Slike strani
PDF
ePub

а

beginning twenty years ago with but a handful of Caucasians, California has accomplished a great deal. If its gold product has fallen from $65,000,000 per annum to $25,000,000, its agricultural products have increased to an amount equal to half the largest gold yield ever known. The wheat crop alone, for 1867, was worth nearly as much as the gold, and the surplus of this staple freighted 223 ships, and reached a value of $13,000,000; while the total exports of home products, including about fifty different articles for which the State was formerly dependent on other lands, was about $17,000,000. The vintage of 1867 exceeded 3,500,000 gallons of wine and 400,000 gallons of brandy, the number of vines now growing in the State being about 25,000,000. The wool clip was 9,500,000 pounds, showing a gain of more than thirty per cent. over 1866. Silk, tobacco, hops, flax and cotton may now be ranked among the minor products that promise to be hereafter sources of profit. A silk factory and a sugar-beet factory are two of the new industries being established. The manufactures of the State are already estimated at $30,000,000 per annum. The best mining machinery in the Union is made here. The assessed value of real and personal property increased in 1867 about $21,000,000, running up the total taxable values of the State to some $221,000,000, and showing a gain of twenty per cent in two years, the most prosperous years ever experienced in the State. It may be said that the genuine prosperity of California is only just begun. So long as a greater part of its population was engaged in surface mining there was little substantial gain, either materially or morally. The transition period to more regular and diversified industry was one of trial and discouragement; but it is nearly over, and on every hand may be seen the signs of improvement, in commerce, manufactures, agriculture and society. Mining itself is becoming a fixed pursuit, regulated by science, skill, and capital. One third of our gold product is now obtained from quartz veins worked by machinery, and this proportion is steadily increasing. Railroads are rapidly multiplying in the State. Within twelve months San Francisco will be connected by rail with all the principal towns of the interior, at distances from 50 to 200 miles, north, south or east, and with the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah, by the Pacific railroad. Telegraph lines ramify from the metropolis to all parts of the interior, connecting with British Columbia and every State in the Union.

The running of two lines of steamships to Panama, and others to Mexico, British Columbia, Alaska, the Sandwich Islands, Japan and China, have

[ocr errors]

greatly increased our commerce and quickened immigration. A sound metallic banking system is in secure operation.

The State funds for educational purposes now aggregate nearly $1,000,000, and the interest upon this, with the aid of school taxes, supports an admirable system of free instruction. The means and the measures are ready for establishing a State University on a broad and permanent basis. The penal and benevolent institutions maintained by the State have been improved considerably, the latter, especially, being quite creditable, and including provision for the insane, the deaf and dumb and blind, the orphaned, and the youthful wrecks of society. Besides these, there are numerous and varied local establishments in San Francisco, which minister to the miseries and wants of the entire State with impartial charity.

The future of California is very bright, and those who have been faithful to her through nineteen or twenty years of remarkable vicissitudes and hardships, may well rejoice in the prospect. Yet, there are some evils and disadvantages which need to be frankly considered. Habits of lavish expenditure, lack of repose in social manners, recklessness in business, undue haste to be rich, want of restraint over the young, too great indifference to the solid essentials of character in public and private, a hard materialism; these are traits which Californians, with all their spasmodic, though hearty generosity, exhibit too frequently. This criticism is less applicable to all the larger centers of population, however, than it would have been a few years ago. The growth of the family influence and of the sentiment of attachment to the State, has been quite rapid. Society is crystallizing into perfect forms; homes have multiplied ; domestic pleasures and moral restraints are generally more powerful than frontier vices, and the most intelligent travelers concede that for pleasantness of home surroundings, and regard for all the ordinary sanctities of law and religion, society in the populous centers of California compares favorably with that at the East, while it has undoubtedly escaped the worst effects of protracted war and financial disturbance. Such asperities as remain here and there will be toned down by the lapse of time, the concentration of a more stable population in the mining districts, the homogeneousness that will come with a larger native infusion ; but it is worth while to try and subdue them earlier, and to cultivate even more assiduously than we do the quiet domestic traits that make the beauty and the sweetness of Home.

A difficulty of another kind is found in the uncertain tenure of real estate,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and the tendency to retain land in large tracts. This, however, is less apparent than it was a few years ago. Nearly all the Spanish titles have been finally adjudicated, and fair progress is making in settling the many vexatious disputes as to the large tracts of land granted by the United States Government, which the State authorities too hastily and carelessly put into market. Large bodies of land are coming into possession of railroad companies; but under the regulations adopted by Congress, these cannot be withheld from occupation, even if it were not to the interest of the grantees to sell them. Many holders of Spanish grants, which embrace some of the most extensive and fertile districts, could greatly benefit the State, and themselves, by dividing these estates into small farms and selling them to actual settlers at a fair price. It will be a grand day for California when the word "ranch,” like the idea and system it represents, has only a historical meaning, and when small farms, well tilled, dot the lovely plains now abandoned to herds of cattle. The floods and droughts of 1862, '63 and '64, compelled many ranch owners to adopt the sensible policy above recommended ;

and if all would do so to the extent of offering half or two thirds of their property in alternate lots, they would grow wealthy on the remainder, and help to enrich the State.

In conclusion, the publishers of the Natural Wealth of California submit it to the public with the earnest wish that its chief aim, which is to help California in the direction of a substantial and healthy progress, may be fully realized.

The author desires to make especial acknowledgment to J. G. Cooper, M. D., of the State Geological Survey; to Henry Gibbons, M. D.; and to Mr. J. S. Silver, for valuable assistance rendered by them in the several departments of Zoology, Climate, and Agriculture.

Prof. B. Silliman, Dr. Louis Lanszweert, Messrs. Henry DeGroot, Monroe Thompson, T. A. Blake, W. A. Goodyear, F. Bret Harte, and Wm. Henry Knight, have also aided in the preparation of material for this volume, and the author's thanks are due to these gentlemen for the efficient manner in which their duties have been performed.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 31, 1868.

CONTENTS.

[ocr errors]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »