NEWS FROM THE GOLD REGION (1849)
The following excerpt has been reprinted from THE WEEKLY HERALD,
New York, Saturday, January 19, 1849. This article had been submitted
to THE WEEKLY HERALD by a newspaper in the Sandwich Islands.
(From the Sandwich Island News, August 5, 1848) A friend has furnished us with the following extract from a letter dated San Francisco, May 27,1848:
“Everybody here has got the ‘gold fever.’ The greatest gold mine in the world has lately been discovered near Sutter’s, on the Feather River, and the excitement consequent thereon is immense. The town of San Francisco is deserted; where but a fortnight ago was a busy population of 800, is now seen naught but empty streets; not more than twenty men are left–all, all have gone ‘up to the gold mines.’ The mechanic has left his job half finished, the teamster has turned out his cattle, the grog seller has closed his blinds, the gambler has at last found an excitement greater than cards, all the public houses are closed, and landlords, boarders and barkeepers have gone–the schoolmaster has gone, so has the minister, the lawyer and the constable; situations worth $2,000 a year have been thrown up; male and female, infants and grandfathers, the cradle and the crutches have gone; hardly a soul remains but the poor soldiers, and the officer expects to see them desert in a body and go too. It is unparalleled in the history of the world–an extent of country 60 miles long, and God knows how much more, which has (yet been unexplored) has been found completely filled with gold in pure particles, from the minute to the size of a filbert, of which a single person can pick up with a shovel and pickaxe from $5 to $150 a day. Incredible as it seems, ’tis true. A cook’s wages are $20 to $40 a day; every one being too greedy to stop long enough to cook. One man found so much that he became crazy, and now goes about crying, “I am rich, I am rich.” I know the fellow myself. Another man in seven weeks picked so much that he came away perfectly satisfied, saying “I have got all I want; I can go to the States now, and live comfortable the rest of my days.” There is a chance for every white man now in the country to make a fortune. Pickaxes are $8, and shovels $16 each.
What a sensation this will create throughout the world! For reasons best known to themselves, the two newspapers here have but very little to say about the gold mine. The proprietor of the STAR, Mr. Brannan, who is one of the head men amongst the Mormons, has taken possession of a large space of the gold country, and with his Mormons and two small cannons, swears that not a man shall work on their ground. I expect both printing offices will be closed this week. You may expect to hear of some trouble yet in that gold country. The Mormons, who are nearly all here or at the Salt Lake, will attempt by force to hold the newly found riches to themselves.