NEWS FROM THE GOLD REGION (1848)
The following excerpt has been reprinted from THE NEW YORK DAILY TRIBUNE,
Evening Edition, December 12, 1848
NEW YORK DAILY TRIBUNE Vol. VIII, No. 211, Evening Edition December 12, 1848
BUSINESS IN CALIFORNIA
The BOSTON COURIER publishes the following letter, received by a merchant in that city from his correspondent at San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO, August 20, 1848–The wonderful developments of the gold region in California, and the flocking of all classes of people to gather it, have deranged all the calculations of the hide and tallow voyagers. The rancheros having all left their farms and their regular occupations, there will be no killing of cattle this year around this Bay, nor upon the whole length of the coast. The Tasso has just arrived from leeward, and has collected only 50 hides at all the different ports on her passage up.
On arriving here, ships are left without crews in twenty-four hours. Whalers’ men desert, even from full ships, and if a sailor is induced to remain on board a vessel, it is at from $40 to $50 per month. I have some hundred hides ready for me in different parts of the Bay, but cannot go for them without men, and the expenses would consume all the collection. In fact, you can hardly conceive all present state of affairs in California. A cook, for instance, gets from $100 to $150 a month, and Kanakers $75 per month, to go in launches.
How long this state of things may last it is impossible to foresee, but it is not probable that men can be obtained at justifiable wages by ships, so long as they can go to the mines and realize $16 per day, and this I am satisfied they can do for a long time to come. I have been twice to the mining region, and am satisfied of the fact that the gold is inexhaustible. The whole chain of the Sierra Nevada or Snowy Mountains of California, seems to abound with the mineral.
There has, no doubt, been collected within the last months $1,500,000 at $16 to the ounce, which is the price allowed for it at the stores. Merchants from Chili and Peru have been purchasing it at $14 to the ounce; and now owing to the scarcity of specie, it can be had at $10 per ounce. It is now very sickly at the mines, and I dare not return there again.