The man in his tent, who had squatted on Rincon Point, an elevated locality, that commanded a grand view of the bay, informed me that when he squatted there with his tent, that he could find no person who claimed the land. He had been there but a few days, when some parties came to him and offered to give him so much a month for the privilege of putting up their tent near his. He said he had no objections. They paid him. Then other parties who wanted to put up their tents were referred to him. From these various persons he was getting a very liberal income. He informed me that as long as it lasted, he was in no hurry to go to the mines.
About this time was the first appearance of the celebrated clipper ships. They anchored off of Happy Valley and attracted great attention; they could make the trip around Cape Horn from New York to San Francisco in three or four months; they run wet; their bows were very sharp, and, in a rough sea, instead of mounting the waves, they cut them, and the bows ran under water, and their progress was not impeded by the waves, saving two or three months’ time, which was of great consideration then. There was no railroad across the Isthmus then, and there was no other way of transporting freight between the cities of New York and San Francisco except around Cape Horn. They had great fame then. England conceded their superiority over all other sailing vessels for speed; but they have passed away, the railroad reducing the time to from five to eight days; of course, there is a great difference between that and three or four months. The days of sailing vessels, however great their speed, to a great extent, is gone. Besides, there are regular lines of steamers to most every port of the world, and the ocean is covered with tramp steamers.
That winter a convention was called to organize a State government and apply for admission to the Union. The Southern element there wanted to make it a slave State. The Northerners, including both Whigs and Democrats, wanted it free. They did not want to be brought in competition with slave labor in the mines, and have their occupation degraded in that way. Their pride, as well as interest, was at stake, and there was great feeling on the subject. Meetings were called all through the mines and addresses made and candidates nominated. The average of intelligence there was away above any other part of the country. For they were men of enterprise, or they would not have been there in that early day. At Mormon Island, one of the miners got up and made a speech. He so impressed them with his ability that they unanimously nominated him as their candidate to the Constitutional Convention. He was an old acquaintance of mine. In 1847 or 1848 he was a Democratic member of the Legislature of the State of New York, from Washington county, and was chosen by that body to deliver the oration on Washington’s