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porters retired to their homes. This movement on the part of General Vallejo destroyed the prospects of the convention, so that, although its members were elected, it never met for want of a quorum; and within a few months thereafter California was in the possession of the United States, by the taking of Monterey, by Commodore Sloat, on July 7, A. D. 1846.
ENDEAVORS OF RUSSIA TO OCCUPY CALIFORNIA.
Meanwhile the Russians had for some time been quietly insinuating themselves upon
the northern coast of California, with a view to its permanent occupation. In the year 1812 they established themselves at the port of Bodega, having previously obtained permission to do so from the authorities of Spain, for the alleged purpose of maintaining fisheries and hunting for furs. But already, as early as the year 1815, they had established large ranchos in the interior, had purchased catile of the Spanish inhabitants, and had devoted themselves to the rearing of herds and the production of wheat. During the revolutionary troubles in Mexico, the Russians held themselves to have become the actual owners of the territory which they occupied. About forty miles from Bodega, beyond the river San Sebastian, they constructed a fort, which they called Slawianski, but which the Mexicans designated as the Fort of Ross. Over this floated the Russian flag, and a military governor was in command, appointed by the Czar of Russia. So carefully was this military colony fostered by its own government, that it possessed one-sixth of the white population of California in the year 1842. But, on the final acquisition of California by the United States, the military colony was withdrawn, and most if not all the Russian population retired at or about the same time.
THESE VARIOUS GOVERNMENTS HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE MINERAL WEALTH
When we consider what the causes were which have so rapidly developed California to her present position, it seems surprising to us that the existence of precious metals within her limits was not only not suspected, but was even most authoritatively denied. The acquisition of California was considered desirable by all these nations, because it was known that her conditions of climate and soil were such, that her agricultural sources and productions must be almost incalculable; that she must become the seat of an immense population of a highly civilized and prosperous people, and there form the nucleus of an empire of political and commercial power which mustexert a controlling influence over all the coasts of the Pacific ocean. The United States, in particular, found themselves almost in contiguity with the future seat of so much prosperity, wealth, and power, and naturally desired that it should become their own. But although rumors of the existence of gold in California had occasionally been heard, still they had never been verified, or traced to any reliable source; and they were regarded as we now regard the fabulous stories of the golden sands of Gold lake, or those of “ Silver Planches," which are said to exist in the ivaccessible deserts of Arizona. It seems strange to us, that, when the geological character of this country was so well known and so minutely described, the existence of the precious metals in any large quantity should have been so explicitly denied. De Mofras uses the following language :
“ There are no minerals which can be exported from California. The mines of silver and of lead which are situated near Monterey are known only by the result of some very simple assays. Some deposits of marble, of copper and iron, some traces of mineral coal which are found near Santa Cruz, some mines of ochre, sulphur, asphaltum, kaolin, and of salt, have not been examined with sufficient care. The only mine at present operated in this country is a vein of virgin gold near the mission of San Fernando, which yields about an ounce a day of pure gold, and is worked by a Frenchman named Baric.
"The geological constitution of the soil of California is very simple. The base of the Rocky mountains is formed of granites of various colors, sometimes whitish with spots of black, sometimes gray or red ; above are stratifications of gneiss, hornblende, quartz and talcose slate, similar to those which in Mexico enclose veins of gold, micaceous schist, and talcose schist.”
And yet, with all this explicit description, which gave rise to the recorded suggestion that this geological formation was the same as that which in Mexico contained veins of gold, it never occurred to any one of the statesmen or explorers who interested themselves in the acquisition of California that mines of the precious metals existed within her limits.*
OUR GRATITUDE TO THE GIVER OF THIS GIFT.
We have thus shown that our position in California is not an accidental one, but was the result of a long train of causes in which human agencies were actively at work. We should do injustice to ourselves, on this occasion, if we did not give utterance to higher sentiments than those of admiration for the patriotism of our fathers and the skill of our statesmen. We do not entertain those notions of modern atheism, thinly disguised under the epithet of pantheism, which limit the operative creation of God to the diffusion of a thin, gaseous substance throughout infinite space, upon which he set the impress of his law and then went to sleep, leaving the existing universe to be evolved from a succession of vortices. We do not believe that the whole animal and vegetable creations have been evolved from bubbles of albumen, nor even that pantheistical philosophers are only fully developed baboons, however probable this latter might
This theory was first popularly presented to the world in a most shallow and unscientific work called The Vestiges of Creation, whose author never dared to expose himself to general ridicule by revealing his name, because, just after the publication of his book, Lord Rosse turned his tremendous telescope upon the gaseous pantheistic nebula, and instantly resolved them into fixed, starry points. We believe as geology teaches us, that God has often, and at remotely successive periods, interposed in the formation of the physical world, fitting it for the creation and habitation of man. We believe that He still acts in history, preparing great events, rewarding nations and men for goodness, and punishing them for crime. We believe that His adoration is not superstitious, nor prayer an unphilosophical act. “If the Lord had not been on our side yea, if the Lord had not been on our side,” we should not now possess this beautiful and glorious California, por hope to transmit it as an inheritance to our descendants. To Him, therefore, we pour out our collected tribute of gratitude, and invoke His protection for ourselves and our children.
OUR DUTY TO THE FUTURE.
Standing, as we do, between the mighty past and the mysterious future, recognizing our gratitude to our fathers and our duty to our children, let us this day make a public confession and a solemn covenant. Let us con
* In closing the historical narrative, it may be assumed as a fact that the inevitable rupture between Mexico and the United States was hastened by the governments of both countries with the expectation that the existence of war would defeat the plans of the monarchical party in Mexico. It is well known that the friends of Santa Anna, who was then in exile, applied to the American government to pass him through its blockade of Vera Cruz on his proposed return to Mexico, upon the frank representation that although he was the ablest general the Mexicans could have, and would undoubtedly command their armies during the war, yet his presence and influence in the country would prevent the establishment of a foreign monarchy there; and that the President of the United States, appreciating these considerations, permitted Santa Anna to land at Vera Cruz perfectly free to pursue his own course of action. There are gentlemen of the highest respectability residing in California who came here upon the personal assurance of President Polk, in 1846, that the war should not be concluded until Upper California was secured by treaty to the United States.
fess that those of us who have come into this country since the discovery of gold in California was announced to the world, came here rather with the spirit of adventure than with the intention of remaining here as permanent residents; that we came here to gather our share of the mineral treasures of the land, and then to return to the homes of our youth, there to spend the remainder of our lives; that, at first, we took no thought to found here the institutions of a higher civilization, nor even to cultivate social relations; and that, in this solitary isolation to which we condemned ourselves for the sake of gain, it was true, in a certain sensė, of us, as individuals, that " bands were against every one, and every one's hand against us." Let us confess that this Ishmaelitish tradition has still a certain influence upon us, and that we do not devote ourselves as fully as we ought to the preparation for the great future of California ; and let us resolve that this day shall form a new era in our organized efforts. The faculties of man are threefold, intellectual, moral, and æsthetic; he has reasoring powers which can be cultivated ; a moral and religious sense which can be elevated ; and a perception of the beautiful i nature and art which can be developed into a source of happiness and refinement. As of men, so of nations, for nations are but aggregates of men. The man who is wanting in cultivation of any of these faculties is but an imperfect man; a nation which is thus deficient can never act a perfect part in the history of the world. The Greeks and Romans were powerful peoples, highly developed in intellect and aesthetics, but in religion and morals they possessed only the gross and sensual superstitions of paganism. The Puritans of New England were highly cultivated intellectually and morally, but not æsthetically; they were a strong, stern, and unsocial race. The politicians of the French revolution were men of powerful intellects, and of high culture in literature and art, but they were wanting in religious sentiment, and disbelievers in the ever-present working of an intelligent and personal Deity; so that even Robespierre, contemplating the threatened dissolution of his political system, cried out in his agony:
" If there is no God, then we must create one!" Deficiency in æsthetic culture is commonly the want of new countries. The want of culture has been ascribed to us in California ; by this is meant the want of intimate and refined social culture, of the perception of the beautiful in nature and in art-of that beautiful in nature, and that ideal of human perfection, which the painter strives to perpetuate on his canvas, the statuary to embody in marble, the poet to crystallize in his verse, and the musician to bring up from the profoundest depths of the human soul. The charge brought against us is in a large measure true, as it is always true of new populations ; but we have advanced so rapidly to a high degree of prosperity that it ought to be true no longer, and we ought ourselves to remove this great reproach. Let us resolve, then, that we will do all in our power to develop æsthetic culture in California; that we will not only devote our aid to the foundation of churches, colleges, schools, and the kindred institutions of morals, science, and humanity, but also to the cultivation of arts, of the perception of the beautiful, to the advancement of painting and statuary. So shall we do our duty to the future; so shall come after us generations of Californians against whom no such reproach can be brought-a perfect race, equally developed in their threefold faculties, by intellectual, moral, and æsthetic culture.
CELEBRATION, TEN YEARS HENCE, OF THE HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY OF
San Francisco was founded by a colony of soldiers and settlers who came up for that purpose from Monterey, overland and by sea, in 1776, and immediately set about constructing a chapel at the presidio, after which the following proceeding took place, as recorded by Father Palou, one of the missionary priests who belonged to the expedition :
“We took formal possession of the presidio on the seventeenth day of Septem ber, the anniversary of the impression of the wounds of our Father San Francisco the patron of the presidio and mission. I said the first mass, and after blessing the site, (despues del bendito,) the elevation and adoration of the holy cross, and the conclusion of the service with the Te Deum, the officers took formal possession in the name of our sovereign, with many discharges of cannon, both on sea and land, and the musketry of the soldiers."
The seventeenth of September, A. D. 1776, must therefore be considered the date of the foundation of San Francisco.
Ten years from now San Francisco will have completed the hundredth year of her existence. In ten years most of us, under the ordinary providence of God, will be still living. Let us then, on the hundredth birthday of our beloved city, go up and celebrate it on the plain of the presidio, where she was born. Let us at that time renew the solemn exercises by which the soil was consecrated to civilization: the blessing of holy mother church will not hurt the most zealous Protestant among us. Let us rear mast-high the old flag of Spain, with full military honors, to be replaced with equal honor by that of Mexico, which in its turn shall give place, with “ great discharge of musketry and of cannon,” to our own national emblem of unity and strength !
It is the singularly good fortune of the members of our society that they have an assui ed position in the history of California, and one which can never be taken away from them. Whatever the future may have in store for us as individuals, the Corporate Society of California Pioneers has had an existence whose 'records must always remain in the literature and history of California. Our banner is here, on which our names are inscribed, and that banner will always float at the head of the “innumerable caravan" of the countless generations who are to succeed us—of that column which, like the Macedonian phalanx, widening as it deepens, shall draw its vast recruits as well from the tropical regions of the equator as from the confines of the frozen ocean. Behold the thin mist curling up from the ripple where the sunbeam kisses the western sea! It mounts to Heaven, and on its slight curtain Aurora paints the glories of the rising sun; condenses itself into the fleecy whiteness which decorates the sky of June; piles up the mighty thunder-cloud, with blackened base and Alpine peaks of dazzling brightness; and, at the signal of the far-flashing red artillery” of Heaven, and with reverberating crash, dissolves itself in gentle rain ; descends with refreshing coolness on the thirsty land, rushes in torrents of sheety foam adown the mountain side ; swells the vast river to its grassy brink, and then returns its tributary volume to the mother ocean. So countless as the innumerable drops of rain shall be the people that come after us. So shall they rise up from the mists of the future, filling Heaven and earth and sea with the beauty, greatness, and goodness of their acts, and then return, like us, to the great source from which they came. And among them, what multitudes of unborn painters, sculptors, poets, merchant-princes, generals and statesmen! Unknown they are to us, but sure to be-most of them still sleeping in the vast caverns where repose the unborn generations of mankind. But from the depthis of the mists which conceal them, we already hear the reverberations of their heavy tread. The parting haze already reveals the outline of the giant forms of their leaders, but, alas, their faces are veiled! These are the men for whose coming we are to prepare this California of ours; these are the men who are to erect on the Pacific coast the imperial throne of the great American empire!
H. Ex. Doc. 29-21