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strange surroundings, with quickened observation and thought, the enterprising new-comer cast aside traditional caution, and launched into the current of speculation; for everything seemed to promise success whatever course inight be pursued, so abnormal were the times and place which set at naught all calcula. tions formulated by wisdom and precedent Amid the general free and magnificent disorder, recklessness had its votaries, which led to a wide-spread emphasis in language, and to a full indulgence in exciting pastimes. All this, however, was but the bubble and spray of the river hurrying onward to a grander and calmer future.
This frenzied haste, no less than the absence of families, denoted that the mania was for enrichment, with hopes rather of a speedy return to the old home than of building a new one. San Francisco and other towns remained under this idea, as well as temporary camps and depôts for the gold-fields, whither went not only diggers, but in their wake a vast following of traders, purveyors, gamblers, and other ravenous nonproducers to absorb substance.
The struggle for wealth, however, untarnished by sordidness, stood redeemed by a whole-souled liberality, even though the origin of this ideal Californian trait, like many another virtue, may be traced to less. noble sources; here partly to the desire to cover up the main stimulant greed; partly to the prodigality bred by easy acquisition; 13 partly to the absence of restraining family cares. Even traders scorned to haggle. A half-dollar was the smallest coin that could be tendered for any service, and many hesitated to offer a quarter for the smallest article. Everything proceeded on a grand scale; even boot-blacking assumed big proportions, with neatly fitted recesses,
12 For specimens, I refer to Cremony's Apache, 345.
13 It was manifested in social intercourse, also in charity, which in these early days found worthy objects among the suffering immigrants, as related under the Overland Journey. Garniss, Early Days, MS., 19, instances the liberality to stricken individuals, for which the wide-spread opulence gave less occasion.
A LEVEL SEA OF HUMANITY.
cushioned chairs, and a supply of entertaining journals. Wages rose to a dollar an hour for laborers, and to twelve and twenty dollars a day for artisans.1 With them was raised the dignity of labor, sanctified by the application of all classes, by the independence of mining life, and by the worshipful results-gold.
A natural consequence was the levelling of rank, a democratic equalization hitherto unapproached, and · shattering the conservative notions more or less prevalent. The primary range of classes was not so varied as in the older countries; for the rich and powerful would not come to toil, and the very poor could not well gain the distant land; but where riches lay so near the reach of all, their accumulation conferred less advantage. Aptitude was the esteemed and distinguishing trait. The aspiring man could break away from drudgery at home, and here find many an open field with independence The laborer might gain the footing of employer; the clerk the position of principal; while former doctors, lawyers, and army officers could be seen toiling for wages, even as waiters and shoeblacks. Thus were grades reversed, fitness to grasp opportunity giving the ascendency. 15
The levelling process left indelible traces; yet from the first the mental reservation and consequent effort. were made to rise above any enforced subjection. The idea of abasement was sometimes softened by the disguise of name, which served also for fugitives from misfortune or disgrace, while it flattered imitators of humble origin. This habit received wide acknowledgment and application, especially in the mines,
14 As will be considered under Industries.
15 Even clergymen left an unappreciated calling to dig for gold. Willey, in Home Missionary, xxii. 92. Little, Stat., MS., 11, instances in his service as porters, muleteers, etc., two doctors, two planters claiming to own estates, and a gentleman, whatever that may be. See also Cassin, Stat., MS., 5-6, who identified in a bootblack a well-known French journalist of prominent family. Count Raousset de Boulbon, of filibuster fame, who prided himself on royal blood, admits working as a wharf laborer. Master and slave from the southern states could be seen working and living together. But such instances are well known. No sensible man objected to manual labor, al- · though he hesitated at the menial grades.
where nicknames became the rule, with a preference for abbreviated baptismal names, particularized by an epithet descriptive of the person, character, nationality; as Sandy Pete, Long-legged Jack, Dutchy. The cause here may be sought chiefly in the blunt unrestrained good-fellowship of the camp, which banished all formality and superfluous courtesy.
The requirements of mining life favored partnership; and while few of the associations formed for the journey out kept together, new unions were made for mutual aid in danger, sickness, and labor. Sacred like the marriage bonds, as illustrated by the softening of partner into the familiar 'pard,' were the ties which oft united men vastly different in physique and temperament, the weak and strong, the lively and sedate, thus yoking themselves together. It presented the affinity of opposites, with the heroic possibilities of a Damon or Patroclus." Those already connected with benevolent societies sought out one another to revive them for the practice of charity, led by the Odd Fellows, who united as early as 1847.18
With manhood thus exalted rose the sense of duty and honor. Where legal redress was limited, owing to the absence of well-established government, reliance had to be placed mainly on individual faith. In 1848 and 1849 locks and watchmen were little thought of. In the towns valuable goods lay freely exposed, or sheltered only by frail canvas structures; and in the camps tents stood unguarded throughout the day, with probably a tin pan full of gold-dust in open view upon the shelf. The prevalent security was due less to
16 Yet it required great intimacy to question even a comrade concerning his real name and former life.
17 This applies of course rather to unions of two. Rules for larger associations are reproduced in Shinn's Mining Camps, 113; Farwell's Vig., MS., 5. 18 An account of these and other orders will be given later.
19 The frail nature of the early business houses in S. F. and elsewhere has been described. Wheaton instances a crockery shop on the border of the Sydney convict settlement, where a notice invited purchasers to select their goods and leave the money in a plate, the proprietor being engaged elsewhere. Stat., MS., 3-4. Coleman relates that a gold watch was picked up near his
COMING OF THE CRIMINALS.
the absence of bad men-for reckless adventurers had long been pouring in, as instanced by the character and conduct of many of the disbanded New York volunteers-than to the readiness with which gold and wages could be gained, and to the armed and determined attitude of the people. Soon came a change, however, with the greater influx of obnoxious elements; and the leaden reality of hard work dissipated the former visions of broad-cast gold. Fugitives from trouble and dishonor had been lured to California, graceless scions of respectable families, and never-dowells, men of wavering virtue and frail piety, withering before temptation and sham-haters, turned to swell the army of knaves. 20 Bolder ruffians took the initiative and banded to raid systematically, especially on convoys from the mines. So depraved became their recklessness that sweeping conflagrations were planned for the plunder to be obtained, while assassination followed as a matter of course. But murder was little thought of as compared with the heinous crime of theft. Disregard for life was fostered by an excitable temperament, the frequency of drunken brawls, the universal habit of carrying weapons, and the nomadic and isolated position of individuals, remote from
camp and left suspended on a tree for a fortnight, undisturbed till the owner returned to claim it. Vig., MS., 2. Most pioneers unite in extolling the security prevalent in those days. 'Property was safer in California than in the older states.' Delano's Life, 359. Gov. Mason wrote nearly to the same effect in Oct. 1848. U. S. Gov. Doc., Cong. 31, Sess. 1, H. Ex. Doc. 17, p. 677; Burnett's Rec., MS., ii. 142-3; Brooks' Four Mo., 67. In previous chapters has been shown the extent of crime in 1848, as instanced in the Californian, Feb. 2, 1848; Cal. S'ar, Feb. 26; Star and Cal., Dec. 9, 1848, etc. See further, for both years, Winans' Stat., MS., 14-16; Olney's Vig., MS., 1; Neall's Stat., MS., 3-5; Sutton's Stat., MS., 10; Sac. Transcript, Apr. 26, 1850, etc.; Fay's Facts, MS., 2; Gillespie's Vig., MS., 5; Friend, vii. 74; Little's Stat., MS., 16; Findla's Stat., MS., 6; McCollum's Cal., 62; Staples' Stat., MS., 14; Cal. Past and Pres., 162-3.
29 Sayward, Pion. Rem., MS., 32-3, states that after the Missourians began to come, insecurity increased. In 1850 things had reached such a pass that mail agents were afraid to carry gold, lest they should be murdered. Woods' Sixteen Mo., 141; Crosby's Stat., MS., 41-2. Helper, Land of Gold, 36-8, paints the criminal aspect in dark colors; Cox's An. Trinity Co., 62-3. Barstow, Stat., MS., 10, points to the Irish as the rowdy element. Chamberlain's Stat., MS., 1; Sayward's Rem., MS., 33.
21 Brooks, Four Mo., 142-3, 168-9, 187-8, 201, refers to several bands, as do Burnett and others. For criminal records, I refer to my Popular Tribunals, and for cognate data to a later chapter on the administration of justice
friends who might inquire into their disappearance. An armed man was supposed to take care of himself.22 The lack of judicial authorities tended further to promote the personal avenging of wrongs by duel, 23 which took place frequently by public announcement.
In the northern and central mining districts the preponderance of sedate yet resolute Americans with a ready recourse to lynching inspired a wholesome awe; but along the San Joaquin tributaries, abounding with less sober-minded Sonorans and Hispano-Americans, this restraint diminished,24 the more so as race animosity was becoming rampant. Swift and radical penalties alone were necessary in the interior, on account of lack of prisons; and even San Francisco found these measures indispensable in 1851, despite her accessories of police and chain-gangs. The evermoving and fluctuating current of life proved a shield to evil-doers, and fostered the roaming instinct which had driven so many westward, and was breeding pernicious habits of vagrancy and loafing.20 Every camp had its bully, who openly boasted of prowess against Indians, as well as of his white targets, and flaunted an intimidating braggardism. Likewise every town possessed its sharpers, on the watch for gold-laden and confiding miners.
Helper, Land of Gold, 29, 158, estimates in 1854 that since the opening of the mines Cal. had invested upwards of six millions of dollars in bowieknives and pistols.' The same fertile inquirer finds for this period 4,200 murders and 1,400 suicides, besides 10,000 more of miserable deaths. For early years no reliable records exist in this direction, but those for the more settled year of 1855 show 538 deaths by violence, whereof two thirds were white persons, the rest Indians and Chinese. Further data in a later chapter. 23 Revolvers were the most ready instruments. A common practice for principals was to place themselves back to back, march five paces, turn and fire till the pistol chambers were emptied or the men disabled. Shooting on sight was in vogue, involving no little danger to passers-by. 'I mistook you for another, was more than once the excuse to some innocent victim. Olney's Vig., MS. 3; Hittell's Res., 377; Alta Cal., July 3, 1851, and other numbers. See also Du Hailly, in Revue deux Mondes, Feb. 1859, 612; Truman's Field of Honor, and my Inter Pocula and Pop. Tribunals.
24 Placer Times, July 20, 1849.
25 Steps were taken in 1850 to prevent the entry of convicts, Cal. Statutes, 1850, 202, yet many succeeded in landing. Alta Cal., May 10, July 15-16,
26 As complained of already in 1850. Pac. News, Jan. 5, 1850.