« PrejšnjaNaprej »
run from the Oregon line to the 34th parallel, at an average elevation of two thousand feet.* The portion of the valley which lies southeast of this point is called the valley of the San Joaquin. It is about three hundred miles long, and sixty broad, and presents a variety of soil, from dry and unproductive to well watered and luxuriantly fertile. Upon the eastern side, it is intersected by numerous streams from the Sierra which form large and beautiful bottoms of rich land, wooded principally with white oak in open groves of trees, often six feet in diameter and sixty to eighty high. The larger streams only pass entirely across the valley.† The low, or foot hills, of the Sierra Nevada, which limit the valley, make a woodland country, well watered and diversified. This section of the valley is well adapted to the cultivation of the grape, and will probably become the principal vine growing region of California. The rolling surface of the hills presents many sunny exposures, sheltered from the winds, and having a soil and climate highly favorable to this purpose. The vine thrives in California in an extraordinary manner. It is already cultivated to a considerable
а extent, and the wine produced is of very excellent quality. Intelligent cultivation alone seems needed to make both wine and brandy in quantilies sufficient both for consumption and exportation. The uplands bordering the valleys of the larger streams are wooded with evergreen oaks, and the intervening plains are timbered with the same tree, among prairie and open land. The surface is level, plain and undulating or rolling ground. The soil is rich, and admirably adapted to the cultivation of wheat, which yields enormous crops. The grasses are various and luxuriant; and oats grow wild, covering large tracts with a dense growth frequently as high as the head of a man mounted upon horseback.
Around the southern arm of the Bay of San Francisco, a low alluvial bottom land, with occasional woods of oak, borders the western foot of the mountain ranges, terminating on a breadth of thirty miles in the valley of San José. This valley, in connection with that of San Juan, forms a continuous plain fifty-five miles in length, and one mile to twenty in breadth, opening into smaller valleys among the hills. Shut in between the coast range and the lower hills upon the sea-with a soil of singular fertility, a pure and dry atmosphere, and a soft and delicious climate ;—this valley, opening directly upon the Bay of San Francisco, appears to unite more inducements to settlement than any other portion of California. It is wooded with majestic trees, covered with the richest grasses, brilliant with an endless variety of wild flowers, produces in profusion the fruits of the temperate and tropical zones, and breaks into secluded glens and wild recesses among the hills. All the tourists speak of it as a most attractive and beautiful spot.
North of the Bay of San Francisco, between the Sacramento valley and the coast, the country is cut into mountain ridges and rolling hills, with many fertile and watered valleys. In the interior it is gene
See Revere, p. 52, for a theory of the volcanic origin of this gap, stated upon the authority of General Vallejo.
| Frémont's Memoir, pp. 15, 16. | Frémont's Memoir, 16. Bryant, 277, 412. Forbes, 264. Revere, 282. li Frémont's Memoir, 33, 34. Bryant, 316.
rally well wooded with oak; and, immediately along the coast, it presents open prairie land lying among heavily timbered forests, and frequently covered for miles with a dense growth of wild oats. To the eastward of this tract, and intermediate between the coast range and the Sierra Nevada, stretches from the head of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to the mountains upon the forty-first parallel, that division of the country which is called the valley of the Sacramento. It is about two hundred miles long and sixty wide, watered by the Rio Sacramento and its affluents. It presents a diversity of heavily wooded plateaux, rich prairie land, fertile slopes, alluvial bottoms and strips of yellow gravelly soil. Many parts of it are well adapted to grazing, and its general character fits it in an eminent degree for the cultivation of wheat.*
Upon the forty-first parallel, in a fork of the Sierra Nevada, is a tract of high table land, about one hundred miles in length, surrounded on all sides by mountains, which is called by Frémont the Upper Valley of the Sacramento. It is heavily timbered, and its climate and productions are greatly modified by its altitude and more northern position. The Sacramento River which rises in the mountains at its northern extremity, reaches the lower valley through a cañon on the line of Shasile Peak, falling two thousand feet in twenty miles.t
The climate of California, as a necessary result of the configuration and extent of the country, presents marked contrasts in the different divisions which have been described. With reference to the whole country, the year may be divided into the wet season and the dry. The wet season begins in November, and terminates in April. During this period the rain does not fall continuously, and frequent intervals of clear and beautiful weather occur for many days in succession. Rain sometimes falls without intermission for eight or ten days, followed by spells of sunshine; and frequently the weather is fine until the afternoon, when the clouds gather. The rain during this season is not continu. ously steady and violent, but warm and often drizzling. Usually from May until November no rain falls. There are exceptions, however, for rain sometimes descends in August. Apart from the mere physical discomfort, the sense of which is soon lost, the wet season is healıhy and delightful, and during its continuance the country wears its most beau
With the first rains in November, the grass, clover and wild oats spring up spontaneously; the trees are clothed with fresh foliage, the flowers display their rich colors, the comparatively arid soil is covered with diversified vegetation, and by Christmas the land in its broad extent is green and beautiful. Upon the coast and the shore of the bay, the cliinate is cooler and less agreeable than in the interior. This is owing to the north-west winds which frequently bring with them dense fogs which are cold relatively to the mean temperature. These fogs, however, are not of that raw and piercing kind that affect the constitution. They bear no seeds of disease. These characteristics of climate are perhaps more marked at San Francisco than at any other point, and the experience of nearly a century affords conclusive evidence that they do not injuriously affect health. * Frémont's Memoir, 25. | Frémont's Memoir, 25, 26, and accompanying map. It is seldom cold enough in the settled portions of California to congeal water. Snow rarely falls in the valleys, and the thermometer seldom sinks below 50° or rises above 800.* In the great valley bordering upon the lower slopes of the Sierra, the climate is peculiarly delightful. There are no prevailing diseases in the country, and the extremes of heat in the summer are checked by sea breezes during the day, and by light airs from the Sierra during the night. The climate generally resembles that of Italy, and its characteristics are salubrity and a regulated mildness.t
Having thus given a general view of the history and geographical features of California, I proceed to consider the resources of the country with a view to establish the hypothesis of its future national greatness. Prominent among these resources is the immense deposit of gold. “The indications of its presence,” says Senator Benton, “ extend over an area of more than two thousand miles. They are in New Mexico—on the waters of the Middle Colorado-on the mountains both beyond and on this side of the Sierra Nevada. Professor Dana, who was geologist to Captain Wilkes's exploring expedition, and who examined the country between the coast range and the Cascade range of mountains, found the gold-bearing rocks, as geologists call them, on the Umpqua, the Shastl, and the Tlamnath rivers, and at the head of the Sacramento valley. He did not visit the Sierra Nevada, but said there was gold yet to be dis
• Bryant, 273, 326, 385 to 394, 451. Forbes, 163, 170, 312. Hughes's California, 32. Frémont's Memoir, 35, 36, 40, 43. President's Message, Dec. 1848, p. 46.
The past winter has been one of almost unprecedented severity. Snow has fallen to considerable depth, and ice has been formed in the vicinity of Captain Sutter's Fort, two or three inches in thickness. No such weather has been known in Cali. fornia since the winter of 1823-4, which also formed an exception to the general climate.
Some idea of the climate of California may be found by the following meteorologi. cal items derived by the N. Y. Herald tables of the weather and thermoineter at Monterey, kept by Talbot H. Greene, Esq., a merchant, at Monterey, during the space of a year, viz: from March, 1845, to February, 1846.
In March, 1843, the thermometer averaged 65 at noon. There was no rain; the sky generally clear.
In April, same degree of heat; five rainy days, four foggy, the others clear.
In May, the therinometer at noon never rose higher than 64, and never fell lower than 58; weather clear.
In June, the highest noonday heat was 73; the lowest 60; weather clear.
In September, greatest heat at noon, 73; lowest 61; clear skies, occasional fogs at eight in the morning; rain once only.
In October, greatest heat at noon, 70; lowest 59; fogs in the morning, days clear; rain three times within the month—a little rain in the night on two occasions.
In November, greatest heat, 76; lowest 60; weather generally clear; rains in the night occasionally.
In December, greatest heat, 66; lowest 57; clear weather ; rain on four different nights this month.
In January, 1846, greatest heat, 62; lowest 48; more rain this month than the former months.
In February, 1846, average heat at noon, 62; lowest 50; clear skies; rain on three different nights.
| Frémont, 14, 43.
covered in the Sacramento valley. It has been discovered, and no one can tell where it is to end. The Sierra Nevada is six hundred miles long, ten or twelve thousand feet high, and has a slope of from forty to seventy miles; and all this seems to be an auriferous region. South of the Sierra Nevada are prolongations of the same chain and of the same character, and known to possess gold. The Ural mountains, now yielding so much gold to Russia, are but twelve hundred miles long and five or six thousand feet high: the mountain chains in New Mexico and California which produce gold are near twice as long and twice as high as the Ural mountains.” Silver also abounds in California, and several mines of great richness have recently been opened. Cinnebar, platinum, lead, iron, copper and sulphur all exist apparently in large quantities.*
This wonderful mineral wealih will no doubt, at first, produce much licentiousness and difficulty. It is, however, of vast importance collaterally considered. It matters little upon what grand scale nature may have bestowed upon a country the advantages of physical configuration and geographical position ; development must precede greatness, and to development certain elements and impulses are absolutely essential. The most indispensable of these is population. Population having been attracted, inducements to its permanence, activity and increase must present themselves. These are the supply of the necessary food, the existence of the essentials of physical comfort, the opportunities of acquiring wealth ; and, in proportion to the extent to which these inducements exist in a given region, population will flow into it. The moral force of population—its ability to work out great results,-must be deduced from the original character of the emigraling people, and the nature and extent of the advantages presented. Fertility of soil alone has in some cases induced emigration, and agriculture has founded states. Geographical position has attracted it, and commerce has built up nations. The presence of the precious metals has secured it, and mineral wealth has bought development. In the case of some states these elements are found combined. Brazil, for example, has fertile soil, mineral wealth, and commercial advantages; but the influences of climate, the character of the population and political institutions, check the full development of natural resources. Mexico also possesses the precious metals in connection with a productive soil and ports upon two oceans, but similar causes have there operated with like results. Never before, however, in the history of the world, have we found a country presenting in a higher degree than California, the combined inducements, of advantageous commercial position, fertility of soil, and mineral wealth. The climate of California is also highly favorable to development. Let us enquire into the character of the people who are to control these elements of greatness.
The emigration now pouring into the country is of a mixed character. From the United States, from England, Germany, France, Mexico, South America and the Islands of the Pacific,—the World is contributing to people it; and it is fitting the world should, for its greatness will be
Bryant, 451. President's Message, Dec. 5, 1848, pp. 10, 63. Wilkes, 37. “California Star,” April 1, 1848. Speech of Senator Benton, January 15, 1949
cosmopolitan. Comparatively, however, this can occur only to a limited extent, and will exert no influence, for it is undeniable that to the people of the United States are committed the destinies of California. What are the characteristic traits of this people ?-Vigor of intellect,-quickness of perception-keenness of appreciation, -energy of action, -untiring industry,-indomitable perseverance,--physical strength,—the necessity of progress-not as a means, but as a natural law, imperative upon the individual man, and the aggregate community. These people also take with them the habit of freedom, and the forms, the energies and the advantages of republican institutions.
When population is once secured, it becomes necessary to ascertain how far the country is able to support it, for very much in proportion that a State is self-sustained, will it reach solid greatness. In the case of California it is wholly impossible to state this exactly, but we have abundant data to justify an approximate estimate sufficiently correct for the
purposes of this paper. It has already been shewn that Maratime California, the only portion of the country to which we will look in this estimate of supplies; is about one hundred thousand square miles in extent, which is equal to a superficial area of sixty-four million acres.* This belt of country is intersected by two mountain ranges, and contains in its bosom several lakes of moderate size, five or six considerable rivers, and some marshy and sterile land. The lower slopes of these mountains, however, and the valleys opening into them, are well adapted to agriculture and grazing, and it is believed that much of the marshy districts can be made to produce rice. We will allow five-sixths of the whole area, or fifty-three million three hundred and thirty-three thousand three hundred and thirty acres, for the proportion of superficies thus occupied; so that upon a very moderate and fair estimate, we have one-sixth, or ten million six hundred and sixty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-six acres of cultivable land.
All the authorities agree in pronouncing the country admirably adapted to the cultivation of wheat. Jts latitudinal position, and the results of the existing imperfect system of agriculture, verify these statements. There would seem to be few points in the great valley where the cereal grains could not be produced abundantly, and the crops of wheat whereever it has been grown, range from fifty to eighty bushels to the acre.f This yield, however, is from a virgin soil, and it is proper to make some allowance for the exhaustion which may result from regular and continuous tillage, and we will therefore calculate only twenty bushels per acre as the average yield. We will assume that one-third of the estimated cultivable land, or three million five hundred and fifty-five thousand five hundred and fifty-five acres will produce an average of twenty bushels of wheat to the acre. This will give an annual yield of seventy-one million one hundred and eleven thousand one hundred bushels, which is equal to five bushels to each individual of an aggregate population of over fourteen millions. The cultivation of another third of this sixth, in Indian corn, yielding also an average of twenty bushels to the acre; would give five bushels of corn for each individual
* Frémont, 13. | Frémont, 15 to 43. Bryant, 448. Forbes, 256 to 264. Thornton, vol. ii, 86, 88. Life in Cal. 61.