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Even at this early day the subject of the establishment of a Civil Territorial Government had found advocates; but as the war was not yet ended, and as the country could not be regarded in any other light than that of a military conquest, and as such, subject to the government of the military power, and as the majority of the people felt that self-reliance which convinced them there was little danger of any serious attempt at usurpation on the part of the military authority, the matter was not seriously pressed, though generally approved. Nevertheless, it was becoming daily more and more a pervading sentiment, that the civil government, as then organized under the aš. most obsolete laws of Mexico, was totally inadequate to the changed circumstances of the country, and, as the undersigned believe, none were more fully convinced of that fact, than the executive officers of that Government. This sentiment finally became general; and the errors and difficulties that every day occurred, from the ignorance of Mexican law, or its inapplicability, induced the Governor to make a compilation and translation of all such Mexican regulations as could be found in the archives of the State Department at Monterey, with such additions as were thought advisable and necessary. These were printed in both the English and Spanish languages, but, unfortunately for the country, they were not quite ready for publication at the time news of peace reached California, and the Governor, therefore, never proclaimed nor issued them.
In the month of October, 1847, the Military Contribution Tariff, promulgated by the then President of the United States, was established in the ports of California. The custom-houses, which theretofore had remained in the hands of citizens who accounted to the Military Governor, or the Commodore of the Pacific Squadron, were now filled by army or navy officers. This tariff was justly but rigorously enforced; and, though its provisions bore so oppressively upon the country as to add slightly to the causes and feeling of discontent, no opposition was manifested. Indeed, during this whole time, although the evils and difficulties under which the country suffered were manifold, we believe no single instance can be found of unlawful or riotous resistance to the constituted authorities.
But the desire for a more congenial government went on steadily increasing in that portion of the country lying around and north of the district of San Francisco. To this feeling the arrival of the overland emigration in the fall of 1847 greatly contributed. In the meantime, the original citizens of California had become in a measure satisfied with their position, and as the conduct of the American officers and citizens was of a courteous and upright character, they gradually became assured that there rights, property, and happiness were not likely to be destroyed by the conquerors. Still, a degree of solicitude and suspicion preyed upon the public mind. An uncertainty seemed to pervade the whole country, exercising a chilling and depressing effect upon its agricultural, commerce, mechanic arts, and general business relations. The military government had continued the collection of duties under the military contribution tariff, and as a parsimonious policy of expenditure was maintained, the whole circulating medium of the country was gradually locked up in the military chest. This exerted a paralyzing effect on the industrial and business pursuits of the whole community, and gave rise to complaints that the military power was taxing the people without allowing them a voice in the matter, and that at the same time they failed to give to the country a government in consonance with its wishes or commensurate to its wants ; in other words, that after taxing the inhabitants of the country in contravention of all right, they committed the greater injustice of refusing or neglecting to expend the money so obtained in such a manner as would provide a government that would give protection to the citizen and security to his property. California, however, went on steadily increasing in population, wealth, industry and commercial and political importance.
Such was the condition of California in April, 1848. In that month was made the extraordinary discovery of the gold mines, and instantly the whole territory was in a blaze. The towns were deserted by their male population, and a complete cessation of the whole industrial pursuits of the country was the consequence. Commerce, agriculture, mechanical pursuits, professions-all were abandoned for the purpose of gathering the glittering treasures which lay buried in the ravines, the gorges, and the rivers of the Sierra Nevada. The productive industry of the country was annihilated in a day. In some instances the moral perceptions were blunted, and men left their families unprovided, and soldiers deserted their colors. The desire for gold was not regulated by any of the ordinary processes of reasoning, and such was the disastrous effect of the discovery of the precious ore upon the social, business, and political interests of the country, that the high hopes which the far- seeing and patriotic had entertained of the future progress and greatness of California, were dashed at once to the ground. A pall seemed to settle upon the country ; and even the bewildered miners wondered as the result.
But the peculiar energy and the utilitarian predisposition of the American character could not long be diverted from its natural and accustomed channels, even by the glitter of gold. Commerce slowly revived, and mechanical and professional pursuits began to assume their wonted importance. as the novelty of gold digging was dispelled by a correct understanding of the difficult and laborious nature of the pursuit. The large emigration which was now pouring into the country from Oregon, Mexico, and the Sandwich Islands, though it added to the number of miners, contributed to the necessities which had made a diversion in favor of the sober pursuits of every day life, and a more healthy and staid condition of public opinion and business ensued.
At about this time on the 7th of August, 1848) the news of peace between the republics of the United States and Mexico reached the country, and was communicated to the people in a proclamation by Governor Mason. This proclamation, after reciting so much of the treaty as applied to California, stated that the existing laws would remain in force, and the existing officers would administer them as heretofore ; and it did not fail to express the confident hope that the Congress of the United States, which was in session at the time of the ratification of the treaty, had already organised a Territorial Government, which might be expected to arrive at any moment. Governor Ma. son then abolished, in pursuance with treaty stipulations, the military contribution tariff; but not deeming it advisable to abandon the collection of revenue entirely, and yet having no authority either in executive orders, law, or precedent, he declared the revenue laws of the United States in force throughout the Territory, appointed civilians to the post of collector, and received the duties into the military treasury of the department, under the distinctive appellation of the "civil fund of California."
There were those in the country at this time, and they were not few in numbers, who believed that it was the duty of Governor Mason, immediately after the reception of the news of peace, to have called upon the people to elect delegates to a Territorial Convention for the purpose of forming a Civil Provisional Territorial Government for California ; and that it was his duty, so soon as such form of government was ratified by the people of the Territory, to have delivered up to the appointed agent the powers he possessed as Civil Governor, and left to such appointee of the people the entire discharge of the duties appertaining to a civil Executive. It may be imagined then, that when, instead of doing this, the existing order of things was preserved and the United States revenue laws enforced, that great dissatisfaction ensued. To add to the general discontent, the daily arrival of large importations created so great a demand for coin with which to meet the custom house charges, that gold dust was depreciated so much in value as to be sold as low as seven dollars per ounce, at one time ; and finally such became the utter barrenness of the San Francisco money market, that the collector at that port was authorised to receive gold dust on deposit as collateral security for duties, at the rate of ten dollars per ounce. Other difficulties of a perplexing and se. rious character grew out of this sudden substitution of a new revenue system, by which foreign vessels were denied the privileges which they would have had under the military contribution tariff. But, suffice it to say, that again the public mind was disturbed and excited by taxation without representation, and by that falsely economical policy which continued to take money from the people without law, and yet would not appropriate the funds so obtained to the purpose of securing them a good government.
But the unsettled and unstable order of things wbich had ensued upon the discovery of the gold mines still existed ; and the dissatisfaction and discontent of the people, though quite general, failed, for this reason, to assume an organized or imposing form. The fact that four-fifths of the male po. pulation of the country were eagerly engaged in the mines, greatly contributed to this result, and the almost universal belief that the United States Congress had before its adjournment passed a law establishing a Territorial Government, satisfied the public mind that no action on its part was then necessary. So passed the summer and fall of 1848.
Upon the coming on of winter, the great majority of the miners returned to their homes in the towns. They came rich in gold dust ; but a single glance at the desolate and unthrifty appearance of the Territory convinced them that other pursuits than that of gold-digging must receive a proportion of their care and labor, if they wished to be really happy, and promote the true interests of
the country. They felt, as all Americans feel, that the most important step they could take, and I that most imperatively called for by the wants of the inhabitants, was the establishment of a stable
system of government, which would command the respect and obedience of the people whose property it protected, and whose rights it preserved. Congress had adjourned without providing a Territorial Government, and the public had settled into the firm conviction that the de facto Government was radically defective and incapable of answering the public wants. The large increase in the emigration during the past year, the still greater prospective increase in the year to come, the increased wants which were daily growing from a rapidly rising and extending commerce, and the growing demands of an enterprising and progressive people, all required a new and compatible system of government. Recent murders, highway robberies, and other outrages in various portions of the country, had convinced the honest and the orderly that anarchy, misrule, and wrong were abroad in the land. For a moment doubt, fear, uncertainty and indecision seemed to paralyze the public energies ; but that love of order and justice which ever springs from the "still small voice," soon triumphed, and terrible indeed, was the retribution meted out to the offenders.
The opinions of the people, accelerated by the combined causes just enumerated, now, for the first time in the history of the country, assumed an organised form. On the 11th day of December 1848, a large meeting of the inhabitants of the district of San Jose was held at the town of that name, at which speeches were made, committees appointed, and resolutions unanimously adopted in favor of holding a convention for the purpose of forming a Provisional Territorial Government, to be put into immediate operation, and to remain in force until Congress should discharge its duty, and supersede it by a regular Territorial organization. The proceedings of this meeting were published and disseminated as rapidly as the means of communication would allow; and its
action met with the unanimous approval of the people of the northern and middle portions of California. On the 21st and 23d of December, 1848, two of the largest public meetings ever held in California convened at San Francisco, and unanimously declared their concurrence in the course of action recommended by the citizens of San Jose. On the 6th and 8th of January, 1849, meetings at Sacramento City were held concurring in the same purpose. In the district of Monterey a similar meeting was held on the 31st of January, 1849, and in the district of Sonoma a meeting of approval and concurrence was held on the 5th of February, 1849. These five districts elected delegates to the proposed convention, viz : The district of Sacramento 5, Sonoma 10, San Francisco 5, San Jose 3, Monterey 5. These districts comprised at that time more than three-fifths of the entire population of the country. But the five other districts, viz : San Joaquin in the north, and San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angelos, and San Diego in the south, failed to concur in this movement for the establishment of a Provisional Territorial Government. The reasons of this nonconcurrence were substantially the following:
The meeting held at San Jose recommended that the Convention for forming a Provisional Gov. ernment should assemble at San José, on the second Monday of January, 1849. The San Francisco meeting believing that day much 100 early to allow communication with the remote Districts and deeming it of paramount importance that the whole Territory should be represented in the proposed Convention, recommended that it should meet on Monday, March 5. In this recommendation of the District of San Francisco the Disrricts of Sonoma and Sacramento concurred, as did tacitly the District of San Jose. The District of Monterey, also concurred therein, but constituted its elected Delegates a Committee to confer with the other Districts to obtain, if possible and advisabłe, a still further extension of the time of holding the Convention.
The Corresponding Committee appointed by the San Francisco meeting had taken great pains to spread the intelligence of the action of the people there and in San Jose, and to request that measures be adopted to promote the cause of Provisional Government in the surrounding Districts, but the inclemency of the weather and the impassable condition of the roads and streams in consequence of the severe winter rains, had, up to January 24, 1849, prevented all communication with the five Districts above named. The Committee received many letters and much verbal information from different sections, which finally decided them in issuing to the public on January 24, 1849, a recommendation" that the time for the proposed assembling of the Provisional Govern ment Convention be changed from Monday, the 5th day of March, to Tuesday the 1st day of May, 1849."
As was to have been expected, this recommendation, though generally concurred in, and though the reasons by which it was supported wero never attempted to be controverted, had a tendency, by creating an impression of uncertainty, to cool the ardor of those interested in the cause. In addition to this, the recent intelligence from the Atlantic coast had given some assurance that Congress would not again adjourn without the adoption of a Territorial Government for California, and the arrival of Gen. P. F. Smith, on the 28th day of February, at San Francisco, to assume the command of the Pacific Division of the U. 8. Army, was considered a favorable omen of what might be expected from the action of the cabinet and the law.givers at Washington.
Notwithstanding all these obstacles, the cause of Provisional Government still progressed; and though it was now feared and foreseen that the attempt to assemble a Convention on the first of May would probably fail, yet twelve of the Delegates elected to that body met at San Francisco early in the month of March, 1819, and issued an address to the people of California. That address, after recounting the reasons which prevented the assembling of the Convention, as originally proposed, on the 5th of March, and after reasserting the truth, that the action of a Convention which did not consist of representatives from each and every district would not be likely to meet with approval or respect from the public at large, concluded with the suggestion that "new elections should be held in the several districts for delegates to meet in convention at Monterey, on the first Mon day in August next ;" and that those delegates should be vested with full power to frame a State Constitution to be submitted to the people of California ; and further staing their belief that the circumstances and wants of the country were such as to requre the immediate formation of a State Constitution, and entitle us to a right to be admitted into that Union of sovereign States, which we trust will ever be distinct as the billows, but one as the ocean."" There is no doubt that this was then the prevailing sentiment of the people of the Territory.
In order to provide for the immediate wants of their respective districts, the citizens of Sonoma and Sacramento had elected, early in the year 1849, District Legislative Assemblies. The district of San Francisco, in consequence of difficulties between their Alcalde and two Town Councils claiming jurisdiction, resorted to the same method, and elected a Legislative As sembly. These acts on the part of the people of the respective districts brought about various collisions between the people and the de facto government of which Gen. Riley, who arrived on the 13th of April, 1849, was now the head. It is not necessary for us to enter into details of these matters, further than to say that a very excited and bitter feeling of hostility to this de facto government was quite universal, and that this feeling was strengthened by the failure of Con gress to pass a bill establishing a Territorial government in California, and the passage of a law for the collection of revenue. The intelligence of this failure to act in the one case, and action in the oth
er, on the part of Congress, reached San Francisco on the 28th May, 1849, by the U. S. propeller Edith, which vessel had been despatched to Mazatlan by order of Gen. Smith, on the preceding 10th of April
. No sooner was this intelligence disseminated throughout the country, than it became evident to all men that the political complexion which a great question had assumed in the Atlantic States had prevented Congress from establishing a Territorial government, or even authorizing the people of California to form a State government; and there grew up at once a unanimous desire in the hearts of the citizens of the Territory, to adopt the only feasible scheme which promised them a government-that of a State organization. This sentiment daily gained ground until the beginning of June, 1849, when the Legislative Assembly of the District of San Francisco published an address to the people of California, asserting that they believed it to be their duty to earnestly recommend to their fellow citizens the propriety of electing at least twelve delegates froin each district to attend a general convention to be held at the Puebla de San Jose on the third Monday in August next, for the purpose of organizing a government for the whole Territory of California ;" such "conditional or temporary State government to be put into operation at the earliest practicable moment" after "its ratification by the people," and "to become a permanent State government when admitted into the Union." This recomendation met with universal approvat.
Simultaneous with this action on the part of the Legislative Assembly of the district of San Francisco, though without any knowledge thereof, Gov. Riley issued at Monterey, (130 miles distant) on the 3d day of June, 1849, a proclamation recommending the election of delegates to a convention for forming a State Constitution, said body to convene at Monterey on the 1st day of September following. He also evinced a disposition, which had not been manifested before, to put in immediate, complete, and fair operation, the whole machinery of the de facto government, of which he claimed to be the head; he assured the people of his patriotic desire to accomplish his duty and their welfare by recommending them to elect all such officers as the existing laws authorized, whether it were provided that such officers should be elected by the people or appointed by the executive ; and he convinced them of his good faith by at once coming forward and appropriating the "civil fund of California," which had been collected upon the imports of the country without law or authority, to the payment of the current expenses of the de facio government, which he had de termined to put fully into operation. Notwithstanding all this, however, the majority of the people of the Territory denied his right to issue a proclamation calling a convention, contending that in the default of the action of Congress, the right to pursue such a course was inherent in the people.
But the opposition of the people to the de facto government had sprung from patriotic motives and from experimental conviction that it was insufficient for the exigencies of the country. This opposition was confined in its public manifestations entirely to the American born population. The Californians proper, as a whole, had never participated in any of the popular exhibitions of discontent ; and the emigration that was now daily arriving in large numbers did not, of necessity, enter into the spirit of the grievances which were complained of by the older residents, nor espouse either side of a quarrel of which they could not distinctly comprehend the nature. All men, though, ardently desired a settled, Constitutional form of government; and it became the duty of the patriotic to yield their prejudices and abstract opinions, and to unite in one common effort to promote the public good. Congress had abandoned the Territory to its own resources - had oppressed it by the passage of an unjust law-a large portion of its population were in determined and open hostility to the de faalo government-petty governments had been established in several districts-and anarchy and civil discord impending over the land. It was a moment of uncertainty and fear for California ; but American patri tism and American love of law and order were superior to all other considerations, and the present and future prosperity of California was secured by a unanimous combination to form a State government
On the 7th of June, 1849, the citizens of San Jose, in a public meeting, concurred in the recommendations of Gen. Riley; and on the 11th of the same month the citizens of Monterey agreed thereto in a similar manner. On the 12th day of that month the largest mass meeting of the citizens of San Francisco ever held convened in Portsmouth square in that city. That meeting was addressed by Hon. T, Butler King, Wm. M. Gwin, Edward Gilbert, and other gentlemen ; but such was the excited state of feeling in that district that the meeting, by a direct vote, refused to concur in the recommendation of Gen. Riley's proclamation. A corresponding Committee was, however, appointed, which, on the 18th of June, in an address to the public, used the following language, viz :
"The Committee, not recognizing the least power, as matter of right in Brev. Brig. Gen. Riley to appoint' a time and place for the election of delegates and the assembling of the convention, yet as these matters are subordinate, and as the people of San Jose have, in public meeting, expressed their satisfaction with the times mentioned by Gen Riley, and as we are informed the dis. tricts below will accede to the same ; and as it is of the first importance that there be unanimity of action among the people of California in reference to the great leading object-the attempt to form a government for ourselves—we recommend to our fellow citizens of California the propriety, under existing circumstances, of acceding to the time and place mentioned by Gen. Riley in his proclamation, and acceded to by the people of other districts.
This is believed to bave been the general sentiment
In all the other districts of the Territory, public meetings of concurrence in Gen. Riley's proclamation were subsequently held. The election followed on the 1st of August, and the convention assembled at Monterey on the 1st of September, 1849.
The undersigned have not presumed to weary your patience by laying before you in full the proceedings and action of the public bodies to which they have made allusion ; nor have they thought it neccessary to enter into a detail of minor particulars of difference and disagreement between the people and the de facto government. They, however, deem it their duty to assure you, that the persons who figured most conspicuously in the whole undertaking, enjoyed a bigh share of the public confidence and esteem ; and we believe that the best tribute to their worth and respectability is to be found in the fact that many of them were members of the convention which framed the Constitution, and now enjoy responsible and honorable positions under the government whose basis they 80 patriotically contributed to establish.
Such, in the opinion of the undersigned, is a brief and impartial history of the causes which have resulted in the formation of the present State government of California, and the presentation of her request for admission into the American Union. And the undersigned firmly and religiously believe that a perasal of the foregoing pages must lead irresistibly to the following conclusions, viz :
1. That a Territorial government, under the revisory power of Congress, would, so far from promoting the interests of California, so circumscribe its energies, prevent the development of its capacities, and impede its general advancement, as to be a source of discontent, difficulty, and ultimate ruin, either to the government or governed.
2. That the wonderful increase of the country in population, in wealth, and consequently in commercial, social, and political importance, renders imperatively necessary the adoption of such a system of measures as can only be enacted by a State Legislature and enforced by a State government.
3. That the neglect and oppression of the United States Congress, forced California to form a State goverment, if she desired to avoid civil strife and anarchy.
And, 4. That the people of that country did not adopt such form of government in obedience to dictation from the executive here, through Gen. Riley there ; but on the contrary, actually took the initiative in the movement, and only concurred in the suggestions of the de facto Governor as a matter of convenience, to save time, and with a patriotic resolution to merge all minor differences of opinion in one unanimous effort to avert impending ills and remedy existing evils.
Much misapprehension appears to have obtained in the Atlantic States relative to the question of slavery in California. The undersigned have no hesitation in saying that the provision in the Constitution excluding that institution, meets with the almost unanimous approval of that people. This unanimity is believed to result not so much from the prejudices against the system, which are quite general in the northern portion of the United States, as from a universal conviction that in no portion of California is the climate and soil of a character adapted to slave labor. Since the discovery of the mines, the feeling in opposition to the introduction of slavery is believed to have become, if possible, more unanimous than heretofore. The relation of master and slave has never existed in the country, and is there generally believed to be prohibited by Mexican law, consequently the original California population is utterly opposed to it. Slavery is a question little discussed in California, so settled appears the public mind relative thereto. Public meetings have scarcely ever considered it. The opinion put forward, that the decision of this question has been forestalled, has no foundation in truth. And no more conclusive proof of this can be found than the simple facts, that fifteen of the forty-eight members composing the convention which unanimously insert ed the prchibtory clause in the Constitution, were from slaveholding States, while twelve were Californians proper, and twenty one northern men. Further than this, there is no doubt, that two. fifths of those who voted in favor of the Constitution were recent emigrants from slaveholding States, while it is known that many of the votes given against the instrument were so given in consequence of the failure of the messengers to distribute the printed copies in several mining localities. No debate upon the subject was had in the convention, though some “conversation" ensued upon a proposition to submit the provision to the people for a separate vote. This was suggested by northern nien, and did not prevail.
Objections have been urged against the boundaries of California, as fixed by her Constitution. The convention which settied upon the proposed bou dary, was engaged during three days in debate upon that subject. There were two parties, or rather two propositions : 1. To take in the whole of California as it existed when a department of Mexico; but with a proviso that Congress and the State Legislature might limit the bounds of the State to the summit of the Sierra Nevada, and leaving it to Congress to establish Territorial governments over such portions of the country as it might see fit. 2. To divide the whole Territory on the 116th degree of west longitude, from the southern boundary of Oregon to the northern boundary of Mexico, that portion of said Territory lying west of the one hundred and sixteenth degree of West longitude, and between that line and the Pacific Ocean, to constitute the State of California. The opinion of the convention was so nearly divided between these two propositions, that both were supported by a majority at different times during the informal stages ; and on the final passage the present boundary was adopted as a