Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.
To His Excellency
Sir--Permit me to address you these few lines in behalf of the Indians of this county, who have been of late much distressed by deserters stealing their property. On two late occasions several Sandwich Islanders have taken men's wives and other private property from the Indians, all of whom apply to me for redress, which I am sorry to say is not in my power to afford them the redress they require.
If you will give orders to have the depredators to refund to the Indians their loss it may prevent any further evil of the sort.
I have the honor to be, sir,P.S. The bearer William is Sand. person will explain who the Islanders are that have caused so much disturbance.
Your most obedt. servt.
(signed) Forbes Barclay, M.D.
F.B.NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received 1848-1852, 1849 No. 1. The letter is undated, but was filed with letters from 1849.
Oregon City, Oregon TerritoryTo the Hon.
April 9th 1849.
The Secretary of State
of the United States
I respectfully beg leave to make known to you the condition and prospects of the Territory.
As soon as it was known in Oregon that gold in abundance could be obtained in California, many of the people left for the mines; some have remained there. The most of them, however, have returned to their families and spent the winter at home, but nearly all who have been there are going back, and most of those who have not been to the mines are also going. Nearly the entire male population of Oregon will this year be in the California mines. In money the people have been much benefited. It is said, and I suppose truly, that at least one million of dollars in gold dust have been brought into Oregon, but on the other hand, the country lately so productive and so capable of producing, and which was rapidly being settled and put in cultivation, is now being neglected. Many are leaving their farms untenanted, many have failed to sow or put in crops of any kind, and many who have sowed will not harvest. Consequently there will be but little produce--no improvements are being made--not a house is being put up--fine saw and grist mills, on never-failing streams, are standing still for want of laborers--a large portion of the horses and oxen are being taken to the mines for sale--labor and subsistence is exorbitantly high.
Common labor is five dollars per day, flour ten dollars per barrel, meat in market twenty-five [cents] per pound, bacon from thirty to fifty cents per pound, butter fifty and eggs fifty cents per dozen. Goods and groceries are scarce and high.
You will readily perceive that in the event of the arrival of a large emigration this season, there is reason to fear that there will be much suffering for want of provisions and other necessaries. You will also perceive that if the gold fever continues and farming neglected, Oregon, which is the best wheat-growing portion of the continent, and could with little labor compare with the growing of wheat in the States, furnish the entire Pacific Coast with flour, will have to look to the United States for not only flour but provisions of all kinds.
So far as I have been able to see and converse with the Indians, I find them friendly and well disposed. But many of them complain. They say the whites have settled their country, killed their game, brought among them sickness, which has caused many deaths, that they are rapidly passing off and will soon all be gone. That the white people have promised them from year to year and from time to time that the United States government would send out a Governor with presents for them, and commissioners to purchase their lands and pay for them. They are anxious to sell, and the people are exceedingly sensitive on the subject. The exposure of families and property in the absence of the male population makes it more desirable at this time than at any other since the settlement of the Territory that they should sell.
The necessity for locating them entirely out of the settlements is obviously very great.
The troops engaged in the late Cayuse war, with the exception of one company, were disbanded in June last, the others in September, since which time the Indians have made no hostile demonstrations, and I am in hopes will not, before the troops destined for the Oregon service will have arrived, at which time the murderers of Dr. Whitman, lady and others can be demanded and punished, and then a peace made with them.
From the best information I have been able to obtain from estimates and otherwise, the expenses of the late war with the Cayuses may be set down at about one hundred and ninety thousand dollars, which has borne heavily on many individuals; for instance, the Commissary was compelled to borrow money, which he could only do by giving his obligation to pay, to enable him to purchase subsistence for the army, which obligations are now due, and by him being paid out of his own funds, and without he is speedily remunerated will be greatly injured in his pecuniary affairs, and the same is the case with many others who in the emergency made advances to the Oregon government.
The justice of the war and the good conduct of the citizens in promptly turning out in defense of the country entitles them not only to the good opinion of the government, but to an appropriation by Congress to pay the expenses of the war.
Chief Justice Bryant and Mr. Pritchett, Secretary of the Territory, have arrived and taken the oath of office. Mr. Adair, the Collector, is at Astoria in good time, as the Hudson's Bay Company's ships are expected in soon, and no doubt other vessels will be occasionally coming in. Mr. Pratt writes me from California that he has received his commission, as one of the judges of Oregon, and that he will sail for this place in a few days with the view of entering upon the discharge of the duties of his office. Mr. Burnett resides here, but is now in California. He declines accepting, and has so notified me, and I suppose has so notified the Department at Washington.
I would most respectfully beg leave to suggest, in behalf of the officers of the Territory, that they have got here at heavy expenses, and that owing to the high prices of provisions and clothing they cannot support their families upon the salaries fixed by the law of Congress, and I make the same suggestion in behalf of the officers of the army who may be assigned to duty in Oregon.
The people in Oregon, I am happy to say, are most orderly, intelligent, industrious and good citizens. Upon the subject of the public lands they have long been kept in suspense. They believe that the faith of the government is virtually pledged to a grant of 640 acres to each settler who has located, made an improvement and occupied the same.
It gives me much pleasure to state that I found the channel at the mouth of the Columbia wider, deeper, more direct and less dangerous than I expected. We carried in four fathoms water. I am of opinion that with a good steam towboat vessels could be towed in and out safely. With such a steamer and the completion of the improvements contemplated by Congress, to wit, the erection of a lighthouse and the anchoring of buoys, the mouth of the Columbia will be made perfectly safe. The appropriation for this purpose, owing to the gold excitement and consequently the difficulty of obtaining labor, except at an exorbitantly high price, will be insufficient.
The census has been taken and the returns made according to the law of Congress, and an election will be held on the first Monday in June next for the purpose of electing a Delegate to Congress and for the election of members to the Council and House of Representatives of the Legislature of the Territory. The total population of the Territory is eight thousand nine hundred and three.
Total number of voters, two thousand five hundred and nine. Total foreign population, two hundred and eighty-seven, included in the above estimate.
With great respectNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 629-634.
I am sir yr. most obt. svt.
New Market, May 17th, 1849Wm. F. Tolmie Esqr.
I have just learned by express that two companies of artillery have arrived at Fort Vancouver by the U.S. steamer Massachusetts.
It was my intention to visit you at the Fort, but owing to this fact I have deemed it necessary to return immediately.
I have therefore to make the particular request of you not to furnish any of the Indians with ammunition, and to ask of you the favor to cause the hostile tribe who have committed the outrage to be informed that my repetition of the like conduct will be visited promptly with their complete destruction, that our force which will be immediately increased is at this time amply sufficient for an immediate expedition against them, and that the moment I am informed that any injury has been committed by them upon our people they will be visited by sudden and severe punishment.
By making this communication to them you will greatly oblige
Your obedt. servt.
Watzhelachee, Chief of the Nanomas
Snutelam, Chief of the Skagit
Salcom, Chief of the Snoquamish
Lucadom, Chief of the Klatumcle
Hullequam, Chief of the Towanka
Lochallit, Chief of the Nisqually
It was my intention to have visited you at this time, but a warship with many warriors and great guns having come from your Great Father beyond the mountains prevents me just now.
I will come again in a few moons, and let you know beforehand of my coming so that you can be prepared to meet me.
I have heard a good account of you, that you are good men and friendly and kind to the white people.
I am pleased to hear this and if you continue to behave thus to your white brothers, I will take care that they shall treat you in the same manner.
I will protect you also from all injury from bad men.
In the course of twelve more moons your Great Father will send some of his chiefs to treat with you for such lands as you are willing to sell and to pay you for them.
When you sell your lands your Great Father will not drive you away, but will wish you to remain near his white children and learn from them what is good to make you rich and happy.
I have left with Mr. Simmons at Stiches a little tobacco for you. When I come to see you again some few moons hence, I will make you some presents of blankets and useful things.
Joseph LaneNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 2; Letter Books A:10.
Oregon CityDr. Tolmie
Sept. 24th 1849
Chief Justice Bryant goes to the Sound to try the six Indians charged with the murder of Wallace. If the Indians are found to be the guilty ones, the reward offered by the sub-agent Mr. Thornton must be paid. In that event, you will please hand the Indians who arrested and brought them in the blankets promised them by the sub-agent, and forward the account for payment.
With great respect
I am, sir,
Your obt. servt.
A few days after the judge left for Steilacoom, Tolmie forwarded his account for payment, stating that on the delivery of the six Indians, the reward of 80 blankets had been paid to the Indians who arrested and brought them in, which account I have declined paying until I can know whether they are the guilty ones.
It will be seen that there are within the Territory of Oregon, so far as [is] reported, sixty-five tribes and bands of Indians; some of them are mere bands and will soon become extinct. Two tribes not mentioned in the report will be noticed hereafter. Thirty tribes or bands live north of the Columbia and the remainder south of the Columbia.
There has been no conventional arrangement entered into between the whites and Indians which require the action of Congress.
The Indians are scattered over the entire Territory, and for the purpose of maintaining friendly relations with, and proper control of, them, I would respectfully recommend the following division of the Territory for agency purposes, to wit: An agent to be located at or near the Grand Ronde for the tribes and bands living south of the Columbia and east of the Cascade Range to Fort Boise and the summit of the Rocky Mountains.
The Rogue River Indians, not above mentioned, occupy the country on both sides of Rogue River, from where the road to California crosses to the mouth of the same, and on to the coast. They number some seven or eight hundred; they are a warlike and roguish people and have lately given much trouble to small parties of our people returning from the gold mines. They succeeded in killing some, wounding some, and robbing others; by which means they have got several thousand dollars of gold, many horses and some guns. Owing to their recent success, it is to be feared that we will have some trouble with these Indians.
A sub-agency should be established as near this point as practicable, say on the Umpqua, for all the tribes south of the Columbia and west of the Cascade Range, and a garrison of one or two companies established in their country for the protection of our people traveling in that direction.
* * *
The Cayuse nation remain unpunished for the murder of the unfortunate Dr. Whitman and his family. The eyes of the surrounding nations are upon us, watching our movements in relation to this cold-blooded massacre, and if the guilty be not punished they will construe it as a license for the most atrocious outrage, and scenes of a similar character will be enacted by other tribes, who by our example toward the guilty Cayuse will be incited to gratify any malicious spirit with the blood of Americans, and our suffering the guilty in this instance to escape a just punishment will be to them an assurance of their own safety. Indeed the chiefs of some of the neighboring tribes have informed me that they already have had difficulty in restraining their tribe from joining the Cayuses, and they are anxious the murderers should be brought to punishment, as it would deter their own bands from crime.
In concluding this report I take the liberty to call your special attention to the following extract from my message to the legislative assembly.
"Surrounded as many of the tribes and bands now are by the whites, whose arts of civilization by destroying the resources of the Indians doom them to poverty, want and crime, the extinguishment of their title by purchase, and then locating them in a district removed from the settlements is a measure of the most vital importance to them. Indeed the cause of humanity calls loudly for their removal from causes and influences so fatal to their existence.
"This measure is one of equal interest to our own people."
[Joseph Lane]NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 2; Letter Books A:10.
Office of Indian Affairs
Territory of Oregon
Oregon City, Oct. /49
Bvt. Maj. Gen. Persifor F. Smith's
on Affairs in Oregon & California
Headquarters, Pacific DivisionBrvt. Lt. Colonel W. G. Freeman
Fort Vancouver, October 7th 1849
Assistant Adjutant General
I have the honor to address to you for the information of the major general commanding in chief, and of the government, the following report.
I have from time to time previously reported events as they have occurred, with some observations on them, but shall now recapitulate them briefly, and enter somewhat at large into the peculiar state of affairs here, and explain fully the reasons which governed my action in them--which affairs, though at first view not embraced in my duties as commanding this Division, will be found to have much influence on the condition and service of the military force here. Besides, the law not having provided officers in other branches of service here, the government can only look for authentic information to those whom it has been authorized to send.
Under orders to take command of the "Pacific Division," I left Baltimore on the 24th November, and New Orleans on the 18th of December last, by the Isthmus of Panama, for San Francisco.
While at Panama I learned that the worst part of the population from many of the Pacific ports was going to California to search for gold. As this could only be done by trespassing on the public lands, in violation of the laws and to the injury of the rights of the United States, I sent notice to those different ports that on my arrival in California the law would be enforced. The law itself points out the mode of its execution, which is through the courts of the United States. But as the last session of Congress passed without providing such tribunals, the law has had to remain inoperative, and must continue so until Congress provide otherwise
Some of the individuals offending have applied for protection from violence threatened by others, but I have informed them that I cannot interfere to secure them in the infraction of the law.
I arrived at Monterey on the 23rd of February, and being detained a few days by the steamer's want of fuel, I had an opportunity of conferring with Colonel R. B. Mason, commanding the Department.
He had been in continual expectation of hearing that provision for a territorial government had been made, and consequently had done nothing to alter the condition of affairs existing at the conclusion of the treaty.
In order to explain the object and operations of the measures pursued after my taking command of the Division, I will state my views of existing circumstances and their consequences at the time.
Upper and Lower California had been for many months before the conclusion of the treaty was known in the exclusive occupation of the forces of the United States. All military opposition had ceased, and the inhabitants submitted to the rule of the conqueror. The chief military commander, under instructions from the President of the United States, and in conformity with the laws of nations, governed the territory as a conquest. In the meantime a treaty with Mexico transferred the whole of the sovereignty and domain of Upper California to the United States and guarantied to the people all civil rights conformable to our Constitution.
Congress having been in session at the conclusion of the treaty, it was supposed they would provide a territorial government for California, in expectation of which no steps were taken to change the existing state of things then, though it required attention. For during the revolutionary movements which preceded the occupation of California, many of the higher civil offices of the Department were vacated, and the regular administration of the law interrupted, and while the military government under our conquest existed, many of the inferior Mexican officers of justice were displaced as inimical, so that the termination of the session of Congress found and left the Territory almost without law. And although this might have endured without becoming intolerable previously, when the inhabitants and interests were few, yet now the discovery of the gold mines had already given a strong impulse to commerce and emigration, and transactions involving much property and many rights were calling for the aid and protection of law, when the news arrived that Congress had adjourned without any legislation on the subject.
The people of the territory finding no relief from Congress, and understanding from an expression in the message of the President, urging the passage of a territorial law, that, unless Congress acted, the people here had no law--de jure as well as de facto-thought their only remedy was to create a new government, ignorant, as most of them were newcomers, that sufficient and excellent law existed, if it were only revived and put in motion by the appointment of proper officers, whose absence they took for the absence of law. They proposed following the example of Oregon, to create a provisional government, and some districts had chosen delegates, and a time and place were fixed to hold the convention. Some, too, justifying themselves by the natural right of "self-government inherent in man," had ordained themselves into separate communities, established codes of laws and appointed officers to execute them, disposing of public and corporation lands, and claiming the revenue collected from commerce.
Though I had no authority to create or organize a government, or dictate how or when that should be done, yet, as my instructions and duty required me to aid the civil authority when called on in support of the law, it was absolutely necessary to ascertain what was the law, and who were the legally constituted authorities in the territory.
Having satisfied my own mind on those points, I urged the same reasoning that influenced me on all those with whom I had intercourse, and events have since taken a direction in conformity with it.
I will state it as concisely as possible.
First--In relation to an existing government in California.
Previous to the Mexican War, Upper California, as a department of the Republic of Mexico, had a completely organized government, in theory, as complete as that of any state in our Union, though in fact irregular and disordered in its action from internal commotions. It possessed an executive, a legislative body, a judiciary, subordinate executive officers, and all the machinery for administrative and financial operations, connected with the general government through the military officers of the latter, and by the right of appeal and supervision.
When this territory was conquered by the United States, the latter acquired the right of changing and administering this government so as best to conduce to the objects of the war.
By the treaty we made California a part of our Union, and thus, by another title, acquired the right to regulate, as provided in our Constitution, its government.
But neither the laws of nations nor reason require, or permit, that an acquisition by conquest, much less one by treaty, should, ipso facto, abrogate the civil institutions of the acquired country--those relating to allegiance and sovereignty are of course modified, for these are the very objects of the transfer; the others remain until altered by the new sovereign in the way pointed out in its own institutions.
California, then, since the conclusion of the treaty and now, is governed by the laws and institutions she at first enjoyed, modified, as they may have been during the conquest by the conqueror, and as they have been since her annexation to us, by the effect of the laws, Constitution and treaties of the United States, of which she now forms a part. And to give her the practical benefit of these laws and institutions, it is only necessary to put them again into motion. Some, indeed, which required the concurrent action of their general government must remain inert, because there is no law of the United States to point out how they are to be exercised. These laws, though still operative in California, cannot affect or control the Executive or Congress of the United States.
Secondly--How can these laws and institutions be changed? It was urged that, granting the old laws of California to remain, yet the people of this territory, if dissatisfied with them, can change them, that the fundamental right of self-government, if it allows a community to be formed and to establish its own laws, allows it also to change them whenever they become distasteful, consequently the people of California, if dissatisfied with theirs as different from those under which they were bred, may by general consent alter them, and they cite the example of Oregon.
To this it was answered that Oregon had no previous government; there were no laws in existence there. The action of our own government in the conventions with Great Britain for joint trade there seemed to throw a doubt upon her own right to establish any government, and if the people of Oregon could claim the protection of no government, they owed allegiance to none and were therefore free to listen to their own necessities and create one for their own protection. They had no laws, for they formed part of no state; a Congress had passed none for them, so that the first want of society justified their action. Granting even that the reasoning was sound in relation to Oregon, it could not apply to California, for her circumstances were entirely different. She had, and has yet, a complete system of law, founded on the best in the world, the old civil law of Spain. She is part of the United States, under the protection and influence of its laws. And this fact determines in whom the right of legislation lies.
No citizen of the United States questions the original right of a yet unorganized community, owing no allegiance elsewhere, to establish and regulate its own government, and if the lands, sovereignty and allegiance of California have no claimants, the present occupants could for their own safety and comfort do it. But the people of the United States, as communities, have already exercised that right; they have established governments and laws; those laws for civil and personal rights they have generally reserved to their own control in the several states; those of general and exterior interest they have committed exclusively to an agent in the shape of a general government. Every case is provided for in the states respectively; each regulates its own affairs. In matters of general interest and in the common property of all they have committed all legislation to Congress, and through one or the other of these means alone can any acts of government or legislation be done within the limits of the territory of the United States. And so in Oregon the validity of their provisional government depends on this fact. Was it or not a part of the United States? If it was, their only remedy is to claim of their government redress for the evils inflicted by its neglect; if this neglect cannot be justified, they cannot usurp the rights of the people of the United States. But the people of California have not even this doubtful point to rest on. By solemn treaty California is a part of the United States, and its people have no more right to this independent action than have the inmates of an asylum belonging to the City of New York to erect themselves into an independent community or corporation and dispose of the houses and lands they occupy.
But these same fundamental laws of the United States permit the people of California, with the consent of Congress, to form a state in the confederacy and thus acquire all the rights of sovereignty not bestowed by the Constitution or Congress.
If they do not elect this alternative, the other alone remains open to them, to wit, to await with patience the action of Congress, for if it possesses alone the power it does also the discretion as to the mode and time of legislation, and may postpone the interest of the people of this section to what may be considered the more important interests of the whole.
Some urged that the formation of a "territorial government" was a necessary preliminary to the existence of a state. To this it was answered that such a thing as a Territorial government is unknown to the Constitution. It is merely the mode in which Congress, for convenience in certain cases, have chosen to exercise the duty of "legislating for the Territories of the United States."
In accordance with these views, I declined, when called on, to recognize any authority not existing by the laws of California or those of the United States.
At the time of my arrival at San Francisco (Feb. 28th), however, the session of Congress was again nearly ended, with every expectation that this subject had been acted on. So that to avoid the trouble and expense of reestablishing the former authorities, to be replaced probably before they were fairly in operation, I thought it better to wait, and directed the steamer Edith to be sent to Mazatlan and San Blas, from which by the Vera Cruz mail the earliest intelligence of the action of Congress would be received. Upon her return with the news, Brevt. Brig. General Riley, who had relieved Brevt. Brig. Genl. Mason, proceeded to revise the administration of law under the previously existing institutions, and recommended the people to choose delegates to a convention to form a state, to meet at Monterey the 1st of September.
I will here mention that, it being impossible for private persons elected as members to find the means of conveyance from the distant parts in the present state of the country, and as their mileage would probably come ultimately from the national treasury, I authorized the quartermaster to provide transportation by water for the delegates distant from Monterey.
In adopting the course I have pursued in this subject, I have been governed by what seemed to me the importance of arresting the construction of a system which, however excellent it might be in itself, had the inherent and fatal vice of nullity at its foundation. The laws passed under it in some places were undoubtedly good and would have been honestly administered, but as large commercial interests, not only with the merchants of our Atlantic States, but with all the world, were creating, and must be subject to the operations of these laws and of the courts established under them, as real and personal property were to be sold, successions administered, and judgments, civil and criminal, to be executed by their order, involving much money and the interest of government and many absent persons and possibly the lives of some here, I thought it of great importance that nothing should be done the validity of which was not only doubtful now, but the defects, when ascertained hereafter, incurable, and which must throw all titles and contracts into perpetual uncertainty.
Nevertheless, no military authority or force has ever been exerted in opposition to any person or thing not subject to military law. Nor, to my knowledge, has there ever been any, the slightest, dispute or collision between the army or any part of it and the citizens; on the contrary, the greatest harmony has prevailed. And I doubt whether any part of the United States has presented a community in which there has been so few crimes or even disorders committed.
The public records of any of our largest cities will present more of these in any one day than have taken place in the whole of California since my arrival.
A riot in San Francisco, which the citizens themselves suppressed, and an outrage on Indians in the unsettled country above Sutter's Fort, by strangers to California, are the only ones I know of.
Many misrepresentations have been published on this point. But the people of the United States may rest assured that if California asks admission into their confederacy, that no community is more able and desirous of maintaining peace and order.
This concludes what I have to say on the civil organization of the territory, as connected with my duties.
Another point on which there was embarrassment from the want of legislation by Congress was the collection of the revenue on imports.
This was a matter exclusively governed by the laws of the United States.
Presuming that Congress after the conclusion of the treaty with Mexico--which had incorporated California with us--had provided for executing the revenue laws here--Colonel Mason directed the collection of duties according to those laws. On my arrival here, knowing that no such provision had been made, I directed a different course to be pursued.
The circular of the Secretary of the Treasury had declared that, by the treaty, California was part of the United States, subject to all its general laws, and vessels could trade coastwise to and from it with other parts of the United States. But no provision was made for appointing collectors or designating ports of entry.
Nevertheless, an immense amount of shipping was on its way here.
The revenue laws provide that all goods of a certain description brought into the United States shall pay certain duties. Consequently, they cannot be brought here without paying such duties. But these duties cannot be paid, because there are no persons here provided by law to receive them, so the goods cannot be introduced. Vessels with such goods can only go where there are collectors to receive the duties, enter their goods and then send them coastwise here in American bottoms. The nearest collector then was in an Atlantic port, and as all crews deserted on their arrival here, vessels once arrived could not get away. And no vessel was provisioned for a voyage to the Atlantic. Besides, the people here were in distress for many articles brought, for the country was bare of goods.
To meet these circumstances, I directed that the consignees of dutiable goods, as duties could not be exacted of them, should have the option to comply strictly with law and send away their goods, or deposit with the person acting as collector the amount that would be due under the revenue laws, subject to the action and decision of Congress. This has hitherto been done, and the amount thus paid has been placed in the hands of an officer of the Quartermaster's Department, as depositary, and its disposition will require the action of Congress. As the accumulation of a large amount thus not only embarrassed commerce, but incurs much risk, the disbursing officers were authorized to use it for purposes provided by law in place of drawing money from the United States, thus distributing it for circulation, and, in reality, transferring it to the Treasury for safekeeping until Congress should dispose of it. In the meantime, lest this conditional admission of goods should be misunderstood as a regular opening of the ports, I addressed a circular to our consuls on the Pacific, advising them of its nature, and that it might at any time be disapproved of by the government, and that shippers must send goods here at their own risk of having them refused entry. This was done that government might revoke the privilege granted without being annoyed by claims for indemnity. But a law had passed providing collectors, though the officer appointed for San Francisco had not arrived when I left.
The accounts of the collectors are returned to the commander of the Department, and by him I presume transmitted to Washington. I have no return of the amount collected, and which requires the action of Congress.
In relation both to the organization of the civil government and the question of duties on imports, much stress was laid by some on the repugnance of the people to "military government."
To the first it was answered by the laws of California itself--not by any usurpation or imposition--where there is no Governor to the Department, his functions are to be exercised by the military commandant of the Department. That this designation by law of a military officer to perform civil functions no more makes such functions military than would his being drawn to sit on a jury in a civil court make it a court martial. It is the principles and rules of action that gives its character to the government, and not the other attributes of the persons who administer it. As to the revenue laws, there being no other than military officers here, they were bound to see that the laws of the United States were not infringed, and to secure the rights of the government under its laws until it made all dispositions necessary, and what was done was extending favor to the people here, not restraining their rights.
These distinctions have been most carefully preserved, and in no instance in my knowledge has any of the executive power been authorized to act except through the civil branches of the administration. I have been careful to urge this distinction in all things--that those duties under the laws or authority, or affecting the rights and interest of the United States, should be exercised through the regular military staff of the Department, while those connected with the civil administration of California under its own laws should pass exclusively through the hands of the civil officers and the forms of the civil law.
It will be seen from what I have above stated that the only revenue collected must accrue to the United States, for there has been no departmental legislature to lay taxes, and there is no fund to pay the necessary expenses of government except what may have remained in the treasury of the Department at the conclusion of the treaty.
A population of at least fifty thousand people, a yearly product of near ten millions of dollars, a commerce employing several hundred ships, their cargoes mostly belonging to merchants in the Atlantic States--the most active trade--the security of so much property, and of the lives of so many people, are such powerful reasons for establishing a satisfactory government that can make all these resources available, that I presume, that if it becomes necessary to apply any portion of the money not properly belonging to the Department, to this end, that Congress will approve of its proper and economical application by making the necessary appropriations.
At the time of my arrival in California, there were but few troops remaining in some of the posts occupied during the war.
The troops in that Department now consist of the Second Infantry, two companies of the Third Artillery, and three companies of the 1st Dragoons.
In selecting positions for them I at first fixed upon San Luis Rey, an abandoned mission in the southern part of the territory, as the location for the greater part of those expected to arrive. Colonel Mason represented it as in a district fertile though not extensive, and central as to San Diego and those points on the frontiers by which our boundary with Mexico was crossed, and that the buildings, with a few repairs, were sufficient for the troops.
It appears however from subsequent information that the cultivation has been neglected and the neighboring inhabitants gone to the mines, that stragglers had taken possession of the buildings and rendered them uninhabitable, so that other dispositions were made.
The posts now occupied are San Diego; Monterey, the headquarters of the Department; Presidio of San Francisco, two and a half miles north of the town; Benicia, the general depot; Sonoma, the headquarters of the Division; a post on the Stanislaus River, twenty-eight miles southeast from Stockton; a post on Bear Creek, ten miles above its junction with Feather River about thirty miles northeast from Sutter's Fort. The command destined for this post, under Major Kingsbury, had reached the neighborhood of Sutter's Fort in June. It was still there when I left California the 1st of September.
General Riley proposes to have the post on Stanislaus River removed further south to King's River. According to my present information, a post there will be very difficult to supply, but a careful reconnaissance, without which no change will be made, will determine that point.
The troops on Bear Creek and Stanislaus River may possibly be withdrawn to the coast during the rainy season, for the country immediately below them will be then impassable for wagons and will be overflowed when the mountain snows melt in the spring. They may likewise prove unhealthy at this season, in which case they will be moved further into the mountain--they are now just on its last declivity towards the plains.
These considerations, and the difficulty and expense of erecting barracks, will suspend the permanent location of these posts until more experience of the climate & seasons is procured.
The object of these posts is not to maintain garrisons large enough to make any important operations in the Indian country beyond them, but rather to serve as advanced depots for supplies for corps that may move in that direction. Above them the mountains may be traveled at all seasons as far as the snow, with portable India-rubber boats to cross the streams; below, between the Coast Range and the mountain, in the valleys of the San Joaquin and Sacramento, the country is impassable for animals in the rainy season, and if troops are to move, then they can go in boats through the low countries and find their pack animals and supplies at these depots, which will have been furnished in the dry season.
The post at Sonoma is occupied by Capt. A. J. Smith's Co. 1st Dragoons--this company is too small (less than a dozen men) to occupy any distant post. I have used it as an escort in my journeys through the territory. When I left Sonoma it was under orders to visit the country north of Sonoma, where some Indians were troublesome, and to explore the country beyond. Sonoma is at the outlet of one of the valleys leading from San Francisco Bay northward, between the coast and the Sacramento Valley. When more troops are disposable the post will be advanced more to the northward.
The general depot for the Division is at Benicia, on the straits of Carquinez, at the junction with Suisun Bay, and on the north point of the straits, fronting on them about half a mile, and about twice as much on the bay.
The town of San Francisco was noways proper for a military depot--there is no harbor there more than in any part of the bay, which is too large and consequently too rough for the loading and unloading of vessels. The landing is difficult and can only be used at certain time of tide. Its position is unsafe, lying with its back to the seacoast on a narrow peninsula, cut off from the mainland except by a circuit of forty miles. The lease of the stores occupied there was to expire in June or July and could not be renewed but at rates incredibly large, and the expense of landing and shipping goods was so exorbitant that economy was consulted by quitting the place altogether and establishing it elsewhere.
I selected the present location because the harbor is safe, being in fact a river five miles long and one broad. Vessels can unload by a stage from their side to the shore. It has a good communication by land and water with all parts of the country; the largest ship of war can run in one tide from sea to this point, and it can be perfectly defended. The persons claiming the land under a Mexican grant have ceded their property in it to the United States, provided it be used for the purposes designed.
I have directed storehouses for the quartermaster's and commissary's supplies, barracks for two companies, and quarters for the necessary officers to be constructed in the cheapest manner, of wood. As the lumber was to be got from Oregon, and labor was hard to be procured, I authorized a vessel to be bought as a store ship, the cabin of which might serve for officers' quarters. Enough of the buildings projected to secure everything from the rains of this winter are now, I presume, finished.
As the state of things in California renders it impossible to carry on any work except at the most extravagant expense, I have limited all operations to those of the strictest necessity.
The creation of a proper depot was most pressing, for we were subject to extravagant rents, and as our supplies would come but annually, a large quantity must sometimes be on hand and if injured from exposure could not be replaced under a long time.
Next was some defense to the entrance of the bay of San Francisco. For this I directed some guns lying on the beach at the town of San Francisco to be removed, and six or eight of them mounted on an old work on the southern point of the straits at the entrance of the bay. The repairs necessary were limited to the construction of a temporary magazine, constructing an epaulement to cover two large guns in the gorge, and replacing the platforms. Major Ogden, of the Engineer Corps, here on other duty, furnished the plans and detail of the work, and the execution of it was committed to the officer commanding the neighboring post. This work, imperfect as it will be, is of importance when there are no vessels of war here, for with the ebb tide and usual winds any vessel can escape to sea without risk of being overtaken.
The other point demanding immediate attention was opening a sure and easy communication by land with the Atlantic States. The whole value of these countries to the United States depends on this. The route by the Isthmus is too expensive and too insufficient for the number of travelers. The steamers can bring with propriety not three hundred a month, while the emigration by land, if divided throughout the year, would average three thousand a month. The route by sea, either across the Isthmus or around Cape Horn, uncertain and insufficient at all times, in time of war, when most needed, would probably be entirely interrupted. A route across the interior is practicable, because it is annually traveled. But the way may be made better and more sure by careful explorations. As these can only be made in the summer and fall in the mountains, and Congress might be disposed to act at once, I determined to employ what remained of the proper season this year in having examined that one of the various traces within the limits of my command that seemed to offer most advantages.
As the principal obstacle at this end of the road is the Sierra Nevada, the examination was confined for the present to the passage of that ridge from the low plains on this side to the high ones on the other.
On information and advice furnished by Colonel Fremont, through whom chiefly the interior of this country is known to the people of the United States, I selected for examination a pass by the Cow Creek, one of the headwaters of the Sacramento. Brvt. Captain Warner, an intelligent and accurate officer of the Topographical Engineers, was charged with the duty, and an escort under the command of Brevet Lieut. Colonel Casey, 2nd Infantry, accompanied him. They left Sacramento City in August, later than I intended, but the depot on Bear Creek was not established, and the expedition had to be fitted out from resources at a distance.
To avoid the necessity of a second examination, Captain Warner was ordered to provide himself with the instruments necessary to establish the practicability of a railroad by this or any adjacent pass, and has accordingly gone so prepared.
These three objects of primary importance were intended to limit the expenditures out of the usual military routine, but as I was about starting for Oregon, the emigrants from the United States began to arrive. Hitherto a few hundred had crossed annually, and had often suffered from the want of pasture for their animals, and all the consequent distress, for the loss of animals involved the abandonment of wagons and loss of provisions and clothing. An early fall of snow not long since arrested the caravan of that year before their arrival, near succor, and some of the survivors were found who had been reduced to the horrible necessity of feeding on the dead bodies of their companions.
As the road this year was crowded with from five to seven thousand wagons, it was probable that the suffering would be beyond description among those who, coming last, would find the whole of the latter part of the route bare of forage, and in many places everything burnt off by fire.
Some of those who had already arrived represented the situation of many whom they had passed as destitute in the extreme, and begged that food and assistance should be sent to them. Under these circumstances I directed as many wagons as could be procured up the Sacramento to be dispatched partly loaded with provisions, and to proceed in two parties by the two routes on which the emigrants were advancing, to issue provisions to such as were in need, and to send in the women, children and sick in the wagons emptied. No military escort was considered necessary, as the road would be full of emigrants, and no troops were disposable to compose it. Brevt. Major Rucker, 1st Dragoons, was selected to take charge of the train and carry out these dispositions. I left California immediately before any of the preparations were completed. The necessity of the expenditure in this matter, if any was incurred which is not authorized by law, will I hope be a sufficient reason for making the requisite appropriation.
The troops in Oregon consist of eight companies of the regiment of mounted riflemen, under Brevt. Col. Loring, commanding the Department, who has just arrived, and two companies of the 1st Artillery, which arrived under the command of Bvt. Major [John S.] Hathaway in May. Major Hathaway's company (L) is stationed at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia, a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company. Company (M), Captain B. H. Hill, is posted at Steilacoom on Puget's Sound, eight or nine miles southwest from Nisqually. Two companies of the Rifles, under Brvt. Lt. Colonel Porter, were left at Fort Hall. Brvt. Col. Loring, with the six remaining companies, is now in quarters in Oregon City, at the falls of the Willamette--the only place in the Territory where houses could be procured to cover them. In compliance with instructions I had previously sent, a party under Lieut. Hawkins of the Rifles, who had arrived in the spring with Governor Lane, in command of his escort, was sent to Fort Hall with provisions to meet the Rifles. They, however, took different routes, and did not meet. If he arrives at Fort Hall, Col. Porter will have provisions for the winter. If by the 1st of November provisions have not arrived, I have sent orders to Col. Porter, through Col. Loring, to fall down to the Dalles, on the Columbia River, and occupy the abandoned mission buildings there, at which point the troops can be supplied from Fort Vancouver, most of the winter, by water.
If a post were established at Fort Hall to assist emigrants, it is now nearly useless, because they now follow a new route more to the southward. The country produces nothing but grass in the summer. The nights are so cold from its altitude above the sea and proximity to the mountains that nothing that serves for food will grow there. The difficulty of reaching it from this coast is much greater than from the other, though the distance is less. The road to Oregon is made to come here, not to return; the ascents were chosen with care to bring up the loaded wagon of the emigrant. On the descents this way they took the shortest lines, and though a wagon could slide down coming this way, which was all that was wanted, it could not be pulled up going the other. There are no Indians in that neighborhood particularly requiring restraint, and if there be no particular reason unknown to me why a garrison should be kept there, I would urge that it be withdrawn from that neighborhood until the country is examined and roads opened by which posts can be supplied. No doubt as good roads can be found going east as coming west.
My intention was to occupy but few posts at first, but every summer, while the pasture was good, to send strong detachments with pack horses to examine the country & select routes for roads, and when our knowledge of the interior should be more complete to extend the posts as may be necessary. The influence thus to be exercised over the Indians will be much greater than by subdividing the force in the territory, already small, into many and widely scattered garrisons.
The information given by travelers, or even by hunters and trappers, is not to be depended on; they only search for or observe what interests their own concerns. The contradictory nature of their reports, and the evident manner in which each makes his story conform to his own plans, is the best evidence of the little dependence to be placed on them. Travelers especially see nothing but the track they travel on; if it be sufficient for their purpose they seek no other. A careful reconnaissance, by an intelligent officer with a party strong enough to secure his traversing the whole country, is the only reliable source of general and correct knowledge of topography.
I had intended to establish a post on the Upper Willamette River, but the communication from it to California would be so easy that, under present circumstances, it would be inadvisable. In the spring, when the rains are over and the men can work in the woods, the company of Artillery now at Fort Vancouver will go to Astoria and put up quarters for itself. Two companies of Rifles will be stationed at the Dalles, and the remainder will leave Oregon City and take post at or near Vancouver. This is the only place in the Territory where there are buildings suitable for storehouses, and the expense of erecting them elsewhere will be enormous, and it is well situated for the principal depot of the Department.
All the posts in the two Departments are accessible by water, except Fort Hall. The whole country at the same time is very mountainous. The difficulty of making roads by land, and the fact that, when made, many will be impassable during the latter part of the rainy season, that is, from Christmas to the 21st of March, point out the necessity of providing the surest and most economical means of water transportation.
That part of the territory included in the Pacific Division most likely to be occupied and settled within the next twenty years extends about a thousand miles along the coast from San Diego to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, while it is not two hundred miles broad from the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains and Sierra Nevada to the ocean. Puget's Sound, the Columbia River and San Francisco Bay afford access to the greater part of this territory, but it is evident that the sea is to be the great highway between the different parts. Now, a peculiarity exists here to which we are not subject on the Atlantic Coast. The winds blow continually from the northward, with rare exceptions, and a current, conforming with the direction of the wind, generally sets to the southward, so that passages from the south northwardly are very tedious, and in flat vessels at times impossible.
The coasts are rocky, the entrances to the harbors narrow, and fogs very prevalent at some seasons for weeks together, so that sailing vessels dare not approach the coast, because if they should not make their port accurately they could neither anchor nor haul off but would drift on the rocks.
I was a month coming from San Francisco to Fort Vancouver; a steamer would have brought me in four days or less, yet we made a much shorter passage than any vessel immediately before or after us. And since my first arrival in the country vessels have been twenty days coming from Monterey to San Francisco, about ninety miles.
This uncertainty and loss of time is more expensive than the employment of more costly vessels, in which these are avoided, especially when wages are very high.
The quartermaster's department should have two good sea steamers to run on the coast from Puget's Sound to San Diego, and smaller river boats--one for the Sacramento & San Joaquin, and one for the Columbia River. The sea steamers should be very strong, both in hull and engine, because they will be exposed to heavy seas on the bars, and the engines of all should be powerful, to stem the strong current with which the tide runs.
There is plenty of wood for their use on the Upper San Joaquin & Sacramento, and on the Columbia River, and coal from Vancouver's Island will be delivered by the Hudson's Bay Company at fourteen dollars a ton.
Without such vessels the communication between the different parts of this Division is too uncertain to be depended on.
All supplies sent from the Atlantic ports by sea should leave there by the 20th of November, so as to pass Cape Horn at the best season and arrive on this coast in the most favorable weather of the year for entering the harbors.
From the middle of April to the 1st of August the entrance of the Columbia is most easy, for the weather is not foggy long at a time, and the sea is smooth. The rest of the year, a delay even of weeks must be provided for.
Steam vessels are not embarrassed by calms or headwinds and in a fog can enter by the lead with more certainty than a sailing vessel, as their rate of going is more uniform and direction more sure; they will meet, therefore, with much less delay at the mouth of this river.
I have been directed to select a position on the Columbia River for an ordnance depot. As the state of things in this country, to which I will presently refer, precludes the probability of getting labor for any but the most temporary public works, I shall merely select and have marked out and reserved the position having most advantages, without expending any money or labor on it.
If the property of the Hudson's Bay Company should be purchased for the government, that at Vancouver will furnish all the buildings necessary for storehouses and depots of all kinds for many years to come.
I shall direct to be marked out and reserved positions for fortifications at the mouth of the Columbia and on Puget's Sound, where there are no titles recognized by the treaty of Washington in conflict.
Oregon & California lie between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, from latitude 49° north to the river Gila, the 42nd parallel dividing the two territories.
From the Rocky Mountains to the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range is represented to be a high, barren, rolling country, intersected with mountains, very bare of wood, generally of useful vegetation, in some places, especially of Oregon, furnishing abundance of grass for pasture, but generally producing nothing but wild sage, the temperature at night being too low for most articles of vegetable foo-- often destitute of water, here and there, but far between, some fertile valleys of small extent.
This part of the country I have not seen, and only derive my knowledge from sources open to all. But it is clear, from universal report, that a large portion of this country offers no inducement to settlers, that there are some fertile districts of small extent, that there is pasture for immense herds of cattle.
From the eastern slope, Sierra Nevada, and Cascade Range--to which district my observations hereafter principally refer--with the exception of the highest ridges of the mountains and the southern sandy part of the territory, the soil in itself is generally good; it possesses the elements of fertility, but these are only developed in proportion to the supply of water for natural or artificial irrigation. The rains begin in October, after Christmas are more plentiful, and end in March. From that time until October again, not a drop of water falls on the surface in California, and only occasional showers until July in Oregon.
In May the whole surface of the earth is covered with vegetation of the most luxurious kind, grasses of various species mixed with a profusion of flowers as delightful for their perfume as for their beauty. But in a few weeks these are parched up and die for want of moisture--and in midsummer the entire country out of the forests, and they are rare in California--looks like an arid desert of brown sand.
Those plants which have the advantage of the winter rains, and come to perfection before the moisture is evaporated, in summer thrive and are productive. So our winter grains, potatoes, melons and vegetables of quick growth grow to great perfection, and where a stream of water affords the means of irrigation the soil is productive during the whole summer. But the greater part of California is destitute of running streams and springs in the dry season. In the mountains the beds of the larger streams run in very deep, narrow ravines, whose sides are steep and rocky.
Smaller streams near their sources in the mountains often water very beautiful and fertile valleys of small extent, but they soon sink into the soil and leave their beds dry. In the ranges near the coast, water is still more rare in California, though plentiful in Oregon, but the strip of land between the Coast Range and the sea derives sufficient moisture from the heavy fogs to supply all vegetation that is not injured by salt air in that part of it level enough for cultivation.
Generally speaking, California is bare of timber. The Sierra Nevada in its higher parts is covered with noble forests of pine, fir, spruce and hemlock, with some oaks. Some of the coast ridges have remains of forests of "redwood," a tree partaking of the qualities and appearance of our cedar and cypress, and growing to an immense size. Some of the lower hills and plains have scattered oaks, resembling our live oak, but this timber is of bad quality.
Going northward from the bay of San Francisco, wood becomes gradually more abundant until you approach Oregon, where begin forests of pine, fir and spruce, which extend to and beyond the Columbia, unsurpassed in size and density.
So much of both territories is mountainous to the very coast, and so much is without water, that not more than a fifth of the whole can be cultivated unless a supply for irrigation can be procured from wells. It is very desirable that machinery for boring artesian wells should be sent out and employed in positions very desirable for military posts if water can be secured.
In stating the disadvantages that California labors under, it must on the other hand be considered that she has scarcely any winter, and her soil is not so unprofitable in her dry season as that of the Atlantic States is in their winter, and that the cost of irrigation where the water can be procured at all is less than that of draining in Louisiana, since irrigating canals are on the surface, while draining ditches require to be cut deep below it.
In Oregon the want of water is not felt, but though the soil is generally fertile, much of it is encumbered with immense forests.
Immediately on the seacoast, from Cape Conception to latitude 49°, cold fogs and winds prevail in the summer afternoons--in San Francisco they are almost intolerable, while a few miles inland these are unfelt. With this exception the climate of western California and Oregon is unsurpassed, and indeed unequalled by any in the United States.
The temperature is pleasant and regular, the nights always cool, no bad weather during the whole summer, and the winter so mild as seldom to bring snow in California, or to require in Oregon the cattle to be housed.
The largest potatoes, turnips, onions, beets and radishes I have ever seen grow on the Columbia River, and the best grapes in the United States grow in profusion in Southern California, where some excellent wine is made.
Agriculture in these parts of both territories affords inducements to the farmer, both of interest and comfort unsurpassed, whenever affairs are so regulated that labor can be secured.
The lumber trade and fisheries in Oregon will one day be great sources of wealth, as will the former some future day in the mountains of California.
There is limestone in California in small quantities. I have seen it at New Almaden (Forbes' quicksilver mine), near San Jose, and have heard of it elsewhere. None has been found in Oregon, though it abounds in the now British territory north of 49°.
No coal has been yet found in either territory; the specimens hitherto found are lignite, unless some lately discovered on the Yaquina River, by Lieut. Talbot, 1st Artillery, should prove to be coal. I think it is not, but am not mineralogist enough to decide. He only found a small vein of it. I transmit a copy of his report of a very interesting journey made to some of the small rivers south of the Columbia, conducted very satisfactorily and much to his credit.
There are large springs of mineral tar on the southern coast, especially near Santa Barbara. There are many indications of iron and copper, but no ore has been found worth working.
The vein of cinnabar at New Almaden is very rich, and apparently of great extent. It is only here that a vein has actually been opened. With regard to other places in the neighborhood where it is said to exist, nothing certain is known, as no sufficient examination has been made.
I have at different times visited that part of California north of Monterey, between the highest ridge of the Sierra and the ocean, except the district towards the boundary, and will have examined the country on the Columbia and Willamette and across to Puget's Sound. The southern part of California and the country east of the mountain I have not seen.
The month of July was spent in a journey through the gold region in the mountains, from the waters of the Yuba to those of the Tuolumne.
The discovery of gold mines in California is not of more importance, from their value and extent, than from the influence it has had on all public and private interests in the territory.
The strip of country forming the greater part of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, from the base of the central rocky ridge down to where it intersects the plain of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, and from the headwaters of the former in the north, south to the sources of the latter, has been searched by adventurers with so much success that it may be assumed that the whole district contains gold.
The gradual or convulsive changes, operated by nature in the course of many ages, have in some places protruded through the original deposit masses of non-auriferous rocks and earth, and in others heaped on it impenetrable piles of volcanic or alluvial substance, but these, though extensive, are but partial exceptions to the general character of the country. And the lately acquired experience of the gold hunter has already taught him to avoid these and to seek for the best reward of his labor in the neighborhood of the quartz and talcose slate ridges, or in the alluvial deposits drawn from them.
These last mentioned strata are found generally east of a line drawn through the junction of the forks of the American River parallel with the mountain. The silent operation of decay has been for many ages releasing the small particles of gold near the surface of these rocks, and the annual rains have carried them in the earth in which they laid down the precipitous sides of the hills to the streams. Here the rapid current has carried along the earth, while the gold has settled down into the cavities of the rocky bed. Some of these streams have been filled up by "slides" of earth from the hillsides, some by the deposits left in the still water formed by accidental obstructions, and the water has abandoned its old bed. Others still maintain their original channels. But the gold digger has learned to trace out even the closed watercourses, and getting down to the original bed finds, in what he calls the "pockets," the accumulation of previous times.
In some places waters of considerable volume have been by the adventurers turned from their existing channels, and large quantities of gold found in the hollows thus exposed.
Enough gold has hitherto been found thus searching near the surface to satisfy all those who labored with assiduity, and there has been no need to try excavations demanding much capital and time, so that the metal yet remaining in its original matrix is yet unknown. As there is no great certainty as to the amount already collected, there can be still less as to that which remains.
In the first place, the limits of the "gold district" which I have given above are only those within which gold has been found. Further examination of the mountain eastwardly and of the country north and south may extend them. Gold has undoubtedly been found in the Coast Range north of latitude 39°. Next, but a small part of the gold district has been actually examined. And lastly, even where it has been worked, but a small part of the surface, and to the depth of but a few feet, has been searched. To give merely an opinion on this important topic is to add nothing really to what is known. But I may venture to say that, considering the experience in other countries and the facts that are known here, I think that three or four years will yet elapse before the extent of the gold-bearing region is accurately known, that it will then be some time before the deposits on the surface are all collected, and that it will be not less than twenty years from its first discovery before the whole superficial gold is gathered, and the labor and expense then necessary to penetrate in search of more will require so much labor, enterprise and capital, that it will be only undertaken by large stock companies, and that the gains will be no more than the ordinary profits on labor and capital, with the chance of some great good fortune and the greater risk of entire loss.
In an estimate I formerly made of the products of the mines for the preceding six mouths, I may have underrated it, for it is believed that much more gold has been brought to Oregon than I allowed.
I will now estimate the amount to be gathered in future at twelve millions of dollars a year for the remainder of the twenty years, for although the more easily found deposits will be sooner exhausted, more persons, more machinery, more skill and more capital will continually be added to meet the difficulty of finding the gold until the returns cease to compensate the outlay.
This is offered merely as an opinion. The events of the next year may entirely contradict it.
Although the value, extent and duration of these mines are thus uncertain, the effect their discovery has produced on all public and private interests in this region is well ascertained and felt in every branch of affairs.
Everywhere else, at least in the civilized world, the cheapest of all those things necessary in the economy of life is mere labor. In most countries there is such a superabundance of it that it scarcely supports its own existence. The smallest talent, acquired skill or capital elevates its possessor from this lowest level, increases his gains, and thus enables him to call the labor of others to his aid. The highest rewards of wealth are given to great knowledge, superior abilities or the most skill and cunning in the accumulation of capital.
Here all is reversed: No employment gives such extravagant gains as gold-finding. And in this the profound scholar, talented professional man, skillful mechanic and shrewd trader are all behind the mere laborer. The workman who breaks stones on a turnpike, or he who rolls bales of cotton on the levee, is their superior in all that is requisite to gather gold. And endurance of hard work, in which he excels, makes him independent of them, while all their superior qualities find no demand for employment and are of no service to them.
The consequence of this is, that labor here demands the highest rate of emolument and cannot be found unless that be paid. No employment but gold-finding, or those absolutely necessary for its support, is able from its gains to pay such rates, and is consequently abandoned.
However, there are some who prefer reduced gains with more comforts and less hardship than are found in digging in the mines. This modifies the former rate, otherwise the ordinary affairs of society could hardly be carried on.
As most values are fixed relatively by the rate of wages, it is evident that here they will be most extravagant. And no deductions can be made from the uniform and long-established prices elsewhere, nor from the principles of supply and demand which elsewhere govern.
It is not the plenty of money seeking investment, which by lowering its own value in competition bids up prices to their present high rates, but the value which is given to labor in one pursuit open to all, abstracts from every other employment those who are necessary to carry it on, until they are bribed back by wages approaching their hoped-for gains.
These high prices extend into all kinds of trade, but do not indicate corresponding profits, for these are consumed in the payment of extravagant expenses resulting from high wages. Thus cargoes sold on shipboard, before they have incurred any expense here, unless they consist of articles specially in demand in the mines, are generally sold at a loss, but before they are distributed to the consumer by retail, they are enhanced ten- or twentyfold.
The consequence of this is that shippers from abroad will generally lose, and that the final seller of the goods, even at the highest rates, will retain but a small part of the price. The greater part of this will remain in the hands of the laborer, or--as but few of this class here are prudent or economical--in the hands of those who administer to their wants and their vices.
This state of things cannot be expected to last always, consequently no important work of improvement will be undertaken by individuals or associations, since the revenue or profits measured by the future values can never give even a moderate interest on the sum now to be invested.
Neither can the government in prudence expend money in any work here not absolutely necessary for the most important ends, such as the maintenance of its sovereignty and the integrity of.its territories; these require defenses and lighthouses to the principal ports, storehouses and barracks for troops, and a direct and good road from the Atlantic border to the waters of the Pacific. And these are to be considered not as investment to produce revenue but rather in the light of a part paid for salvage to secure the remainder, to be judged of by their necessity, and not by their cost. I will enter more into detail as to these works of necessity.
Monterey is an incomplete harbor, being open to the northwest. The place is a pleasant residence, but has no natural communication with any great extent of country back of it. Vessels can lie in the roadstead for a long time without much risk from the weather, and troops can be easily landed. A small work commanding the anchorage, and capable of sustaining itself, is all that is necessary now. As such a work will be always commanded by heights in the rear, additional defenses will be needed in time.
San Diego is a small but perfectly good harbor, and the entrance is narrow. There is but a small district of good country near it, and the ordinary modes of defense for such places would render it too dear a prize for any of its advantages to pay for.
There are small ports in both territories, opening to limited agricultural districts, and north of San Francisco to valuable lumber also. But they are not easily accessible, except the most southern ones, on account of the heavy surf which for the most part of the year breaks on the bars at their entrance. Bodega is an exception to this and is of importance as affording a landing by which the bay of San Francisco may be turned.
The mouths of the rivers Umpqua, Rogue (Requas in some Mexican charts), Alsea, Yaquina and Siletz, in Oregon, south of the Columbia, require to be surveyed, as each furnishes one of the small ports alluded to. A good harbor is said (but not on certain authority) to exist in Shoalwater Bay, about twenty miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River. There is certainly a communication for boats--with a portage of half a mile--from this place to Baker's Bay, in the mouth of the river, and this makes the place well worth examination.
The mouth of the Columbia River, though very difficult and dangerous for ordinary navigation, yet, as a natural outlet of a great river, will always be important, and strong works on Cape Disappointment and Point Adams are first necessary. These are seven miles apart, but the intermediate space is filled with shoals; the present channel after entering equidistant from both, as though direct for Point Adams, turns northward, passes close under the cape and then curves off eastwardly and south to the point. It is probable that before long a channel will again open from the point out to sea.
Another work on Astoria Point, on the south side of the river, and a similar one on the north side opposite to it, will be hereafter required.
There are probably few harbors anywhere superior to those on the waters of Admiralty Inlet, whether for naval or commercial purposes. The entrance to the inlet, and the islands shielding the harbor outside of it, will require strong and defensive fortifications.
The large interests centered in San Francisco Bay give it an immediate importance beyond all others, and its defense demands prompt and careful consideration. The straits by which the bay is entered are comparatively narrow, and very bold but short; the tides run with great rapidity, and the winds in the afternoons of the spring and summer, even when it is calm outside, generally blow inwards in this gorge with the violence of a gale.
Fortifications on the straits alone will hardly be sufficient to exclude an enemy. An interior line from Sausalito, by Los Angeles and Alcatraz Islands, to the second point below the town, will be necessary to make the bay secure. These works would be very extensive and cost immense sums of money.
The points proper for fortifications are generally bold cliffs, and I would here suggest for consideration that it will add to the security of the works and to the economy of their construction that in all the water-batteries the face of the cliff should be scraped to present the desired front and subterranean chambers excavated in the rock behind it for the batteries, and the necessary embrasures opened, the faces and embrasures to be secured by a revetment of hard stone. It must be observed that these cliffs are very high, oftentimes a hundred feet and upwards, and to excavate to the proper level for the work will cost more than to construct it afterwards.
These cannot be bombarded, and may dispense with protecting fortifications on the heights which command them, except a single work to each system to protect its rear, in which the galleries of communication might center, and where the troops could be quartered in time of peace.
But the whole system for all points should at once be determined, the works located and the necessary ground reserved. At present, I would propose the construction of only two small batteries (to be enlarged hereafter), one on each side of the straits at San Francisco, one on Cape Disappointment, and one at the entrance of Admiralty Inlet.
But though these defenses and other public works are thus limited by the price of labor here, substitutes are within means of the government sufficient for present need.
Though houses cannot be found or built here for the use and comfort of the troops and for covering the public stores, iron buildings can be constructed in the United States and England, everything prepared and fitted, brought out here and put together by the troops at a cost less than that required to build frame houses, all the materials being on the ground. But care must be taken that everything necessary to their erection and comfortable use should be sent, for the cost of repairing the omission in California would swallow up all the saving made in other parts.
The houses should be made so as to be subdivided, thus providing for the separation of troops by detachments. Bedsteads, tables, closets and seats could be economically made of the same material, and the whole could be moved without injury.
As a present substitute for those fortifications whose construction is postponed, steamships of war are entirely sufficient. They can be built, fitted out and manned entirely out of the influence of high prices, and their men can be kept from deserting, while garrisons on the shore have daily opportunities.
Some of the islands north of Admiralty Inlet might be made sufficiently secure to establish shops for repairs, from which the men could not get away, or arrangements might be made to fix them at the Sandwich Islands.
It will be many years before large armaments from Europe will pass Cape Horn, or that the nations on the Pacific will fit them out to attack us here; in that time circumstances may have permitted us to be perfectly prepared. But for some years a strong fleet of war steamers with the aid of the few works on shore proposed will give us the superiority.
If the want of coal be objected, we say that in time of peace it can be procured on Vancouver's Island, not far from one of our harbors, the best, nearly, on the Pacific. In time of war, if prepared with such a fleet, we would be more likely to possess the coal than the enemy.
These circumstances receive additional force from the fact that the mail steamers from Panama are not fit for war vessels and cannot be taken into the service as such in case of war.
During the continuance of peace these war steamers could be permitted to keep up a communication with China by the Pacific islands and thus spread and secure our trade and influence in all those seas.
The other work of paramount importance is a secure and rapid communication with the other parts of the Union within our own territory.
This in my opinion is of more vital consequence than either of the others.
Community of interest, fostered by frequent and easy communication, strong personal connections and feelings, kept alive by constant intercourse, and the continued interest in public events, when their course can be constantly and accurately followed, beget such an identity of national feeling and patriotism--that under their influence but one heart and one voice would respond throughout the whole land to the call of national honor or duty. But if these people here are to be kept aloof from their Atlantic countrymen, the projects and enterprises of one will be independent and probably adverse to those of the other--the policy that fosters one will injure and offend the other--notions and habits derived from different pursuits and necessities, divide and finally become opposed. If they are not matched in strength, the weaker will cry out oppression--and the stronger unreasonableness--and finally, when the tie that chafes them becomes too weak to hold them together, they will separate and from brothers become foes.
The commerce on the Pacific, which our territory on its shores is destined to control, is well worth all that can be spent to secure it. And the wealth and power it will bring may well tempt those who are ambitious of rule to provoke jealousy and indifference to the point of separation and thus open them a separate field of action.
Nature has placed so much distance and so many obstacles between this and the Atlantic States that to overcome them is not only beyond the means of ordinary enterprise, but seems too much to be attempted at all. But the very fact of the existence of these difficulties points out the necessity of overcoming them, otherwise they will produce the mournful result I have alluded to.
As facility, rapidity and security of communication are the requisites, a railroad, if practicable, is most appropriate.
The weight of testimony leaves but little doubt that if the ravines of the Upper Colorado (of the west) can be passed; the road will require less artificial grading in proportion to its length than any other over a varied country in the United States.
Whether it be a railroad or a common road, it should cross the Rocky Mountains about latitude 38°, reach the valley of Humboldt's River and follow that direction until it sends off a branch to Oregon by the Willamette Valley and the other by the head of the Sacramento and the valley of that river to San Francisco Bay.
It is desirable that the road should cross the mountains as far south as possible to diminish the length of the winter, without going so far as not to reach afterwards the valley of Humboldt's River, by which route one road will serve both for California and Oregon.
If the road were to turn south by the "Old Santa Fe Trail," where it would avoid the Sierra Nevada, it would approach the Pueblo de los Angeles, and then have to run northward by the valley of San Joaquin to San Francisco Bay.
Another road from the United States to Oregon, as well as one from California to the latter, would have to be constructed, each of many hundred miles length. These considerations should decide in favor of the northern route, as common to both territories, if it be practicable.
None of the important routes in the United States have been constructed at so low an average rate per mile as this will cost; it is the aggregate expense that seems so large.
The most serious objections I see, besides the cost, rise in the uninhabited state of the country through which the road is to pass, and consequent danger from the annual burning of the grass, and in the hostility of some of the Indian tribes which may prompt them to steal and destroy.
These objections apply to any road, though not in an equal degree, for all must have many bridges and culverts, the destruction of which would be an entire interruption of traveling, and may in either case be met by establishing colonies or posts, or making small conditional grants for the care of the road running near or through them. It becomes solely a comparison between the value of the road and the cost of making and securing it.
If a railroad be not intended at first, the location and the construction of bridges should admit of its being afterwards graded and laid with rails.
As to that part of the road out of California, the cost will not be enhanced by present circumstances, and for the rest, the importance of the whole must establish the limits of the expense to be incurred in its construction.
While it is important to meet the evils arising from high prices here by such expedients as suggest themselves, it is necessary to consider whether there are no means of removing or at least modifying their original cause. For it is not only in public works but in all public duties and in all the ordinary affairs of life that the embarrassments alluded to are felt, and as the population of the territory augments, they must be more serious.
No one can be found to serve in a civil office the salary of which is totally inadequate to his support. And if the officers, as they are bound to do, confine themselves to the emoluments fixed by law, they will soon abandon their offices, and there can be no administration of the laws of the United States.
Such, too, is the temptation to the soldier to desert, either to go to the mines or work for high wages, that no military force can be detached to aid in the execution of the laws with any security that it will return.
To counteract in some measure this disposition, I authorized the quartermaster who employed soldiers to work to increase their allowance, so as to make their pay while employed equal to the usual wages of the place. (Division order No. 5.) This was necessary to get the work done, for laborers were not to be hired in sufficient numbers, and it was impossible to conduct work where one was receiving seven dollars a month and the other seven dollars a day. But so soon as the works absolutely pressing are finished this allowance must cease.
Whatever laws may be passed for this part of the country requiring the aid of the military in their execution must be preceded by measures to restrain the desertion of the soldier. Hitherto he has received not only aid and concealment, but encouragement and reward for his crime from the people in the territory. Laws to punish such conduct effectually are necessary--application to local magistrates or juries of the vicinage would not only be ineffectual but ridiculed.
While the soldier finds his pay so small in comparison with what others around him are receiving, the situation of the officer is much worse. While his duties and cares are doubled, his few comforts diminished, and his expenses decupled, his emoluments remain the same and are entirely insufficient. On a journey I made through the mining regions in the mountains, the hired drivers of the pack mules were receiving more pay than any officer of my staff along, and the drivers of the ox teams we met conveying goods to the mines were receiving more than double all the pay and emoluments of any officer in the Division.
Congress are not like to make any increase of pay either of officer or soldier, with the justice of this case. But either the actual cost of those allowances which are now commuted at fixed rates should be given, or, as this provision cannot extend to the soldier, to him and the officers should be given a grant of land, according to rank and time of service here, to be located on any vacant lands in California or Oregon. This would have the advantage of inducing the soldiers to remain by their colors until the end of their term of service, and then to remain and settle in the territory.
But these temporary alleviations of the evil to certain classes here are far short of a remedy for the evil itself.
This, as I have before observed, has its origin in the high price of labor and of other things as caused by that--not, be it remembered, in the general appreciation caused by a superabundance of money, so that if the price of labor can be brought back to its usual standard all other prices will follow, and then, if the abundance of money has had any effect, it would soon disappear as through the thousand channels of an active trade it diffused itself through the commercial world.
If honest labor legitimately employed were rewarded in California at ten times its actual rate, it might be proper for private enterprise, or even public policy, to aim at a reduction by introducing or encouraging a fair and open competition, or removing the obstruction to such introduction--but whatever be the evils it would never justify any arbitrary restraint on such labor. And before employing any such restraint, it is as well to inquire into the nature of this labor.
Its advantages are from the quantity of gold it collects in the mines.
If the mines belong to the government it is not honest to take the gold from them, and digging it on public lands is forbidden by law and is consequently illegal. And Congress not only have a right, but it is their duty to restrain this kind of employment as a breach of law and right as well as a serious evil in all public and private concerns here.
These are not Indian lands, as some pretend.
Within the limits of the Mexican Republic all lands not granted or assigned to its citizens belonged to the supreme government, and no title was recognized in the Indian tribes that did not recognize in their turn the laws and sovereignty of the republic, in which case lands were assigned for their towns (pueblos), and this only among those who were converted. The heathen Indians were considered in the light of enemies, and the lands they occupied granted or otherwise disposed of by Mexican authorities. Those Indians who chose to submit generally hired and worked on some neighboring farm for their food and clothes; those who did not, retired beyond reach, and throughout the whole of the gold region there are now no Indian claimants except in the more southern parts, which were too remote hitherto from the settled parts of the country to bring on any collision. Except some that are here in their original state, no Indians are found in the gold region but a few scattered families or small tribes which consider themselves as dependents on the neighboring settlers.
The Indians here are not hunters and live on roots and berries and the horses and cattle they steal from the whites. Some of the tribes do not pretend to the ownership of anything but the small space occupied by their village and the grounds around it. But the Mexican government had already got possession of most of the country west of the mountains and made grants in various parts of it, and except some such grants the whole of that district in which gold is found is now public lands, not even claimed by any Indian tribe.
Even for that portion still at the south occupied by Indians, it will be difficult to apply our laws in their favor. They are, like all North American Indians, treacherous, cruel and dishonest, but far inferior in every intellectual and moral quality to any we have been accustomed to deal with.
These mines are, then, on the public lands and under the protection of the laws forbidding trespasses on public lands and reserving mines for the public use.
If there were the necessary judicial authority here and the force adequate to execute its decrees, a stop could be put at once to the digging of gold and to all the evils which flow from it. But it is not probably the policy of the government nor the wish of the people of the United States to buy the partial advantage here by the loss of all those resulting from the activity given to general trade by the diffusion of so much of the precious metal.
I do not conceive that it would be desirable to have the mines worked for the benefit of the public treasury. To do that would require an army of officers and inferior agents, all with high salaries, and with opportunities and temptations for corruption too strong for ordinary human nature. The whole population would be put in opposition to the government array, and violent collisions would lead even to bloodshed.
If the government shall desire revenue enough to pay the expense of executing the laws passed on the subject, it is the most that should be proposed. The advantage which the whole country will derive directly from the opening of the mines, and the indirect advantage to the Treasury from augmented commerce, will in my opinion more than compensate for any outlay it has made or may make.
I would propose then to open the mines to the public, but under such conditions and restraints as will keep in the hands of Congress the right to modify and improve its plans, and as will tend to remove or diminish the evils now experienced here.
To survey and sell the lands will be too tedious--in the meantime all the difficulties now experienced would continue, and after the lands are for sale contests for individual rights would keep the whole country in litigation for years to come. Any delay in the remedy will render it almost useless. In lieu of a sale or lease, which would also require time and a survey, I would propose the following plan:
Divide the gold regions into four districts. Grant licenses to dig or seek gold in a particular district, anywhere, not within a certain distance of any other licensed person, for a certain time--on the payment of a fixed sum. No person to be licensed but a citizen of the United States. This would leave branches of labor and industry, with all their advantages, still open to foreigners.
Every person employing or harboring a deserter to forfeit his license and gold and be subject to a fine and not allowed to procure another license. Soldiers, at the end of an honorable term of service in California or Oregon, to be.entitled to a year's license gratis.
A "tribunal of mines," consisting of a president and four associates, to issue the licenses and try all disputes about mining, first before one of the associates in the district, with an appeal to the president and two others, at regular terms.
The "tribunal," having authority alone, or in connection with a jury selected or drawn by lot, to make ordinances and regulations for the government of the mines: an authority similar to that exercised in relation to roads and prisons in many of the states by county courts.
The laws of Spain relative, to mines in her colonies contain many excellent details of a system such as this.
The mines and the lands they are on being the property of the United States, they have a right to exclude all from them and consequently the right to admit them on such conditions as they may choose to prescribe.
Whereas in the United States generally the right of mining belongs to the owner of the soil, it requires no additional regulation and is governed by the same laws as other property, and if these lands were sold there would soon be no difficulty, for the owners would each regulate his own property, and any attempts to enforce restraints on the use of the public lands by the ordinary tribunals of the state or Territory, where the whole population is engaged in the offense, is vain. While by this plan the general right of seeking for gold is limited and produces a revenue, and the interest of those licensed is engaged to prevent infractions of the law [and] support the authorities appointed to maintain it.
If the laws could be enforced by local tribunals it would be unjust to tax the people for the extraordinary expense arising solely from this branch of business.
While this system is in progress the lands can be surveyed and examined. Those that are destitute of gold first sold, then those that become exhausted and finally the whole, as the surveys and examinations are completed, according to the demand at the time, when all these special laws may be repealed.
The crime of desertion among the troops is not only an evil at all times to be guarded against, but circumstances here render it peculiarly desirable to find a remedy.
Thousands of people from foreign countries have flocked here to gather gold and carry it away. They have no interest in the future welfare of the country, and if they thought themselves strong enough to succeed, would join together to oppose the execution of any laws restraining their illegal labor. And it thus becomes very necessary to keep the military corps stationed here to their fullest complement.
It is very much to be regretted that the punishment of death was taken from the law against desertion. Not that it is desirable that it should be inflicted often, or even in but few cases. And I believe while it remained in the law there was no instance of the infliction of that punishment in time of peace. But it should have been left to the discretion of the court, tempered by the clemency of the Executive, to measure out the punishment according to the aggravation and exigencies of the case. The offense here is a breach of contract and of oath, but the penalty is not so much so punish that as a crime, but to maintain at all risks the military force entire, so many lives and so many interests being often depending on that.
Still the greater evil arising from the change is the idea which it has given rise to the soldier--not that modern humanity has moderated the severity of the punishment--but that desertion has been discovered to be less of a crime than it was formerly, that the obligations of honor, duty & oath are diminishing, and to desert now is much less disgraceful, as it is made less dangerous.
But it must be acknowledged that in the present state of things in California, severe enactments, though they might strengthen the hold of the service on the soldier, could but seldom be put in execution, such is the difficulty of detecting, arresting and detaining deserters from the aid afforded them by citizens.
The additional or severer penalties should in a measure be self-operative, so as not to be escaped by absence or concealment.
To be reported as a deserter should, ipso facto, cause the forfeiture of all the delinquent's property, and he should be incapable of acquiring, possessing or transferring anything, or of making suit in court, so that he could have no hope of acquiring permanently anything by mining, and those who dealt with him should gain nothing and lose whatever they bought from him, or the price of what they had sold him, imposing on them in all cases the burden of showing that the person if so reported was not a deserter. Reserving to anyone who thought himself unjustly reported the right of demanding a trial on the charge and, as many have already deserted, continuing absent beyond a fixed day after the passage of the law to be created an offense and punishable as desertion under the new enactments.
As the military force is to be called on in certain cases to prevent trespasses on public lands, and as some of these lands are to be reserved for military uses, and as population is flowing into these territories desirous of acquiring lands, it is highly important that provision should be made at once for ascertaining what is private property or belonging to corporations and for securing that which belongs to the government.
Both California and Oregon, though differently, are peculiarly situated in regard to this subject.
Under the Spanish and Mexican laws no general survey of the public domain was made.
Application for land, describing its situation, was made to the Governor; the local authorities were on this ordered to examine whether it was unoccupied or necessary for the public use, and the character of the applicant, on their report and certificate further steps were taken until the grant was complete by a survey and the confirmation of the departmental legislature and the supreme government. Sometimes the grant came direct from the latter as a special favor, or in payment of claims or debts.
There was but little land cultivated in the territory except at the missions, and the only commerce was in hides and tallow; to maintain this only large herds were necessary, and these required extensive pasture, being never housed and finding their food at one season in one place, and in another at another. The inhabitants were few and widely scattered. Their mode of life and employment is the origin of the large grants of land in this territory, varying from one to eleven square leagues, according to the number of cattle to be pastured. A Mexican league is about two and five-eighths of our mile (5,000 varas, each of 3 Burgos feet), and a square league contains a little over four thousand acres.
So few indeed were the inhabitants in proportion to the extent of lands, and so little danger of collision was there, that no enclosures marked the boundaries of their property, and while there was so much vacant and unclaimed, no one coveted his neighbor's. From this arose great negligence, both in ascertaining their exact bounds and in pursuing all the forms pointed out by law for the completion of their titles.
Many on their first petition and order, finding no alcalde at hand to make the requisite examination and certificate, took possession, and never having it disputed, have remained to this day without taking any further steps. Some have gone further, and some have completed all the forms. But the different stages of title were all on a level in public estimation until our acquisition of the country enhanced the value of the lands and induced an examination of the records.
This looseness in regard to title has induced the purchase by speculators of anything approaching to any of these forms, and much of the public domain will be claimed on the most insufficient grounds, while on the other hand many honest proprietors, misled by their own ignorance and the negligence of their own authorities, would under a strict application of law be deprived of much of the property they have possessed and lived on for years.
Great frauds were perpetrated under the latter day of Mexican rule, and many after it ended, though their apparent date is before.
Towns (pueblos) were created by law or by virtue of its provisions.
A large tract was set aside, in the center of which lots for dwellings were laid off. These were granted by the ayuntamiento or town council to persons becoming residents, on condition of their building on it. Their grant gave them a right of common on the exterior grounds, but anyone having this right might demand the exclusive use of a share of it, which he might enclose and cultivate, but it remained a part of the common property of the town, and reverted to it when he ceased to use it.
This species of property has been disposed of without proper authority, and not in the way ordained by law, and it is the interest of the government to learn what title or right remains in the lands thus disposed of.
The first settlement of the country was made by "missionaries.'' They were authorized to gather the Indians around them, to convert, instruct and civilize them and to cultivate the land around them for their support.
At one period large tracts were reclaimed for this use and much revenue produced from the labor of the Indians.
No property belonged to the mission, except the church, parsonage and adjacent buildings and a small piece of ground around them, and the title to this was really in the religious order or society in Mexico to which the missionary belonged was "ecclesiastical property" and as such,could only be alienated for certain reasons and under certain forms. The "mission" was not a corporation, but merely the agent of an ecclesiastical one in Mexico. The Mexican government has resumed all the lands and taken the missions as national property--an act the legality of which is disputed by the missionaries.
But certain portions of the land are assigned to the "mission Indians" for their support, under the administration of the priests, the former not being with full civil rights. Some of this property is claimed by subsequent grants from the government, some by purchase from the Indians, and the priests have sold some, though neither of the two last can have authority to sell under the Mexican laws.
All these irregularities, which increase every day, bring great confusion, and finally, when ignorant but honest buyers are involved, strict right cannot be done without great loss to those who least deserve to suffer it. In the meantime, many industrious emigrants, desirous of buying homes, are flocking into the country and find nothing for sale the title to which is sure.
It cannot be expected that legislation will at once attack and cure these irregularities. A careful research into the laws and records, both here and in Mexico, is first necessary. But there needs here at once a board of commissioners, or some similar authority, for examining all the titles held against the United States.
Those grants, no matter how large, which were good under the Mexican laws, are good now, but those which were not complete should be arranged in three classes--1st. Those merely wanting the confirmation of the supreme government. 2nd. Those consisting of the first petition and order. & 3rd. Mere possession and use--confirming to each on the principle of the confirmation of grants in West Florida.
There is no injustice in thus diminishing the grant, for no one has a title in law until it is all complete, and the lesser quantity confirmed under our government is actually worth more than the larger under the Mexican war, so that we increase the value, though we diminish the quantity.
But the most important end is to give security to title as soon as possible, and to do this a loss of land would be preferable to a postponement of the matter.
Oregon is in a situation entirely different, but still embarrassing.
There are no legal titles in the country, except:
"The possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, and of all British subjects who may be already (June 15, 1846) in the occupation of land or other property lawfully acquired within the said territory," and "the farms, lands and other property of every description belonging to the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company on the north side of the Columbia River" (Treaty of Washington), which are recognized and confirmed by the Treaty of Washington.
Congress was prevented from surveying, selling or granting the lands in Oregon by the policy which had left undetermined so long the respective rights of Great Britain and the United States therein. And the surest way to have the question determined in favor of the United States was to have the country settled by emigrants from herself, who would not only secure the possession of the country to us, but make it little desirable to others.
The people who accomplished this underwent incredible hardships and have suffered losses from petty Indian depredations that far outvalue the price of the land. They left nothing undone on their part to get the opportunity of acquiring legally a homestead here, but matters in which they had no concern postponed the usual legislation on this point, and the acts of their own informal legislatures on this point were left unnoticed by Congress and unrepealed. Under these circumstances, the settlers "claim" the section of land which they have occupied.
I am certain that the expense and loss of their journey out here, and the difficulties they have met since their arrival, would be poorly paid by the price of the land they claim, but they have a merit beyond this in the service they have rendered to the country by establishing its title here, and in the fruitless efforts they have made to draw the attention of Congress to this subject long since.
But the merit of all is not equal--1st. Some have bona fide cleared, settled and improved their farms, on which they now live, supporting their families. 2nd. Others have just brought themselves within their own laws respecting "claims," solely for the acquisition of the land, and 3rd. Others have seized on places they suppose desirable to the government and bring themselves just within the preemption laws for other districts merely to acquire the property and sell it afterwards to government, or those who intend to speculate again on it.
The 1st is surely entitled to the land which has already cost him so much, but the others should only get what a strict construction of the laws shall give them.
I would especially urge that it be recommended to provide--First--that no incomplete title shall cover a tract that government may want for public uses. Second--before lands are offered for sale, the War, Treasury and Navy departments be called upon to know what is necessary for military and naval purposes, custom houses and lighthouses. Third--that if anyone, by incomplete title in California or claim in Oregon or preemption right in either, acquire any right to a tract of land necessary for the public, an equal quantity shall be given elsewhere and improvements made before the passage of the law shall in certain cases be appraised and paid for.
Claims exist or are prepared for many points in both territories that can be of no use to the owner but to sell afterwards to government.
It seems absurd that the United States gratuitously, or for a nominal sum, should today divest itself of property, only to buy it back tomorrow at an enormous price.
By at once marking off all that could be possibly required in future, and allowing no private title to cover it that was not perfect of itself, contesting claimants would be excluded, and selections could afterwards be made by the proper agents of that absolutely wanted, and the rest restored or put up for sale.
In the Atlantic States this difficulty never has arisen, for the private ownership was generally older than the government and, except in Louisiana and Florida, there were no public lands. But here is a coast over a thousand miles long, with many important harbors, and the best lands lying near the coast, and already many of the positions necessary for defense are subjected to private claims, solely with a view of selling them afterwards to government.
It would be well worthwhile to learn whether by the laws of Mexico now, as I know it was before her independence, concessions from the government were not liable to be entered on and reoccupied for necessary purposes of public use, reverting to the original grantee when the government abandoned them. And if such be the case now, let the owner of even a complete title be compensated by an equal quantity elsewhere if he do not choose to await the abandonment of the property by the government.
I hope for the security of troops and stores on this coast, where they must generally be transported by sea, and for the interest of commerce generally, that appropriations may be made this year for the construction and erection of lighthouses for the harbors most likely to be used. So much time is lost in communicating between this coast and the seat of government that some years may elapse if they wait for detailed reports on the subject. All this coast has bold and prominent points that at once indicate themselves as the proper positions for lighthouses.
There should be one on Protection Island, near the entrance of Admiralty Inlet.
One on Cape Flattery, at the entrance of the Straits of Fuca.
One on Cape Disappointment, at the mouth of the Columbia.
One on Punta de los Reyes, a promontory north of San Francisco Bay, which vessels coming from the northward and westward generally make, being to windward of the port.
One, the most important of all, on the Farallones Rocks, directly outside of the entrance to San Francisco Bay. These are rock islets, with plenty of room for the buildings and a small cove for landing in boats.
One in the entrance of the straits on the right-hand point going into San Francisco.
One on Pine Point (Punta Pinos), near Monterey.
One on each of the islands of Santa Cruz & Santa Catalina, lying south of the "channel" of Santa Barbara and
One at San Diego.
With the exception of San Diego and the two on the Straits of Fuca, which I expect to visit in a few days, I have seen all these positions, and as in all except San Diego the foundations will be rock, the lighthouse frame and the necessary buildings may all be made of iron in Europe or the United States, and be put up here at once, everything being provided.
They should all have bells, some two, for distinction, to sound in the fog.
The length of voyages would be much shortened if vessels could approach the coast in a fog with the certainty of meeting with some indication of their exact position.
A subject of great importance to the public interest here, and particularly to the military branch of them, is the acquisition of the rights and property reserved and guaranteed by the treaty of 1846, to the "Hudson's Bay Company," and the "Puget's Sound Agricultural Company."
The "Hudson's Bay Company" is a corporation chartered for the purpose of trading by Charles the Second, on the second of May, 1670. The lands on all the waters of Hudson's Bay, called "Rupert's Land," were granted by the same royal charter which incorporated the company. In 1787 the Northwest Company in Canada established a fur trade in the British Northwest Territory, which by surrounding the outer posts of the Hudson's Bay Company intercepted the trade of many of the Indians who frequented them. After such rivalry, contest and finally bloodshed, tending to the gradual ruin of the Indians and their fur hunting, the two companies combined, and under the provisions of an act of Parliament of the first years of "George the 4th's" reign, on the 6th of December, 1821, the association was licensed for the exclusive trade of all the British possessions in North America not organized in any provinces or included in "Rupert's Land." Saving the rights of American citizens on this coast under the convention for joint trade, this license was for 21 years.
Under this license posts were established in Oregon, and Fort Vancouver, the principal one, was begun in 1824. In 1838 this association was dissolved by the Hudson's Bay Company buying out the interest of the others and admitting some of them as members of the company; the license was consequently surrendered, and on the 30th of May, 1838, a new license for 21 years was received by the Hudson's Bay Company for the exclusive trade of the same region, reserving always the rights of American citizens under the convention before mentioned. This license was unexpired when the Treaty of Washington was concluded, and it found this territory open to the trade of the British with the Indians by our consent, and this trade by the special grant of its own government enjoyed and exercised by the Hudson's Bay Company, a perpetual corporation, capable of holding real estate--which had, in the exercise of the right recognized by both countries, built houses for conducting their trade and sheltering their goods and servants--defended them by stockades, cultivated farms and occupied pastures for providing food not only for these posts, but for the distant ones in a climate and soil incapable of yielding it.
The treaty recognized the right of the Company to be here, because it secures not only to it, but to all British subjects trading with it, the free and open navigation of the Columbia River from our mutual boundary to its mouth, and it recognized its right to have the houses, lands and other things by guaranteeing that its "possessory rights" shall be respected in the future appropriation of the territory. In other words, that they shall remain undisturbed either by public or private encroachment in all the property or rights they possessed at the date of the treaty, whether houses, lands, ways, pastures, cutting wood for mill or fuel, or connected with either.
Their rights under their license were of trading exclusively with the Indians, as to British subjects. These expire with their license in 1859. But the treaty makes no reference to their license, and grants not only their possessory rights, but the free and open navigation of the river to the Company, without other limitation than exists in their capacity to hold, and their charter makes them a corporation "forever."
Their license to trade in Oregon cannot be renewed, of course, but the right of free navigation may be more important to them for the trade north of our limits than within them.
The farms, lands and other property of every description belonging to the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company on the north side of the Columbia River are specially confirmed to it by an article of the treaty.
The two companies, although existing separately, are I believe connected by some interests, and the property of both is for sale in one transaction.
It is undoubtedly the interest of the government to own nearly every portion of the real property offered. Some parts of it are indispensable. But the extraordinary privileges given are of far more importance than the value of ten times the property would be.
If a grant of the "free and open navigation" of the river be made a special article of the treaty, it certainly must mean to convey something beyond what would have accrued to the parties by the mere operation of the law; it must be something more than and beyond,any right which they would have had without the treaty, and if it be so, the actual loss of revenue alone, and the expense of preventing smuggling when the country is thickly settled, independent of the jealousies, collisions and claims for indemnity which will arise will more than overbalance any price which may be asked. But political reasons of expediency, connected with the undivided control of commerce within our own waters, are alone sufficient to bring this subject quickly to a conclusion.
As to the property desirable as a purchase at Colville, Fort Vancouver, Puget's Sound and Cowlitz River, are farms in cultivation, furnishing provisions not only for the Company's posts, but from Vancouver and Cowlitz are supplies shipped to the Russian Company's post on the northern coast.
In all these establishments, besides the farms enclosed and cultivated there are large ranges for cattle, and if the extent covered in this way by the rule that would obtain in Texas, New Mexico, California, here or any other pastoral country, the possessory rights of these companies are very large.
But if some of their rights are not well defined, and the extent of their claims may be disputed, it is rather an additional evil, only to be avoided by a purchase.
For the government.prefers to the acquisition of acres, putting an end to uncertainty of title, avoiding litigation and cultivating peace and good will within its borders so that the resources of its newly established territories may be soonest developed.
The positions selected by the Company in what was at first a hostile country--in their relations to the Indian tribes they meant to control, their topographical features, means of communication by land and water, facilities for subsistence and connection with each other--are precisely those desirable for our military posts and depots.
Fort Vancouver has every requisite for the principal garrison and depot and center of all military concerns of the Department for a long time.
There are buildings sufficient for all the stores of the quartermaster's, commissary's and ordnance departments, for barracks for the men, for hospitals, and, with some additions, for officers' quarters and stables. The farms are in good cultivation; There are a sawmill and grist mill on the ground, which would be now of great use. Such is the demand for lumber that it is now hard to be procured, and the flour which might be ground here would be a great aid to the commissary's supplies, for the flour shipped around Cape Horn, twice passed the tropics, is much of it sour.
The machinery for a sawmill to cut very large logs, with a planing, tonguing and grooving, and shingle-cutting machine, and other adjuncts now common in the United States, should be sent out even if this mill be purchased.
The cost of all the buildings about this establishment is estimated by the quartermaster to have been beyond seventy thousand dollars when they were built; now they would cost from five to eight times as much and from want of labor could not be finished [in] under ten years.
To build new establishments of equal extent, in the style in which government works are to be constructed, would cost from five to eight hundred thousand dollars and might in some years be found out of place.
These will last with care probably from ten to fifteen years and then, with extensive repairs in the less permanent parts, some time longer. At that time it will be advisable to move the establishments.
The value of the buildings now estimated by former prices and considered as already old is not one-tenth of what it would cost to build the same anew.
I feel anxious to learn that this matter has been arranged one way or other, because in May many storehouses and other buildings are to be provided; if these are bought they will nearly suffice. If they are not, others are to be built. Should a purchase be made, it is important to get possession of the sawmill immediately.
I however put no advantages of convenience or economy in comparison with the necessity of resuming as soon as possible the privileges and concessions made to the Company.
In another view of the case, the people of the United States owe the Company a large debt of gratitude for their liberal and unvarying kindness to the citizens who have emigrated there. Many of the first comers owe their lives to the generosity of the Company, who opened its stores to the wants of a destitute population. And it is now entitled to more security from annoyance, intrusion and trespass, than the administration of the laws in a new territory is able to afford it.
The interest of both parties points out the propriety of getting at once the unlimited control of the whole country.
If the purchase be made, I would respectfully advise that it should particularly describe the lands, and that these be reserved from sale, claim or preemption, and should be in time sold as may be found convenient.
Otherwise the whole, houses, mills and all, will be snatched up by squatters, who are already intruding everywhere, notwithstanding all the efforts of the Company's officers to maintain their property by legal means.
If the arrangements cannot be made this winter, appropriations will be necessary for the necessary buildings elsewhere, for there are no others to be had in the territory.
California formerly, and Oregon until this year, produced an abundance of wheat, not only for consumption but for shipment, and there are in both territories now abundant supplies of fresh meat.
But now the cultivation of the earth is nearly abandoned, and the herds, particularly in California, are neglected. Men cannot be procured to drive them to market, or to slaughter and prepare the cattle.
California produced barley, and Oregon oats, but these grains are now and will hereafter be scarce, from the reason mentioned.
Fresh meat can however yet be procured but at increasing prices in both Departments.
Flour and barley can be got from Chile, coffee and sugar from Mexico, Central America and the Sandwich Islands, salt meats and the "small rations" must still come from the United States.
Major D. H. Vinton, assistant quartermaster, has accompanied me over the greater part of both territories that I have visited and is provided with minute memoranda, not only of the nature of the country but of the necessities of the service and the convenience of supplies in his Department.
Major R. B. Lee, commissary of subsistence, has also carefully examined into the resources of both Departments for the supply of his branch of the service.
Both of these officers are to return immediately to the United States under the orders which brought them here; their reports to the chiefs of their respective Departments will contain a great many details on the service in each to which reference can be made.
Since I began this report I have received information of the arrival of Lieut. Hawkins at Fort Hall, and that the advance of the train with a year's provisions from the United States was in., so that Lieut. Colonel Porter will remain at that post, and in the spring two companies of mounted riflemen will occupy the Dalles, and will have to construct some additional houses there.
I must advise the general commanding in chief that there is no regular mail to this Department (Oregon). The company which contracted to bring it from Panama have never sent a boat beyond San Francisco, and it is very seldom a mail is sent from the latter place here. Contracts to carry it in the interior cannot be made, for they are to be paid out of the "proceeds of the post office in Oregon and California," and as no one knows what that is, no one will undertake it. It is also hard to find anyone to serve as postmaster for the insufficient compensation. Occasionally mails are sent by transient vessels from San Francisco, but in the winter they will be long delayed getting in at the bar, and those that are sent getting out. In California the mail comes with some regularity to San Francisco from the United States, but the boats do not stop always at Monterey and San Diego, and it is hard to maintain a communication with the latter place by land. From the difficulty of communicating in the interior, the departmental return of California had only been made to May, and that was received by me in August; from an error in its calculations it had to be sent back.
The transmission of official communications between this and Washington will of course be very irregular. The last that I have from the headquarters of the army are of the date of June.
Since I left San Francisco, on the 1st of September, I have received no intelligence from California; in a newspaper in the possession of an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company I perceive that the convention had met and organized. This was the 3rd or 5th of September.
This report was intended to be sent by the steamer that was to have left San Francisco the 1st of October, and would then have arrived in New York about the 10th of November, but being obliged to come to Oregon in a sailing vessel I lost the whole month of September, and no vessel with a mail has since got out of the river.
This will go by a transport taking down lumber, which is now (November 7th) ready to go. She may be detained an indefinite length of time at the bar, so that much later intelligence will be received at the headquarters in New York from California than I can send or, indeed, than any I have here.
November 12th.--Paymaster Reynolds arrived here today from Fort Hall. He reports that some scurvy had appeared among the men there, who had no vegetables. They had sent to the Salt Lake for some, but were not certain they could be procured.
Major Reynolds was forty-four days from that post here, and had snow in the upper country, so all communication is stopped until spring.
I have neglected to advert to one point, which I will now touch upon.
The horses in California and Oregon are none of them fit for dragoons--they are too small to carry a man with his equipment. They are, indeed, active under a light weight, but not more than our blood horse, properly trained, is under a heavier one, and have not his endurance. Their only advantage is their habit of feeding, which requires no forage to be carried for them when there is pasture. But our horses acquire this habit.
The Rifles lost horses on their route; many were stolen by teamsters and soldiers deserting, who of course took the best. But many were broken down from being put at once on a march before either horse or man could be trained.
Every year a certain number should be bought and sent early in the summer to the most westerly cavalry post, there exercised and trained during the fall and winter, one hundred sent every spring, halted in the fall, and remain the winter at the post this side of the Rocky Mountains and sent in here to the troops as soon as the grass serves in the spring. Now, after a long journey they arrive on the Columbia when the pasturing and water, except in the river, is dried up, and the whole country burnt off. Detachments of troops or recruits could bring them out.
For merely moving the men through the country, the horses of the Cayuse Indians will do. To buy them, articles of Indian trade, such as blankets, beads, hatchets &c. should be sent to the quartermaster.
Then the detachment sent to serve in their country would go on foot, buy horses and mount themselves, and in turn be relieved by another detachment dismounted.
I neglected, too, to mention that I had seen no granite in California or here.
There is a very hard sienite on the south fork of the American River, near Mormon Island. It is a very hard stone. For revetment for the fortifications on the coast it would cost too much. Granite, quarried and cut to any face or shape, could be procured cheaper from China.
Your obt. servt.
Persifor F. Smith
Bvt. Maj. Genl. Commdg.
To the Hon.
The Secretary of War, or the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Sir, I have the honor to report that soon after my arrival here, and as soon as it was known among the numerous tribes of Indians bordering the settlements that the Governor had arrived, they flocked in, chiefs, headmen, warriors and in many instances entire bands, expecting presents; making known that the whites had promised, from time to time, that when the laws of the United States were extended over Oregon, the Governor would bring them blankets, shirts and such other articles as would be useful to them. At this time I had received neither money nor instructions from the Indian Department and consequently was unprepared to give them anything. Although they felt disappointed at not receiving presents, they evinced a feeling of friendship toward us, and generally expressed a desire to sell their possessory rights to any portion of their country that our government should wish to purchase.
Early in April I received ten thousand dollars (one hundred and sixty dollars, less cost of transportation), a portion of which I have used for Indian purposes.
Having no assistants, neither agents nor sub-agents, I found it necessary to visit in person many of the tribes in their own country. In the month of April I proceeded to the Dalles of the Columbia, called together the tribes and bands in that vicinity, including the Deschutes River and Yakima Indians, held a talk with them, made them some presents to the amount of near two hundred dollars, and had the gratification, at the request of the chief of the Yakimas, to bring about a peace between that tribe and the Walla Wallas, who were at that time engaged in war.
These tribes, I was well pleased to find, were friendly and well disposed toward us, and, like the tribes bordering the settlements, anxious to sell their lands.
Early in the month of May I received information of the murder of Wallace at Fort Nisqually, on Puget's Sound, by the Snoqualmie and Skykomish Indians, and that the few American settlers in that country were much alarmed for the safety of their families, hourly expecting to be attacked by these Indians, who had threatened to destroy the settlements. At that time there were no troops in the country except some eight men under Lieut. G. W. Hawkins, of the Rifles.
I at once concluded to visit the Sound and assist in putting the settlers in the best possible condition to resist an attack--there being only ten families in that section of the country.
I accordingly proceeded, in company with Lieut. Hawkins and five men, taking with me muskets and ammunition to place in the hands of the settlers. Fortunately, the day after my arrival at the Sound, I received an express from Major Hathaway, notifying me of his arrival at Fort Vancouver with two companies of the 1st Artillery, and of his readiness to move if his services were required.
I hastened to inform the Indians, through Dr. Tolmie, who has charge of the Hudson Bay Company's fort at Nisqually, of the arrival of our forces, for the purpose of preventing further outrage until the troops could move in that direction.
A copy of my letter to Dr. Tolmie is here given:
New Market, May 17, 1849.Wm. F. Tolmie, Esq.
Sir: I have just learned by express that two companies of artillery have arrived at Vancouver, by the U.S. steamer Massachusetts.
It was my intention to visit you at the fort, but owing to this fact I have deemed it necessary to return without delay. I have therefore to make the particular request of you not to furnish the Indians with ammunition, and to ask of you the favor to cause the hostile tribe who have committed the outrage to be informed that any repetition of the like conduct will be visited promptly with their complete destruction, that our force, which will be immediately increased, is at this time amply sufficient for an immediate expedition against them, and that the moment I am informed that any injury has been committed by them upon our people, they will be visited by sudden and severe chastisement.
By making this communication to them you will greatly oblige
Your obedient servt.,
When I wrote to Dr. Tolmie it was my intention, in the event that Maj. Hathaway should establish a post near Nisqually, to visit the Sound, have an understanding with the Major, get his cooperation, and make a demand upon the chiefs of the above-mentioned tribes for the guilty persons, to be tried and punished for the murder of an American citizen according to law. But soon after my return, about the middle of June, I received instructions, bearing date War Department, Office of Indian Affairs, August 31st, 1848, also information of the appointment of J. Quinn Thornton, George C. Preston and Robert Newell of Oregon sub-agents, to be employed and reside in that Territory, and requiring the performance of certain duties therein specified. It was intended that these instructions should reach me at St. Louis on my way out, but failed so to do, and were afterwards sent to California by Lieut. Beale, which accounts for their delay in reaching me.
Before these instructions came to hand I had seen most of the tribes and bands bordering the settlements, collected such information as I supposed would be useful, and made such small presents (per accounts and vouchers) as in my judgment were necessary to conciliate their good will.
I promptly handed to Thornton and Newell their appointments. They executed their bonds and took the oath required, as will be seen by their bonds, which have been forwarded. Mr. Preston was then and is now absent from the Territory, and it is supposed will not return. I therefore, of necessity, divided the Territory into two sub-agency districts and assigned J. Quinn Thornton to that part of the Territory of Oregon lying north of the Columbia River, and Newell to the south of the Columbia, and on the 28th day of June the above-named sub-agents were furnished with their instructions touching the points embodied in said communication.
As I am anxious in this report to give a true and reliable statement of facts, just as they are, that the government may be placed in possession of a true history of our Indian affairs in Oregon, and as both the sub-agents have submitted lengthy reports, it will not, I hope, be considered improper for me to mention--
First. That Mr. Newell is an old mountaineer, having spent ten years in the mountains (from 1829 to 1839), where he followed trapping, by which means he acquired a good knowledge of the tribes and their country. From 1839 to the present time he has resided within the district to which he is assigned to duty, and has become well acquainted with the Indians in the valley of the Willamette, speaks tolerably well the tongues of several of the tribes, and from his knowledge of the Indians and their country, without visiting them or traveling over the country, has made out and submitted his report, from which I make such abstracts as in my opinion are of sufficient importance to entitle them to your consideration:
"The Shoshone or Snake Indians inhabit a section of country west of the Rocky Mountains, from the summit of these mountains north along Wind River Mountains to Henry's Fork, down Henry's Fork to the mouth of Lewis or Snake River, down the same to about forty miles below Fort Hall, thence southerly to the Great Salt Lake, thence easterly to the summit, by way of the headwaters of Bear River. These Indians are divided into small bands, and are to be found scattered in the mountains, and are called Diggers. They are not hostile and are poor and miserable. Small bands of this tribe are scattered from the headwaters of Snake River to the Grand Ronde--a distance of four or five hundred miles. It is almost impossible to ascertain their exact number. The main band numbers about seven hundred. The total number of the entire tribe is about two thousand. They subsist principally upon fish, roots, grass seed &c. They have a few horses, are indifferently armed, are well disposed toward the whites, and kill but little game. But little of their land is susceptible of cultivation, with the exception of that portion now occupied by the Mormons.
"The Ponashta Indians occupy a large district of country south of Snake River, from forty miles below Fort Hall to the Grand Ronde--south in the direction of Salt Lake, and west towards the California mountains. This tribe is divided into small bands, and are so intermarried with the Shoshones that it is almost impossible to discriminate between them. The Ponashtas predominate, however. They are a warlike people, are poor, have a few arms, and live principally by hunting and fishing. They number about 80 warriors. Total, 550.
"The Kootenai Indians live partly in the British possessions and partly in Oregon Territory. That portion of the tribe living in this Territory comprises about four hundred souls, of whom one hundred are capable of bearing arms, which they procure from the Hudson Bay Company. They have but little land fit for cultivation, live by hunting, and have many horses. Although they have no mission, they frequent the Kalispels, by which means they derive some instruction from Catholic missionaries there. Total number 400.
"The Salish or Flathead Indians occupy from Bitterroot River, a fork of the Columbia, all the country drained by that stream down to what is called the Hell Gate, a distance of probably 150 miles. Their country is narrow and broken--but little of it suitable for cultivation. Total number about 320, of whom 100 are warriors. They till the soil in small quantities on Bitterroot River, under the direction of the Jesuit mission, have horses and cattle, are not inclined to rove, and are a brave and noble race, friendly to the whites. They are well armed, and hunt buffalo annually. 320.
"The Kalispel Indians are in two bands, and occupy a large portion of country, commencing below the Salish tribe and extending to near Fort Colville and northeast among the lakes. They number over 1200. One of these bands have small spots of good land, where they raise peas, potatoes &c. They also have some horses, cattle and fine hogs, are friendly and brave, indifferently armed, and live on fish, game, roots &c. They hunt buffalo. There is a Catholic mission in their country. They number about 450 warriors. Total number 1200.
"The Pouderas or Squiaelps occupy the country east of Colville, are poor, friendly, tolerably well armed, and annually hunt buffalo. They number about 1200, of whom 450 are warriors. Total 1200.
"The Kettle Falls or Colville Indians live between the Kalispel tribe and Fort Colville, above the small lakes, are divided into two bands, their total number amounting to 800--100 of whom are warriors. They have a few horses, no cattle, [are] badly armed, well disposed, and live on fish & roots. There is a Catholic mission in their country. They have some good lands, which are mostly occupied by the Hudson Bay Company. Total 800.
"The Coeurs d'Alene or Pointed Hearts live between the Spokanes and Kalispels. Their country is very fertile, and under the direction of the Catholic mission they cultivate the same. They live on fish, roots and small game. They have some few arms and are friendly--number 500--of whom 40 are warriors.
"The Spokane tribe occupy the country between Fort Colville and Saaptin. They are divided into many bands, who are all friendly. They number about 1000. Previous to the Waiilatpu massacre they had a mission among them, from which they received much information, but it is now vacated. They have been accustomed to receive small presents from the Hudson Bay Company. They are well armed and live on buffalo, fish and roots. Total number 1000.
"The Okanogans inhabit the country north of Fort Colville, are well armed and number about 700. They are well disposed toward the whites.
"The Sempoils live on the Columbia, near the Kettle Falls, are well disposed, but very poor. They number about 500, have some horses and a few guns. They subsist on fish, roots &c. &c.
"The Nez Perces inhabit a large portion of country on the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers. They are an intelligent and good people and have very numerous herds of horses and cattle, a portion of their country is very good, on which they raise a variety of vegetables &c. They are kind to our people and are well armed. There has been a Presbyterian mission among them. The total number of this tribe is estimated at about 1500--some 400 of whom are warriors, more or less under the influence of the Hudson Bay Company.
"The Palouse Indians inhabit a section of country north of the Cayuse tribe and number about 300. They have some horses and cattle, are much scattered, indifferently armed, hunt buffalo, but live principally upon fish, roots and small game. They are a quiet people, but are not fond of the Americans, to some extent under the influence of the H.B. Com.
"The Cayuse Indians inhabit the country from the foot of the Blue Mountains to within 25 miles of Walla Walla. They are a haughty, proud and overbearing people, as also very superstitious. They have large herds of horses and cattle and live on fish, roots, berries and game. They are well armed and are, through fear, on amicable terms with the whites. Their band consists of about 800, 200 of whom are warriors.
"The Walla Walla Indians possess the country on the Columbia near Fort Walla Walla, have large herds of horses and cattle, are well armed and friendly to the whites. They number 1000. They cultivate their soil in small quantities, but live principally on fish, roots and berries. They are considerably under the influence of the Hudson Bay Company.
"The Deschutes Indians are a part of the Wascopam tribe and live upon a river of that name. Their country is poor, high, broken, sandy and barren--yet it affords good grazing, their stock being in good order the year round. They are very poor, have but few arms, are well disposed and number about 300. They live on fish and berries.
"The Wascopam Indians number about 200 and live on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Their soil is not good, and they have no disposition to cultivate what they have. They are poor and thievish and live on fish, roots and berries. There is a Catholic mission among them. They are indifferently armed and friendly to the whites.
"The Molalla Indians range in the Cascade Mountains and claim no land in the valley. Their whole number is about 100, 20 warriors. They are a brave and warlike people and not fond of the Americans. They are well armed and live principally by the chase.
"The Clackamas Indians live upon a river of that name, which empties into the Willamette one mile below Oregon City. They number about 60 and are considered industrious. They have but few arms and are friendly. They live on fish and roots.
"The Willamette Indians live upon the east side of the river of that name, near the falls. They are an inoffensive people, have but very few arms and number in all about 20. The Willamette Falls afford them a fine fishery.
"The Klickitats claim a small tract of land at the head of the Willamette Valley, on the west side of that river. They own quite a number of horses, are well armed, brave and warlike, but on good terms with the whites. They live principally by the chase, number about 180--of whom 85 are warriors.
"The Calapooia Indians are found on either side of the Willamette River. They are a degraded, worthless and indolent people. They are poorly armed and entirely inoffensive. They live on fish, roots and berries. They number about 60.
"The Tualatin Indians occupy that portion of the country west of the Willamette River from its mouth to the mouth of Yamhill--a distance of 60 miles--thence west to the Coast Range of mountains. They number about 60 souls--thirty of whom are warriors. They are a degraded, mischievous and thievish set. They have but few arms.
"The Yamhill Indians are a small tribe who claim the country drained by a river of that name, which is mostly taken up by the whites. They are poor, have a few horses, are poorly armed and are well disposed. They number about 90, of whom 19 are warriors.
"The Luckiamute Indians claim all the country drained by a stream of that name west of the Willamette and south of Yamhill River. They are a part of the Calapooia tribe and number 15 in all, of whom 5 are warriors. They are friendly to the whites, very poor and have greatly diminished in the last few years. Their soil is good and is mostly taken up by the whites. They live on fish, roots &c.
"The Umpqua Indians occupy a valley of that name and are much scattered. They live in small bands, are poor, well disposed, well armed and live by the chase, as also on fish, roots &c. They number about 200.
"The Tillamook Indians inhabit the Coast Range of mountains, a long stretch of country interspersed with small prairies. They are not friendly to the whites. They number about 200.
"The Clatacamin Indians inhabit a part of the range along the coast to the Columbia River, north of the Tillamooks and to the coast. They number about 300.
"The Clatsop Indians claim a section of country on the south side of the Columbia at its mouth, from Cape 'Lookout' on the coast to Astoria. Subsist principally on fish. They are intelligent and friendly and much inclined to dissipation. There are but few of this tribe left; about fifty is the extent of their number. The whites occupy all their prairie lands.
"The Cathlamet Indians claim the country on the Columbia River from Astoria about thirty miles up the river. Fifty-eight are all that are left of a once large band. They are a good people, have no land susceptible of cultivation, subsist upon fish and are quite poor.
"The Skilloot tribe claim the country above the Cathlamet tribe to Oak Point on the Columbia River. They possess no land suitable for agricultural purposes; they are poor, number about 200 and subsist on fish, roots and fowls. They have a few arms.
"The Cathlacumups, Kathlaminimin and Namoit are bands and parts of bands that claim the country from Oak Point to the mouth of the Willamette, including Wyeth's Island [Sauvie Island]. They have become so reduced that they have united and now live together or near each other. Number not known."
Second. Mr. Thornton resides in this city, where he received his instructions on the day above mentioned, and was urged to proceed to the discharge of his duty. On the 30th of July he left this city for Puget's Sound, where he remained a short time. He saw some of the Indians and made them a few presents. From Dr. Tolmie, chief trader of the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Nisqually, he received such information relative to the Indians and their country as he has embodied in his report. He returned to this city in August and submitted a statistical report, giving the name and number of each tribe, their habits, disposition &c. From this report, aided with a knowledge of the Indians and their country obtained on my visit to the Sound, and from such information as I have gathered from the Indians in that section, many of whom have visited me, I have made this portion of my report, which is as correct as it could be made within the time given. Mr. Thornton in his report omits the mention of horses, property and arms of any of the tribes. As I have been among several of them and know them to be well armed, I have made a statement accordingly.
The Makah or Cape Flattery Indians occupy the country about Cape Flattery and the coast for some distance southward and eastward to the boundary of the Nehalem or Clallam lands, number not ascertained, but supposed to be 1,000; warlike, disposition toward the whiles not known, live by fishing and hunting.
The Clallam Indians occupy the country about Hood's Canal, Dungenness, Port Discovery and coast to the westward. Total number about 1400--of whom 200 are warriors, disposition not known; they raise a few vegetables, but subsist principally by hunting and fishing.
The Snoquamie Indians occupy the country about Port Orchard, west side of Whidbey's Island. Total number about 500, well disposed, live by fishing and labor. They have a few horses.
The Stomamish, Shotlemamish, Squaxin, Sahewnamish and Stehtsasamish Indians occupy the country from the Narrows along the western shore of Puget's Sound, friendly and well disposed. Total number about 500, subsist by labor and fishing.
The Twana and Skokomish Indians live along the shore of Hood's Canal, number about 200, friendly and well disposed, subsist by labor and fishing.
The Squallyamish, Puyallup and Snohomish Indians live about Nisqually, Puyallup and Snohomish rivers, number about 550, friendly and well disposed, live by labor and fishing.
The Snohomish Indians live on a river of that name and [the] southern extremity of Whidbey's Island. Total number about 350, friendly and well disposed, live by labor and fishing.
The Snoqualamie Indians live on the Snoqualamie River, a south branch of the Snohomish. Total number about 350, warlike, inclined to be hostile, live by fishing and hunting. Well armed and have a few horses.
The Suquamish Indians live on the Suquamish River, a north branch of the Snohomish. Total number about 450, have some arms, disposition doubtful, live by fishing and hunting.
The Skagits live on the Skagit River down to the ocean, towards the north end of Whidbey's Island. Total number about 500, friendly and well disposed, live by farming and fishing.
The Lummi Indians live about Bellingham Bay. Total number about 220, warlike, disposition to the whites not known, live by hunting and fishing.
The Cowlitz Indians live on the Cowlitz River from its mouth to the settlements. They number about 120; they have a few arms, are well disposed, have a few horses and live by hunting and fishing.
The Chinooks live at Baker's Bay. Total number about 100, but few guns, friendly to the whites, live by hunting and fishing.
The Quinault and Chehalis tribes live on the Chehalis River. Total number about 300, well disposed, live by hunting and fishing.
The Cathlamet, Cooniac and Wakanasisi Indians live about Kathland, Oak Point and the fisheries upon Columbia River, opposite the upper mouth of the Willamette. Total number about 150; they are friendly and well disposed, live by hunting, fishing and on roots.
The Tlakluit Indians live about the Dalles on the north side of the Columbia River. Total number about 200, live by hunting and fishing and are friendly.
The Wyam Indians live about the falls of the Columbia River, north side. Total number about 130, warlike, well-disposed toward the whites, live by hunting, fishing and on roots.
The Yakimas live on Yakima River, between the Dalles of the Columbia and the coast. This tribe are related to the Klickitats, who occupy the country north of the Columbia in the vicinity of Mount St. Helens. Total number of all about 1500, warlike, well-disposed toward the whites, have many horses, live by hunting and fishing. There is a Catholic mission among them.
The Pisquow Indians live on a river of the same name. Total number about 350, warlike, well-disposed toward the whites, live by hunting and fishing.
I here take occasion to introduce extracts from Mr. Thornton's report in relation to his course in the affair of the murder of Wallace by the Snoqualamie Indians:
"On the 7th ultimo I arrived at Fort Nisqually. I immediately proceeded to investigate the facts connected with the killing of Mr. Wallace. * * * I sent messengers to Hughtickymun, head chief of the Snoqualamie tribe. * * * I advised him to arrest the offenders and deliver them over to Capt. B. H. Hill and as an inducement offered to him eighty blankets as a reward if this were done in three weeks. * * * I authorized Capt. Hill, of the 1st Artillery, to double the reward and to offer it in my name as sub-agent if the murderers were not delivered up in three weeks."
In my instructions to Mr. Thornton I said nothing about the murder of Wallace, nor did I intend that he should interfere in the premises, as it was my intention, on the arrival of the troops at Nisqually, to visit the Sound and demand the murderers and make the Indians know that they should give them up for punishment and that hereafter all outrages should be promptly punished, being well satisfied that there is no mode of treatment so appropriate as prompt and severe punishment for wrongdoing. It is bad policy, under any consideration, to hire them to make reparation, for the reasons, to wit: First--It holds out inducements to the Indians for the commission of murder by way of speculation; for instance, they would murder some American and await the offering of a large reward for the apprehension of the murderers. This done, they would deliver up some of their slaves as the guilty, for whom they would receive ten times the amount that they would otherwise get for them.
Second--It has a tendency to make them underrate our ability and inclination to chastise by force, or make war upon them for such conduct, which, in my opinion, is the only proper method of treating them for such offenses.
A short time after Mr. Thornton's return to this city, I received a letter from Major Hathaway informing me that six Indians, charged with being the principal actors in the murder of Wallace, had been brought in by the Indians of the Snoqualamie tribe and delivered to Capt. Hill, 1st Artillery, commanding the forces at Steilacoom, near Fort Nisqually.
Chief Justice Bryant has gone to Steilacoom for the purpose of holding a court for their trial. Although I cannot approve the policy of offering to Indians so large a reward under any circumstances, yet in this case it had been done, and I wrote, by Judge Bryant, to Dr. Tolmie as follows:
Oregon CityDr. Tolmie,
September 24, 1849.
Dear Sir--Chief Justice Bryant goes to the Sound to try the six Indians charged with the murder of Wallace. If the Indians are found to be the guilty ones, the reward offered by the sub-agent, Mr. Thornton, must be paid. In that event you will please hand the Indians who arrested and brought them in the blankets promised them by the sub-agent and forward the account for payment.
With great respect, I am, sirA few days after the Judge left for Steilacoom, Tolmie forwarded his account for payment, stating that on the delivery of the six Indians the reward of eighty blankets had been paid to the Indians who arrested and brought them in, which account I have declined paying until I can know whether they are the guilty ones.
Your obedient servant,
It will be seen that there are within the Territory of Oregon, so far as reported, sixty-five tribes and bands of Indians; some of them are mere bands and will soon become extinct. Two tribes not mentioned in the report will be noticed hereafter. Thirty tribes or bands live north of the Columbia and the remainder south of the Columbia.
There has been no conventional arrangements entered into between the whites and Indians which require the action of Congress.
The Indians are scattered over the entire Territory, and for the purpose of maintaining friendly relations with and proper control of them, I would respectfully recommend the following division of the Territory for agency purposes, to wit:
An agent to be located at or near the Grand Ronde, for the tribes and bands living south of the Columbia and east of the Cascade Range to Fort Boise, and a sub-agent to be located at or near Fort Hall for the tribes between Fort Boise and the summit of the Rocky Mountains.
The Rogue River Indians, not above mentioned, occupy the country on both sides of Rogue River, from where the road to California crosses to the mouth of the same and on the coast. They number some seven or eight hundred; they are a warlike and roguish people and have lately given much trouble to small parties of our people returning from the gold mines, have succeeded in killing some, wounding some and robbing others, by which means they have got several thousand dollars of gold, many horses and some guns. Owing to their recent success, it is to be feared that we will have some trouble with these Indians.
A sub-agency should be established as near this point as practicable, say on the Umpqua, for all the tribes south of the Columbia and west of the Cascade Range and a garrison of one or two companies established in their country for the protection of our people traveling in that direction.
In a recent trip which I made across the Coast Range of mountains, I found on the Yaquina Bay, which is about one hundred and sixty miles south of the mouth of the Columbia, the Yaquina Indians, from which tribe the bay takes its name. They live along the coast, on both sides of the bay, are poor, well disposed, live principally by fishing; number about two hundred.
There is no point in the Territory where an agent is more required than at or near Puget's Sound. An agency should be established there, and the agent should be promptly at his post. The Indians are numerous and some of them inclined to be troublesome, but with the services of a good agent they could be managed and made friendly. I am inclined to think that at this time it is not indispensably necessary to establish any other agency north of the Columbia--the one at the Sound would have charge of all the tribes on that side of the Columbia.
One interpreter to each agency will be required, whose services cannot be procured for the sum fixed by law.
The following amount will be necessary for the erection of agency buildings and fixtures, to each agency--$2,500.00
For fuel, stationery and traveling expenses, to each agency--$800.00
For presents to the Indians, necessary to conciliate their good will--to the Indians of the Columbia $l000.00; to those south of said river $1500.00--$2,500.00
For provisions for Indians and visiting agencies, to each agency--$100.00
It will be necessary to alter the law so as to raise the salary of the agents and interpreters.
You will perceive that the figures above made are above the prices heretofore fixed by the law of Congress, but from the high price of labor, provisions &c., I feel confident that the sums set down are not too large.
I would call the attention of the Department to the fact that Mr. Thornton has resigned his office of sub-agent for the 2nd district, and Mr. Newell is absent from the Territory--having gone to California--and, consequently, I am without an assistant.
The Cayuse nation remain unpunished for the murder of the unfortunate Dr. Whitman and his family. The eyes of the surrounding [Indian] nations are upon us, watching our movements in relation to this cold-blooded massacre, and if the guilty be not punished they will construe it as a license for the most atrocious outrages, and scenes of a similar character will be enacted by other tribes, who by our example towards the guilty Cayuse will be incited to gratify any malicious spirit with the blood of Americans, and our suffering the guilty in this instance to escape a just punishment will be to them an assurance of their own safety. Indeed, the chiefs of some of the neighboring tribes have informed me that they have already had difficulty in restraining their tribe from joining the Cayuses, and they are anxious the murderers should be brought to punishment, as it would deter their own bands from crime.
In concluding this report, I take the liberty to call your special attention to the following extract from my message to the Legislative Assembly:
"Surrounded as many of the tribes and bands now are by the whites, whose arts of civilization, by destroying the resources of the Indians, doom them to poverty, want and crime, the extinguishment of their title by purchase and the locating them in a district removed from the settlements is a measure of the most vital importance to them. Indeed, the cause of humanity calls loudly for their removal from causes and influences so fatal to their existence. This measure is one of equal interest to our own people."
Joseph LaneOffice of Supt. Indian Affairs
Oct. 13, 1849
Territory of Oregon
Since writing the above, Chief Justice Bryant has returned from the trial of the Indians charged with the murder of Wallace, and at my request the following report has been by him submitted:
Oregon City, October the 10th 1849His excellency
"In compliance with your request to know the result of the trial of the six Snoqualamie Indians for the murder of Wallace in April last, I have the honor to inform you that in pursuance of the provisions of an act of the Legislative Assembly for the Territory of Oregon, attaching the county of Lewis to the first judicial district in said Territory and appointing the 1st Monday in October, at Steilacoom, as the time and place of holding the district court of the United States for said county, I opened & held said court at the time and place appointed. Capt. B. F. Hill, of the 1st Artillery U.S.A., delivered to the marshal of the Territory six Indians of the Snoqualamie tribe, given up by said tribe as the murderers of Wallace, namely: Kassass, Quallahwort, Stulharrier, Tattam, Whyerk & Qualthlinkyne, all of whom were indicted for murder and the two first named, Kassass & Quallahwort, were convicted and executed; the other four were found not guilty by the jury. Those who were found guilty were clearly so; as to three of the others that were acquitted, I was satisfied with the finding of the jury. It was quite evident they were guilty in a less degree, if guilty at all, than those convicted. As to the 4th, I had no idea that he was guilty at all; there was no evidence against him, and all the witnesses swore they did not [see him] during the affray or attack on Fort Nisqually.
It is not improbable that he was a slave, whom the guilty chiefs that were convicted expected to place in their stead as a satisfaction for the American murdered. Two other Americans were wounded badly by shots, and an Indian child, that afterwards died. The effect produced by this trial was salutary, and I have no doubt will long be remembered by the tribe. The whole tribe, I would judge, were present at the execution, and a vast gathering of the Indians from other tribes on the Sound, and they were made to understand that our laws would punish them promptly for every murder they committed, and that we would have no satisfaction short of all who acted in the murder of our citizens.
I learned that this tribe is the most fierce & warlike of any on the Sound and often go through other tribes in armed bands and commit murders, take slaves and plunder. I could not find that any blame was attachable to the officers at Fort Nisqually or the American citizens who were present.
To the end that the trial might be conducted fairly, I appointed Judge A. A. Skinner, whom you had engaged to go out to attend to their prosecution, district attorney for the time and ordered that he be allowed for his services $250, and I also appointed to defend them David Stone, Esqr., an attorney also sent out by you to defend them, and I made an allowance of record to him for $250. This compensation I deemed reasonable. They had to travel two hundred miles from their respective homes, camp in the woods, as well as all the rest of us, and endure a great deal of fatigue in the manner of traveling, in bateaux & canoes by water. Many of the grand and petit jurors were summoned at a distance of two hundred miles from their homes, and although the transportation may have cost some more to the Department than bringing the Indians into the more settled district and with them the witnesses, with a sufficient escort for protection (which I very much doubt), yet I have no hesitation in believing that the policy pursued here more than repaid any additional expense that may have been incurred. I directed.the marshal to keep a careful account of expenses and report the same to you, which he has doubtless done. There are not nearer than this place in the judicial district the requisite number of lawful jurors to the place appointed to hold the court (which is the only American fort on the Sound), so sparsely is the country around the Sound settled.
I will be glad to furnish you any further particulars, if it be found necessary.
And have the honor
To be very truly your obt. servant
Wm. P. Bryant
I am clearly of opinion that the trial and punishment of the Indians, in the presence of their tribe and the other tribes and bands bordering the Sound, was the true policy and has no doubt made an impression upon their minds sufficient to deter them from similar offenses. With this view of the case, on the receipt of Maj. Hathaway's letter informing me of the arrest of these Indians, I immediately submitted a communication to the Legislative Assembly, from which I take the following extract:
"I have just received a communication from Major Hathaway, 1st Artillery, commanding 11th Military Department, advising me that Capt. Hill, comdg. at Steilacoom . . . has now in confinement six Indians of the Snoqualamie tribe, principal actors in the murder of Wallace. I am well satisfied that the trial and punishment of these guilty persons in the presence of their people will have a good effect upon the tribes in that quarter.
"I therefore request that you will without delay pass an act attaching Lewis County to the first judicial district for judicial purposes and authorize the holding [of] a term of said district court therein, on the first Monday in October next."'
For the purpose of affording a fair, impartial & properly conducted trial, I employed Mr. Skinner to go with the court to prosecute the criminals and Mr. Stone to defend them. The court ordered an allowance of two hundred and fifty dollars to each of them, which I have paid out of the Indian fund in my hands. I have also paid to the Indians who worked the boats for the conveyance of the court and jury one hundred & eighty dollars. This expense was necessary for the reason that there is no other mode of travel, there being no roads in the direction of Puget's Sound, and consequently they had to go down the Columbia to the mouth of the Cowlitz and up that rapid stream to the settlements and then across the country to the Sound.
The total expense of holding the court at Steilacoom for the trial of these Indians amounts to eighteen hundred and ninety-nine dollars and 54/100. Reward of eighty blankets four hundred and eighty dollars, making the sum total of $2,379.54.
Deduct from this sum the six hundred and eighty dollars, and the reward of four hundred & eighty will leave a balance of twelve hundred and nineteen dollars and fifty-four cents, to be paid to the marshal, as soon as he can get funds.
I have paid the amount above specified out of the Indian fund, there being no other government funds in the Territory. The law of Congress appropriates a certain amt. to defray the expenses of the Legislative Assembly &c., &c., but the secretary of the Territory has not received a single cent. The Legislative Assembly has been convened, held their session and adjourned, without funds to pay their per diem allowance, or to print the laws.
I have observed the strictest economy in the management of our Indian affairs. I have made but few presents, and in traveling through their country on several visits which I found it necessary to make, I have incurred but little expense.
No funds have been forwarded to the marshal, which subjects the court to great inconvenience and operates oppressively upon the people, who have had to travel, as in the case above mentioned, a distance of two hundred miles to serve as jurymen, and seriously obstructs the affording of that justice which the people are entitled to.
I hope you will readily allow the accounts above mentioned, to wit: To Mr. Skinner and Stone five hundred dollars, one hundred and eighty for transportation, and four hundred and eighty for the blankets. Mr. Thornton, the sub-agent, tendered his resignation previous to the trial, and there was no person in the service of government to prosecute or defend the Indians.
Everything has been done that could be to prevent the introduction of spirituous liquors among the Indians, notwithstanding I have recently heard of many violations of the law by vessels coming into the Columbia and particularly at Baker's Bay and Astoria. One of these offenders has recently been fined by Judge Pratt five hundred dollars for selling liquor to Indians. It will, however, be difficult to stop the traffic without the services of a good sub-agent to reside in that immediate vicinity.
I would therefore respectfully advise the appointment of some suitable person residing at or near Astoria to that office.
With great respectOffice of Superintendent
I am sir your obt. srvt.
Ex officio Superintendent
Indian Affrs., Territory
of Indian Affairs, Territory
of Oregon, Oregon City, October
the 22nd 1849
P.S. I have received no instructions from Washington, nor communication of any kind, of later date than October 1848.
J.L.NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 495-548. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico has been used as authority when regularizing spelling of tribe names.
Oregon City December 6th 1849Col.,
I have just had an interview with Capt. Scott from the Umpqua settlement, who informs me that an Indian of the Umpqua tribe recently came into the settlement and there reported that a party of ten or twelve families from California bound for Oregon have been cut off by the Rogue River Indians, all killed but the children, who are prisoners.
The following is an extract from a letter just recd. from the Umpqua. "If the Indian report alone was the only grounds we have for belief, I should place much less reliance upon the story, but we have had for the last two weeks a report given us by parties returning from California that ten or twelve families were about starting for Oregon and others reported them actually on the road. The last party of packers who passed about eight days ago reported seeing fresh wagon tracks on the road as far as Rogue River but no further."
I have conceived it to be my duty to lay this information before you, with the hope that you will be able to send out a small force to the Umpqua and in the direction of the Rogue River tribe of Indians, for the purpose of inquiring into the facts and if true to recover the captives. Children could hardly be expected to survive the winter, deprived of clothing, exposed to cold and hunger, death would be almost certain. If there is any good reason to believe the report, it seems to me that an effort ought to be made to recover the living.
I would advise you to see Captain Scott, who will call on you tomorrow morning and give you all the information that he possesses upon the subject. He can also inform you whether a small force could be subsisted and quartered in that vicinity or rather in the Umpqua settlements.
With great respectNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12, Letters Received 1848-1852, 1849 No. 21.
I am sir
Your obt. servt.
Last revised September 24, 2016