« ElőzőTovább »
But in our judgment these apprehensions are groundless, Too many of our people, and some of the best classes, for energy, enterprize and intelligence, have crowded to its shores, to permit these to be wrested from their grasp. They belong to that indomitable race, which, inspired by obstacles, courts opposition for the higher interest it awakens, and pursues dangerous adventures from an irrepressible love of them. With strong common sense and direct vigor, aiming at the judicious medium between extremes, they hate with equal force the dictas of autocracies and the no less direful sway of the mob. Bred in the principles, and grown accustomed to the institutions of genuine freedom, they cannot be terrified into subjection to despotic authority, nor can they be subdued by lethargy into the calamities of anarchy. They will ultimately impart a controlling leaven to the inhabitants of California, and insure for them the elevated condition which is enjoyed by the Atlantic States. And should Congress farther deny them an organized government, they will assume the reins themselves, always subject to the authority at home, and will guide them with more aptitude to their wants and necessities, and with more wisdom, perhaps, in all respects, than could their ultra-montane legislators. Their final success is scarcely a problem. It is beyond conjecture certain. If we entertained doubts for a moment, they would be dissipated on viewing the progress of their brethren in all our territories, and more especially in the State of Texas. Texas not only achieved her independence single handed against uncounted physical and military odds, but maintained it-erected governmental institutions-assumed a sovereign place among the powers of the world-preserved her tranquility, and advancing rapidly to prosperity, constituted, in all its requisite elements, a State. Yet her people were mixed. Refugees from justice so filled her borders, that it went into a proverb that her territory was the den of felons; while fewer of the early emigrants were from the higher order of our people. But the native energy of her men, directed by sentiments acquired in youth and grown a second nature, rescued her from misgovernment and secured her political salvation.
The prospects for California are better, and the result will be full as sure. The Anglo-Normans are its masters likewise, and will continue so. Their example of in
dustry, sagacious enterprize and persevering effort, with their high and determined tone of freemen, and their love of justice and stability, will mould all other races into orderly citizens and a valuable population. Thus governing and directing, combining and coalescing with comers from all quarters of the globe, who will be freely admitted and cordially welcomed, they may in time realize the prediction of an accomplished writer in England. “ The United States might be expected to make no great way in civilization, till they be fully peopled to the Pacific; and it might not be unreasonable to expect, that when this event occurred, the greatest civilization of the vast territory will be found in the Peninsula of California, and the nar. row strip of country beyond the Rocky Mountains."*
The "narrow strip" alluded to lies beyond both the Rocky Mountains and the Nevada range, 500 miles westward, and is certainly the most important part of the country. But California comprises a vast deal more territory. And if the value of this large portion is yet undeveloped, and conjecture may ascribe to it little or no worth for present or future purposes, it is still an interesting section of our domain, and deserves mention in all allusions to Upper California.
The entire territory extends from the 32d to the 42d parallel of latitude, from the 108th degree of longitude (west from Greenwich) to the Pacific Ocean, and embraces about 400,000 miles. It is large enough to form five states, or more, of equal size with any in the union. And, in the course of ages, when the continent becomes densely inhabited, and people shall seek an outlet from the jostling crowd, and its trammelling conventionalitis, or, through restlessness shall wander from civilized haunts, it may be all occupied and so sub-divided. But the physical feature of vast tracts of it would seem to preclude their early settlement. Like the immense and arid plains east of the Rocky Mountains, they will probably long continue a portion of the waste lands of the Union : admissible to trappers and miners, and to those whom misanthrophy or outlawry may lead into the remote desert, but requiring, perhaps, neither the protecting care nor the restraining arm of a regular government.
* Vestiges of Creation, pp. 211.
California may be divided into east and west by the Nevada or Snowy mountains, according to Col. Frémont. Yet Capt. Wilkes, in his brief, but comprehensive and valuable book-partly compiled from Col. Frémont and others, and partly from original observations of members of the Exploring Expedition,-suggests a more judicious partition for description, for future purposes, by the Colorado River, and by the Snowy, or as he prefers to call it, the California range.
The first of these sections lies on the eastern side of the Colorado River, and is separated from New Mexico by the Anahuac mountains, and from Oregon and Mexico respectively, by the Bear mountains and the Gila river. It has been very little explored, and nearly all the knowledge that we possess concerning it is derived from Indian and trapper accounts. Yet, from this limited acquaintance, it appears to be sterile and uninviting, and may always prove unfit for the residence of civilized man. It is broken by a continuous succession of mountain ridges, which run indiscriminately to various points of the compass,-lying in disordered groups as if scattered by some mighty volcanic upheaving. The valleys between them are usually narrow and probably of limited fertility. Rivers flow through some of them, and in the season of wet weather or snow, thawing streams pass through others. There are few oases for the uses of the farmer. Mines of gold, silver and copper have been found and worked on its southern boundary, and it is scarcely doubted that tin and other metals are generally deposited through all its mountains. Tradition points to that region as one of immense mineral wealth, and recent reports tend in some degree to corroborate it. A book has been written expressly to collate and enforce all the teachings of tradition, and to give currency to the conjectures of trappers and Indians, with the view to organize and equip an expedition of discovery. Col. Frémont designed to cross the upper portion of this section, and but for his disasters amid the snows, last winter, he would have shed much light on its geological structure and agricultural resources. While proving his hardy endurance and persevering courage, he lost unfortunately a splendid outfit for his intended operations-lost by cold and famine a number of his brave companions, and, as a consequence, delayed to the country much useful scientific
VOL. XVI.—NO. 31.
knowledge. His misfortunes resulted in a great measure from over confidence in a false guide. But they show the utter futility of winter excursions among those remote and elevated mountains. It is to be hoped that the exploration of this and other unknown portions of California, will yet be prosecuted by Col. Frémont, who requires absolutely the information to be obtained from it, in order to complete a minute and accurate map of the region.
The Colerado washes the western border of this division and is its principal river. . It has not been examined in much of its course, and the fact is not ascertained that any portion of the stream is navigable or can ever be rendered so. The falls and cañons, the overflows and the shoals in dry seasons, the rapids and shifting currents to which writers have alluded, may possibly prove always insurmountable obstacles. It is, however, a considerable streamrunning through 10 degrees of latitude, and nearly 3000 miles long. It is one of the great rivers of the continent, which, as Capt. Wilkes remarks as singular and extraordinary, take their rise within the latitudes of 420 and 520, and the longitudes of 1090 and 1180, within a compass of about 12,000 miles, and flow in opposite directions. The Columbia and Fraser on the west-the Athabasca north-the Yellow Stone, Platte and Missouri east-and the Del Norte, Colorado and Arkansas south, south-west, and south-east; proving this elevated section of the Rocky Mountains to be the highest part of the continent of North America. The marked distinction among these rivers, and which attaches generally to those flowing up the western shed of the Rocky Mountains is, that they run and traverse volcanic tracts, in beds much below the level of the country, and add little or nothing to the fertility of the soil. There are other rivers, as the Gila along the southern limit, and the San Francisco its tributary, the Red and the St. Johns, in the interior, But the only probable use of any of them will be as mere reservoirs of water, and as affording supplies for irrigating whatever bottom lands their valleys may contain susceptible of cultivation.
This entire region appears to be suitable at present only for mining purposes. And to prosecute them in security and with success it will be necessary first to subdue or expel the fierce hordes of savages who inhabit it, and who are jealous of the approach of white men.
The central portion of California, which may be termed the Great Basin, contains from 160 to 180,000 square miles. The lower part, south of the range of mountains in latitude 389, and which encloses the Basin on that side, is entirely unexplored. Frémont simply crossed it in 1844 from the Salt Lake, moving south-west nearly to Los Angelos; and dotting a few points along his route, indicated at great distances the ridge above alluded to. The remainder comprises the Great Basin, which is regarded as the grand natural anomaly of this.continent: This Basin is 400 miles across, east and west, and Frémont says it is the same distance north and south, though Capt. Wilkes, we think more accurately, estimates it at 250 miles. The interior of it is from 4 to 5000 feet above the level of the sea, and is shut in all round by mountains, which rise to the height of 8 and 10,000 feet. Several ranges, the Humboldt most prominent among them, traverse it north and south. These spring from narrow bases, of 10 to 30 miles, and some of their spurs ascend to the region of perpetual snow. The intervening valleys and plains are narrow, and are generally barren--without trees, with few flowers, little grass or shrubbery, and no water. The hills and mounts are well wooded, however, almost to their summits, and afford grass and water in abundance, and, from the washings of their sides, are formed alluvial belts or banquets of fertile soil of limited widths. The smaller streams are absorbed by these tracts—the larger breaking through them to sink equally amid remote sands. There are some other exception to the general sterility, which will be noticed in their place. The rivers have no egress through the mountain barriers to the ocean, and either empty into Lakes within the Basin or lose themselves in the sands. The Humboldt river, which gives its name to the mountains, and has its sources upon them, is the principal stream, at least for its present utility. It rises within a few days travel of the Salt Lake, and runs 300 or 400 miles in a western and then in a south-western direction, terminating in a marshy lake or “the sinks." Being on the direct route to the Sacramento, and ending its course within 30 miles of the Sierra Nevada, opposite the accessible pass along Salmon Trout, on the one side, and Bear River on the other, and supplying water, grass and wood throughout its length, it has been of great service to emigrants; and a trail has been