Financially the prospect was encouraging. Not a bank lost the contents of its fireproof vaults and remained practically unharmed, so far as credit was concerned.
For a number of days it was impossible to open any strong boxes on account of the great heat which the thick walls retained, and this naturally caused some embarrassment and lack of ready money. Nearly all of them, however, had strong connections in Eastern cities and large balances to their credit in other banks of America and Europe. They were also favored by the fact that the United States Mint and the Sub-Treasury held between them some $245,000,000 in ready money. The Secretary of the Treasury immediately deposited $10,000,000 to the credit of the local banks, and financiers of the great business centres of the country added to public confidence by prompt statements that they would facilitate the reconstruction of the city by a liberal advancement of funds.
One prominent Eastern capitalist expressed the general conviction in the following words:
“No great city, unless it dried up entirely from lack of commercial life blood, was ever annihilated by such a disaster as that of San Francisco. Pompeii and Herculaneum were not great cities in the first place, and in the second, they were completely covered, smothered as it were, with the ashes and molten lava of the adjoining volcano, and nearly all of their inhabitants perished. If it be admitted that three-fourths of the superstructures, so to speak, of San Francisco, estimated according to valuation, is destroyed, we have yet the fact remaining that the lives of only about one four-hundredth of its population have been lost.
“San Francisco was not merely land and the buildings erected upon it, but it was people, and one of the most active, most hopeful, most vivacious human communities on the face of the earth. You cannot long discourage such a community, unless you wipe out three-fourths of its members. Will San Francisco rise again? Most certainly it will. Galveston and Baltimore, not to mention Charleston, Boston and Chicago, showed the spirit of material resurrection in American communities, sore-smitten by calamity. After Galveston had been made a desert of sand and debris, there were predictions that it would never rise again. What was the outcome? A finer Galveston than before, and finer than many years of slow improvement in the natural course would have made it. Baltimore is busier commercially than it was before the great fire.
“San Francisco is exceedingly fortunate in the fact that its moneyed institutions remain strong, with abundant supplies of funds. It is true that many of them undoubtedly hold large numbers of real estate mortgages as securities for loans, and that much of the property thus represented is now in ashes. But with care and an accommodating spirit practically all of those mortgaged can be so nursed that they will be made absolutely good. The banks will be found