« PrejšnjaNaprej »
document given to each petitioner, should serve in lieu of the usual formal grant. This done, he marched to the south, but was unfortunate, for he was taken prisoner, and Micheltorena expelled from the country. This is the last of the civil wars of California.
In the spring of 1846, General Castro in the North, and Pio Pico, the Governor, in the South, were waxing hot against each other, and preparing for new conflicts, when the apparition of Captain Fremont with his small surveying party of old mountaineers, and the hardy and indomitable Pioneers of the Sacramento Valley, and the Bear flag, put an end to their dissensions. Castro had himself prepared the way for this aggression, by driving Fremon and his surveying party out of the Mexican settlements, a few months before. The colony on the Sacramento necessarily sympathized with Fremont; and rumors, more or less well founded, began to run through the valley, of hostile intentions towards all the American settlers. But resentment, and anticipations of evil, were not the sole cause of this movement. There can not now be a doubt that it was prompted, as it was approved, by the Government of the United States; and that Captain Fremont obeyed his orders no less than his own feelings.
Fremont was still on the northern side of the Bay of San Francisco when the American flag was hoisted at Monterey, on the ever-memorable seventh day of July, 1846.
Before the war, the Government of the United States had fully determined, so far as that matter rested with the Executive, upon the conquest and permanent retention of California, as soon as the out-break of war should offer the opportunity. Orders, in antici
pation of war, were issued to that effect, and it was under these orders that California was actually taken. The danger of that day was, that England would step in before us. Her ships were watching our ships on the coast of Mexico.
The British pretext, it is said, was to have been to secure an equivalent for the Mexican debt due to British subjects; and it is understood that there was a .party here who favored this design.
Because Commodore Sloat did not rush to the execution of the orders issued in anticipation of war, on the very first report of a collision between the United States and Mexico, the anxious Secretary of the Navy, dreading to lose the prize, hotly censured him in a letter which reached him after the event had broken the sting of its reproaches, and served only to assure him how well he had fulfilled the wishes of his government. The flag of the United States was no sooner flying, than the Collingwood entered the bay of Monterey. There had been a race between the Collingwood and the Savannah. What a moment was that for us, and for the world ! What if the Collingwood had been the swifter sailer, and Sloat had found the English flag flying on the shore ! What if we had been born on another planet ! The cast was for England or the United States, and when the die turned for us, the interest was at
As a feat of arms, the conquest of California was nothing tor a power like ours.
Even more feeble, and as much distracted as the rest of Mexico, and with but a nominal dependence upon the Central Government, but a very little force was sufficient to detach California forever from all her Spanish-American connections. Whatever of military credit there was, is due to the Pioneers who, under the Bear flag, had, before they heard of the beginning of the war, with an admirable instinct for their own rights, and the interests of their country, rebelled against any further Mexican misrule, or a sale to the British. The loyalty of their sentiments was beautifully illustrated by the alacrity with which they relinquished the complete independence which appeared to be within their grasp, and turned over their conquests, and the further service of their rifles, to the country which they remembered with so much affection, and a government from which they would suffer themselves to look for nothing but wisdom and strength, and a tender consideration for the rights and interests of the Pioneer.
For three years and a half, when there was no war, and for nearly two years after there was a declared peace, California was governed, and for a great part of the time heavily taxed, by the executive branch of the government of the United States, acting through military officers. This I note as an anomaly in the experience of the citizens of this Republic.
California, separated from Mexico, a new people began to come in, from the United States and Europe. But California was
, remote, and yet but little understood. Mr. Webster himself spoke of her as almost worthless, except for the Bay of San Francisco, and as though the soil was as barren and thorny as the rocks of Lower California. Emigrants came, but not many—amongst the most remarkable arrivals being the ship Brooklyn, freighted with Mormons. The soldiers themselves were nothing more than armed colonists. And everything was peaceful and dull, until suddenly, when no man expected, there came a change of transcendant magnitude.
Gold was discovered at Coloma. This was an event that stirred the heart of the whole world. The motives which pervade and most control the lives of men were touched. All the impulses that spring from Necessity and Hope were quickened ; and a movement was visible amongst mankind. To get to California, some crossed over from Buenos Ayres to Valparaiso, scaling the Andes. The Isthmus of Darien became a common thoroughfare. Peaceful invaders entered Mexico at every point, and on every route startled the drowsy muleteer as they passed over to the Pacific where the coast was nearest, or pushed on directly for California. Constant caravans issued from our own borders, traversed every intervening prairie, and explored every pass and gap of opposing mountains. As the long train descended to the valley, perhaps the foremost wagon is driven by an old man, who when he was a boy moved out in this way from Virginia to Kentucky; and passing still from one new State to another, now when he is grown gray halts his team at last upon the shores of the Pacific. Ships sailed from every port on the globe. The man at the wheel, in every sea, steered by the star that led to San Francisco. So came the emigrants of 1849. . The occupation of California was now complete, and she became a part of the world.
The sighs, the prayers, the toiling and the watching of our oerwearied countrymen on these long painful journeys are still demanding a railroad to the Pacific.
Eleven years are passed, and have they no voice? We looked out upon a wide expanse—unfenced, untilled—and though nature was lovely, our hearts sunk within us. Neither the priest nor the ranchero had prepared this country for our habitation. We asked who shall subdue all this to our uses? We look again ; and now, upon a landscape chequered with smiling farms and dotted with cities and towns, busy and humming like the bive.
What magic is it that has wrought this change? On every hand, with one acclaim, comes back the answer. Labor, it is Labor. Of our
. eleven years, here is the lesson. Man's opinions and his passions were but insolence and vanity. Boasting and praise made but the greatness of the passing day. And Labor, only Labor, has survived. However silent, however humble and unseen, or on what bestowed, it is Labor which has created California, and which rules us at this hour. With our own eyes this we have seen, and of our knowledge we know the lesson to be as true as it is old.
California in full possession of the white man, and embraced within the mighty area of his civilization! We feel the sympathies of our race attract us. We see in our great movement hitherward in 1849 a likeness to the times when our ancestors, their wives and little ones, and all their stuff in wagons, and with attendant herds, poured forth by nations and in never-ending columns from the German forests, and went to seek new pastures and to found new kingdoms in the ruined provinces of the Roman Empire : or when swayed by another inspiration they cast their masses upon the Saracens, and sought to rescue the Sepulchre of Christ from the infidels. We recognize that we are but the foremost rank of that
multitude which for centuries has held its unwavering course out of Europe upon America, in numbers still increasing; a vast unsummoned host, self-marshaled, leaderless, and innumerable, moving and onward forever, to possess and people another continent. Separated but in space, divided but by the accidents of manners, of language and of laws—from Scandinavia to California —one blood and one people. Knowledge is but the conservation of his thoughts, art but the embodiment of his conceptions, letters the record of his deeds. Man of our race has crowned the earth with its glory! And still in the series of his works you have founded a State. May it be great and powerful whilst the Ocean shall thunder against these shores. You have planted a people ; may they be
; prosperous and happy whilst summers shall return to bless these fields with plenty. And may the name of the Pioneer be spoken in California forever.
Since the foregoing address was delivered, the following letter has been received by Mr. Randolph from Mr. Sprague, a gentleman well known in this city, and interesting as showing the discovery of gold in California THIRTY-FIVE years ago : Edmund Randolph, Esq., San Francisco:
GENOA, Carson Valley, Sept. 18, 1860. FRIEND RANDOLPH :-I have just been reading your address before the Society of Pioneers. I have known of the J. S. Smith you mention, by reputation, for many years. He was the first white man that ever went Overland from the Atlantic States to California. He was a Chief Trader in the employ of the American Fur Company. At the rendezvous of the Company on Green River, near the South Pass, in 1825, Smith was directed to take charge of a party of some 40 men, (trappers) and penetrate the country west of Salt Lake. He discovered what is now called Humboldt River. He called it Mary's River, from his Indian wife Mary. It has always been known
. as Mary's River by mountain men since—a name which it should retain, for many reasons.