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DISPERSION OF THE NEWS.
travelled abroad. The Mormons carried it over the Sierra, scattered it among the westward-bound emigrants, and laid it before the people of Salt Lake, whence it passed on to the east. Definite notice was conveyed overland by the courier despatched specially by the people of San Francisco, on the 1st of April, 1848, to carry letters, and to circulate in the states east of the Mississippi the article prepared by Fourgeaud on the Prospects of California, and printed in the California Star of several issues, in order to stimulate emigration."
The first foreign excitement was produced in the Hawaiian Islands. With this western ocean rendezvous San Francisco merchants had long maintained commercial relations, and they now turned thither for supplies incident to the increased demand growing out of the new development. By the intelligence thus conveyed, the hearts and minds of men were kindled into a glow such as Kilauea or Manua Haleakala never had produced.?
1 The recent discovery of Marshall played no part whatever in originating the article and the enterprise. A mere allusion was made to the finding of gold; and nothing more was thought of it than the known presence of a dozen other minerals, nor half so much as of the agricultural and manufacturing possibilities.
2 As a forerunner announcing the new Inferno, with two pounds of the .netal as tangible proof, sailed from S. F. May 31st the Hawaiian schooner Louise, Menzies master, arriving at Honolulu the 17th of June. In a halfcolumn article the editor of the Polynesian, of June 24th, makes known the facts as gathered from the California papers, and congratulates Honolulu merchants on the prospect of the speedy payment of debts due them by Cal. ifornians, 'probably not less than $150,000. By the store-ship Matilda from New York to Honolulu, touching at Valparaiso, Callao, and
Monterey, Mr Colton writes to Mr Damon, who publishes the letter in the Friend of July, with a few editorial comments. Afterward arrived the Spanish brig Flecha, Vasquez master, from Santa Bárbara, the Hawaiian brig Euphemia, Vioget master, from S. F., and others. The Hawaiian schooner Mary, Belcham master, though sailing from S. F. before the Louise, did not arrive at Honolulu until the 19th. 1o., The Friend, July 1848. In its issue of July 8th, the Polynesian speaks of the rising excitement and the issuing of passports, except to absconding debtors, by the minister of foreign relations to those wishing to depart. The fever rages high here,' writes Samuel Varney, the 15th of July, to Larkin, "and there is much preparation made for emigration.' Lu 'kin's Docs, MS., vi. 145. The file of the Polynesian runs on as follous: July 15th, one crowded vessel departed the lith, and half a dozen others are making ready; 24 persons give notice of their intention to depart this kingdom; 200 will probably leave within two months if passage can be procured. Aug. 5th, 69 passports have been granted, and as many
Before it could scale the northern mountains the news swept round to Oregon by way of Honolulu, and was thence conveyed by the Hudson's Bay people to Victoria and other posts in British Columbia, to forts Nisqually and Vancouver, reaching Oregon City early in August. The first doubts were dissipated by increased light upon the subject, and streams of population set southward, both by land and water, until more than half of Oregon's strength and sinew was emptied into California.* more have left without passports. Aug. 26th, three vessels sailed within a week; one man set out in a whale-boat. Sept. 23d, excitement increases. A vessel advertises to sail, and immediately every berth is secured. Sept 30th, real estate a drug in the market. Business low; whole country changed. Books at an auction will not sell; shovels fetch high prices. Common saluta. tion, When are you off? Oct. 7th, the Lahaima sails with 40 passengers. Honolulu to sail the 9th, and every berth engaged. Heavy freight $10 per ton; cabin passage $100, steerage $80, deck $40. Oct. 21st, 27 vessels, ag. gregating a tonnage of 3,128, have left Honolulu since the gold discovery, carrying 300 Europeans, besides many natives. The Islands suffer in consequence. Oct. 28th, natives returning, some with $500. Five vessels to sail with 15 to 40 passengers each. The Sandwich Island News of Aug. 17th states that upward of 1,000 pickaxes had been exported from Honolulu. The excitement continued in 1849, when, according to Placer Times, June 2, 1849, nine schooners and brigs, and a score of smaller craft, were fitting out for Cal. The Friend, vii. 21, viii, 28, speaks of more than one party of sailors absconding in small craft.
8 In the Willamette about that time, loading with flour, was a S. F. vessel, the Honolulu, whose master knew of it, but kept it to himself until his cargo was secured. In searching the files current of the Hawaiian journals, I find among the departures for the north the following: June 8th, the American brig Eveline, Goodwin master, for Oregon, too early for definite information; June 20th, Russian bark Prince Menshikoff, Lindenberg, for Sitka; July 5th, American bark Mary, Knox master, for Kamchatka; and July 15th, H. B. M. brig Pandora, destination unknown, and English brig Mary Dare, Scarborough master, for the Columbia River. It was undoubtedly by this ship that the news was brought, and the fact of her clearance for the Columbia River did not prevent her first visiting Nisqually. Mr Burnett is probably mistaken in saying that he heard of it in July; as that, according to his own statement, would allow but a fortnight for the transmission of the news from the Islands to the Willamette River--not impossible, but highly improbable. See Hist. Oregon, vol. i. chap. xxxiv., this series; Crawford's Nar., MS., 166; Victor's River of the West, 483–5; Californian, Sept. 2, 1848.
* Estimated white population of Oregon, midsummer, 1848, 10,000. 'I think that at least two thirds of the population of Oregon capable of bearing arms left for Cal. in the summer and fall of 1848.' Burnett's Rec., MS., i. 325. A letter from L. W. Boggs to his brother-in-law, Boon, in Oregon, carried weight and determined many. By the end of the year, says the Oregon Spectator, ‘alınost the entire male and a part of the female population of Oregon has gone gold-digging in California. Gov. Abernethy, writing to Col. Ma. Bon Sept. 18th, said that not less than 3,000 men had left the Willamette Valley for Cal. Arch. Cal., Unbound Docs, MS., 141. Star and Cal., Dec. 9, 1848, assumes that about 2,000 arrived in 1848. One of the first parties to set out the first, indeed with vehicles, and preceded only by smaller com.
THE NEWS IN MEXICO.
Mexico, particularly in her northern part, though crushed by the late war, still shared the distemper. “The mania that pervades the whole country, our camp included,” writes an army officer, “is beyond all description or credulity. The whole state of Sonora is on the move, large parties are passing us in gangs daily, and say they have not yet started.” Indeed, but for national indolence and interveniny deserts, the movement might have far surpassed the 4,000 which left before the spring of 1849.5 panies with pack-animals-consisted of 150 men, with 50 wagons and ox-teams, a supply of provisions for six months, and a full assortment of tools and implements. This expedition was organized at Oregon City, early in Sept., by Peter H. Burnett, afterward gov. of Cal. It followed the Applegate route eastward toward Klamath Lake, thence along Lassen's trail from Pit River, entering the Sac. Valley near the mouth of Feather River, and reaching the mines in Nov. This was the general direction; though as usual on such occasions, the party differed in opinion as to the route to be followed, and divided before the end of their journey. Burnett, Recollections, MS., i. 323-70, gives a detailed account of the trip. Gen. Palmer, Wagon Trains, MS., 43, and A. L. Lovejoy, Portland, MS, 27-8, who were also prominent members of the expedition, give briefer narratives. The points of difference are, that according to Burnett the expedition was organized in the beginning of Sept. and struck south at Klainath Lake, while Palmer says that, starting in July, the party reached Goose Lake before a southern course was taken. One family accompanied the train. Tom. Mckay acted as guide. Barner' 0i: and Cal., MS., 11. Another large party left Oregon City in Sept. on board the brig llenry, and reached S. F. the same month, consequently in advance of the land expedition. Taylor's Oregonians, MS., 1-2. Both of these early companies were soon followed by others. 'In 1818 [the month is not given), the mining engineer in the Russian Colony, Doroshin, was sent to Cal. with a number of men to open a gold mine, if possible, in the placer regions. In three months he obtained 12 lbs, but did not continue the work, as he feared that his men would run away.' Goloonin, Voyage, in Materialin, pt ii. Douglas was on board the Mary Dare, the vessel which brought the inforination from the Island, but gave it little attention until he saw the people of the north rapidly sinking southward, when he began to fear for his men. Some of them did leave, but the Hudson's Bay Company was a difficult association to get away from. Finlayson, Hist. V.I., MS., 30, 44, tells the oft-repeated story of deserted vessels, and other abandonment of duty, which forced him to draw for seamen and laborers more largely on the natives. Anderson, Northwest Coast, MS., 27, 37, first saw an account of the discovery •in a pri. vate letter to Mr Douglas, who had just returned from a trip to the Sandwich Islands.'
6 Coutts' Diary, MS., 113. And the captain goes on to say, in a strain ob. viously exaggerated: “Naked and shirt-tailed Indians and Mexicans, or Cal. ifornians, go and return in 15 or 20 days with over a pound of pure gold each per day, and say they had bad luck and left.' Velasco, Son., 289-91, writes, *Sin temor de equivocacion,' 5,000 or 6,000 persons left Sonora botween Oct. 1848 and March 1849. Yet he reduces this to 4,000, whereof one third remained in Cal. In Sonorense, Mar. 2, 23, 28, 30, Apr. 18, May 11, the exodus for Jan, to Feb. 1849 is. placed at 1,000, and 700 were expected to pass through from other states. During the spring of 1850, 5,893 left, taking 14,000 animals. Id., Apr. 26, 1850. Up to Nov. 1819 over 4,000 left. Pinart,
HI$T. CAL., Van, Vi, 8
The news wafted across the continent upon the tongues of devout Mormons, and by the Fourgeaud messenger, was quickly followed by confirmatory versicns in letters, and by travellers and government couriers. The first official notice of the discovery was sent by Larkin on June 1st, and received at Washington in the middle of September. At the same time further despatches, dated a month later, were brought in by Lieutenant Beale via Mexico.8
Some of these appeared in the New York Herald and other journals, together with other less authoritative statements; but the first to create general attention was an article in the Baltimore Sun of September 20th; after which all the editors vied with each other in distributing the news, exaggerated and garnished according to their respective fancies and love of the marvellous. Such cumulative accounts,
Coll., MS., iv. 174, no. 1033; U.S. Gov. Docs, 31st cong. 2d sess., H. Ex. Doc. i., pt ii. 77. Diary of two parties, in Soc. Mex. Geog., Bol., xi. 126–34; Hayes' Diary, MS., 1-7, 82-100. Gov. Gándara sought in vain to check the exodus by warning the people that Mexicans were maletreated in Cal., etc. Sonorense, Feb. 2, 21, Oct. 26, 1819. A letter from San Jose, Lower Cal., tells of closed houses and families consisting only of women and children. The first caravan left in Oct. Many went by sea.
6 There was a Mr Gray from Virginia at Sutter's Fort, the 16th of April, 1848, who hail purchased for himself and associates a silver mine in the San José Valley. Sutter presented to him specimens of the gold, with which he started eastward across the mountains. So Sutter enters in his diary. Rogers begins a letter to Larkin Sept. 14th, 'Since I wrote you by the government messenger, and in duplicate by the Isthmus'- which shows how letters were then sent. Larkin's Docs, MS., vi. 177. No mention is herein maile of the receipt of the intelligence of the gold discovery. Sherman, Mem., i. 47, gives no date when he says of Kit Carson, who had carried occasional mails, 'He remainel at Los Angeles some months, and was then sent back to the U. S. with despatches.'
? Larkin's Docs, MS., vi. 185. This letter of Larkin, Childs, through whoin his correspondence passed, answered the 27th of Sept., sending his reply by Mr Parrott, by way of Vera Cruz and Mazatlan.
He had left Monterey about July 1st for La Paz in the flag-ship Ohio, carrying letters from Larkin of June 28th and July 1st to Buchanan and Com. Jones, the latter sending his on to the sec. of the navy with a note of July 28th. All these letters were printed by government, and accompanied the president's message of Dec. 5th. I have referred elsewhere to the overland express which was despatched by way of Salt Lake in April 1848, chiefly for carrying a newspaper edition on the resources of California. G. M. Evans' erroneous account of this mail in the Oregon Bulletin has been widely copied. Instance the Mendocino Democrat, Feb. 1, 1872, and the Lake County Bee, March 8, 1873. Crosby's Events in Cal., MS., 2–3.
• The N. Y. Journal of Commerce some time after published a communication dated Monterey 29th of August, characteristic of the reports which
AT WASHINGTON CITY.
reëchoed throughout the country, could not fail in their effect; and when in the midst of the growing excitement, in November or December, one more special messenger arrived, in the person of Lieutenant Loeser, with official confirmation from Governor Mason, embodied in the president's message of December 5th to congress, and with tangible evidence in the shape of a box filled with gold-dust, placed on exhibition at the war office, delirium seized upon the community.10 now began to circulate. “At present,' the writer remarks, speaking of goldfinding in California, the people are running over the country and picking it out of the earth here and there, just as 1,000 hogs, let loose in a forest, would root up ground-nuts. Some get eight or ten ounces a day, and the least active one or two. They make the most who employ the wild Indians to hunt it for them. There is one man who has sixty Indians in his employ; his profits are a dollar a minute. The wild Indians know nothing of its value, and wonder what the pale-faces want to do with it; they will give an ounce of it for the same weight of coined silver, or a thimbleful of glass beads, or a glass of grog. And white men themselves often give an ounce of it, which is worth at our mint $18 or more, for a bottle of brandy, a bottle of soda powders, or a plug of tobacco. As to the quantity which the diggers get, take a few facts as evidence. I know seven men who worked seven weeks and two days, Sundays excepted, on Feather River; they employed on an average tiity Indians, and got out in these seven weeks and two days 275 pounds of pure gold. I know the men, and have seen the gold; so stick a pin there. I know ten other men who worked ten days in company, employed no Indians, and averaged in these ten days $1,500 each; so stick another pin there. I know another man who got out of a basin in a rock, not larger than a washbowl, 24 pounds of gold in fifteen minutes; so stick another pin there! No one of these statements would I believe, did I not know the men personally, and know them to be plain, matter-of-fact men--men who open a vein of golul just as coolly as you would a potato-hill.' “Your letter and those of others, writes Childs from Washington, Sept. 27th, to Larkin, ‘have been running through the papers all over the country, creating wonder and amazement in every mind.' Larkin's Docs, MS., vi. 185.
10 L. Loeser, lieutenant third artillery, was chosen to carry the report of Mason's own observations, conveyed in a letter dated Aug. 17th, together with specimens of gold-dust purchased at $10 an ounce by the quartermaster under sanction of the acting governor, with money from the civil fund. Sherman, Mem., i. 58, says 'an oyster-can full;' Mason, Revere's Tour, 212, ‘a tea-caddy containing 230 oz., 15 dwts, 9 gr. of gold.'' 'Small chest called a caddy, containing about $3,000 worth of gold in lumps and scales,' says the M'ashington Union, after inspection. Niles' Reg., lxxiv. 336. To Payta, Peru, the messenger proceeded in the ship Lumbayecana, chartered for the purpose from its master and owner, Henry D. Cooke, since governor of the district of Columbia and sailing from Monterey the 30th of Aug. At Payta, Loeser took the English steamer to Panamá, crossed the Isthmus in Oct., proceeded to Kingston, Jamaica, and thence by sailing vessel to New Orleans, where he telegraphed his arrival to the war department. On the 24th of November, about which tiine he reached N. 0., the Commercial Times of that city semi-officially confirmed the rumors, claiming to have done so on the authority of Loeser. S. H. Willey, Personal Memoranda, MS., 20-1, a passenger by the Fulcon, thinks it was on Friday, Dec. 14th, that he first heard the news, and