-westerly direction, and following the direction of
the Pacific coast to the 42d degree of north latitude; thence on the
line of said 42d degree of north latitude to the place of beginning.
Also all the islands, harbors and bays, along and adjacent to the
Pacific coast.


SEC. 1. All rights, prosecutions, claims and contracts, as well of
individuals as of bodies corporate, and all laws in force at the time
of the adoption of this Constitution, and not inconsistent therewith,
until altered or repealed by the Legislature, shall continue as if the
same had not been adopted.

SEC. 2. The Legislature shall provide for the removal of all causes
which may be pending when this Constitution goes into effect, to
courts created by the same.

SEC. 3. In order that no inconvenience may result to the public
service, from the taking effect of this Constitution, no office shall
be superseded thereby, nor the laws relative to the duties of the
several officers be changed, until the entering into office of the new
officers to be appointed under this Constitution.

SEC. 4. The provisions of this Constitution concerning the term of
residence necessary to enable persons to hold certain offices therein
mentioned, shall not be held to apply to officers chosen by the people
at the first election, or by the Legislature at its first session.

SEC. 5. Every citizen of California, declared a legal voter by this
Constitution, and every citizen of the United States, a resident of
this State on the day of election, shall be entitled to vote at the
first general election under this Constitution, and on the question of
the adoption thereof.

SEC. 6. This Constitution shall be submitted to the people, for their
ratification or rejection, at the general election to be held on
Tuesday, the thirteenth day of November next. The Executive of the
existing government of California is hereby requested to issue a
proclamation to the people, directing the Prefects of the several
districts, or in case of vacancy, the Sub-Prefects, or senior Judge of
First Instance, to cause such election to be held, on the day
aforesaid, in their respective districts. The election shall be
conducted in the manner which was prescribed for the election of
delegates to this convention, except that the Prefect, Sub-Prefect, or
senior Judge of First Instance ordering such election in each
district, shall have power to designate any additional number of
places for opening the polls, and that, in every place of holding the
election, a regular poll-list shall be kept by the judges and
inspectors of election. It shall also be the duty of these judges and
inspectors of election, on the day aforesaid, to receive the votes of
the electors qualified to vote at such election. Each voter shall
express his opinion, by depositing in the ballot-box a ticket, whereon
shall be written, or printed "For the Constitution," or "Against the
Constitution," or some such words as will distinctly convey the
intention of the voter. These Judges and Inspectors shall also receive
the votes for the several officers to be voted for at the said
election, as herein provided. At the close of the election, the judges
and inspectors shall carefully count each ballot, and forthwith make
duplicate returns thereof to the Prefect, Sub-Prefect, or senior Judge
of First Instance, as the case may be, of their respective districts;
and said Prefect, Sub-Prefect, or senior Judge of First Instance shall
transmit one of the same, by the most safe and rapid conveyance, to
the Secretary of State. Upon the receipt of said returns, or on the
tenth day of December next, if the returns be not sooner received, it
shall be the duty of a board of canvassers, to consist of the
Secretary of State, one of the Judges of the Superior Court, the
Prefect, Judge of First Instance, and an Alcalde of the District of
Monterey, or any three of the aforementioned officers, in the presence
of all who shall choose to attend, to compare the votes given at said
election, and to immediately publish an abstract of the same in one or
more of the newspapers of California. And the Executive will also,
immediately after ascertaining that the Constitution has been ratified
by the people, make proclamation of the fact; and thenceforth this
Constitution shall be ordained and established as the Constitution of

SEC. 7. If this Constitution shall be ratified by the people of
California, the Executive of the existing government is hereby
requested, immediately after the same shall be ascertained, in the
manner herein directed, to cause a fair copy thereof to be forwarded
to the President of the United States, in order that he may lay it
before the Congress of the United States.

SEC. 8. At the general election aforesaid, viz: the thirteenth day of
November next, there shall be elected a Governor, Lieutenant-Governor,
members of the Legislature, and also two members of Congress.

SEC. 9. If this constitution shall be ratified by the people of
California, the Legislature shall assemble at the seat of government,
on the fifteenth day of December next, and in order to complete the
organization of that body, the Senate shall elect a President _pro
tempore_, until the Lieutenant-Governor shall be installed into

SEC. 10. On the organization of the Legislature, it shall be the duty
of the Secretary of State, to lay before each house a copy of the
abstract made by the board of canvassers, and, if called for, the
original returns of election, in order that each house may judge of
the correctness of the report of said board of canvassers.

SEC. 11. The Legislature, at its first session, shall elect such
officers as may be ordered by this Constitution, to be elected by that
body, and within four days after its organization, proceed to elect
two Senators to the Congress of the United States. But no law passed
by this Legislature shall take effect until signed by the Governor,
after his installation into office.

SEC. 12. The Senators and Representatives to the Congress of the
United States, elected by the Legislature and people of California, as
herein directed, shall be furnished with certified copies of this
Constitution, when ratified, which they shall lay before the Congress
of the United States, requesting, in the name of the people of
California, the admission of the State of California into the American

SEC. 13. All officers of this State, other than members of the
Legislature, shall be installed into office on the fifteenth day of
December next, or as soon thereafter as practicable.

SEC. 14. Until the Legislature shall divide the State into counties,
and senatorial and assembly districts, as directed by this
Constitution, the following shall be the apportionment of the two
houses of the Legislature, viz: the districts of San Diego and Los
Angeles shall jointly elect two senators; the districts of Santa
Barbara and San Luis Obispo shall jointly elect one senator; the
district of Monterey, one senator; the district of San Jose, one
senator; the district of San Francisco, two senators; the district of
Sonoma, one senator; the district of Sacramento, four senators; and
the district of San Joaquin, four senators:--And the district of San
Diego shall elect one member of assembly; the district of Los Angeles,
two members of assembly; the district of Santa Barbara, two members of
assembly; the district of San Luis Obispo, one member of assembly; the
district of Monterey, two members of assembly; the district of San
Jose, three members of assembly; the district of San Francisco, five
members of assembly; the district of Sonoma, two members of assembly;
the district of Sacramento, nine members of assembly; and the district
of San Joaquin, nine members of assembly.

SEC. 15. Until the Legislature shall otherwise direct, in accordance
with the provisions of this Constitution, the salary of the Governor
shall be ten thousand dollars per annum; and the salary of the
Lieutenant-Governor shall be double the pay of a state senator; and
the pay of members of the Legislature shall be sixteen dollars per
diem, while in attendance, and sixteen dollars for every twenty miles
travel by the usual route from their residences, to the place of
holding the session of the Legislature, and in returning therefrom.
And the Legislature shall fix the salaries of all officers, other than
those elected by the people, at the first election.

SEC. 16. The limitation of the powers of the Legislature, contained in
article 8th of this Constitution, shall not extend to the first
Legislature elected under the same, which is hereby authorized to
negotiate for such amount as may be necessary to pay the expenses of
the State government.

     R. SEMPLE,
     President of the Convention
     and Delegate from Benecia.

     WM. G. MARCY, Secretary.

     J. Aram,
     C. T. Botts,
     E. Brown,
     J. A. Carillo,
     J. M. Covarrubias,
     E. O. Crosby,
     P. De La Guerra,
     L. Dent,
     M. Dominguez,
     K. H. Dimmick,
     A. J. Ellis,
     S. C. Foster,
     E. Gilbert,
     W. M. Gwinn,
     H. W. Halleck,
     Julian Hanks,
     L. W. Hastings,
     Henry Hill,
     J. Hobson,
     J. McH. Hollingsworth,
     J. D. Hoppe,
     J. M. Jones,
     T. O. Larkin,
     Francis J. Lippitt,
     B. S. Lippincott,
     M. M. McCarver,
     John McDougal,
     B. F. Moore,
     Myron Norton,
     P. Ord,
     Miguel Pedrorena,
     A. M. Pico,
     R. M. Price,
     Hugo Reed,
     Jacinto Rodriguez,
     Pedro Sansevaine,
     W. E. Shannon,
     W. S. Sherwood,
     J. R. Snyder,
     A. Stearns,
     W. M. Steuart,
     J. A. Sutter,
     Henry A. Tefft,
     S. L. Vermule,
     M. G. Vallejo,
     J. Walker,
     O. M. Wozencraft.



The undersigned, delegates to a convention authorized to form a
Constitution for the State of California, having, to the best of their
ability, discharged the high trust committed to them, respectfully
submit the accompanying plan of government for your approval.
Acknowledging the great fundamental principles, that all political
power is inherent in the people, and that government is instituted for
the protection, security and benefit of the people, the Constitution
presented for your consideration is intended only to give such organic
powers to the several departments of the proposed government, as shall
be necessary for its efficient administration: and while it is
believed no power has been given, which is not thus essentially
necessary, the convention deem individual rights, as well as public
liberty, are amply secured, by the people still retaining not only the
great conservative power of free choice and election of all officers,
agents, and representatives, but the unalienable right to alter or
reform their government, whenever the public good may require.

Although born in different climes, coming from different States,
imbued with local feelings, and educated, perhaps, with predilections
for peculiar institutions, laws, and customs, the delegates assembled
in convention as Californians, and carried on their deliberations in a
spirit of amity, compromise, and mutual concession for the public

It cannot be denied that a difference of opinion was entertained in
the convention, as to the policy and expediency of several measures
embodied in the Constitution; but looking to the great interests of
the State of California, the peace, happiness, and prosperity of the
whole people,--individual opinions were freely surrendered to the will
of the majority, and, with one voice, we respectfully but earnestly
recommend to our fellow citizens the adoption of the Constitution
which we have the honor to submit.

In establishing a boundary for the State, the convention conformed, as
near as was deemed practicable and expedient, to great natural
landmarks, so as to bring into a union all those who should be
included by mutual interest, mutual wants, and mutual dependence. No
portion of territory is included, the inhabitants of which were not or
might not have been legitimately represented in the convention, under
the authority by which it was convened; and in unanimously resolving
to exclude slavery from the State of California, the great principle
has been maintained, that to the people of each State and Territory,
alone, belongs the right to establish such municipal regulations, and
to decide such questions as affect their own peace, prosperity and

A free people, in the enjoyment of an elective government, capable of
securing their civil, religious, and political rights, may rest
assured these inestimable privileges can never be wrested from them,
so long as they keep a watchful eye on the operations of their
government, and hold to strict accountability those to whom power is
delegated. No people were ever yet enslaved, who knew and dared
maintain the co-relative rights and obligations of free and
independent citizens. A knowledge of the laws--their moral force and
efficacy, thus becomes an essential element of freedom and makes
public education of primary importance. In this view, the Constitution
of California provides for, and guarantees in the most ample manner,
the establishment of common schools, seminaries and colleges, so as to
extend the blessings of education throughout the land, and secure its
advantages to the present and future generations. Under the peculiar
circumstances in which California becomes a State--with an unexampled
increase of a population coming from every part of the world, speaking
various languages, and imbued with different feelings and prejudices,
no form of government, no system of laws, can be expected to meet with
immediate and unanimous assent. It is to be remembered, moreover, that
a considerable portion of our fellow-citizens are natives of Old
Spain, Californians, and those who have voluntarily relinquished the
rights of Mexicans to enjoy those of American citizens. Long
accustomed to a different form of government, regarding the rights of
person and of property as interwoven with ancient usages and
time-honored customs, they may not at once see the advantages of the
proposed new government, or yield an immediate approval of new laws,
however salutary their provisions, or conducive to the general
welfare. But it is confidently believed, when the government as now
proposed shall have gone into successful operation, when each
department thereof shall move on harmoniously in its appropriate and
respective sphere, when laws, based on the eternal principles of
equity and justice, shall be established, when every citizen of
California, shall find himself secure in life, liberty, and
property--all will unite in the cordial support of institutions, which
are not only the pride and boast of every true-hearted citizen of the
Union, but have gone forth, a guiding light to every people groping
through the gloom of religious superstition or political
fanaticism--institutions, which even now, while all Europe is agitated
with the convulsive efforts of nations battling for liberty, have
become the mark and model of government for every people who would
hold themselves free, sovereign, and independent.

With this brief exposition of the views and opinions of the
convention, the undersigned submit the Constitution and plan of
government for your approval. They earnestly recommend it to your calm
and deliberate consideration, and especially do they most respectfully
urge on every voter to attend the polls.

The putting into operation of a government which shall establish
justice, insure domestic tranquillity, promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of civil, religious, and political liberty,
should be an object of the deepest solicitude to every true-hearted
citizen, and the consummation of his dearest wishes. The price of
liberty is eternal vigilance, and thus it is not only the privilege
but the duty of every voter to vote his sentiments. No freeman of this
land who values his birthright, and would transmit unimpaired to his
children an inheritance so rich in glory and honor, will refuse to
give one day to the service of his country. Let every qualified voter
go early to the polls, and give his free vote at the election
appointed to be held on Tuesday, the 13th day of November next, not
only that a full and fair expression of the public voice may be had,
for or against a constitution intended to secure the peace, happiness
and prosperity of the whole people, but that their numerical and
political strength may be made manifest, and the world see by what
majority of freemen California, the bright star of the West, claims a
place in the diadem of that glorious republic, formed by the Union of
thirty-one sovereign States.


     Joseph Aram,
     Chas. T. Botts,
     Elam Brown,
     Jose Anto. Carillo,
     Jose M. Covarrubias,
     Elisha O. Crosby,
     Lewis Dent,
     Manuel Dominguez,
     K. H. Dimmick,
     A. J. Ellis,
     Stephen G. Foster,
     Pablo De La Guerra,
     Benj. S. Lippincott,
     M. M. McCarver,
     John McDougal,
     Benj. F. Moore,
     Myron Norton,
     P. Ord,
     Miguel De Pedrorena,
     Rodman M. Price,
     Antonio M. Pico,
     Jacinto Rodrigues,
     Hugh Reed,
     John A. Sutter,
     Edw. Gilbert,
     Wm. M. Gwin,
     Julian Hanks,
     Henry Hill,
     J. D. Hoppe,
     Joseph Hobson,
     H. W. Halleck,
     L. W. Hastings,
     J. McH. Hollingsworth,
     Jas. McHall Jones,
     Thomas O. Larkin,
     Francis J. Lippitt,
     Jacob R. Snyder,
     W. Scott Sherwood,
     Wm. C. Shannon,
     Pedro Sansevain,
     Abel Stearns,
     W. M. Steuart,
     R. Semple,
     Henry A. Tefft,
     M. G. Vallejo,
     Thos. L. Vermule,
     Joel P. Walker,
     O. M. Wozencraft.




     _Transmitting information in answer to a resolution of the
     House of the 31st of December, 1849, on the subject of
     California and New Mexico._

the House of Representatives, in answer to a resolution of that body
passed on the 31st of December last, the accompanying reports of heads
of departments, which contain all the official information in the
possession of the Executive asked for by the resolution.

On coming into office, I found the military commandant of the
department of California exercising the functions of civil governor in
that Territory; and left, as I was, to act under the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, without the aid of any legislative provision
establishing a government in that Territory, I thought it not best to
disturb that arrangement, made under my predecessor, until Congress
should take some action on that subject. I therefore did not interfere
with the powers of the military commandant, who continued to exercise
the functions of civil governor as before; but I made no such
appointment, conferred no such authority, and have allowed no
increased compensation to the commandant for his services.

With a view to the faithful execution of the treaty, so far as lay in
the power of the Executive, and to enable Congress to act, at the
present session, with as full knowledge and as little difficulty as
possible, on all matters of interest in these Territories, I sent the
honorable Thomas Butler King as bearer of despatches to California,
and certain officers to California and New Mexico, whose duties are
particularly defined in the accompanying letters of instruction
addressed to them severally by the proper departments.

I did not hesitate to express to the people of those Territories my
desire that each Territory should, if prepared to comply with the
requisitions of the Constitution of the United States, form a plan of
a State Constitution and submit the same to Congress, with a prayer
for admission into the Union as a State; but I did not anticipate,
suggest, or authorize the establishment of any such government without
the assent of Congress; nor did I authorize any government agent or
officer to interfere with or exercise any influence or control over
the election of delegates, or over any convention, in making or
modifying their domestic institutions, or any of the provisions of
their proposed Constitution. On the contrary, the instructions given
by my orders were, that all measures of domestic policy adopted by the
people of California must originate solely with themselves; that while
the Executive of the United States was desirous to protect them in the
formation of any government republican in its character, to be at the
proper time, submitted to Congress, yet it was to be distinctly
understood that the plan of such a government must, at the same time,
be the result of their own deliberate choice, and originate with
themselves, without the interference of the Executive.

I am unable to give any information as to laws passed by any supposed
government in California, or of any census taken in either of the
Territories mentioned in the resolution, as I have no information on
those subjects.

As already stated, I have not disturbed the arrangements which I found
had existed under my predecessor.

In advising an early application by the people of these Territories
for admission as States, I was actuated principally by an earnest
desire to afford to the wisdom and patriotism of Congress the
opportunity of avoiding occasions of bitter and angry dissensions
among the people of the United States.

Under the Constitution, every State has the right of establishing,
and, from time to time, altering its municipal laws and domestic
institutions, independently of every other State and of the general
government; subject only to the prohibitions and guaranties expressly
set forth in the Constitution of the United States. The subjects thus
left exclusively to the respective States were not designed or
expected to become topics of national agitation. Still, as, under the
Constitution, Congress has power to make all needful rules and
regulations respecting the Territories of the United States, every new
acquisition of territory has led to discussions on the question
whether the system of involuntary servitude which prevails in many of
the States should or should not be prohibited in that Territory. The
periods of excitement from this cause which have heretofore occurred
have been safely passed; but during the interval, of whatever length,
which may elapse before the admission of the Territories ceded by
Mexico as States, it appears probable that similar excitement will
prevail to an undue extent.

Under these circumstances, I thought, and still think, that it was my
duty to endeavor to put it in the power of Congress, by the admission
of California and New Mexico as States, to remove all occasion for the
unnecessary agitation of the public mind.

It is understood that the people of the western part of California
have formed a plan of a State Constitution, and will soon submit the
same to the judgment of Congress, and apply for admission as a State.
This course on their part, though in accordance with, was not adopted
exclusively in consequence of, any expression of my wishes inasmuch as
measures tending to this end had been promoted by the officers sent
there by my predecessor, and were already in active progress of
execution before any communication from me reached California. If the
proposed Constitution shall, when submitted to Congress, be found to
be in compliance with the requisitions of the Constitution of the
United States, I earnestly recommend that it may receive the sanction
of Congress.

The part of California not included in the proposed State of that name
is believed to be uninhabited, except in a settlement of our
countrymen in the vicinity of Salt Lake.

A claim has been advanced by the State of Texas to a very large
portion of the most populous district of New Mexico. If the people of
New Mexico had formed a plan of a State government for that Territory
as ceded by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and had been admitted by
Congress as a State, our Constitution would have afforded the means of
obtaining an adjustment of the question of boundary with Texas by a
judicial decision. At present, however, no judicial tribunal has the
power of deciding that question, and it remains for Congress to
devise some mode for its adjustment. Meanwhile, I submit to Congress
the question whether it would be expedient, before such adjustment, to
establish a territorial government, which, by including the district
so claimed, would practically decide the question adversely to the
State of Texas or, by excluding it, would decide it in her favor. In
my opinion, such a course would not be expedient, especially as the
people of this Territory still enjoy the benefit and protection of
their municipal laws, originally derived from Mexico, and have a
military force stationed there to protect them against the Indians. It
is undoubtedly true that the property, lives, liberties, and religion
of the people of New Mexico are better protected than they ever were
before the treaty of cession.

Should Congress, when California shall present herself for
incorporation into the Union, annex a condition to her admission as a
State affecting her domestic institutions, contrary to the wishes of
her people, and even compel her temporarily, to comply with it, yet
the State, could change her Constitution at any time after admission,
when to her it should seem expedient. Any attempt to deny to the
people of the State the right of self-government, in a matter which
peculiarly affects themselves, will infallibly be regarded by them as
an invasion of their rights; and, upon the principles laid down in our
own Declaration of Independence, they will certainly be sustained by
the great mass of the American people. To assert that they are a
conquered people, and must, as a State, submit to the will of their
conquerors in this regard, will meet with no cordial response among
American freemen. Great numbers of them are native citizens of the
United States not inferior to the rest of our countrymen in
intelligence and patriotism; and no language of menace, to restrain
them in the exercise of an undoubted right, guarantied to them by the
treaty of cession itself, shall ever be uttered by me, or encouraged
and sustained by persons acting under my authority. It is to be
expected that, in the residue of the Territory ceded to us by Mexico,
the people residing there will, at the time of their incorporation
into the Union as a State, settle all questions of domestic policy to
suit themselves. No material inconvenience will result from the want,
for a short period, of a government established by Congress over that
part of the Territory which lies eastward of the new State of
California; and the reasons for my opinion that New Mexico will, at no
very distant period, ask for admission into the Union, are founded on
un-official information, which, I suppose, is common to all who have
cared to make inquiries on that subject.

Seeing, then, that the question which now excites such painful
sensations in the country will, in the end, certainly be settled by
the silent effect of causes independent of the action of Congress, I
again submit to your wisdom the policy recommended in my annual
message, of awaiting the salutary operation of those causes, believing
that we shall thus avoid the creation of geographical parties, and
secure the harmony of feeling so necessary to the beneficial action of
our political system. Connected as the Union is with the remembrance
of past happiness, the sense of present blessings, and the hope of
future peace and prosperity, every dictate of wisdom, every feeling of
duty, and every emotion of patriotism, tend to inspire fidelity and
devotion to it, and admonish us cautiously to avoid any unnecessary
controversy which can either endanger it or impair its strength, the
chief element of which is to be found in the regard and affection of
the people for each other.

     Z. TAYLOR.
     WASHINGTON CITY, D.C., January 21st, 1850.


     _Monterey, August 30, 1849_.

GENERAL:--I have the honor to transmit, herewith, copies of civil
papers and letters issued by me since my despatch of June 30, and to
continue my report on the civil affairs of this country from this

Accompanied by Captain Halleck, Secretary of State for California, and
Major Canby, Captain Wescott, and Lieutenant Derby, of my military
staff, I left this place on the 5th July for the purpose of inspecting
the military posts in the interior, and of learning from personal
observation the actual state of affairs in the mineral regions, and
also of allaying, so far as I could, the hostile feeling which was
said to exist between the Americans and foreigners who were working in
the gold placers. My report on the state of the troops and a more
detailed account of my tour will be forwarded with my military papers.

Passing the mission of San Juan Bautista, we crossed the coast range
of mountains near the ranche of Senor Pacheco, and struck the San
Joaquin River near the mouth of the Merced; and, after visiting Major
Miller's camp on the Stanislaus, we proceeded to examine the principal
placers on the tributaries of that river and of the Tuolumne. These
washings or diggings have been among the richest and most productive
in California.

They are situated within a circuit of some twelve or fifteen miles,
and are known as Jamestown, Wood's Creek, Sonoranian Camp, Sullivan's
Creek, Curtis's Creek, French Creek, Carson's Creek, and Angelo Creek.
Some of these have become places of considerable business,
particularly the Sonoranian Camp, which presents the appearance of a
city of canvas houses.

Passing the Stanislaus River in the mountains, we proceeded to Major
Kingsbury's camp near the mouth of the American River, crossing in our
route the Calaveras, Moquelume, Seco, and Cosumnes Rivers; all of
which have rich washings near their sources, and on their bars and
islands. From Major Kingsbury's camp we ascended the American River to
Cullamo Hills, where the first placer was discovered by Captain
Sutter's employees in the spring of 1848. From Cullamo we crossed the
country to Stockton, a new town on an estero some distance above the
mouth of the San Joaquin, and thence proceeded to Colonel Cazey's camp
at the straits of Carquinnes; returning via San Francisco to Monterey,
which place we reached on the afternoon of the 9th instant.

We found the country at this season dry and parched by the sun, the
heat of which became very great the moment we crossed the coast range
of mountains. The thermometer ranges as high as 113° Fah. in the
shade, and above 140° Fah. in the sun. A great portion of the valley
of the Joaquin is so barren as scarcely to afford subsistence for our
animals, and can never be of much value for agricultural purposes.
There, however, is, some excellent land on the east side of that
river, bordering its large tributaries. A considerable portion of the
valleys of the Moquelume, Seco, Cosumnes, and American Rivers is also
well adapted to agriculture; and the broad plains lying between them
furnish abundant pasture for raising stock. But the amount of good
arable land, as compared with the extent of country which we passed
over, is small, and I am inclined to believe that the richness and
extreme fertility of certain localities have led to erroneous
conclusions respecting the general character of the country. Certain
it is, that while there may be found sufficient arable lands to
support, if well cultivated, a numerous population, here is also a
very great extent of rough and mountainous country and sandy and
barren plains which are of little value. The great difficulty to be
encountered in agricultural pursuits in some portions of California is
the want of water for irrigation; but possibly this difficulty may be
overcome in part by resorting to artesian wells. If so, much of the
public land which is now unsaleable may be brought into market, and
the settlement of the country greatly accelerated. I would, therefore,
suggest whether it may not be advisable for our government to direct
some experiments to be made at the public expense in sinking wells of
this character, for even if unsuccessful as a means of irrigation,
their construction will greatly assist in determining the geological
character of the country. At present nearly all agricultural labors
are suspended in the general scramble for gold; but the enormous
prices paid for fruit and vegetables in the towns will undoubtedly
induce many, during the coming year, to turn their attention to the
cultivation of the soil. The failure on the part of Congress, at its
last session, to authorize the sale of public lands in California, has
proved detrimental to the agricultural interest of the country.

A large number of those who have recently emigrated to California are
desirous to locate themselves permanently in the country, and to
cultivate the soil, but the uncertainty which exists with respect to
the validity of land titles in California, and to what actually
constitutes the public domain, serves as a serious check to the
forming of new agricultural settlements; moreover, speculators are
purchasing up fraudulent and invalid titles to large tracts of the
public domain, and selling them off in parcels, and at enormous
profits, to those who have recently arrived in the country, and who
are necessarily ignorant of the real state of the case. All the
mission lands in California were secularized, or made government
property, by a law of Mexico, dated August 17th, 1833, and the
territorial government of California, under the authority of the
Mexican laws, leased and sold a portion of these lands and mission
property. Another portion of this property, however, still remained
unsold when the Americans took possession of the country, and it has
since been left in the hands of government agents for preservation.
Erroneously supposing that these lands are subject to pre-emption
laws, some of the recent emigrants have attempted to settle upon them.

But I cannot deem myself justifiable in permitting this, for I do not
conceive that lands which have been under cultivation for half a
century, and now belong to government, can be subject to the
pre-emption claims of private individuals, in the same manner as the
uncultivated lands of the public domain. It is, however, important for
the interest of the country that these mission lands be brought into
market with the least possible delay, and also that provision be made
by law for the settlement and sale of other public lands in
California. And as disputes are almost daily occurring between
individuals respecting the extent of their several claims, and the
validity of their titles, I would urge upon our government the
necessity of immediately taking measures for the speedy and final
settlement of these titles upon principles of equity and justice. This
is absolutely essential for the peace and prosperity of the country.

For information connected with this subject, I beg leave to call
attention, to the report of Captain Halleck, Secretary of State for
California, which was forwarded to Washington by my predecessor, in
the early part of April last.

Before leaving Monterey I heard numerous rumors of irregularities and
crimes among those working in the _placers_; but, on visiting the
mining regions, I was agreeably surprised to learn that every thing
was quite the reverse from what had been represented, and that order
and regularity were preserved throughout almost the entire extent of
the mineral districts. In each little settlement, or tented town, the
miners have elected their local alcaldes and constables, whose
judicial decisions and official acts are sustained by the people, and
enforced with much regularity and energy. It is true, that in a few
instances certain local questions have produced temporary excitements
and difficulties, but none of these have been of a very important
character, or led to serious results. Alcaldes have probably in some
cases, and under peculiar circumstances, exercised judicial powers
which were never conferred upon them by law; but the general result
has been favorable to the preservation of order and the dispensation
of justice.

The old _placers_ are still exceedingly productive, and new ones are
almost daily discovered in the smaller streams running from the
western slope of the Sierra Nevada into the great valleys of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

I am satisfied, however, from personal observation, that very
exaggerated accounts have been sent to the United States respecting
the ease with which the precious metal is extracted from the earth,
and that many who come to this country with the expectation of
acquiring sudden wealth, with little or no labor, will be sadly
disappointed. It is true that the reward of labor in the mines is very
high; but it should not be forgotten that gold _digging_ and gold
washing in that climate require strong constitutions and great
physical exertions, and very few need expect to acquire fortunes by
working the _placers_, without severe labor and fixed habits of
industry and temperance. The yield of different localities is, of
course, very different, some of the _placers_ being exceedingly rich,
while the product of others is scarcely sufficient to pay the expenses
of working. But I think the general averages per diem, for those
actually employed in washing for gold, will not vary much from an
ounce or an ounce and a half per man; some make much more than that
sum, while those who are less fortunate fall much short of it. The
actual number of persons working the _placers_ will not vary much from
ten thousand. The entire population now in the mining district is much
greater than that number; but many are engaged in mercantile pursuits
and in transporting goods and provisions, while others employ much of
their time in "prospecting," or looking for newer and richer

I also found that the reports which had reached me of hostilities
between Americans and foreigners, in the mining districts, were
greatly exaggerated, and that, with a few individual exceptions, every
thing had remained quiet and orderly. In some of the northern
_placers_ a party of Americans and Europeans, urged on by political
aspirants, who seem willing to endanger the peace and tranquillity of
the country, in order to promote their own personal interest, have
assumed the authority to order all Mexicans and South Americans from
that part of the territory. Their orders were quietly submitted to by
the foreigners, a portion of whom removed to the mines further south,
where the American population manifested a very decided disposition to
afford them protection should they be further molested. The more
intelligent and thinking portion of Americans regard this measure as
illegal and injudicious, and will discountenance any repetition of
movements so well calculated to disturb the public tranquillity, and
to create bitter and exasperated feelings, where it is evidently our
policy to cultivate those of the most friendly character. Some of the
English, Irish, and German emigrants, in the northern _placers_,
assisted in this movement against the Mexicans, Peruvians, and
Chilians, and probably exerted themselves much more than any of our
own citizens to create a prejudice and excitement against the Spanish
race. They were probably actuated by pecuniary interest. The great
influx of people from the southern portion of this continent was
diminishing the price of labor in the towns near the northern rivers,
and the large number of pack animals brought from Lower California
and Sonora was producing a corresponding reduction in the expenses of

For example, the price of a pack mule in some parts of the mining
districts a few months ago was about $500, whereas they can now be
purchased for less than $150. The cost of transportation from the
principal landing on the San Joaquin River to the Sonoranian camp was
$75 per hundred, whereas at the present time it is only about $7.

This has reduced the prices of provisions in the _placers_ one and two
hundred per cent. Some of the merchants who had large stocks of goods
in the mines, and those who were engaged in transportation at the
prices formerly paid, have suffered by the change, and it is natural
that they should feel incensed against that class of foreigners who
have contributed most to effect it.

But it is thought by others that the great majority of the laborers
and consumers in the mining districts have been benefited by this
change, and that it would be injurious to the prosperity of the
country to restore things to their former state by the expulsion and
prohibition of foreigners from the mines.

Americans, by their superior intelligence and shrewdness in business,
generally contrive to turn to their own benefit the earnings of the
Mexicans, Chilians, and Peruvians in this country, and any measure of
exclusiveness which is calculated to diminish the productive labor of
California would be of exceedingly doubtful policy.

When applied to by the different parties for my opinion on the
question of expelling foreigners, I have uniformly told them that no
persons, native Americans or foreigners, have any legal right to dig
gold in the public lands; but that, until the government of the
United States should act in the matter, they would not be molested in
their pursuits; that I could not countenance any class of men in their
attempts to monopolize the working of the mines, and that all
questions touching the temporary right of individuals to work in
particular localities, of which they were in actual possession, should
be left to the decision of the local judicial authorities.

I cannot close my remarks on this subject without again calling the
attention of government to the importance of establishing a mint in
California at the earliest moment.

This measure is called for by every consideration of natural policy
and of justice to the mercantile mining population of California.

General Kearny, during his administration of affairs in this country,
appointed, by virtue of his authority as governor of California, two
sub-Indian agents, who have ever since been continued in office, and
their services found of great utility in preserving harmony among the
wild tribes, and in regulating their intercourse with the whites.

They have been paid from the "civil fund" very moderate salaries,
which will be continued until arrivals of agents regularly appointed
by the general government. Notwithstanding every effort on the part of
those agents and of the officers of the army here, it has not been
possible at all times to prevent aggression on the part of the whites,
or to restrain the Indians from avenging these injuries in their own

In the month of April last, the agent in the Sacramento valley
reported that a body of Oregonians and mountaineers had committed
most horrible barbarities on the defenceless Indians in that vicinity.

Those cruel and inhuman proceedings, added, perhaps, to the execution
of a number of chiefs some year and a half since by a military force
sent into the San Joaquin valley by my predecessor, (the facts of
which were reported to Washington at the time,) have necessarily
produced a hostile feeling on the part of the natives, and several
small parties of whites, who, in their pursuit of gold, ventured too
far into the Indian country, have been killed.

My correspondence with the Indian agents and military officers
established in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys will inform you
of the measures taken to prevent a repetition of these difficulties.

I would respectfully recommend that at least three sub-Indian agents
be appointed for this country, and stationed in the valleys of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin.

These agents should receive ample pay in order to enable them to
defray the expenses of living in that part of the country, and should
be men of the highest moral character; for otherwise they would not
resist the temptation to engage in illicit trade with the natives, or
to employ them for the individual benefit of the agents in washing for

The election called by me for the 1st instant was held on that day,
and has been attended with the most happy results.

Every district has elected its local officers, and appointed delegates
to meet in general convention at this place on the 1st proximo, to
form a State Constitution or plan of territorial government, which
will be submitted to the people for their ratification, and
transmitted to Washington for the action of Congress.

Most of the local and judicial officers named in my proclamation of
the 3d of June, have already entered upon their duties, and the
interest which was taken by the people in every part of the country in
this election, and the zeal manifested by those elected and appointed
to office, afford strong hopes that the existing government will be
able to preserve order and secure the administration of justice until
a new one shall be put into regular and successful operation.

In my former despatch I mentioned that the civil officers of the
existing government would be paid their regular salaries from the
"civil funds," which had been formed, under the direction of the
governor of California, mainly out of the proceeds of the temporary
custom-houses established by my predecessors on this coast.

It will also be necessary to use a portion of this fund in the
immediate construction of jails for the security of civil prisoners.

The want of such jails has already led to the most serious
inconveniencies; prisoners have so frequently effected their escape,
that, on several occasions, the people have risen in masses and
executed criminals immediately after trial, and without waiting for
the due fulfilment of all the requisitions of the laws.

In many cases it has been found necessary to confine civil prisoners
on board vessels of war, and in the guard-houses of the garrison; but
in towns, at a distance from the coast and the military posts, the
difficulty of retaining prisoners in custody has led, in some
instances, to immediate and summary executions.

This evil calls for an immediate remedy, which will be afforded, so
far as the means at my disposal will admit.

I beg leave, in this place, to add a few remarks on the use which has
been, and will continue to be, made of this "civil fund."

In the instructions from Washington to General Kearny, in 1846, for
his guidance in California, the establishment of port regulations on
this coast was assigned to the commander of the _Pacific squadron_,
while it was said "the appointment of temporary collectors at the
several ports appertains to the civil governor of the province."

It was also directed that the duties at the custom-houses be used for
the support of the necessary officers of the civil government. This
division of duties, and this disposition of the proceeds of the
customs were continued during the whole war.

On the receipt of the Treasury Department regulations respecting the
collection of military contributions in Mexico, officers of the army
and navy were made collectors at some of the ports, but at others the
civil collectors appointed by the Governor of California were

At the close of the war, Governor Mason, for reasons already
communicated, determined to continue the collection of revenue in the
country, on the authority which had previously been given to him,
until Congress should act in the matter, or orders to the contrary be
received from Washington. He, therefore, as governor of California,
again appointed civil collectors in the ports where military officers
had temporarily performed those duties, and collected the customs on
all foreign goods, in accordance with the provisions of the tariff of
1846, while the commander of the Pacific squadron continued the
direction of all matters relating to port regulations. A double
necessity impelled the governor to this course. The country was in
pressing need of these foreign goods, and Congress had established no
port of entry on this coast. The want of a more complete organization
of the existing civil government was daily increasing, and, as
Congress had made no provisions for supporting a government in this
country, it was absolutely necessary to create a fund for that purpose
from the duties collected on these foreign goods. It is true that
there were no laws authorizing the collection of these duties; but at
the same time the laws forbade the landing of the goods till the
duties _were_ paid. Governor Mason, therefore, had no alternative but
to pursue the course which he adopted. He immediately communicated to
Washington his action in the case; and as the receipt of his despatch
was acknowledged without any dissent being expressed, it must be
presumed that his course met the approbation of the government. When I
assumed command in this country as civil governor, I was directed to
receive these communications and instructions from Governor Mason, for
my guidance in the administration of the civil affairs of this
Territory. I have accordingly continued the collection of the revenue,
and added the proceeds to the "civil fund," using that fund for the
necessary expenses of the civil government. The expenses of employing
civil officers in this country are very great; and as I have no
authority to lay taxes, this fund forms my only means of carrying on
the government. The necessity of employing these officers, and of
paying them the full salaries authorized by law under the existing
state of affairs, is too obvious to require comment. I have pledged
myself to pay these salaries from the "civil fund," unless forbidden
to do so by direct orders from Washington; and that pledge will be
fulfilled. This "civil fund" was commenced in the early part of 1847,
and has been formed and used in the manner pointed out in the early
instructions to the governor of the Territory. This money has been
collected and disbursed by the "Governor of California" and by those
appointed by him in virtue of his office. He is, therefore, the person
responsible for this money, both to the government and to the parties
from whom it is collected, and it can be expended only on his orders.
None of the military departments of the army, nor any army officer
simply in virtue of his commission, can have any control, direct or
indirect, over it. It is true that some of this money has, from time
to time, as the wants of the service required, been transferred to the
different military departments; but this transfer was in the form of a
_loan_, and the money so transferred will be returned to the "civil
fund" as soon as arrangements can be made for that purpose. The
increased expenditures for the support of the existing government will
soon render the restoration absolutely necessary; especially as the
transfer of the custom-houses to the regular collectors appointed by
the general government, will now cut off all further means of
supplying the civil treasury. These collectors have not yet arrived,
but are daily expected.

     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
     _Brevet Brig. Gen. U.S. Army,
     and Governor of California_.

     Major-General R. JONES,
     _Adjutant-General of the Army, Washington, D.C._


The following official despatch of General Persifor F. Smith, contains
an opinion of the position of San Francisco totally different from
that of the numerous California tourists. It is a valuable opinion,
nevertheless, and led to the selection of the town of Benicia, on the
Straits of Karquinez, as a military and naval station.

     _San Francisco, April 5, 1849_.

GENERAL:--Since my last communication no troops have arrived to change
the strength of the force here; but the steam transport Edith arrived
on the 21st of March, and reports that the transports Iowa and
Massachusetts, the former having General Riley with a part of the 2d
infantry, and the latter having the command of artillery for Oregon on
board, left Valparaiso about the 8th of February. The former is
expected here every day, and the Edith is held in readiness to convey
the troops south to the position they are to occupy.

There will be great difficulty in establishing and maintaining a post
at the mouth of the Gila, until more knowledge is acquired of the
navigation of the head of the gulf of California and the lower part of
the Colorado. Transportation by land from San Diego is impossible for
large quantities of stores.

In the gulf, the winds blow in the winter almost invariably from the
northward; and in the summer, when they come occasionally from
southward, it is in violent gales, with severe squalls and thunder,
rendering it very dangerous to be in the gulf then. In other words, it
is always difficult to run up the gulf, but almost always easy to run
south. These circumstances render the employment of steam vessels very
advantageous. If the navigation of the gulf permits the Edith to be
used she will answer, having both sails and steam. If she draws too
much water, others of lighter draught could be procured. I mention
this now, as the boundary commission will commence their labors on
this end of the line, and will be on the Gila next season. I should
have observed that the Colorado is supposed to be navigable only for
boats drawing three or four feet.

I see no reason for posting troops on any other point out of reach of
the ports on the Pacific. The Indians in the interior do not make it
necessary, and it would be useless to place them near the mines to
maintain order there. Nothing but the establishment of a regular civil
government, to be carried on by those most interested in the existence
of good order, will answer that end.

Such detachments as go to the southern part of the Territory will
accordingly be placed, as heretofore mentioned, in healthy and
convenient positions, and those on this bay at such points as will
combine good climate, convenience of supply, and facility of movement.
I propose, when such a point is found, to have removed all the public
stores there, both from this place and Monterey, leaving the heavy
ordnance and stores.

The town of San Francisco is no way fitted for military or commercial
purposes; there is no harbor, a bad landing-place, bad water, no
supplies of provisions, an inclement climate, and it is cut off from
the rest of the country, except by a long circuit around the southern
extremity of the bay. In time of war, enemies' troops could be landed
for many miles south of the entrance of the bay on the sea beach, and
thus cut it off by a short line across the peninsula on which it
stands. There are points on the bay, more inland, having good harbors
and landings, good water, and open to the whole country in rear, and
accessible without difficulty to ships of the largest class. One of
these should be the point at which the future depots should be
established; and I propose to go to-morrow in the Edith, in company
with Commodore Jones and other officers of the army and navy, to
examine the straits of Karquinez, said to combine most advantages. I
hope to return and report the result of our examination before the
next mail boat leaves, (on Monday, 9th,) but at any rate by the
succeeding boat, a few days afterwards.

I hope that in fixing the port of entry, capital, or other public
places, the law will leave to the President the selection; otherwise,
private interests already involved in speculation here, will, by
misrepresentation, lead to a very bad choice.

If Congress has not provided by law for the government of this
Territory, or its admission as a State, I would be very glad that the
government would officially promulgate its views as to the civil
authority now exercised here. Some important questions of law,
involving both life and property, are now depending; and judges and
jurors, without experience in these difficult questions, are called
upon to act under great responsibility.

It appears to be the opinion of merchants in many of the ports of the
Pacific--and they allege in support of it the advice of some of our
consuls--that in virtue of the circular of the Secretary of the
Treasury of October 30, as the Treasury Department could not collect
duties on imports in California, their goods, though dutiable, could
be imported without paying duty. I have held that this was not the
construction proper to be given to the circular, but only that the law
had not provided the means of collecting duties here, that law being
still in force which prohibits certain goods being introduced into the
United States, unless they pay duties as prescribed; that consequently
no dutiable goods can be landed in California unless they shall have
paid their duties elsewhere--the effect of which would be, that they
could not be admitted at all from foreign ports.

Under the circumstances, which showed a very hard case, I thought it
proper that the parties should be allowed to deposit the amount of
duties and land the goods; but, lest this should be construed as
giving them a right for the future, and as the president may think
proper to put an end to this indulgence, I have addressed a circular
to all our consuls on these seas, warning them of this possibility--a
copy of which is inclosed.

I was directed, when coming here, by the Secretary of War, to do all I
could to facilitate the arrival of the civil officers of government in
Oregon, as the public service required their presence there. The
steamer in which we came here could go no farther north, and there was
no possible way of those gentlemen getting there, except on a small
vessel about sailing, on which there were no accommodations.

Commodore Jones kindly sent carpenters from the fleet to put up some
berths, and on General Adair's (the collector's) representation, that
no bedding could be procured, I directed the quartermaster to issue
him the necessary number of blankets for the voyage, and take his
receipt for them. I respectfully ask that this may be approved, and
the amount charged to General Adair. The quartermaster could not tell
him the price of the blankets when he took them.

As the rainy season has ended, people are again repairing to the
mines. New discoveries farther south are said to have been made; and
it is now pretty certain that the whole slope of the Sierra Nevada,
comprised within the head waters of the San Joaquin to the south and
those of the Sacramento to the north, contains gold. These two rivers,
forming, as it were, a bracket, join to enter the bay of San
Francisco; and their tributaries from the east, in their beds, expose
the deposits of gold as they descend from the mountains. It is on the
banks and branches of these streams that adventurers are now at work;
but some excavations elsewhere, to a depth equal to that worn by the
creeks, have disclosed quantities similar to those most generally
found. There appears to be a line parallel to the summit of the main
ridge, and some distance down the slope, at which the product of gold
is at its maximum; but whether this be from the quantity deposited, or
from the different position as relates to the surface, or from the
difficulty of working it, I have not the means of knowing.

The gold is found in small particles: the largest I have seen, but
such are rare, weighs seventy-one ounces troy. The appearance
invariably is as though it had been spurted up when melted through
crevices and fissures in drops, which have often the form of the
leaves and gravel on which they have fallen. I speak of this as an
appearance, not as a theory or hypothesis. The extent ascertained
within which gold is thus found is at least four hundred miles long
by forty wide; in almost every part of which, where the surface is
depressed by the beds of rivers, gold has been obtained without
digging more than ten feet below the surface, and very seldom that

It is impossible to furnish any grounds for estimating the number of
people engaged in mining, or the amount they have produced. Persons
engaged in trading with the miners say they amount to about ten
thousand, but I cannot say with what reason. They can better judge of
the amount produced, which the lowest estimate places at $4,000,000.
More than three thousand persons have been added to the miners up to
this time,--chiefly from Mexico and South America.

When the mines were first discovered, all the ports of South America
on the Pacific, and of the Sandwich islands, sent the merchandise
collected and stored there to be sold here. They realized enormous
profits, before any competition from our eastern States could meet
them; and these goods were generally owned by European houses, who
thus became possessed of the first fruits of the mines, which were
shipped to Europe on their account; and it is thus that so little gold
has reached the United States.

When the merchandise now on its way from our Atlantic States arrives,
and is sold, the current will set that way; but the profits will be
much diminished by competition, and still more by the enormous
expenses here for labor, storage, &c. These are almost incredible; the
ordinary wages for the poorest laborer is $6 per day; many receive

The extent and richness of the gold region have not been exaggerated;
and the exorbitant prices paid for labor, rent, and subsistence, have
hardly been fully set forth. But all the estimates of the amount
actually produced are but mere suppositions, which may surpass or may
fall short of the truth.

I have already directed that the men to whom their commanding officers
may give short leaves of absence may be employed by the quartermasters
at the usual rates here. This will be an encouragement to the men and
an advantage to the public service, as labor is hard to get. But I
doubt the propriety of yielding to the current of gold-seeking, and
allowing large bodies of the men to go to the mines. It may be
permitted to reward good conduct, as any other indulgence is; but to
make it general, would be either to acknowledge the right of the men
to modify their obligations as they please, or to confess our
inability to enforce their fulfilment. For the sake of principle and
preciseness, it would be better to adhere to what is right now, though
the effect here in this particular instance would be the desertion of
the men.

     I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
     _Brevet Major-General, commanding 3d Division_.

     Brigadier-General R. Jones,


The following despatch contains instructions to General Kearny
concerning the conquest of California, contained in a despatch from
the Secretary of War, marked confidential. But a portion of these
instructions were carried out, in consequence of the anticipation of
the conquest by Commodore Stockton and Colonel Fremont.

     _Washington, June 3, 1846_.

SIR: I herewith send you a copy of my letter to the governor of
Missouri for an additional force of one thousand mounted men.

The object of thus adding to the force under your command is not, as
you will perceive, fully set forth in that letter, for the reason that
it is deemed prudent that it should not, at this time, become a matter
of public notoriety; but to you it is proper and necessary that it
should be stated.

It has been decided by the President to be of the greatest importance
in the pending war with Mexico to take the earliest possession of
Upper California. An expedition with that view is hereby ordered, and
you are designated to command it. To enable you to be in sufficient
force to conduct it successfully, this additional force of a thousand
mounted men has been provided, to follow you in the direction of Santa
Fe, to be under your orders or the officer you may leave in command at
Santa Fe.

It cannot be determined how far this additional force will be behind
that designed for the Santa Fe expedition, but it will not probably
be more than a few weeks. When you arrive at Santa Fe with the force
already called, and shall have taken possession of it, you may find
yourselves in a condition to garrison it with a small part of your
command (as the additional force will soon be at that place), and with
the remainder press forward to California. In that case you will make
such arrangements as to being followed by the reinforcement before
mentioned, as in your judgment may be deemed safe and prudent. I need
not say to you that in case you conquer Santa Fe, (and with it will be
included the department or state of New Mexico), it will be important
to provide for retaining safe possession of it. Should you deem it
prudent to have still more troops for the accomplishment of the
objects herein designated, you will lose no time in communicating your
opinion on that point, and all others connected with the enterprise,
to this department. Indeed, you are hereby authorized to make a direct
requisition for it upon the governor of Missouri.

It is known that a large body of Mormon emigrants are _en route_ to
California for the purpose of settling in that country. You are
desired to use all proper means to have a good understanding with
them, to the end that the United States may have their co-operation in
taking possession of and holding that country. It has been suggested
here that many of these Mormons would willingly enter into the service
of the United States, and aid us in our expedition against California.
You are hereby authorized to muster into service such as can be
induced to volunteer; not, however, to a number exceeding one-third of
your entire force. Should they enter the service they will be paid as
other volunteers, and you can allow them to designate, so far as it
can be properly done, the persons to act as officers thereof. It is
understood that a considerable number of American citizens are now
settled on the Sacramento River, near _Sutter's_ establishment, called
"Nueva Helvetia," who are well disposed towards the United States.
Should you, on your arrival in the country, find this to be the true
state of things there, you are authorized to organize and receive into
the service of the United States such portion of these citizens as you
may think useful to aid you to hold the possession of the country. You
will in that case allow them, so far as you shall judge proper, to
select their own officers. A large discretionary power is invested in
you in regard to these matters, as well as to all others, in relation
to the expeditions confided to your command.

The choice of routes by which you will enter California will be left
to your better knowledge and ampler means of getting accurate
information. We are assured that a southern route (called the caravan
route, by which the wild horses are brought from that country into New
Mexico) is practicable, and it is suggested as not improbable that it
can be passed over in the winter months, or at least late in autumn.
It is hoped that this information may prove to be correct.


In regard to the routes, the practicability of procuring needful
supplies for men and animals, and transporting baggage, is a point to
be well considered. Should the President be disappointed in his
cherished hope that you will be able to reach the interior of Upper
California before winter, you are then desired to make the best
arrangement you can for sustaining your forces during the winter, and
for an early movement in the spring. Though it is very desirable that
the expedition should reach California this season, (and the President
does not doubt you will make every possible effort to accomplish this
object), yet if, in your judgment, it cannot be undertaken with a
reasonable prospect of success, you will defer it, as above suggested,
until spring. You are left unembarrassed by any specific directions in
this matter.

It is expected that the naval forces of the United States which are
now, or will soon be in the Pacific, will be in possession of all the
towns on the seacoast, and will co-operate with you in the conquest of
California. Arms, ordnance, munitions of war, and provisions to be
used in that country, will be sent by sea to our squadron in the
Pacific for the use of the land forces.

Should you conquer and take possession of New Mexico and Upper
California, or considerable places in either, you will establish
temporary civil governments therein--abolishing all arbitrary
restrictions that may exist, so far as it may be done with safety. In
performing this duty, it would be wise and prudent to continue in
their employment all such of the existing officers as are known to be
friendly to the United States, and will take the oath of allegiance to
them. The duties at the custom-house ought at once to be reduced to
such a rate as may be barely sufficient to maintain the necessary
officers, without yielding any revenue to the government. You may
assure the people of those provinces, that it is the wish and design
of the United States to provide for them a free government with the
least possible delay, similar to that which exists in our territories.
They will then be called on to exercise the rights of freemen in
electing their own representatives to the territorial legislature. It
is foreseen that what relates to the civil government will be a
difficult and unpleasant part of your duty, and much must necessarily
be left to your own discretion. In your whole conduct you will act in
such a manner as best to conciliate the inhabitants and render them
friendly to the United States.

It is desirable that the usual trade between the citizens of the
United States and the Mexican provinces should be continued, as far as
practicable, under the changed condition of things between the two
countries. In consequence of extending your expedition into
California, it may be proper that you should increase your supply for
goods to be distributed as presents to the Indians. The United States
superintendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis will aid you in
procuring these goods. You will be furnished with a proclamation in
the Spanish language, to be issued by you and circulated among the
Mexican people on your entering into or approaching their country. You
will use your utmost endeavors to have the pledges and promises
therein contained carried out to the utmost extent.

I am directed by the President to say that the rank of brevet
brigadier-general will be conferred on you as soon as you commence
your movement towards California, and sent round to you by sea or over
the country, or to the care of the commandant of our squadron in the
Pacific. In that way cannon, arms, ammunition, and supplies for the
land forces will be sent to you.

     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
     W. L. MARCY,
     _Secretary of War_.

     Colonel S. W. KEARNY.
     _Fort Leavenworth, Missouri._


The particulars of the conquest of Upper California, as well as the
suppression of the insurrections, we have already given in substance
as they are in the despatches of General Kearny and Commodore
Stockton. But we have said nothing of the transactions in the
Peninsula, as that afterwards was surrendered to Mexico. All that is
interesting in the conquest of Lower California, will be found in the
following despatches from the commander of the New York regiment of
volunteers, which with a number of marines were the only troops
employed in that quarter. We premise, that, after the United States
marines had taken San José, the natives rose, and they were reduced to
the necessity of taking refuge in an old fort, or _cuartel_, in the

     _San Jose, February 20, 1848_.

SIR: I continue my report from the 22d ultimo, from which time my
force consisted of twenty-seven marines and fifteen seamen, of whom
five were on the sick report, besides some twenty volunteers,
Californians, who at least served to swell the numbers. From that
date the enemy were continually in sight of us, intercepting all
communication with the interior, and driving off all the cattle from
the neighborhood. A party of our men who went out to endeavor to
obtain cattle, were driven in and narrowly escaped being cut off. We
succeeded in obtaining a few cows, however, which were very necessary
to us in the reduced state of our provisions, as, in addition to our
garrison, we were obliged, in humanity, to sustain some fifty women
and children of the poor, who sought our protection in the greatest
distress. I found it necessary, as soon as our fresh beef was
consumed, to put all hands on half allowance of salt provisions. We
had no bread. On the 4th of February, the enemy closed around us more,
and commenced firing upon all who showed themselves at our port-holes,
or above the parapets. On the morning of the 6th the enemy appeared to
be a little scattered, a considerable force being seen riding about
some distance from the town, and at the same time a strong party of
them posted at the lower end of the street were keeping up an annoying
fire upon us. I judged this a favorable opportunity to make a sortie
upon them, and taking twenty-five men with me, closed with them and
dislodged them, driving them into the hills without the loss of a man
on our part, and returned to the cuartel. On the morning of the 7th it
was reported to me that the enemy had broken into the houses on the
main street, and there was some property exposed which might be
secured. I took a party of men and went down and brought up a number
of articles belonging to the Californians, who were in the cuartel;
some distant firing took place, but no injury was sustained. On the
same day, hearing there were some stores of rice and tobacco in a
house some three hundred yards down the main street, I determined upon
an effort to obtain them, and sallied out with thirty men: these were
immediately fired upon from several different quarters, and some
fighting ensued, resulting in the death of one of my volunteers--shot
through the heart. We charged down the end of the street, and drove
the enemy to the cover of a cornfield at the outside of the town,
where they were considerably reinforced, and recommenced a hot fire;
but we were enabled to save a part of the articles which we were in
search of, though we found that the enemy had anticipated us in this
object, having forced the building from the rear. On the afternoon of
the following day, Ritchie's schooner, having provisions for us from
La Paz, came in sight and anchored, but a canoe which was enticed
toward the shore by a white flag displayed by the enemy, was fired
upon, and the schooner immediately got under way.

On the 10th the enemy had entire possession of the town: they had
perforated with port-holes all the adjacent houses and walls,
occupying the church, and, hoisting their flag on Galindo's house,
ninety yards distant, held a high and commanding position, which
exposed our back yard and the kitchen to a raking fire, which from
this time forth was almost incessant from all quarters upon us, the
least exposure of person creating a target for fifty simultaneous
shots. The enemy appeared to have some excellent rifles, among other
arms; and some of them proved themselves tolerably sharp shooters,
sending their balls continually through our port-holes. On the 11th
the fire was warm, but on our part it was rarely that we could get a
sight of them. In the afternoon of this day we had to lament the
death of Passed Midshipman McLanahan, attached to the United States
ship Cyane; a ball striking him in the right side of the neck, a
little below the thyroid cartilage, lodged in the left shoulder. He
died in about two hours. He was a young officer of great promise,
energetic, of much forethought for his age, and brave to temerity. All
lamented his untimely fate, and all bear willing testimony to his

On the morning of the 12th, at daylight, we discovered that the enemy
had thrown up a breastwork upon the sand, about one hundred and fifty
yards to the north-east of the cuartel, and entirely commanding our
watering place. We fired several round shot at it, with little effect.
We succeeded in getting in being in strong force, and kept a close
watch upon us. Their force was over three hundred, speaking within
bounds. I immediately commenced digging a well in the rear of Mott's
house, which is the lowest ground. I found that we had to go through
rock, and judged we should have to dig about twenty feet. I thought it
imprudent to blast, as the enemy, suspecting our intention, would
throw every obstacle in our way. The men worked cheerfully on this and
the succeeding day against all difficulties. Our situation was
becoming now an imminently critical one, having with the greatest
economy but four days' water. On the 14th we continued digging for
water. We found that the enemy had thrown up a second breastwork more
to the westward, giving them a cross-fire upon our watering place:
there was a continual fire kept up upon the cuartel during the day. At
three o'clock, 30 minutes P.M., a sail was reported in sight, which
proved to be the United Ship Cyane. She anchored after sundown. It
was of course a joyful sight to us to see friends so near; but I was
apprehensive that they could render us but little assistance, the
enemy being so vastly superior in numbers. The enemy continued their
firing upon us during the night. On the 15th at day-light, we became
aware that the Cyane was landing men. They soon commenced their
advance, which for a few moments was opposed only by a scattering
fire; then the enemy opened upon them in earnest. They had
concentrated nearly their entire force near San Vincente. We saw the
flash of musketry through all the hills above the village. There was
the odds of three to one against our friends. Steadily they came on,
giving back the enemy's fire as they advanced. There was still a party
of the enemy occupying the town, firing upon us. I took thirty men,
and sallied out upon them, drove them from cover, killed one and
wounded several of them, and marched out to join the Cyane's men, who,
with Captain Dupont at their head, had now drawn quite near to us.
There were small detached parties of the enemy still hovering about
them, and firing at them, but the main body of the enemy had been
broken, and retired to "Las Animas," distant two miles. The march of
the Cyane's men to our relief, through an enemy so vastly their
superior in numbers, well mounted and possessing every advantage in
knowledge of the ground, was certainly an intrepid exploit, as
creditably performed as it was skilfully and boldly planned, and
reflects the greatest honor on all concerned. It resulted most
fortunately for us in our harassed situation. They had but four
wounded; this cannot be termed any thing but the most remarkably good
luck, considering the severe fire that this heroic little band were
exposed to. The loss of the enemy we have not positively ascertained:
we hear of thirteen killed, with certainty, and general report says
thirty-five; wounded not known. Of the total loss of the enemy in
their attack upon the cuartel, I cannot speak with certainty; we have
found several graves, and know of a number wounded, one of whom we
have in the cuartel a prisoner. I suppose their total loss to be not
far from fifteen killed, and many wounded; I am sure it could not be
less than this. Our own total loss was three killed and four slightly
wounded. After the death of Passed Midshipman McLanahan, there
remained but one officer to my assistance, Passed Midshipman George A.
Stevens, to whom, for his coolness and indefatigable zeal at a time
when so much devolved upon him, I am most happy to accord the highest
credit; and at the same time I must honorably mention the conduct of a
volunteer, Eugene Gillespie, Esq., who, although suffering from
illness, never deserted his post, and was with me in the sortie of the
7th. The non-commissioned officers and men went through privation,
unceasing watchfulness, and danger, without a murmur. I cannot express
too highly my satisfaction in their conduct. Captain Dupont
immediately upon his arrival here, becoming aware of our situation as
regards provisions, took measures for our supply. The day after the
battle of San Vincente he despatched a train, which brought us by hand
(the enemy having driven off all the mules and horses) a quantity of
stores and articles of which we stood most in need, among the rest,
bread, and has since been unceasing in his exertions for our relief. I
cannot too earnestly express the obligations which we are under for
the prompt and efficient assistance which Captain Dupont, his
officers, and crew have rendered us.

     I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
     _Lieutenant U.S. Navy, com'g., San Jose_.

     Lieut. Col. HENRY S. BURTON,
     _U.S. Army, com'g. troops in Lower California_.

     W. T. SHERMAN,
     _First Lieutenant 3d Artillery, A.A.A. General_.


     _La Paz, California, April 13, 1848_.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of
March 1, 1848, and to report the arrival of the army storeship
"Isabella" at this place on the 22d of March, 1848, with Captain
Naglee's company (D) New York volunteers, and one hundred and fourteen
recruits for the detachment of New York volunteers stationed at this

The rescue of the prisoners of war on the 15th ultimo caused great
excitement among the enemy, and tended very much to disorganize their
forces, and the important arrival of the reinforcements to my command
determined me to take the field as soon as possible; accordingly, I
left this place on the morning of the 26th instant with two hundred
and seventeen officers and men; Lieutenant Halleck, United States
engineers, acting chief of staff, and Passed Midshipman Duncan, United
States navy, temporarily attached to the mounted portion of Captain
Naglee's command.

The afternoon of the 27th, a party of fifteen men captured, in San
Antonio, Pineda, the commander of the Mexican forces, with his
secretary, Serrano.

The morning of the 29th, having received information that the enemy
had concentrated their forces in Todos Santos, we pressed on with all
speed, fearing they might evade us, by retreating towards Magdalena
Bay. The morning of the 30th, about ten o'clock, having received
accurate information respecting the enemy, Captain Naglee with
forty-five mounted men was despatched to intercept the road leading
from Todos Santos to Magdalena Bay, and, if practicable, to attack the
enemy in the rear at the same time our main body made its attack in

The road leading from Todos Santos to La Paz, for some distance before
reaching the first named place, passes through a dense growth of
chaparral, (very favorable for an ambush), and in this the enemy made
their arrangements to receive us. We left the road about five miles
from Todos Santos and marched along a ridge of high land on the north
side of the river, having full view of the enemy's operations.

They then took possession of a commanding hill directly in our route,
between three and four miles from Todos Santos, with their Indians in
front. Companies A and B, under the direction of Lieutenant Halleck,
were deployed as skirmishers in such a manner as to expose the enemy
to a cross-fire. The enemy opened their fire at long distance, but our
force advanced steadily, reserving their fire until within good musket
range, when it was delivered with great effect, and the enemy
retreated very rapidly, after a short but sharp engagement. At this
time, Captain Naglee being near Todos Santos, and hearing the firing,
attacked the enemy in rear, and after a severe action completed their
dispersion. Our men and horses being too much fatigued by their long
march to pursue the scattered enemy, we marched on to Todos Santos.

The loss of the enemy in this engagement cannot be ascertained with
any accuracy; we know of ten killed and eight wounded. Our loss was
nothing; one man and the horse of Acting Lieutenant Scott were
slightly wounded, the enemy, as usual, firing too high.

Our officers and men fully sustained the character they won on the
16th and 27th of November last.

My warmest thanks are due to Lieutenant Halleck, for his assistance as
chief of staff, and I present him particularly to the notice of the
colonel commanding, for the able manner in which he led on the attack
on the 30th ultimo.

Captain Naglee also deserves particular notice for the energetic and
successful manner in which he fulfilled his instructions.

On the 31st ultimo, Captain Naglee, with fifty mounted men of his
company, was ordered to pursue the enemy in the direction of Magdalena
Bay. He returned to La Paz on the 12th instant, having pursued the
enemy very closely, capturing five prisoners and some arms.

Lieutenant Halleck started for San José with a party of mounted men,
consisting of one officer and twenty-five non-commissioned officers
and privates, on the 5th instant, for the purpose of communicating
with Captain Dupont, commanding United States sloop-of-war Cyane. He
returned here on the 11th instant, having captured ten prisoners on
his march, and taken a number of arms.

From him I learn that the naval force at San José have thirty odd
prisoners, and among others "Mauricio Castro," the self-styled
political chief of Lower California. Lieutenant Selden, with a party
from the Cyane, made a most opportune march on Santiago, where he
captured a number of the enemy who had fled from the field of Todos
Santos. Castro, who commanded the enemy's forces in the action of the
30th, was arrested near Maria Flores by the civil authorities and
delivered up to Lieutenant Selden.

During the stay of our main body at Todos Santos fourteen prisoners
were captured; among them two sons of the reverend padre Gabriel
Gonzales, officers of the Mexican forces.

We left Todos Santos on the 5th instant, and arrived at this place on
the 7th. The result of this short campaign has been the complete
defeat and dispersion of the enemy's forces.

We have captured their chief and six officers, and one hundred and
three non-commissioned officers and privates; and others are daily
presenting themselves to the civil authorities in different parts of
the country.

The captured arms have been given to those rancheros known to be
friendly to the interests of the United States, for their protection.

I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,

     _Lieutenant Colonel New York Volunteers_.

     Lieutenant W. T. SHERMAN,
     _Act. Ass. Adjt. Gen. Tenth Mil. Dep._

     W. T. SHERMAN,
     _First Lieut. 3d Artillery A.A.A. General_.


The following despatch from Governor Mason, gives an account of the
state of affairs in Upper California, in October, 1847:

     _Monterey, California, October 7, 1847_.

SIR: I returned from San Francisco yesterday, and found here Mr.
Toler, with despatches from Washington, the receipt of which I have
the honor to acknowledge. I am also informed by Commodore Shubrick
that the sloop-of-war Preble is ready to sail for Panama, with Passed
Midshipman Wilson as bearer of despatches for the United States. I
therefore avail myself of the opportunity to send you my letter of the
18th of September, with its several packages, and now have to
communicate the result of my visit to San Francisco.

I found the town flourishing and prosperous, with a busy, industrious
population of Americans, and refer you to the copies of my military
correspondence for the steps adopted to give them a good town
government. The Bay of San Francisco, you are well aware, is a
spacious, elegant harbor, susceptible of the most perfect defence; but
as yet nothing has been done towards fortifying it, or even placing
any of the heavy guns in position at the old fort. It is found almost
impossible to get much work out of the volunteers; and all that I can
now expect of the two companies of Major Hardie's command will be to
improve their quarters at the old presidio. This they are at present
engaged upon, using lumber made at the horse saw-mill, under direction
of the assistant quartermaster, Captain Folsom. All this labor is
done by the volunteers, so that the improvements will be made at very
little expense to the government. The price of lumber at San Francisco
is $50 per M.; but Captain Folsom says that he has it sawed and
delivered, by the labor of the volunteers and his own machinery, at
about $16. The mill is placed in the timber known as the Red Woods,
near the mission of San Rafael, on the west and north sides of the
bay, where any amount can be had. If the government design to erect
permanent structures to any extent in this country, it would be
advisable to send out a steam engine, with all the necessary frames
and iron-work to adapt it to immediate use in connexion with the saw
and grist mills now in possession of the quartermaster's department
here. The site at present selected by Captain Folsom is well adapted,
as easy water communication is had with the San Joaquin and Sacramento
Rivers as well as the parts of the country south of San Francisco.

At San Francisco I found all the powder, arms, accoutrements, and
perishable ordnance property well stored in a building prepared for
the purpose at the presidio barracks; but the guns, mortars,
carriages, shot, and shells are in the town in the open air, protected
by paint alone. The great difficulty of hauling such articles over the
rugged hills between the town and presidio will prevent their being
hauled to the latter place this season.

I did design to continue my tour of inspection to Sonoma and the
Sacramento River, but was recalled by hearing of the arrival of the
bearer of despatches at Monterey.

When on my way up to San Francisco, I was overtaken by Captain Brown,
of the Mormon battalion, who had arrived from Fort Hall, where he had
left his detachment of the battalion, to come to California to report
to me in person. He brought a muster-roll of his detachment, with a
power of attorney from all its members to draw their pay; and as the
battalion itself had been discharged on the 16th of July, Paymaster
Rich paid to Captain Brown the money due the detachment up to that
date, according to the rank they bore upon the muster-rolls upon which
the battalion had been mustered out of service. Captain Brown started
immediately for Fort Hall, at which place and in the valley of Bear
River he said the whole Mormon emigration intended to pass the winter.
He reported that he had met Captain Hunt, late of the Mormon
battalion, who was on his way to meet the emigrants and bring into the
country this winter, if possible, a battalion according to the terms
offered in my letter to him of the 16th of August, a copy of which you
will find among the military correspondence of the department.

In my letter I offered Captain Hunt the command of the battalion with
the rank of lieutenant-colonel, with an adjutant; but I find, by the
orders lately received, that a battalion of four companies is only
entitled to a major and acting adjutant. I will notify Captain Hunt of
this change at as early a moment as I can communicate with him. I am
pleased to find by the despatches that in this matter I have
anticipated the wish of the department.

Last season there was a great scarcity of provisions on the coast of
California; but when the stores are received that are now on their
way, there will be an ample supply for the coming winter. The crops in
this country have been very fine this season, and at present wheat is
plenty and cheap at San Francisco. Beef is also plenty. Beans can be
purchased at the southern ports, and sugar imported from the Sandwich
Islands; but for all other subsistence stores we are dependent upon
the South American ports or those of the United States. I have
directed Captain Marcy, acting commissary of subsistence at this post,
to supply the chief of his department with the market price of all
kinds of provisions, with such other facts as may enable his
department to act with the proper economy. The want of good clothing
for the regulars and volunteers is already felt in California; and
unless a supply has already been despatched, many of the garrisons
will be without shoes and proper clothing this winter. The price of
such articles here is so exorbitant as to place them beyond the reach
of the soldiers. The volunteer clothing brought by Sutler Haight has
already been disposed of to citizens and soldiers, and there are no
means of his renewing the supply except by sending to the United
States. Justice to the soldier demands that he either be comfortably
clad by the government, or that it should be within his power to
clothe himself on the allowance provided for that purpose by law.

I respectfully recommend, if it has not already been done, that a
large supply of infantry undress winter clothing be sent immediately
to this country, to be distributed, so as to enable each volunteer to
purchase for his own immediate use at cost prices. No summer clothing
is needed, as the climate is too severe, summer and winter. Such
articles as good blankets, cloth overcoats, caps, jackets, overalls,
stockings, and shoes with stout shirts and drawers, are the only ones
that will ever be needed here.

General orders No. 10, of 1847, promotes Lieutenant Loeser, third
artillery, and orders him to join his company. I regret that at this
moment his services cannot be spared, and I am compelled to retain him
on duty with company F, third artillery, because the absence of
Captain Tompkins, the death of Lieutenant Minor, and Lieutenant
Sherman being detached as acting assistant adjutant general, has
reduced the number of officers of that company to but two--Lieutenants
Ord and Loeser. I trust that the two companies of regulars in this
country will be kept with a full supply of officers, that an officer,
upon being promoted, may be enabled to join the army in the field, and
participate in the active operations to which he looks for distinction
and experience.

Captain H. M. Naglee, seventh New York volunteers, with a strong
detachment of his company, is now absent in pursuit of Indians in the
valley of the San Joaquin. He has with him Lieutenant Burton's company
of California volunteers, which is expected to return to Monterey
before the end of this month; in which case I shall cause it to be
mustered out of service, and discharged on the 31st day of October.

Again I have to report the death, by sickness, of an officer of my
command--Lieutenant C. C. Anderson, seventh New York volunteers, who
contracted a fever when on duty at Fort Sacramento, and died in
consequence at San Francisco on the 13th of September. He was buried
with military honors by the troops at San Francisco, under direction
of Major Hardie. This death reduces the number of officers in Captain
Brackett's company, seventh regiment New York volunteers, to one
captain and one second lieutenant.

Commodore Shubrick will sail for the west coast of Mexico from this
harbor next week; and having made application to me, I have directed
Lieutenant Halleck, of the engineer corps, to accompany him, and shall
give Lieutenant Colonel Burton, in command at La Paz, Lower
California, authority to accompany Commodore Shubrick, should the
latter design an attack upon any point or points of the west coast of
Mexico, with orders, of course, to resume his position at La Paz as
soon as the object is accomplished for which his command is desired.

NOTE.--Colonel Burton will be directed to leave a sufficient number of
men at La Paz to keep the flag flying.

It affords me much pleasure to assure the department that the most
perfect harmony subsists between the members of the naval and land
forces on this coast, and that the most friendly intercourse is kept
up between the officers. I have had frequent occasion myself to ask
assistance of Commodores Biddle and Shubrick, and my requests have
been granted with promptness and politeness; and in return I have
afforded them all the assistance in my power. Our consultations have
been frequent and perfectly harmonious, resulting, I hope, in the
advancement of the common cause of our country.

I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,

     R. B. MASON,
     _Colonel 1st Dragoons, Commanding_.

     To General R. Jones,
     _Adjutant-General, Washington, D.C._


We have already given the substance of Governor Mason's despatch to
the government, giving an account of the gold discovery and a visit to
the _placers_. There is, therefore, no necessity for inserting that
official document. The appearance in Upper California, in July 1848,
of Don Pio Pico, the former governor of the territory, gave rise to
serious apprehensions of another insurrection. The despatch of Col.
Stephenson, the commander of the garrison at Los Angeles, to Colonel
Mason, contains an account of the matter, together with a description
of the ex-governor.

     _Los Angeles, California, July 20, 1848_.

SIR: By the last mail I informed you of the arrival of Don Pio Pico in
this district. I subsequently learned that he had passed through San
Diego without presenting himself to Captain Shannon, or in any manner
reporting his arrival. Immediately after his arrival, rumors reached
me of conversations had by him with his countrymen, in which he stated
that he had returned with full powers to resume his gubernatorial
functions, and that he had only to exhibit his credentials to you to
have the civil government turned over to him. I found the people
becoming very much excited, and some rather disposed to be imprudent.
I sent for Jose Ant. Carrillo and some others in the town, who were
giving currency to these reports, and informed them that I should hold
them responsible for any imprudent or indiscreet act of their
countrymen, and that, at the first appearance of any disrespect to the
American authorities, I should arrest and confine them in the
guard-house. This had the effect to check all excitement here; but as
Don Pio removed up the country, the same excitement began to spread
among the rancheros. In the mean time, his brother Andreas informed me
that he, Don Pio, would come in and report to me in person in a few
days, as soon as he had recovered from the fatigue of his journey. On
Saturday, the 15th instant, he reached the ranch of an Englishman
named Workman, some eighteen miles from here. This man has ever been
hostile to the American cause and interest, and is just the man to
advise Pico not to come in and report to me.

On Sunday and Monday I was advised that many Californians had visited
Pico at Workman's, and that the same story had been told them of his
having returned to resume his gubernatorial functions, &c., and also
that he should not report to me, but go direct to San Fernando, from
whence he would communicate with you. The moment I became satisfied
that he intended to adopt this course, I issued an order (copy
inclosed) requiring him to report to me immediately in person. I sent
my adjutant with a detachment of men to the ranch of Workman to
deliver to Don Pio in person a copy of this order, with instructions
to bring him in by force, in case he refused or even hesitated to
obey. The adjutant returned here at twelve o'clock on Monday with
information that the Don had left for San Fernando. I immediately
despatched Lieutenant Davidson with a detachment of dragoons and a
copy of the order, with instructions similar to those given Adjutant
Bonnycastle. About five o'clock on Tuesday morning I received a visit
from a gentleman named Reed, living at the mission of San Gabriel, who
informed me that Don Pio Pico had arrived at his house quite late in
the evening of Monday, on his way to San Fernando. Reed inquired if he
did not intend reporting to me in person; he answered in the negative;
when Reed assured him, if he attempted to pass my post without
reporting, I would cause him to be arrested, and that he was aware of
my being displeased at his passing through San Diego without reporting
to the commandant of that post. Don Pio Pico, upon receiving this
information, became alarmed, and requested Reed to come in and see me,
to say he intended no disrespect, and would come and report at any
hour I would name. Reed is a highly respectable man, and has ever been
friendly to the American cause; and I gave him a copy of the order I
had issued in regard to Don Pio, requesting him to deliver it, and say
to Don Pio, he could come in at any hour he chose, within twenty-four
hours. Accordingly about eight P.M., the same evening, the ex-governor
came in. He was unaccompanied even by a servant, evidently desiring it
should not be known he was in town. I received him kindly, told him I
had no desire to treat him harshly, but that the American authorities
must be respected, and if he had not come in I should certainly have
arrested him. He informed me that he left Guaynas on the 22d of May,
crossed to Mulige, which he left for California on June third, and
arrived at San Diego, July sixth. He says that when he left Guaynas
nothing had been heard of the action of the Mexican Congress upon the
treaty, but it was generally supposed it would be ratified. He says
the Mexican government did not answer any of his communications; and
the moment he saw the armistice published in a newspaper, he
determined to return home, as he supposed he could return with
credit, under the stipulations of the armistice. He brings with him no
other authority for his return, and says he desires to live peaceably,
and attend to his private affairs. He denies ever having said that he
came back with powers to resume his gubernatorial functions, and that
he rebuked such of his friends as he had seen for their last attempt
at a revolution, and advises that they remain quiet and obey the laws,
as no part of the people of the conquered Mexican territory have been
treated as kindly as the Californians have been by the American
authorities. He thanked me for my personal kindness to his family and
countrymen in general, and said if I would permit him he would go to
San Fernando, from whence he would answer that part of my order which
required a written communication from him. I gave him permission to
leave, and offered him an escort, which he thanked me for, but
declined. Don Pio Pico is about five feet seven inches high,
corpulent, very dark, with strongly-marked African features; he is, no
doubt, an amiable, kind hearted man, who has ever been the tool of
knaves; he does not appear to possess more intelligence than the
rancheros generally do; he can sign his name, but I am informed he
cannot write a connected letter; hence, as he informed me, he would be
compelled to send for his former secretary before he could answer my
order or communicate with you, which he advised me he intended doing.
I have promised to take charge of and forward any communication he may
choose to make you. He left town on Wednesday morning very early, as
obscurely as he had entered it; and those who advised him to assume
the bombastic tone he did upon his first arrival, have done him
irreparable injury for he is now ridiculed by many who before
entertained a high respect for him.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     _Colonel 1st New York Regiment, commanding
     S. M. District_.

     Colonel R. B. Mason,
     _1st U. Dragoons, Governor of California_.

P. S.--Since writing the above, I have received the inclosed note from
Don Pio Pico, inclosing a communication to your excellency. In the
note of Don Pio to me, you will perceive that he is no sooner arrived
at San Fernando than he claims to have returned to California as its
Mexican governor, to carry out the provisions of the armistice. I
shall not answer his note until I have heard from you; but I shall
keep an eye on him, and if I find he is preaching sedition, I will
bring him in here at short notice.

     _Colonel, commanding_.

     W. T. SHERMAN,
     _First Lieutenant 3d Artillery, A.A.A. General_.


On the 13th of April, 1849, Colonel Mason at his own request, was
relieved from the post of Governor of California, and Brigadier
General Riley took his place. The despatch of that officer, dated 30th
of June, following his assuming the duties of his post, is important,
as containing an account of the state of feeling in California, upon
the subject of the laws at that time in force, and the difficulties
with various assemblies elected in the northern part of the

     _Monterey, June 30, 1849_.

GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of all civil
correspondence and papers since the 13th of April last, at which time
I relieved Colonel Mason from his duties as Governor of California.

It was (with the advice of Colonel Mason) my intention, on assuming
the direction of civil affairs in this country, to complete the
organization of the existing government; at the same time to call a
convention for forming a State Constitution, or plan of territorial
government, to be submitted to Congress for its approval. But on
further consultation it was deemed best to postpone all action on this
subject, until I could ascertain what had been done in Congress. On
the first instant I received reliable information by the steamer
"Edith" that that body had adjourned without organizing any
territorial government for this country; and accordingly, on the 3d
instant I issued my proclamation to the people of California, defining
what was understood to be the legal position of affairs here, and
pointing out the course it was deemed advisable to pursue in order to
procure a new political organization better adapted to the character
and present condition of the country. The course indicated in my
proclamation will be adopted by the people, almost unanimously, and
there is now little or no doubt that the convention will meet on the
first of September next and form a State Constitution, to be submitted
to Congress in the early part of the coming session.

A few prefer a territorial organization, but I think a majority will
be in favor of a State government, so as to avoid all further
difficulties respecting the question of slavery. This question will
probably be submitted, together with the Constitution, to a direct
vote of the people, in order that the wishes of the people of
California may be clearly and fully expressed. Of course, the
Constitution or plan of territorial government formed by this
convention can have no legal force till approved by Congress.

On the receipt of the treaty of peace with Mexico, doubt was
entertained by a portion of the people here respecting what
constituted the legal government and laws of the country. A few
contended that all government and all laws in California were at an
end, and that therefore the people, in their sovereign capacity, might
make such government and laws as they should deem proper. Accordingly,
in two of the northern districts, local legislative assemblies were
organized, and laws enacted for the government of the people of these
districts. The members of the Sonoma assembly, however, soon became
convinced of their error, and that body was dissolved. But in San
Francisco the assembly continued its sessions, making laws, creating
and filling offices, imposing and collecting taxes, without the
authority and in violation of law, and finally went so far as to
abolish the office of alcalde, whose records and papers were seized
and forcibly removed from his custody. On receiving official
information of these facts, I issued my proclamation of the 4th
instant. Since then I have made a personal visit to San Francisco, and
find that the more respectable members of the so-called district
assembly are convinced of the impropriety of the course pursued by
that body, and in a very short time I think all the difficulties will
be amicably arranged. These difficulties arose in part from a
misapprehension as to what constituted the legal government of the
country, and in part from the unpopularity of the first alcalde of
that district, against whom serious charges had been made.
Unfortunately, there was at the time no legal tribunal for
investigating these charges; and, there being no other magistrate in
that district, I could not, with propriety, remove him from office. A
new election, however, will soon be held to supply his place; and on
the organization of the "superior court," the charges against him can
be properly investigated.

The publication of a portion of the instructions received from
Washington respecting the government of this country, and the
disposition manifested by the authorities here to enforce the existing
laws, have done much to remove the erroneous opinions which were for a
time entertained by a portion of the people of California. The civil
government of this country has been, and will continue to be,
administered on the principle laid down by the Supreme Court of the
United States, viz: on the transfer of the ceded territory, it has
never been held that the relations of the inhabitants with each other
undergo any change. Their relations with their former sovereign are
dissolved, and new relations are created between them and the
government which has acquired their territory. The mere act which
transfers their country transfers the allegiance of those who remain
in it; and the law which may be denominated political is necessarily
changed, although that which regulates the intercourse and general
conduct of individuals remains in force until altered by the
newly-created power of the State.

The treaty is the law of the land, and admits the inhabitants of
[California] to the enjoyment of the privileges, rights, and
immunities of citizens of the United States. It is unnecessary to
inquire whether this is not their condition, independent of
stipulation. They do not, however, participate in political power;
they do not share in the government till [California] shall become a
State. In the mean time, [California] continues to be a territory of
the United States, governed by virtue of that clause of the
constitution which empowers Congress to make all needful rules and
regulations respecting the territory and other property belonging to
the United States.

When we take into consideration the great mass of floating population
of the United States and of other countries--people of all nations,
kindreds and tongues--which has been suddenly thrown into this
country, it must be acknowledged that every thing has, thus far,
remained remarkably quiet, and that the amount of crime has been much
less than might, under the circumstances, have reasonably been
expected. It is to be feared, however, that during the coming winter,
when large numbers of the miners collect in the towns, public order
may be occasionally disturbed. But it is believed that in the mean
time a more complete organization of the existing government will be
effected, so as to enable the authorities to enforce the laws with
greater regularity and efficiency.

Rumors have reached me that there is no very amicable feeling existing
between the Americans and foreigners in the gold regions, and that the
former are disposed to forcibly expel the latter from the placer
districts. I shall soon visit the valleys of the Sacramento and San
Joaquin, and hope to be able to report upon the true state of affairs
there by the August steamer. As Congress has declined passing any laws
restricting the working of the placers, I shall not deem myself
authorized to interfere in this matter, any further than may be
necessary to preserve the public tranquillity. Indeed there is much
reason to believe that Congress has pursued the best policy, under the
circumstances, in leaving the placers open to all; for it would be
exceedingly difficult to enforce any regulations not absolutely
required by the necessity of the case, and it is more than probable
that any attempt at this time to rent out the mineral lands, or to tax
their products, would involve a great expense, and it is quite
possible that such an attempt would lead to very serious difficulties.
Of the large numbers who have been attracted to this country by the
flattering prospect of sudden wealth, and with the intention of
returning to their former homes to enjoy their gains, many foreigners
as well as Americans are becoming established in business, and will
make California their permanent place of residence. It is therefore
well worthy of serious consideration whether the present system may
not prove equally beneficial with that of a more exclusive policy. It
certainly conduces much towards developing the resources of the
country, extending its commerce, and rapidly augmenting its wealth and
population. As soon as I have made a personal examination of the gold
regions, I shall be prepared to express my views on this subject; but
I cannot omit the present occasion to urge upon the government the
importance of establishing a mint in California, with the least
possible delay.

Information, not official, has been received, that the revenue laws of
the United States have been extended over this country, and that a
collector and deputies may soon be expected to take charge of the
collection of revenue in this district. On their arrival, all
custom-houses and custom-house property will be turned over to them,
and the temporary collectors employed by my predecessor and by myself
will be discharged. The moneys collected during and since the war,
under the direction of the governor of California, and not required
for defraying the expenses of the civil government, will be kept as a
separate and distinct fund, subject to the disposition of Congress.
The grounds upon which this revenue has been collected since the
declaration of peace, are fully stated in a letter to the collector of
San Francisco, dated the 24th of February last. It may be proper to
add, that the course pursued by my predecessor was rendered absolutely
necessary by the peculiar circumstances of the case. The wants of the
country rendered it imperative upon him to permit the landing of
foreign goods in this territory; and had this been done without the
collection of duties, large amounts of dutiable goods would have been
placed in depot on this coast, to the manifest injury of the revenue
and prejudice to our own merchants. The importers have sold their
goods at such prices as to cover the duties paid, and still leave them
enormous profits; and to now return these duties to the importers
would be a virtual gift, without in any way benefitting the people of
California. But, to expend this money in objects of public utility in
the country, would confer a lasting benefit upon all. I would
therefore recommend that such portions of these moneys as may be left,
after defraying the expenses of the existing civil government, be
given to California as a "school fund," to be exclusively devoted to
purposes of education. No difficulty has been experienced in enforcing
the tariff of 1846, and the revenue has been collected at a very
moderate expense, considering the peculiar circumstances of the times.

All officers of the civil government of California will be paid out of
the "civil fund" arising from the customs, the salaries fixed by law,
and I would recommend that those officers of the army and navy who
have been employed as collectors and receivers of customs in
California, both during and since the war, be allowed a fair per
centage on the money which they have collected and disbursed. Two and
a half per cent. on the amount collected, with the restriction
contained in section 2 of the Act of March 3, 1849, is deemed a fair
allowance for collecting these customs, and two and a half per cent.
on the amount actually expended is deemed ample compensation for
keeping and accounting for the same. It would be more just and proper
to make the allowance for the _actual expenditures_ than for receiving
and keeping these moneys; because, if the reversed rule were
established, officers who have received large sums, and within a few
days transferred them to others, with no other trouble than merely
passing receipts, would be entitled to a higher pay than those who
have had all the trouble of expending this money in small sums, and in
keeping and rendering accounts of these expenditures.


As soon as these "civil funds" can be collected from the officers now
holding them, it is proposed to place them in the hands of some
officer, or other responsible person, who will act as treasurer for
the civil government, with a fixed compensation for his services.
On the arrival of the regular collector and deputies, appointed
according to law, a full statement will be made of all the moneys
which have been collected in California, and the papers and accounts
connected with the expenditure of this civil fund will be sent to
Washington, as heretofore, in order that all officers who shall
receive or expend the same may be held to a strict accountability.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     B. RILEY,
     _Brevet Brig. Gen. U.S.A., and Governor of California_.

     Major-General R. JONES,
     _Adjutant General of the Army, Washington, D.C._


Governor Riley took occasion to make an excursion through the gold
regions, soon after his affairs with the assemblies were disposed of.
A reconnoisance of the valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin was
made, and particular care given to the matter of establishing military
posts for defending the miners and others from the attacks of the
Indians. After his return to Monterey, the following despatch was sent
to the headquarters of the United States army. The subject of the
Indian troubles receives especial consideration.

     _Monterey, California, August 30, 1849_.

COLONEL: I found, on my return to this place from a reconnoissance of
a portion of the valleys of San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, general
orders No. 1 from the headquarters of the army; and, as I cannot have
copied in season for transmission by the steamer of the 1st proximo
the military correspondence at these headquarters, I respectfully
submit, for the information of the commander-in-chief, a brief summary
of reports heretofore made in relation to military affairs in this

My attention was directed, on my arrival in this country, to the
unparalleled excitement in relation to the mineral regions; the
imminent danger that our troops, as they arrived, would desert to the
"_placers_," and, instead of giving protection to the parties, and aid
in the preservation of order and tranquillity, would themselves become
the very worst element of disorder; the great extent of Indian
frontier to be guarded, and the difficulties then apprehended from the
unsettled state of affairs in the mining districts. An attentive
consideration of these subjects impressed me with the opinion that the
policy most likely to prove advantageous to the service, would be the
concentration of all the troops serving in this department, except the
necessary guards for the depots at one or more points in the immediate
vicinity of the gold regions, from whence a portion of them might be
permitted to visit the placers for the purpose of working them for
their own benefit--the remainder to be held embodied in a proper state
of discipline, in readiness for any emergency that might occur. After
the expiration of the furlough of the first class, a second class to
be furloughed, and so in succession with the remainder; the troops
stationed at points so distant from the mines, that they could not be
furloughed, to be relieved by exchange with commands that have been
more favorably situated. The practice of granting furloughs, adopted
at some of the posts in this country, with the sanction of the former
department commander, had succeeded well, and the information received
about the time of my arrival from the southern part of this department
confirmed me in the opinion previously entertained, that the mania for
gold-hunting would exist, in its most exaggerated form, at points most
remote from the _placers_. I accordingly, immediately after relieving
Colonel Mason in the command of the department, recommended the
adoption of the policy above indicated. It is a matter of regret, that
the emergencies of the service have been such that it could not be
carried out to the extent recommended; for the experience of the past
four months has convinced me that it is the only course that can be
adopted, with reasonable hope of success, until the state of affairs
in this country is materially changed. In addition to the mere
question of expediency, Indian difficulties that were then occurring,
and the threatening danger of a proximate collision between the
different classes at work in the gold region, made it highly important
that a strong military force should be established in the immediate
vicinity of the mining region.

For the disposition of the troops in the department, and the measures
taken to prevent desertions, &c., I respectfully refer to department
order and special orders forwarded to you by this mail. These furnish
you with a history of the operations in the department since my
assumption of the command. The present disposition of the troops is
the same as indicated in orders No. 16, except that company A, 2d
infantry, re-inforced by details from other companies--in all, four
officers and eighty men--has been detached, under instructions from
the commander of the division, as an escort for Captain Warner,
topographical engineers, and company E, 1st dragoons, when _en route_
for the station, was diverted from that route, for the purpose of
securing the perpetrators of some murders committed by Indians on or
near Los Reyes River.

The difficulties apprehended from a collision between the different
classes of the mining population have not yet occurred in the form
which it was feared they would assume, and at present I do not
apprehend any serious difficulty from that source. Some serious Indian
disturbances have occurred on the American fork of the Sacramento, and
a few isolated murders have occurred at other points; but at the date
of the last report from the frontier, every thing was quiet. The
Indians of the Sierra Nevada, although in a great number, are of a
degraded class, and are divided into so many different tribes, or
rancherias, speaking different languages, that any combination on
their part is scarcely to be apprehended. Their depredations
heretofore have been confined generally to horse-stealing, and only
occasionally have murders been committed by them. These, however, have
been made the pretence, by the whites in their neighborhood, for the
commission of outrages of the most aggravated character--in one or two
cases involving in an indiscriminate massacre the wild Indians of the
Sierra and the tame Indians of the ranchos. The commanders of
detachments serving on the Indian frontiers are instructed to prevent
any authorized interference with the Indians by the whites, and to
support the Indian agents of their districts in the exercise of their
appropriate duties. From the character of the mining population, and
the nature of their occupations, unless a strong military force be
maintained on that frontier, it will be impossible to prevent the
commission of outrages upon the Indians; and they, in turn, will be
avenged by murders committed upon isolated parties of whites.
Unfortunately, the eagerness with which gold is sought after by
detached parties of miners, gives many opportunities for the
commission of such outrages. To seek after and apprehend the
perpetrators in cases of this kind, a mounted force is absolutely
necessary; and, although great difficulty will be experienced in
obtaining forage and replacing horses that may be disabled, its
services are so indispensably necessary, that I greatly regret my
inability to supply more than one company on the Indian frontier until
after the company now on duty with the commissioner of the boundary
survey is relieved.

I have heretofore called the attention of the War Department and the
division commander to the insufficiency of the force assigned to this
department by general order No. 49 of 1848. As it may not be possible,
with the present military establishment, to order any additional force
to this country without the action of Congress, I respectfully invite
the attention of the commanding general to the views heretofore
expressed on this subject. A topographical sketch of a portion of this
department is herewith inclosed, upon which I have indicated the
positions or neighborhoods in which I deem it important that troops
should be established. The amount and character of the force required
in my report to division headquarters, of June 11, is also inclosed.

The embarrassments under which the service has labored will be so
readily appreciated at home, that it is unnecessary to refer to them
here except to say that, great as these embarrassments have been,
they have been greatly increased by the want of line and staff

  [Illustration: GOING TO A FANDANGO.]

In consequence of the extraordinary prices of labor, and the
consequent enormous expenditures in this country, young officers of
the line should not be, in justice to the service and themselves, as
they have unnecessarily been, encumbered, in addition to their company
duties, with money and property responsibilities to a very great
amount. Experienced officers of the quartermaster's department are
required at San Francisco, San Diego, and with the commands on the
upper Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. I have now but one officer,
Captain Kane, of that department, under my control; and he is
necessarily detained at department headquarters in the preparation of
my estimates for the services of the ensuing year. Quarters must soon
be erected at several of the posts in this department; and I cannot
spare line officers for this duty, without destroying their efficiency
with their companies, even were it proper to do so. There are no
topographical engineers on duty in this department, and, in
consequence of the want, I have been able to perform very little of
the duty devolved upon me by the 111th paragraph general orders No.
49, of 1848. A reconnoissance of a portion of the valleys of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, undertaken for the purpose of
determining the position to be occupied, as recommended in my report
to division headquarters of April 16, to the War Department of the
25th of the same month, has strengthened my opinion of the importance
of giving the country a most thorough examination before any military
posts are permanently located in the interior. The whole district of
country lying between the coast range and the Sierra Nevada is
exceedingly sickly at certain seasons of the year. The common timber
of the country (oak) is not fit for building purposes; and I was
greatly disappointed in finding that south of the Sacramento River,
pine fit for lumber exists only on the spur of the mountains in small
quantities, and in places difficult of access. Stone, as a building
material is scarce; and at several of the points where it may be
desirable to establish military posts, grain for forage is out of the
question, and grass can only be found in exceedingly limited
quantities. I expressed a hope in my despatches to the War Department
of June 30, that I would be able to make an examination of the country
along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, from the source of the
San Joaquin to the southern boundary of California; but the season is
now so far advanced that I fear I shall not be able to accomplish more
than the determination of a position to be occupied in the
neighborhood of Los Reyes River. It is of great importance that this
point should be determined as soon as possible; for the new
discoveries of gold constantly being made in that direction, are
attracting thither a large portion of the mining population. The
rapidly increasing population of the northern _placers_ is gradually
forcing the Indians to the south, and congregating them on the waters
of the Lake Buena Vista, (Tula.) This position should be occupied, if
possible, before the miners have become established in Los Reyes and
the neighboring rivers; and the necessary examinations and
arrangements will be made as soon as it is possible to do so.

Since my application (April 25) for officers of the quartermaster's
department was made, two officers of that corps, Majors Allen and
Fitzgerald, whom I had supposed would be available for duty in this
department, have been permanently separated from it; and the number
then applied for should be increased by two.

Two of the medical officers in this department are now prostrated by
disease; and as their places cannot be supplied here, there should be
at least three in this department, in addition to those actually
required for duty at the different posts in the department, to meet
emergencies of this kind.

The ordnance depots at Monterey and San Francisco are under the charge
of military store-keepers. It is important, for the preservation of
this property in a serviceable condition, that they should be under
the supervision of an experienced ordnance officer.

With the exception of the assistant quartermaster above referred to,
the officers above enumerated have heretofore been applied for; but as
none have been reported to me, I will state in detail what officers
are absolutely required with this command:

_Four_ officers of the quartermaster's department in addition to
Captain Kane now on duty here:

_Two_ topographical engineers:

_Three_ additional medical officers:

_One_ officer of the ordnance department:

_One_ officer of the subsistence department.

The irregular communication with some of the interior posts, creates a
good deal of embarrassment by delaying the department returns. In
consequence of this I am unable to furnish a later return than for
June. The transport Mary and Adeline, with companies A and F, 2d
infantry, reached San Francisco on the 8th ultimo. The detachment of
dragoons, on their march to the department with the collector of this
district and the Arkansas emigrants, have not yet arrived. During the
months of July and August, so far as reports have been received, there
were but few desertions, except from the company detailed for the
escort of Captain Warner, topographical engineers; thirty-four men,
more than half the whole number reported, have deserted from this
company. The entire force in the department at this time does not
probably exceed six hundred and fifty, (aggregate;) and consequently
more than four hundred recruits are now required to fill up these
companies to the standard authorized for this department.

A detailed report of my reconnoissance in the valleys of the San
Joaquin and Sacramento will be forwarded by the next steamer. I have
delayed it in order to embody in it information in regard to the
country in the neighborhood of the Tula, which I am in the daily
expectation of receiving.

The want of company officers is very much felt; and I request that
authority may be given me to break up the companies whose captains are
permanently absent, transferring the officers to other companies, as
their services may be needed.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, colonel, your obedient

     B. RILEY,
     _Brevet Brigadier-General U.S. Army, commanding_.

     Lieut. Col. W. G. FREEMAN,
     _Assistant Adjutant General U.S. Army_,
     _Headquarters of the Army, New York_.


In the early part of 1848, Lieut. H. W. Halleck, of the Engineers, was
ordered to make a reconnoisance of the coast of Lower California, with
reference to the location of works of military defence. In his report
to Colonel Mason, after giving a general description of the coast and
harbors, and proposing a system of military defence, he submits some
remarks upon the commercial and military importance of the peninsula.
The whole report is interesting, and furnishes the most correct
information upon the subject of the reconnoisance. It will form an
interesting conclusion to a work which has been principally devoted to
a description and history of Upper California.

     LA PAZ, _April 12, 1848_.

SIR: In compliance with the instructions of the commanding general of
the department to make a "reconnoisance of the coast of California,
with reference to the location of works of military defence," I
reported in my last upon so much as relates to the upper province, and
I now submit a few remarks on the military defence of the peninsula of
Lower California.

I. _General description of the coast and harbors._--The principal
ports of the coast of Lower California, visited by whaling and
merchant vessels, are San Quintin, Magdalena, San Jose, La Paz,
Escondido (near Loreto), and Mulige.--There are some other points
which vessels occasionally touch for supplies and at trade, but they
are comparatively of little commercial or military importance. The
port of San Quintin, in latitude thirty degrees twenty-three minutes,
is represented as affording a secure anchorage for vessels of every
description, and to be sufficiently commodious for the reception of a
numerous fleet. The extensive bay of Magdalena has acquired
considerable notoriety from its being resorted to every winter by
large numbers of whaling vessels. Its size gives it the character of
an inland sea, its waters being navigable for the distance of more
than a hundred miles. It furnishes several places of safe and
commodious anchorage. The bay of San Jose, near Cape Saint Lucas, is
much frequented by coasting vessels, and occasionally visited by
whalers and men-of-war. Being the outlet of a fertile valley,
extending some forty or fifty miles into the interior, it is probably
the best place in the peninsula for supplying shipping with water and
fresh provisions. It is, however, a mere roadstead, affording no
protection whatever during the season of southeasters.

La Paz is the seat of government and the principal port of Lower
California, and its extensive bay affords excellent places of
anchorage for vessels of any size, and is sufficiently commodious for
the most numerous fleets. The principal pearl fisheries are in this
immediate vicinity, and also the most valuable mining districts. It is
the outlet of the fertile valley of the Todos Santos, and of the
produce of the whole country between Santiago and Loreto. The cove or
estero, opposite the town of La Paz, furnishes spacious and safe
anchorage, which may be reached by vessels drawing not more than
eighteen or twenty feet of water; and the cove of Pichilingue, at the
south-eastern extremity of the bay, and about six miles from the
town, affords an excellent anchorage for vessels of any size; but the
inner bay can be reached only by small merchant vessels. The bar,
however, between the two is only a few yards in extent; and if the
importance of the place should ever justify it, the channel might be
made deeper without difficulty or great expense. The adjacent country
being barren and mountainous, and the roads to the interior
exceedingly difficult, this place can never be the outlet of much
agricultural produce. But as the island of Carmen, nearly opposite the
entrance to this bay, contains an almost inexhaustible supply of salt,
very easy of access, it is possible that the trade in this article may
eventually give considerable importance to the port of Escondido.

The bay of Mulige contains several places of anchorage, but none of
them are deemed safe for large vessels, or even from small vessels, at
all seasons of the year. There are also several other parts in the
gulf farther north which are occasionally visited by coasting vessels,
but it is not known that any of them are likely to be of much
commercial importance.

II. _Proposed system of defence._--It is not supposed that, under
existing circumstances, any military post will be necessary on the
western coast of the peninsula; nor is it probable that, for many
years, any place there will become of sufficient importance to justify
the construction of military works for its defence. It is true that
the whale fishery on this coast has become, from the amount of
shipping engaged in it, an object of the highest consideration; but
our having ports of refuge at San Francisco or San Diego, and at La
Paz, strong enough to resist a naval coup de main, will, it is
believed, afford sufficient security to these whalers in case of a
war with a maritime power.

On our arrival here in October last, it was deemed desirable to
establish a small military post at San Jose, for the double purpose of
giving protection to the friendly inhabitants against a band of
Mexican freebooters who had crossed the gulf from Guaynas to Mulige
and Loreto, and of preventing the further introduction of men and
munitions from the opposite coast. The old mission building was found
well adapted to the purpose in view, and with a few repairs and
improvements served as an admirable protection for the little garrison
in the several attacks which it afterwards sustained from greatly
superior forces. It will probably be necessary to continue this post
during the war with Mexico, or at least so long as there is any danger
of the enemy's sending troops from the opposite coast to again disturb
the tranquillity of the peninsula; but it is not deemed advisable to
establish at this place any works of permanent defence, the character
of the port not being such as to warrant expenditures for this
purpose. The defences of the cuartel or mission building are deemed
sufficient for all purposes of temporary occupation.

Should the war with Mexico continue, and the naval forces be again
withdrawn from the gulf, it may be necessary to establish temporarily
a small military post at Mulige; but no permanent garrison will be
required either at that place or Escondido, unless, perhaps, hereafter
the commercial importance of the latter port should justify such a

La Paz is, therefore, the only port in Lower California which it will
be necessary, for the present, to occupy with a permanent military
force, or to secure by means of fortifications. For temporary
purposes, the site of the old cuartel is well suited for the
construction of defensive barracks, inasmuch as it commands the town,
and may readily be secured against an attack from the side. The
buildings at present occupied as barracks are not judiciously located.
A permanent work on Punta Colorada will completely close the entrance
to Pichilingue cove, and its heavy guns will reach the entrance to the
channel of La Paz; but to give the requisite security to the latter, a
small battery will be necessary on Punta Prieta. The topographical
features of both these points are favorable for the construction of
small fortifications: Stone of good quality for building purposes is
found in the immediate vicinity, and good lime may be procured at the
distance of only a few miles. Quarries have been opened in the
"Calaveras," and the stone, though soft and easily worked, is found to
be in this climate of a very durable character. La Paz is not
difficult to defend against a naval attack, and the proposed
fortifications may be constructed in a short time and without a very
large expenditure of money. The commercial character of the place, its
military importance as connected with the defence of the peninsula,
its great value as a naval depôt and port of refuge for our commercial
and military marine in case of war with any naval power, will, it is
believed, fully justify the expenditures necessary for securing this
port against a maritime attack.

III. _Commercial and military importance of Lower California._--Thus
far in my report I have proceeded on the supposition that it is the
intention of our government to retain the whole of California in any
treaty of peace with Mexico; but doubts have recently been expressed
on the policy of retaining this peninsula, on account of its being of
little or no value to the United States. As the guerrilla forces which
were sent over from Mexico the past summer, during the absence of our
squadron from this coast, to regain possession of Lower California,
and force the inhabitants to their allegiance to the Mexican
government, have been defeated and completely dispersed, leaving our
own troops in undisputed possession of the territory, nothing but a
conviction of the utter worthlessness of the country could now induce
our government to consent to its abandonment. On this subject I beg
leave to add a few remarks:

The peninsula of California lies between twenty-two degrees fifty
minutes and thirty-two degrees thirty minutes north latitude, being
about seven hundred miles in length, and varying from fifty to one
hundred miles in breadth. An irregular chain or broken ridge of
mountains extend from Cape St. Lucas to the frontiers of Upper
California, with spurs running off on each side to the gulf and ocean.
Between these spurs are numerous broad plains covered with stunted
trees, and during the rainy months with a thin but nutricious grass.
In the dry season this grass is parched up like hay, but from its
nutricious character it affords abundant food for the herds of cattle
and horses which constitute the principal wealth of rancheros. The
dryness of the soil prevent the growth of trees of any considerable
magnitude, except on the borders of a few mountain streams. This
timber, though far from being plentiful, is exceedingly durable and
much esteemed in ship-building. The greatest height of the mountains
is estimated five thousand feet; many of them are piles of mere
broken rocks, while others are covered with grass, shrubbery, and
small trees. The plains are sandy and mostly unproductive--not,
however, from any natural barrenness in the soil, but from a
deficiency of water. There are but few durable streams in the whole
country, and streams of good water are extremely scarce. But in the
plains and most of the dry beds of rivers water can be obtained by
digging wells only a few feet in depth; and wherever irrigation has
been resorted to by means of these wells, the produce of the soil,
from its remarkable fertility, has abundantly rewarded the labor of
the agriculturist. Much of this soil is of volcanic origin, having
been washed from the mountains by the action of heavy rains, and the
produce extracted by means of irrigation from these apparently barren
and unprolific sands is something most marvellous. The general aspect
of the country on the coast is exceedingly barren and forbidding, but
I have seen no instance where the soil is properly cultivated that the
labor bestowed on it is not well rewarded. The growth of vegetation is
exceedingly rapid, and the soil and climate are such as to produce
nearly all the tropical fruits in great perfection. But the
inhabitants are disinclined to agriculture, and most of them live
indolent and roving lives, subsisting principally upon their herds.
Notwithstanding the unfavorable character of the country, it is
capable, in the hands of an industrious and agricultural people, of
supporting a population much more numerous than the present. In the
time of the missions, when very small portions of the soil were
cultivated, and even these but rudely, by the Indians, the four
districts of San Jose, Santiago, San Antonio, and Todos Santos
contained a population of thirty-five thousand souls, whereas, the
present population of the same districts is only seven thousand.

  [Illustration: SACRAMENTO CITY.]

The agricultural products of Lower California are maize, sugar-cane,
potatoes, dates, figs, grapes, quinces, lemons, and olives. A
considerable quantity of hides, beef, cheese, soap, sugar, figs,
raisins, &c., is annually exported to Mexico and Upper California,
flour and merchandise being received in exchange. The vegetable market
of Mazatlan is also in part supplied from the valley of San José.


But the value of Lower California does not result from its being
either a grazing or agricultural country. Its fisheries, mines,
commerce, and the influence of its geographical position, are matters
of much higher importance than its agricultural productions.

The whole coast of the peninsula abounds with fish; clams and oysters
are found in great plenty and of every variety. The islands of the
gulf abound with seal, and the whaling grounds on the Pacific coast
are of great value. During the past year Magdalena bay alone has, at
one time, contained as many as twenty-eight sail, all engaged in this
fishery. The pearl fishery is also exceedingly valuable. Formerly,
when it was conducted with system and regularity, the annual produce
of a single vessel with thirty or forty divers, between the months of
July and October, usually amounted to about $60,000; and now, badly as
the fishery is conducted, the annual exportation of pearls amounts to
between forty and fifty thousand dollars. Tortoise and pearl shells
are also articles of exportation.

Lower California contains valuable mines of gold, silver, copper, and
lead; but, for the want of capital, very few of these are worked, and
this in the rudest manner possible. Nevertheless, the labor expended
on them is well rewarded; and there can be no doubt that with capital
and suitable means they would yield very handsome profits. The salt
mines on Carmen island are capable of supplying the whole coast of
Mexico and California; already the duties on this article amount to a
considerable sum.

The commerce of the peninsula is now very limited, being principally
confined to a coasting trade with the ports of Mexico. The whole
population of the country is but little more than ten thousand, and
the annual imports and exports are estimated at $300,000. But in our
hands this commerce, freed from the absurd restrictions imposed by
Mexico, will soon receive a very great extension. La Paz will become
the principal depot of American goods for the western coast of Mexico;
and in a few years most foreign goods intended for this coast will
also be deposited in the warehouses of Lower California, to be
transferred to the ports of Mexico at such times and in such
quantities as the demands of the market may require. In the present
variable state of Mexican trade, resulting from an irregular and
fluctuating tariff, which differs for each port and changes with every
change of general or state administration, it is frequently necessary
to transfer vessels with their cargoes from one port to another, or to
keep them for weeks at sea, standing off and on, so as to enable the
agents to arrange the rate of duties at the custom-house before
landing the cargoes. Sometimes the consignees are obliged to send
their vessels to the Sandwich islands or Valparaiso until a change of
administration will enable them to avoid the exorbitant demands of
some petty governor or collector of customs. Moreover, the principal
commercial ports of this coast (Mazatlan and San Blas) are
inaccessible to merchant vessels for four months of each year, and
during that time are visited only by small coasters. But, with Lower
California in our possession, merchant vessels of whatever character,
at all seasons and in all winds, can find a refuge in La Paz, and
their cargoes despatched in such quantities and to such points of the
opposite coast as circumstances may justify. This place in a few years
will be what Mazatlan now is, and Mazatlan experience the fate of San
Blas and Acapulco.

The importance, however, of this port results mainly from its
geographical position, and the influence it is likely to exert as a
military and naval depot upon our commercial interests in the Pacific.
The port of San Francisco, in Upper California, should be well
fortified, and every care taken to make it a harbor of refuge for our
merchant and military marine, in case of a maritime war; but it must
be remembered that that place is nearly fifteen hundred miles from the
nearest port of Mexico, and that it is very far north of some of the
best whaling grounds in the Pacific, and too distant to afford much
protection to our commerce with Central America, although its position
gives it a controlling influence over the commerce of Sandwich
Islands, Upper California, and Oregon. In the same way a
well-fortified naval station at La Paz, from its immediate proximity
to the coast of Mexico, would have a most beneficial influence on our
commercial and whaling interest in this part of the Pacific. The great
value, in time of maritime war, of such _key_ points as La Paz, and
the commanding influence exercised by them in the protection of
commerce, have become settled principles in military defence; and
England shows her appreciation of their truth, and the wisdom of her
own policy, in establishing stations and points like St. Helena, Cape
of Good Hope, Gibraltar, Malta, Corfu, and Bermuda.

Again, the growing commerce of California and Oregon, and the
political importance of our possessions on the Pacific, render it
necessary that we should have some means of rapid communication
between them and the seat of government at Washington. This
communication must be effected by the isthmus of Panama or of
Tehuantepec. In either case steamers bound to Upper California and the
Columbia River must have one or more intermediate depots of fuel; and
in time of war it is important that these depots be established in our
own rather than in a hostile territory. A glance at the map will show
that La Paz is nearly equidistant from the extremities of this line;
and that Tehuantepec, La Paz, and San Francisco divide into four equal
parts the whole distance from Panama to Oregon. Moreover, as this
ocean is peculiarly suited to steam navigation, a large part of the
commerce of the Pacific must eventually be carried on in steam
vessels; and in all probability not many years will elapse before a
portion of our naval force in these waters is of the same character.
Under this supposition, the importance of our possessing some naval
depot and harbor of refuge and repair south of Upper California is too
manifest to require argument or illustration.

But whatever may be thought of the value of this peninsula or of the
gulf as a natural boundary between us and Mexico, instead of an
imaginary line drawn from the Colorado to the Pacific, thus
separating a kindred people, and exposing the governments of the two
territories to continual collisions, the propriety of retaining Lower
California is, in my opinion, now no longer an open question. When
this country was first taken possession of by the forces of the United
States, the people were promised the protection of our government
against Mexico, and guarantied the rights secured by our Constitution;
and in November, 1847, they were assured by the commander-in-chief of
the Pacific squadron, (with the approbation of the Secretary of the
Navy,) that this territory would be _permanently_ retained by the
American government; and again, by the President of the United States,
in his annual message of December, 1847, that it "should never be
given up to Mexico." Acting under these assurances, all the most
respectable people of the territory not only refused to take part with
the Mexican forces which were sent to attempt the recapture of that
country from the Americans, but many of them actually took up arms in
our defence, and rendered most valuable services in ridding the
peninsula of the guerrilla hordes sent over from Mexico for the
purpose of effecting our expulsion. In this conflict, some who thus
sided with us lost their lives, many their property, and all have
exposed themselves to the vengeance of the Mexican government. But
these losses and dangers they have willingly encountered, in the hope
of obtaining the better government of the United States. They have
regarded these promises as made in good faith, and have been guided in
their conduct by the assurances thus held out to them by the agents of
the American government; and now, for the United States to voluntarily
surrender this country to the republic of Mexico, and leave these
Californians exposed to the loss of life and confiscation of property
for having sided with us, under the assurances thus held out to them,
would not only be in itself a breach of national faith, but would make
us appear in the eyes of the world guilty of the most deliberate and
cruel deception.

     _Lieutenant of Engineers_.

     Colonel R. B. MASON,
     _Commanding Tenth Military Department_.

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