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But-End of California Redwood, ca 1880s
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Local History Notes:
The Romanic Period in California
The period of romance is usually regarded as covering approximately the years betwen 1782 and 1810. Before that time all efforts of the pioneers had been bent toward the mere procuring of food and shelter; a little ease had now succeeded the first struggle for a foothold; the political upheavals to follow had not yet absorbed all attention; while the roughness of frontier life had been slightly softened by the coming of at least a few women of the better class. It was the first opportunity for the flowering of romance in the new land whose soft clime and charming scenery brought back to the first settlers memories of their ancestral home.
In these days the Spanish flag still flew over California and her governors served as representatives of the King; but it was then that Spain took her first step backward by the abandonment of Nootka Sound. It was in this time, too, that the previous complete isolation of the province was broken, and foreigners, English, Russian, and American, began to make their appearance. The voyage of the ill-fated Captain Cook and his reports of the valuable furs to be obtained on the northwest coast had begun to bear fruit. All the world was turning envious eyes in that direction. The time was approaching when Spanish supremacy in the Pacific was to be called upon to make its last stand.
It was during the sway of that mighty bear hunter, Pedro Fages, that the first foreign ship quietly slipped into the harbor of Monterey and dropped anchor. Lapérouse came ostensibly on a scientific expedition, with the object of making a thorough study of the flora and fauna, the geology and aboriginal inhabitants of the countries of the western hemisphere; but he was to keep his eyes open for any opportunity for an entering wedge in the fur trade by the establishment of French settlements north of Monterey. The California officials had not yet taken the alarm, and the break made in the dull monotony of their lives by the coming of the visitors was enthusiastically welcomed. Everybody, priests and officials, and no doubt even the disgruntled Señora Gobernadora, received the Frenchmen with open arms. Lapérouse, like Vancouver, was very favorably impressed with the natural advantages of California and correspondingly amazed by the failure of the Spaniards to make adequate use of them. Having no vision of the horde of gold-seekers that were to pour over the Sierra sixty-three years later, he prophesied that it would be a century, or perhaps two centuries, before Alta California would attract the attention of the powers of the world. The weakness of the Spanish military establishments filled him with astonishment.
The first lean days now being past, the governor was able to load the French ships with all kinds of provisions. Prices in the time of Fages are quoted as $3 to $9 for horses, sheep at 75 cents to $2 each, mules at the relatively high price of $14 to $20, quail at 25 cents a dozen, jerked beef at 3 cents a pound, and fresh beef at 1 cent a pound. Eggs were a luxury, at the comparatively high price of 24 cents a dozen. The life was an unequal combination of plenty and poverty, for in all respects but food there was a great scarcity of all commodities. All clothing, and goods, except the coarse cloth made at the missions, had to be brought from san Blas. Californians were as a rule years behind the rest of the world in point of fashion; in fact they had their own distinctive fashions. The men of 1780, says Sergeant José Maria Amador in his reminiscences, soldiers and civilians alike, used knee breeches of cloth and velveteen, fastened at the knee with buckles of silver or other metal. A short jacket, cloth waistcoat, stockings of wool or silk according to the wealth of the wearer, a black stock high and tight enough to hold the chin well up, a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat held under the chin by a cord, shoes reaching above the ankle and fastened on the outside, completed the costume. The military jacket was also short and was adorned with facings and braidings of red. An officer in full dress in 1780 wore the three-cornered hat of George Washington style, but for ordinary service he used the ordinary broad-brimmed sombrero. In the field he wore the long leather jacket falling to the knees and carried a shield of doubled ox-hide, with a loop on the inside for the arm. The dress of common soldiers was the same as that of the officers, but made of more ordinary materials. On a campaign both officers and men carried swords, lances, poignards, pistols, and carbines. As long as queues were in fashion the women daily braided the hair of their male relatives in one braid of three tresses. A woman of quality of this period, when she paid or received visits, or on festive occasions, appeared in a white skirt with embroidered hem four fingers wide; over this another of silky stuff called sarga, blue, green, or black; short jacket; low shoes with silver buckles and moderately high heels; silken stockings, black or red; rebozo of silk or cotton; pearl necklace. A poor woman used the same fashion of dress as the rich, but of coarser materials.
Of education there was little or none, and that child was fortunate whose parents were able and willing to instruct him to the extent of reading and writing. If the boys received little learning, the girls got still less, for it was not considered desirable that a woman should know anything beyond household duties.
The discomforts endured by the governor's lady ought certainly to be taken into account in judging her for her frantic efforts to force him to abandon his post and return to the pleasures and ease of civilized life in Mexico. Writing to his mother-in-law, Fages said that his wife, Eulalia, gave him no peace in her desire to leave the country, going so far as to bring suit for divorce on the ground of his alleged misconduct toward the Indian girl Indizuela. Everybody, including the padres, became embroiled in the scandal. Capt Nicolás Soler, a mutual friend of the parties, endeavored to effect a reconciliation, but found it such hot work that in one of his letters he spoke of fire in a magazine of gunpowder as indicative of the explosive nature of the situation. Being an old man, he ventured to gravely reprove the lady for her strong hankering after worldly pleasures, advising her in future to moderate her behavior toward the ministers and to bear with patience the injury put upon her by their threat of stripes and irons to bring her to subjection. In a communication to Fages he admitted that on account of the "indocility of her temper" these efforts met with little success; yet he expressed the opinion that no governor ought to suffer his lady to be insulted in public even though she were guilty of the calumnies of which she was accused. Whether by Soler the peacemaker or in some other way, it is certain that a reconciliation was finally effected, for in a leter to Father Palou of January 2, 1787, the much harassed husband said:
My family are well. It is now about five or six months since Eulalia suddenly called me one morning, and with a thousand excuses and tears, humbly begged my pardon for all the past. She spontaneously confessed that it had all been a mere illusion and falsity, and that she herself had suborned Indizuela to entrap me. Afterwards she summoned Don Hermenegildo and Sergeant Vargas and other persons and told them the same, so that they might make it public in discharge of her conscience. Thanks to God that now we are living in union and harmony.
This amende honorable, however, did not prevent her from continuing her efforts to have her husband recalled, and she adopted the bold plan of writing a letter to the Real Audencia of Mexico asking for his removal to some other post on the ground that the climate of this country disagreed with his health. The embarrassed governor, getting wind of this last attempt, was compelled to write to a friend in Mexico and ask him to endeavor to prevent the letter from being sent to Spain. Nevertheless, the determined woman finally won her fight to have him recalled, upon which she immediately sailed with her children for San Blas, though Fages could not follow for a year.
The rule of Pedro Fages, extending from 1782 to 1790, was a period of silent and steady growth rather than of outstanding events. Two new missions, Santa Barbara and Purisima, were added to the nine already in existence. Converts increased from 4,000 to 7,500, and there was great progress in temporal matters. Live stock multiplied rapidly and agricultural products grew apace. Improvements in buildings, corrals, fences, and irrigating works went on constantly. The pueblos were not yet a success, and were far from fulfilling the high expectations of the government and the expense of founding. There was a great lack of mechanics in the country, and evidently much difficulty was experienced in persuading men of good character to come. In his report on the missions in 1787 Fages suggests a plan for overcoming this lack which seems rather dubious in the light of constant unfortunate experiences with immigrants of the convict class. He says:
Reflecting upon these drawbacks, it occurs to me to propose an easy and simple means. In the prisons of Mexico and Guadalajara there may be some artisans who have been sentenced to imprisonment who might be commuted to this province with the condition that they exercise their trades, either in the presidios or in the missions -- and after finishing their term they might be added as voluntary citizens to the pueblos of white people.
It is not necessary to go further to understand the chief cause of the failure of the pueblos. Fages made a great effort to suppress immorality, and strove to enforce Neve's laws against gambling, licentiousness, and offenses of all kinds. One set of his instructions was directed against the use of aguardiente, or distilled liquor, the importation and sale of which had caused the most serious disorders. Rules were made for the restriction of communication between gentile Indians and whites. Couriers and soldiers were ordered never to leave the main road or to get off their horses while on journeys. Indian women who came from the rancherias to do work, grinding meal, etc., were required to do it outside of the houses, and were not permitted to sleep inside, but were herded at night under the care of a sentinel. If good laws and an earnest desire to enforce them had been sufficient to produce a moral community they were not lacking, but the records show a large number of items of arrests for various sorts of offenses. Yet it is not to be supposed that there were no worthy people among these first settlers, for there were many examples of virtue and noble living, which stand out in radiant relief against the dark background. Hittell quotes a letter full of exquisite sentiment and filial affection written in February, 1790, by José de Zuñiga, comandante at San Diego, to his mother, in which he addresses her as "Estimably dear little mother and madam," and signs himself "Your most affectionate son who kisses your feet." From among the vicious and the idle, many respectable names -- Alvarado, Amador, Ortega, Bernal, Carrillo, Estrada, Guerrero, Noriega -- come down from this period.
Among other projects instituted by Governor Fages was the building of the new church at San Carlos. For this purpose he brought a large force of gentile workmen from San José. These native laborers were well fed and kindly treated, and under the direction of skilled white artisans they worked industriously and with good results. The work was continued under the superintendence of Fages for over two years, or until the end of 1791, when he retired from office. He was a busy, energetic man, who yet had time to fill his pockets with dulces for the children, with whom he was a great favorite. His irascible temper involved him in frequent difficulties, especially with the padres, with whom he had many petty disagreements. One cause of trouble was that he had inherited the carrying out of Neve's Reglamento, some of the provisions of which were extremely unpopular with the missionaries. Yet he was always generous enough to give the priests their due, and in his report of 1787 he says:
If we are to do justice to all as we ought to do we must admit that the rapid, agreeable, and interesting advances, spiritual as well as temporal, which we happily perceive and enjoy in this vast new country are the glorious effects of the apostolic zeal, activity, and indefatigable efforts of the friars.
As we have already seen, when Fages, worn out by his long effort to put a raw new country on a solid basis, laid down authority he was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel José Antonio Roméu, whose early death made him but a ghostly figure flitting across the historical stage of that period. Then came Arrillaga as governor ad interim. Arrillaga addressed himself particularly to the straightening out of the accounts of the presidios which had become badly tangled. One of the acts of his administration was the fortifying of San Francisco. He selected a site for a fort on a bluff forming the extreme northern point of the peninsula, now known as Fort Point. This he armed with cannon just arrived from San Blas. There was some talk at this time of establishing a fort at Bodega, but nothing was actually done.
Many expeditions into the interior were undertaken in this period, mainly for the purpose of recovering fugitives from the missions. Arrillaga's friendliness towards the missionaries, which caused some persons to allude to him as un frailero (a friar lover), made him ever ready to accede to their wishes and aid in every way in his power to accomplish their projects. This disposition at least resulted in harmonious relations between the two departments. Though he had not the mental brilliance of Neve nor the lovable personality of Fages, yet Arrillaga was strictly conscientious in the performance of his duty and during his temporary rule of two years and four months peace and tranquillity were preserved and the public business was transacted with great regularity. It was during this time that the phase of private land grants began to take on some importance. A few individuals had been granted tracts of land in the vicinity of Monterey and encouraged to cultivate them.
It will be remembered that it was during Arrillaga's time, in 1792, that Vancouver made his celebrated visit to the coast, thereby causing much perturbation to the careful and officially punctilious governor. The English captain's description of Comandante Arguello's house at San Francisco and his reception there throws some light upon the discontent of Señora Fages with the life in the new province. The house consisted of two rooms and a closet only, divided by massive walls which communicated with each other by very small doors. In winter or rainy seasons the houses must have been very uncomfortable dwellings, for though the walls were a sufficient defense against the inclemency of the weather, the windows, cut into the front side looking into the patio, were destitute of glass or any defense that did not exclude the light. The main room was thirty feet long, fourteen feet wide, and twelve feet high. The floor was of the native earth, raised about three feet from the original level, not boarded, or paved, or even smoothed to an even surface. The roof was covered with flags and rushes. The furniture was very scanty, an assortment of the most indispensable articles of the rudest fashion. Vancouver was pained to find the chief official of the place living under such comfortless conditions, without even necessary table utensils, but he generously admitted that their very poverty made the free-hearted hospitality of these people the more admirable. In his account of the visit he says:
It would, however, be the highest injustice, notwithstanding that elegancies were wanting, not to acknowledge the very cordial reception and hearty welcome we experienced from our worthy host, who had provided a refreshing repast, and such an one as he thought likely to be most acceptable at that time of day; nor was his lady less assiduous, nor did she seem less happy than himself in entertaining her new guests. On approaching the house we found this good lady, who, like her spouse, had passed the middle age of life, decently dressed, seated cross-legged on a mat placed on a small wooden platform raised three or four inches from the ground, nearly in front of the door, with two daughters and a son, clean and decently dressed, sitting by her; this being the mode observed by these ladies when they received visitors. The decorous and pleasing behavior of the children was really admirable, and exceeded anything that could have been expected of them under the circumstances of their situation, without any other advantages than the education and example of their parents; which however seemed to have been studiously attended to and did them great credit. This pleasing sight, added to the friendly reception by our host and hostess, rendered their lowly residence no longer an object of our attention. Having partaken of the refreshments they had provided, we remounted our horses in order to take a view of the surrounding country before we returned on board for dinner.
It is true that the officials of the presidios, who, with the priests, constituted the only aristocracy of the colony, lived like exiles in a strange land, waiting for the day when they might return to their former and more comfortable homes. This lack of any feeling of permanency in the first settlers may partly account for their apathy in undertaking to improve conditions by their own efforts. Surely the cabins of the Yankee pioneers of the Middle West had more comforts than this poor dwelling of the military commander of the port of San Francisco. Poor Doña Eulalia! She should not be judged too harshly, especially when one considers that she came from a home which for that day probably possessed every luxury. Vancouver was surprised to see what small attention was paid to health and comfort. At Santa Clara water was brought from a distance when it might have been obtained in the neighborhood by sinking wells. The families of all lived within the walls of the presidios, although garden ground and more comforts could have been procured at a short distance. The necessary mechanical employments were carried on in an indifferent manner by the soldiers. When Vancouver left he endeavored to repay in some measure the hospitality of these liberal and generous-minded people by making them presents of some table and culinary utensils, besides ornaments for the church.
Diego de Borica, who followed the painstaking Arrillaga, was perhaps the most genial and the most chivalrous of all the Spanish governors of California -- a true caballero. In addition to these agreeable traits of character he was as able as Neve, as industrious as Fages, and as conscientious as Arrillaga. Vancouver, who met him at Monterey, found him to be a very jovial companion, and many civilities were exchanged between the new governor and the foreigners. But this pleasant intercourse did not blind Borica for a moment to the matter which chiefly engaged his attention -- the need for finding ways and means of defending the country against foreign invasion. The chief fear was that some one of the foreign vessels visiting the coast might make a lodgment at Bodega or some other point to the north. It will be remembered that it was in compliance with Borica's request that Viceroy Branciforte sent up a company of Catalonian volunteers in 1796 under Lieutenant-Colonel Pedro de Alberni. With this reenforcement came Alberto de Córdoba, a qualified engineer, who was put to work in 1797 by the governor in pushing forward repairs and improvements on the castillo at Fort Point and in building a battery at the most suitable place to prevent an enemy from landing or anchoring at Yerba Buena.
Yerba Buena was, properly speaking, a little valley and cove between Telegraph Hill on the north and Rincon Point on the south. It was then a mere waste of sand lying in ridges, most of it overgrown with bushes, chaparral, and a few scrubby oak trees. No human inhabitants dwelt there, but it was haunted by wildcats, coyotes, deer, mountain lions and even grizzly bear. Under the bushes the ground was covered by a creeping aromatic vine called yerba buena (good herb) by the Spaniards because of its medicinal qualities. Because of its abundance here the spot was called Yerba Buena, but when and by whom it was first so called is uncertain. The change of name to San Francisco was made, according to General Vallejo, as a matter of convenience, to bring the three points of the triangle -- church, town, and presidio -- all under one name. At this point, which was a favorite anchoring place for vessels, Borica erected a battery of eight embrasures with five cannon.
From 1804 the number of foreign vessels visiting the coast increased rapidly, most of them engaged in contraband trade in furs, whales, hides, and tallow. The attention of European powers being almost wholly occupied at this time by the Napoleonic wars, the coast was in time left almost free for American ships. Borica was under strict orders to permit no foreign vessel to land except in stress of weather or urgent need of provisions. There was considerable talk of an American invasion, but Borica seems to have regarded it lightly, pronouncing the notion of such an invasion as "a chimerical idea which could be regarded with contempt."
His pet project was the establishment of the new pueblo of Branciforte, to which colonists were to be attracted by extraordinary privileges, but, as we have seen, the place never advanced sufficiently to be compared with San José or Los Angeles. Nor could the experience had with these two pueblos have been great encouragement for the founding of another. In 1796 Father Isidro Alonzo Salazar wrote to Viceroy Branciforte:
The two towns founded twenty years ago have made no advancement. The people are a set of idlers. For them the Indian is errand-boy, vaquero, and digger of ditches -- in short, a general factotum. Confident that the Gentiles are working, the settlers pass the day singing. The young men wander on horseback through the rancherias soliciting the women to immorality.
The inhabitants of San José were particularly infamous for their idleness, gambling, and vice of all kinds. In 1809 the comisionado wrote that drunkenness and disorderly conduct had risen to such scandalous heights that the prison was full and the stocks always occupied.
The steadily growing matter of private land grants received a good deal of consideration from Governor Borica. He advised that grants should only be made to men of known probity, and only in the vicinity of a mission or pueblo. He was ever a firm and steadfast friend of the Indians, and he did not wish to despoil them of what he believed to be their property. In his report he says:
Since much of the land lying between the missions is now occupied by its legitimate owners, the gentile Indians, it does not seem just that they shall be despoiled of its fruits, seeds, waters, and woods which serve for their maintenance.
The neophytes at the missions were always treated by him with great kindness; he stood between them and excessive punishment, but at the same time exacted good behavior on their part. He was a just but merciful magistrate, and in consideration of the ignorance of Indian offenders no capital punishment was inflicted even for murder, but only imprisonment and labor. In addition to criminal jurisdiction he was also called upon to act judicially in various civil matters.
One of his acts was the establishment of the rancho del rey (the King's ranch), to raise cattle for the use of the presidio of San Francisco, in a rich valley and grassy hills just south of San Matéo. On the ground that it would interfere with the sale of their surplus product to the presidio, the missionaries objected strenuously to this plan, but Borica went on with it.
Like his predecessor, he made a hard struggle against the lazy, ignorant, and vicious element in the population. He had come to California ambitious to make it a great and progressive country, but the idlers, gamblers, and drunkards who formed the majority of the inhabitants made poor material for carrying out his dream. The importation of bad liquor he found to be at the root of most of the vice which he struggled so vainly to eradicate. The propensity to idleness he found even more difficult to deal with than drunkenness. The pueblo of San José was especially notorious for these conditions. In 1795 the report of the comisionado of that place showed such a scanty harvest that the governor's anger was aroused, and he wrote back threatening to punish the people for their laziness by fines and forfeitures. The threat was enough, for the settlers knew Borica; so they went to work and raised a fine harvest the next year, for which he complimented them.
The vice of gambling prevailed among all classes. As Father Señán wrote in 1796, "One is more likely to find in their hands a deck of cards than the spade or the plow." Even the alcaldes of San José and Los Angeles neglected their duties for this forbidden pastime, thereby drawing down upon themselves the severe censure of the governor. While he thus struggled with the powers of evil among the adults, he concerned himself no less with the training of the youth, and may be called the founder of secular education in California. By ordering the alcalde of San José to compel the colonists to send their children to school he instituted the system of compulsory education. It is to be understood that these first schools were of the most rudimentary sort, and that the teachers were anything but accomplished. Manuel Vargas, the soldier-teacher at San José, was sharply rebuked by the governor for too much indulgence in aguardiente, which he called "a most detestable vice, the forerunner of all other vices, not to be tolerated in a teacher."
Borica played an important part in the erection of five new missions, repaired the fortifications at the four presidios, erected new batteries at San Diego, and Yerba Buena, instituted irrigation works, kept faithful guardianship over the revenues, secular and ecclesiastical -- derived from a pool tax, a tax on tobacco, postal charges, sales of indulgences and tithes -- and withal acted as censor of the state's morals. Yet with all these multifarious duties he found time for society, and by his genial personality, ably seconded by a charming wife and daughter, contributed to make this period probably the most interesting in the social history of Monterey.
An important change recommended by him was the separation of Alta and Baja California. The arrangement by which the two provinces were ruled by a governor at Monterey and a lieutenant-governor subordinate to him at Loreto was found to be extremely cumbersome, especially in view of the slow means of communication between the two capital points.
Diego de Borica was a man of great benevolence, integrity, and energy. Although he was unable fully to realize his dream of making California a great and progressive province, he succeeded in unifying its elements sufficiently to place it on a solid basis. When he finally retired in 1800, worn out by his constant personal attention to the vexing problems of his administration, he was succeeded by Pedro de Alberni, comandante of San Francisco, as governor ad interim.
Governments moved slowly in those days, and it was not until 1804 that José Joaquin Arrillaga, who it will be remembered had already served as temporary governor from the death of Roméu in 1792 until the arrival of Borica in 1794, was appointed gobernador proprietario of the province of Nueva California. At the same time Borica's suggestion was carried out and the royal order was issued for the separation of the Californias, the dividing line being fixed some fifteen or twenty miles south of San Diego.
At the beginning of Arrillaga's term the population of Alta California in the settled part, that is, in the nineteen missions, four presidios, two pueblos, and one villa, numbered but little over 22,600, only 2,000 of whom were whites. The whites were slowly increasing, while the Indians were diminshing, chiefly as a result of epidemics and desertions. Smallpox had not yet begun its fearful ravages, but Borica had taken all precautions possible against it in the way of quarantine, fumigation, and hospital service. For many years the chief increase in population was by births, very little from immigration. The Spanish Californians were extremely prolific, fifteen, twenty, or even more children to the family being not uncommon; and the offspring, being reared in the open air and living on simple food, were strong and vigorous.
There was much activity in Arrillaga's second term in inland explorations, generally in search of fugitives and to punish Gentiles, between whom and the mission Indians a deadly hatred had arisen.
Although the jealousy of the Spanish government against foreigners manifested itself more strongly than ever during this period, contraband trade, especially with American vessels, rapidly increased. The presidio officials winked at it and even the priests engaged in it extensively. In the bare and comfortless houses of the colonists there was need for many things, and the temptation presented by the manufactured articles brought by the "Boston Ships" was irresistible.
From California and Californians edited by Rockwell D Hunt, 1932
The 1854 Gazetteer of the United States by Thomas Baldwin shows:
CALIFORNIA. At the close of the recent war with Mexico, the United States acquired by conquest and purchase, a tract of country, for the most part arid, sterile, and mountainous, covering a space of nearly 500,000 square miles, the greater part of which had been hitherto known as the Mexican territory of Upper California. From the western portion of this sterile region, the Congress of the United States, in September, 1850, created, and admitted into the American confederacy, the thirty-first sovereign state, under the name of California. This state is bounded on the N. by Oregon, E. by Utah, (from which it is partly separated by the Sierra Nevada mountains,) and New Mexico, S. by the Mexican territory of Old California, and W. by the Pacific. It lies between 32° 28´, and 42° N. lat., and between 114° 10´ and 124 50´ W. lon. California is very irregular in shape, having its greatest length (about 700 miles) in a N. W. and S. E. direction, and its greatest breadth about 335, and its least about 150 miles, including an area of 188,982 square miles, or 120,000,000 acres.
Population.-No member of the American confederacy-perhaps we might safely say, no portion of the earth-has so mixed a population as California, adventurers being found from almost every quarter of the globe; even the exclusive empire of China has here its representatives by tens of thousands, whose patient industry makes them useful inhabitants. The Indians also form a large portion of the population. According to a state census, taken towards the close of 1852, the population of California was 264,435 inhabitants, (one county, E1 Dorado, being estimated,) of whom 151,115 were white males, 29,741 do. females; 1637 male negroes, 253 female do.; 424 male mulattoes, 98 female do.; 19,675 male domesticated Indians, 12,864 female do.; 93,344 were citizens of the United States over 21 years of age; 50,631 male foreigners, and 4360 female do. Of the foreigners, 39,444 were over 21 years of age.
Counties.-California is divided into 36 counties, viz. Butte, Calaveras, Colusi, Contra-Costa, El Dorado, Klamath, Los Angeles, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Suffer, Trinity, Tuolumne, Tulare, Yolo, and Yuba. The following have been formed since the census of 1852, Alameda, from Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties; Humboldt, from Trinity, and San Bernardino, from Los Angeles county. Capital, Benicia.
It must be borne in mind, in giving populations in California, that there is an immense floating population, particularly in San Francisco, not enumerated in he census.
Cities and Towns.-San Francisco had, in 1852, a population of 34,876;a it has now, (1853,) as is estimated, not less than 60,000; Sacramento City has about 20,000; Marysville, 7000, and Stockton, from 4000 to 6000. Among the other prominent towns are Nevada City, Placerville, San Jose, Vallejo, Sonora, Shasta City, Sonoma, and Monterey.
Face of the Country.-As the voyager sails along the coast of California, he looks upon a low range of mountains, which in many instances approach to the water's edge, and form a bluff, iron-bound coast, through which he enters, by a narrow strait named the Golden Gate, the Bay of San Francisco. Following these low mountains on the coast N. of the Golden Gate, is a broken and hilly country, to which succeeds the coast range, entering from Oregon, and extending nearly parallel with the ocean, at distances varying from 30 to 100 miles, till it reaches the 35th parallel of N. lat., where it unites with the Sierra Nevada, and passes into Old California. Mount Linn, in lat. 40° is the highest known peak of this part of the coast range, but its altitude has not been ascertained. South of the Golden Gate, San Bernardino, in lat. 34° attains the elevation of perpetual snow. In this portion, between the Sierra Morena mountains (near the Pacific) and the coast range, lie the valleys of the San Juan and of the Buenaventura, which have their outlets in the Pacific ocean. The latter is 60 miles long, and from 15 to 20 wide. The Sierra Morena, or Brown mountains, (2000 feet high,) descend towards the; Golden Gate, of which they form the southern wall. The mountains immediately on the coasts bear various local names. Table Hill, on the N. side of the strait leading into San Francisco bay, is 2560 feet high, and Mount Diablo, E. of San Francisco, 3770 feet in height. Near the northern boundary of the state, in a spur of mountains running N. E. from the coast range to the Sierra Nevada, is Mount Shasta, the highest known peak in California, having an elevation of 14,400 feet: it is covered with perpetual snow. The great valley of the Sacramento and San Joaquin extends from N. to S. about 500 miles, with an average breadth of about 60 miles, bounded by the coast range on the W., and by the Sierra Nevada on the E. From a base of about 500 feet above the sea commences the ascent of the Sierra Nevada, the acclivities being wooded to about half the mountain's height with oak, succeeded by a forest of gigantic pines, cedars, and cypress; then follows the naked granite, and lastly, the summits crowned with perpetual snow. At the N. end of the Sacramento valley is a second higher valley, of about 100 miles in length, and some thousands of feet in elevation, heavily timbered, and containing tracts of arable land along the streams. The Sierra Nevada range may be regarded as a continuation of the Blue mountains of Oregon. It extends almost directly S., till it unites with the coast range, in lat. 34° N., forming in its course the E. boundary of California, as far as the 39th degree of N. lat., near which is Fremont's Pass, 7200 feet above the sea level. There is a volcano in Calaveras county, near the sources of Jackson's river. On the western slope of these mountains, mostly between 37° and 40° N. lat., are the celebrated "gold diggings," towards which the eyes of those "who make haste to be rich" have been so eagerly turned since the first discovery of gold in Sutter's mill-race in 1847.
Geology.-We have had no full and complete geological survey of California. According to Mr. Tyson's survey, speaking generally, a section across the state, from Bodega bay, bearing N. 80° E. to the Sierra Nevada, exhibits first, on the western side, in the coast range, a sandstone formation, with interpositions of leptinite, clays, trachyte, talcose slate and trap rocks; while the recent sedimentary deposits of the Sacramento valley rest upon beds of conglomerate, sandstone, and clay, and the western declivities of the Sierra Nevada consist mainly of talcose and other slates, through which are extruded trappean rocks, leptinite, granite, and serpentine. A similar section across the state from San Francisco bay, bearing N. 70° E., exhibits sandstones with some fossil deposits E. of the bay, and on the W. slope, conglomerate sandstone, and slates with trap, volcanic tufa, and porphyry.
Minerals.-It is almost superfluous to say that California is one of the most important mineral regions in the world, particularly in its deposits of gold. The great gold diggings lie on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, principally between 37° and 40° N. lat.; but this precious mineral has also been found in other quarters in considerable quantities, particularly in Klamath county, in the N. W., and in Shasta county. The gold first discovered was evidently not in place, but the washings from the upper regions; and when that shall have been exhausted, there are large bodies of auriferous quartz, which (with greater labor and expense,) will probably afford large supplies of this metal for generations to come. The amount of capital invested in quartz mining, according to the state census of 1852, was $5,871,401; in placer and other mining operations, $3,851,623. Up to the close of 1851 there had been deposited at the United States mint, $98,407,990 of California gold. The deposits of the year 1852 amounted to $46,528,076, making a total of $145,000,000. But doubtless this falls far short of the real amount produced, as probably much more has been sent to Europe in a state of dust or bullion, not to mention the unreported sums which have been privately taken out of the state. The exports reported at San Francisco for 1852 were, according to one account, about $45,500,000, and according to another, $49,000,000. A considerable quantity, too, doubtless, remains in California. In addition to the precious metal just noticed, there has been found in Butte county an abundance of quicksilver, plaster, iron, lead, and some silver; copper and silver, quicksilver, asphaltum, marble, and granite occur in Marion county; quicksilver in Naps; rich silver mines and coal in San Luis Obispo; quicksilver in Santa Clara; copious salt springs (sufficient, report says, to supply the state) in Shasta; bituminous springs in many places along the coast, and hot sulphur springs in Santa Barbara; warm soda springs near Benicia, in Solano; bituminous and sulphur springs in San Louis Obispo, and hot, asphaltum, and salt springs in Los Angeles county. According to Professor Trask, "platina is widely distributed, scarcely a section of country where gold has been found, but that this metal has been discovered." Silver has been found in several mines in the southern district, copper is widely distributed, and chromium occurs in large quantities in serpentine rocks. Diamonds are reported to have been recently discovered.
Bays, Rivers, Lakes, &c.-San Francisco bay, the best and most capacious harbor on the Pacific coast, is (including the two arms, San Pablo and San Francisco bay proper) perhaps 70 miles in length, and in the widest part 14 miles broad, with a coast line of 275 miles. A strait, about a mile wide and from 5 to 7 miles long, breaking through a range of low mountains, connects it with the ocean. This strait has been termed, not inappropriately, the Golden Gate, as it is the passage through which the multitudes from every region of the world are constantly hastening, in order to gather the wealth of this new and richer El Dorado. Within the barrier of hills already alluded to, the bay divides into two parts, the one stretching to the S. about 40 miles, and the other to the N. for about 30. On the N. W. shore of the southern arm stands the city of San Francisco. The northern arm (San Pablo) is united by a second strait, Karquenas, with Suisun bay directly east of it, which is 15 or 20 miles long. The Golden Gate is the only channel of communication between the Pacific and the interior of California. Humboldt, Monterey, Pelican, Santa Barbara, and San Diego are the other bays, all opening into the Pacific. The Sacramento and San Joaquin are the principal rivers of California, and running in opposite directions, the former from the N. and the latter from the S., they drain almost the entire valley between the two great ranges, Sierra Nevada and the coast range, and unite about 15 miles above Suisun bay, into which they discharge their mingled waters. Each of these rivers has a course of from 250 to 300 miles. All their tributaries of importance descend the Sierra Nevada slope. The principal of these, commencing at the N., are the Sacramento, the Feather, Yuba, and American; and of the San Joaquin, the Calaveras, the Stanislaus, the Tuolumne, and Merced rivers. The Moquelumne meets the Sacramento and San Joaquin near their junction. The Sacramento has been ascended by small steamers as far as Marysville, the San Joaquin as far as Fort Miller, the Merced for 20 miles. The Klamath river from Oregon runs through the N. W. part of the state, and the Buenaventura drains part of the valley between the Sierra Morena and coast mountains: both empty into the Pacific. The principal lakes are Tulare lake, about 60 miles long, in the south, which has an outlet into the San Joaquin river, and Clear lake, in Colusi and Yolo counties. Owen, Kern's, and Bonpland's lakes are all small.
Objects of Interest to Tourists.-Though California is not surpassed by any state in the Union in grand and sublime scenery, the greater part of it is as yet too imperfectly explored to justify our speaking of it except in very general terms. Not to repeat what has already been said of the magnificent mountain ranges, with their summits clad with everlasting snow, we may notice a few natural curiosities of quite a different character. Among the most remarkable of these are the hot sulphur springs, the Geysers of America, in Naps county, about 70 miles N. from the city of this name. They are from 1 to 9 feet in diameter, and constantly in a boiling state, ejecting water to heights of 10 or 15 feet. Hundreds of fissures in the sides of the mountains emit strong currents of heated gas, with a noise resembling that of vapor escaping from ocean steamers. We condense the following from Silliman's Journal of November, 1851, by Professor Sheppard:-"From a high peak we saw on the W. the Pacific, on the S. Mount Diablo and San Francisco bay, on the E. the Sierra Nevada, and on the N. opened at our feet an immense chasm, from which, at the distance of 4 or 5 miles, we distinctly saw dense columns of steam rising. Descending, we discovered within half a mile square from 100 to 200 openings, whence issued dense columns of vapor to the height of from 150 to 200 feet, accompanied by a roar which could be heard for a mile or more. Many acted spasmodically, throwing up jets of hot, scalding water to the height of 20 or 30 feet. Beneath your footsteps you hear the lashing and foaming gyrations; and on cutting through the surface, are disclosed streams of angry, boiling water. 'The Three Buttes,' says Lieut. Derby, 'have been erroneously represented, since they are in reality a range of about 12 miles in width by 6 in breadth, and contain perhaps 20 peaks; the highest of which, and the most interesting, is that on the N., which is a very steep cone, surmounted by a turret-shaped rock, 56 feet high, and has an elevation of 2483 feet.' This commands an extensive view from the Coast Range to the Sierra Nevada, and for perhaps 80 miles up and down the Sacramento valley, and will doubtless one day be one of the fashionable resorts of the San Franciscans." (For Springs, see Minerals. ) Among the mountains not named in the general survey, are Mount Prospect, 5000 feet high, and Salmon mountain, covered with snow nine months in the year, both in Klamath county; Mount St. Helen's, 3500 feet, in Naps; Saddle Peak, 7200 feet; Table mountain, 8000 feet, and Butte, at the head of S. fork, 9000 feet, all in the Sierra Nevada mountains; two Double Peaks, conspicuous landmarks, in Solano; and Oregon Hill, 2800 feet high, in Yuba county. Near Vallecita, on Chyote creek, in Calaveras county, is a striking display of volcanic action, in the shape of what are called the natural bridges; two immense arches, thrown over the above-named creek, and covered with imitations of clusters of fruits and flowers, doubtless formed when the mass was first upheaved in a molten state. In the same vicinity is "Chyote Cave," a deep semicircular chasm, entered by a perpendicular descent of 100 feet, and then proceeding by a gradual slope till it reaches a depth of nearly 200 feet below the surface, where you come to a chamber called "The Cathedral," from its containing two stones, resembling bells, which, when struck, produce a chiming sound. Proceeding 100 feet farther, always on the descent, a lake is reached of great depth, and apparently covering many acres; but the exploration has not yet been carried beyond this point. The roof of the cave is studded with stalactites, assuming various fantastic forms.
Climate, Soil, and Productions.-The climate of California is much milder, even at considerable elevations, than in the same latitude on the Atlantic border, and the winters are short and seldom severe. At San Francisco the mercury seldom rises above 80° yet the temperature often varies 30° in 24 hours, and in the rainy season the thermometer rarely sinks below 40°. On the coast, generally, snow is a rarity. The summers of San Francisco and other parts near the sea, are more disagreeable than the winters, owing to the prevalence of N. W. winds from the ocean, which bring with them chilling fogs. In the hot season these winds set in at San Francisco about 11 o'clock, and are poured through the Golden Gate directly upon the city, producing a chilling effect contrasted with the heat of the morning. The sheltered valleys along the coast enjoy a delicious climate, equally removed from the chilliness of the exposed parts of the coast, and the heat of the great valley between the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada. In any country ranging through 10° of latitude, the difference of temperature would be considerable; but in California this difference is greatly increased by the peculiarities of its surface, insomuch that no general statement would be at all correct. The northern portion has more of the chilling fogs of the warm season, and more and longer rains in the wet season, than the southern portion; and in the great valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, the heat is much greater in summer than near the coast, the mercury not infrequently rising to 110° and 112° at Suttersville. Owing, says Mr. Tyson, to the extreme dryness of the air, it does not produce that prostrating effect that a much less degree of heat would produce in the Atlantic and Mississippi states. The nights he represents as never so hot as to prevent sleep. The Sierra Nevada precipitates whatever moisture has been left in the air after the passage of the Coast Range, and sends it into Utah dry and warm. The terms winter and summer, as understood E. of the Rocky Mountains, will not apply here, and we must resort to the tropical names of wet and dry seasons. The rains begin in the N., says Tyson, early in the autumn, and extend slowly southward, reaching San Francisco about a week before the first of December, and San Diego a month later, where the rainy season is over by February, and retrograding, continues later into the year as we proceed N., where the rain not only lasts longer, but falls in greater quantity in a given time. During the dry season scarcely a cloud is to be seen in the great valley for a month at a time.
According to observations made during 75 days by the exploring expedition at San Francisco, between August 18th and October 31st, N. W. winds prevailed 13 days, S. W. 44, W. 4, S. E. 5, and calm 5 days. Mean temperature, from May 27th to June 6th 61° maximum 86° minimum 48°; while at New Helvetia, during the same period, the thermometer rose to 114°. According to observations made by Fremont, in San Joaquin valley, between the middle of December and the middle of June, the mean was 29° at sunrise, and 52° at sunset; and from the 10th to the 22d of March, 38° and 56°, at sunrise and sunset respectively; at Deer creek, 40° N. lat., between March 30th and April 4th, mean at 2 P. M. 59°; at the Three Buttes, in 39° N. lat., at an elevation of 800 feet, 90° at 2 P. M. In lat. 35° 30´, mean between December 27th and January 17th, 60° at noon; and near Monterey early in March, 62° at 2 p. m., at a height of 2200 feet.
According to Captain Wilkes, not more than 12,000 square miles of California are susceptible of cultivation. This opinion will probably have to be very much modified with the progress of knowledge, in developing the agricultural capabilities of the country, which now lie much neglected in the general rush to "the diggings." Enough has been done to show marvellous fertility in the soil both as to variety, quantity, and size of the products. In the south, and in some of the low interior valleys as far north as Napa, figs, dates, sugar-cane, and even bananas flourish; and most tropical plants may be grown in this region where irrigation can be practised, which, in many parts, is absolutely necessary to successful agricultural operations. The sheltered valley between the Sierra Morena and Coast Range S. of the bay of San Francisco, is peculiarly favorable to plants and fruits requiring a mild climate. The southern country is highly favorable to the grape, and according to the state census, Los Angeles county alone produced 2,250,000 pounds. Peaches, pears, apples, cherries, quinces, and apricots flourish. Santa Barbara county reports 1370 barrels of olives. Wheat and rye yield largely in many parts north of Point Conception; these crops maturing so early as to be little injured by the dry season. Oats grow wild in great quantities in the Sacramento valley, and westward of it. This cures in the dry season and forms excellent fodder, as there is no moisture to cause decomposition. Hemp, rice, tobacco, cotton, and coffee, all can, it is believed, be cultivated successfully; the first three having been tried. According to the state census of 1852, there were 110,748 acres of land under cultivation, the greater portion of which is in the middle and W. side of the state, between 36° and 40° of latitude. The largest yield was of barley, 2,973,737 bushels; potatoes, 1,393,170; wheat, 271,763; oats, 100,497; Indian corn, 62,532; beef cattle, number 315,392; cows, 104,339; working oxen, 29,065; horses, 64,773; mules, 16,578; sheep, (in 20 counties,) 82,867; hogs, 38,976, and poultry, 96,230.
Forest Trees.-The variety of timber in California is not great, but it is large in size and abundant in quantity. The Lambertine pine, or fir, on the mountains, of gigantic size, the redwood, a species of cypress, the "palo Colorado" of the Mexicans, a tree of huge dimensions, (Colonel Fremont mentions one 21 feet in diameter,) the maple, oak, cedar, sycamore, and a species of cottonwood, are among the principal forest-trees.
Animals.-Elks, deer, grizzly bears, antelopes, California lions, (a species of panther, very destructive to cattle and horses); the coyote, (an animal between a fox and a wolf which preys upon sheep and pigs); a black wild-cat, a water-rat, living in the mountains, and building itself a brush hut four or five feet in height, about the size of a muskrat, web-looted, with a fine mouse-colored fur; an animal resembling a martin, gray foxes, rabbits, hares, (very large,) gray squirrels, and wild horses and cattle, are the principal quadrupeds. Geese, ducks, snipes, quails, plovers, curlews, doves, ravens, crows, vultures, (rarely seen,) hawks, partridges, penguins, and various sea-birds, are the principal of the feathered tribe. Among the fishes are the seal, sturgeon, bass, mackerel, crawfish, blackfish, sardines, (in sufficient numbers to become an article of export,) clams, oysters, lobsters, crabs, halibut of a large size, sharks, a large fish of a dingy red color off the soundings, salmon in great abundance, (large in size and excellent in quality,) salmon-trout, trout, smelts, and a large fresh-water fish from 1 1/2 to 21 feet long.
Manufactures.-California has few manufactures, and this state of things is likely to continue so long as there is so great a demand for labor in other and more profitable kinds of business.
Internal Improvements.-There are no railroads in California, though one is projected from San Francisco to San Jose. As a primary movement in this direction, plank-roads now engage public attention, and the probability is, that while we write, two have been already begun, one from Marysville to Grass Valley and Nevada, and the other from Sacramento to Auburn, Grass Valley, and Nevada. Curtailing, for the purpose of conducting water to the mines, is a species of improvement peculiar to this state. In Placer county alone, about $1,400,000 is invested in this way.
Commerce.-The commercial city of San Francisco has sprung up as if by magic, and its harbour is thronged with shipping from Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Atlantic coast of the United States. At the moment we write, in all our great Atlantic ports, large numbers of the first-class ships are loading with valuable cargoes for California Several lines, employing 41 immense ocean steamers, of from 900 to 3000 tons burthen, crowded with passengers, to a degree unparalleled in the history of navigation, weekly arrive at and depart from San Francisco at the one terminus, and New York and New Orleans at the other. With the exception of the export of gold, California's commerce is almost wholly an importing one, the frames and materials of houses themselves being imported. The commerce of California threatens to revolutionize the trade of the East, and San Francisco seems likely to become the Alexandria of modern times, the halting-place of the transit trade of Asia, in its new western route to Europe, to open commerce (and with it civilization) to the isles of the Pacific, and to infuse even into the Chinese the spirit of progress. The foreign imports of California for the fiscal year 1852, were $4,648,587, and the exports consisted of about $50,000,000, gold dust. The imports of course do not include the immense trade with the Atlantic shores of the republic. There entered into California in 1852, 718 vessels, tonnage 261,352, and cleared 906, tonnage 360,872. About one-third of the commerce was in foreign bottoms. Total tonnage owned in the state, $99,041.83. See SAN FRANCISCO.
Education.-Congress appropriated half a million acres of land in California for the support of common schools; of this, 150,000 acres have been sold, forming a school fund of $300,000. Besides this, two sections of land in each township are set apart for the same purpose, and 72 sections for a state university. The money available for present use, arising from different sources, amounted to nearly $50,000 in 1853. The superintendent of public schools, the same year, reported to the legislature, 17,821 white children in the state, 20 public schools attended by 3314 pupils; number of teachers employed, 15, of whom 6 were females; highest salary, $150 per month; lowest, $75; total expended on teachers' salaries, $21,355.42. Eight or ten academies and high schools have been rounded, supported by private means, and the Catholic bishop of Monterey reports eight schools under his direction.
Religion.-In 1850, California had 23 churches, of which 1 belonged to the Baptists, 4 to the Methodists, 1 to the Presbyterians, and 17 to the Roman Catholics.
Public Institutions.-A state lunatic asylum is now in course of erection at Stockton, which will be an ornament to the state. In 1852 there were in temporary buildings, 30 patients. The state marine hospital, at San Francisco, in 1852 admitted 2283 patients, of whom 1408 were foreigners. A United States marine hospital is now being erected in the same city, 182 feet by 96 feet, 4 stories high, and capable of accommodating 800 patients. A penitentiary is now in course of erection at St. Quentin, 15 miles N. of San Francisco, at which place 200 convicts are employed in constructing the building.
Government, Finances, &c.-The governor of California is elected for two years by popular vote, and receives $10,000 salary. The senate consists of 33 members, elected for 2 years, and the house of representatives of 80, elected annually. California, by the recent state census, will be entitled to three members in the national house of representatives, (if the state census should be taken as the guide to apportionment, otherwise but two,) and to five electoral votes for president of the United States.
The judiciary consists, 1. Of a supreme court, composed of one chief and two associate judges, elected by the people for six years, and receiving $8000 each, annually. 2. Of district courts, the judges of which are also elected by popular vote, for six years. 3. A county judge is elected in each county for four years, to act as judge of probate, and to hold courts for the transaction of criminal business, in conjunction with two justices of the peace; and 4. Of the superior court of San Francisco. The district judges receive $7500 per annum.
The productions and capital employed in various branches of business, (Calaveras and El Dorado counties, estimated,) including live stock, agricultural products, mines, &c. &c., make a total of $108,522,568. California has a debt of $1,000,000, contracted in a war with the Indians, which it is supposed the United States will pay; besides which she has a debt of $1,250,000, for which the state alone is responsible, to which another million will probably be added by the erection of the penitentiary.
History.-The north part of California was discovered by Sir Francis Drake, in 1578; but was first colonized by some Spaniards in 1768. After the Mexican revolution, California formed a province of that republic until 1836, when the inhabitants rebelled, drove out the Mexicans, and formed an independent congress. After having been the scene of several sanguinary contests during the war with Mexico, by the treaty of peace in 1848, it became a part of the United States, and in 1850 was admitted into the American confederacy, as a sovereign state; since which time its almost daily history has been blazoned to the world, far and near, in the newspapers of the day. During its occupancy by the Spaniards, it was resorted to by the Americans, principally for the hides and tallow cured at the Jesuit missionary stations, and by the Russians in pursuit of the seal.
A Short Biography of John Conness
John Conness, senator, was born in County Galway, Ireland, Sept. 20, 1821; son of Walter and Mary Conness. In 1836 he was brought to the United States; was educated in the public schools of New York city; learned the trade of a piano maker, and in 1849 went to California, whom he engaged in mining and merchandising. He served in the California legislature, 1853-51 and again, 1860-61. He was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant-governor in 1859 and for governor of the state in 1861. In 1863 he was elected by the Union Republicans U.S. senator as successor to Milton S. Latham, Democrat, and served throughout the 38th, 39th and 40th congresses, being a member of the committees on finance, post-office and post-roads, Pacific railroad, and chairman of the committee on mines and mining. After the close of his senatorial term in 1869, he settled in Mattapan district, Boston, Mass.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
John G. Downey Biography
John G. Downey, governor of California, was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, June 24, 1826; son of John and grandson of Sampson Downey. He immigrated to the United States in 1849 and settled in Los Angeles, Cal., where he accumulated a fortune in the gold fields. In 1859 be was elected lieuteuant-governor of California and in 1860 became governor, serving two years. He was succeeded in 1862 by Leland Stanford.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
William Irwin - A Biography
William Irwin, governor of California, was born in Butler county, Ohio, in 1827; son of David Irwin, a native of Ohio and a farmer. He was graduated from Marietta college, A.B., 1848, A.M., 1851; and after teaching at Port Gibson, Miss., 1848-49, was tutor at Marietta, 1849-51. From there he went to Chicago, studied law, 1851-53, and was admitted to the bar in 1853. He settled in Siskiyou county, Cal., and became a miner and lumberman. He was a Democratic representative in the state legislature, 1861-65; was editor of the Yreka Union, 1865-75; was a member of the state senate, 1869-75, being for a time president pro tempore of the senate; was lieutenant-governor of the state, 1873-75, governor, 1875-79, and president of the state board of harbor commissioners, 1883-86. He received the degree of LL.D. from Marietta in 1876. He was married, Dec. 21, 1865, to Elizabeth Cassidy. He died in San Francisco, Cal., March 15, 1886.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
Frederick Ferdinand Low - A Biography
Frederick Ferdinand Low, governor of California, was born in Frankfort, Maine, June 30, 1828. He attended school at Frankfort and Hampton academy, and entered mercantile business in Boston, Mass., in 1846. He went to California in 1849 and engaged in mining; in the shipping business in San Francisco, with Henry Lambert and later with his two brothers, and removed to Marysville, Cal., in 1855 and engaged in banking. He was a Republican representative from California in the 37th congress, 1861-63; was appointed collector of the port of San Francisco in 1863, and during the same year was elected governor of California, serving 1864-67. He was U.S. minister to China, 1867-74, and at the time of the sacking of the missions and massacre of missionaries at Tien Tsin, he severely criticized the emperor of China and forced him to recognize the power of foreign ministers to protect their citizens engaged as missionaries, and was one of the first foreigners to be admitted into the presence of the emperor. In February, 1871, he was empowered to negotiate with the empire of Corea for the protection of shipwrecked seamen, and for a treaty of commerce and navigation. For his services in behalf of Catholic missions Mr. Low was publicly thanked by the pope. Upon his resignation as U.S. minister, he became chief manager of the Anglo-Californian bank. He was one of the incorporators and a director of the Californian Steam Navigation company in 1854, and was interested in the cultivation of sugar in the Hawaiian Islands. He died in San Francisco, Cal., July 21, 1894.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
ADDITIONAL BIOGRAPHIES AVAILABLE:
Thomas Jefferson Clunie Biography
Biography of Cornelius Cole
Biography of Aylett Rains Cotton
The Biography of Charles E. De long
Henry Huntley Haight Biography
Biographical Sketch of George Hearst
Biography of Julius Kahn
Biography of Henry Harrison Markham
Local History and Genealogy Links:
Tree: California redwood
Bird: California valley quail
Flower: golden poppy
Nickname: Golden State
Motto: Eureka (I Have Found It)
Area (sq. mi.): 158,693
Admitted: 9 Sep 1850