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San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Lieutenant W. M. Michler

Arrived on the SS Golden Age, October 16, 1854

Liet. Michler and party worked on the boundary survey between the United States and Mexico under the Gadsden Treaty (signed in Mexico December 30, 1853).

In 1848 before the discovery of gold, California had a population of some 12,000 Mexicans - including Californians of Mexican descent, called Californios - in addition to about 20,000 Native Americans and only 2,000 Yankee frontiersmen, soldiers, and settlers. Some of the earliest migrants were coming from the south as well?-?an estimated 7,000 Mexicans, mostly families, who had formed well-organized caravans "sometimes stretching for a mile across the horizon."

"The whole state of Sonora is on the move, passing us in gangs daily," a U.S. Army officer wrote during December of 1848. Chileans and Peruvians, along with native Californians, joined the Mexicans' search for gold, which was localized a bit farther south, off the San Joaquin Valley.

Among the first prospectors to strike it rich was a Mexican-born Los Angeles schoolteacher, Antonio Coronel. In the first summer of discovery, Coronel literally plucked his fortune from the surface of the ground. By mid-1849, there would be 8,000 Latin Americans digging and panning on the Stanislaus River.

The Maidu, Miwok, Yalesumni, and other Native Americans of the region, who had lived peaceably in centuries-old communal societies that precluded individual accumulation, were at first indifferent to men who dug in the ground not for food but for dust and rocks. However . . .

"In the spring and summer of 1853, Raids of Indians from the northern side of the international boundary were daily growing more destructive and Mexico was persistently clamoring for the fulfillment of treaty obligations and indemnity for the depredations which the savages were committing, while the government of the United States was urging that its inability to cope adequately with the Indian difficulty was largely due to Mexico's failure to furnish effective frontier defence, and maintaining that it was not bound by the treaty of 1848 to pay indemnity for the spoliations of these Indians.

The old question of claims, which had been a source of difficulty since the administration of Andrew Jackson and constituted one of the causes of the recent war, was coming once more into prominence.

Difficulties confronted in surveying the boundary laid down by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had culminated in a grave dispute regarding the southern limits of New Mexico -- a dispute rendered critical on account of the attitude of the settlers and the authorities on the frontier and the possibility that the loss of the contested area by the United States would mean the loss of a feasible route for a southern Pacific railway.

That party which had fought the war of 1846-1848, but had not been fully satisfied with the territorial gains it had brought, was once more in power with a two-thirds majority in the House and thirty-seven out of sixty senators. Mexican troops were advancing along the northern frontier, the United States was re-enforcing its army in the southwest, and the newspapers of both countries were discussing the possibility of another war. The situation was extremely critical.

At first Gadsden offered seventeen millions, five millions to be retained for the satisfaction of American claims against Mexico, and twelve millions to be paid for the "other things agreed upon." The Mexican commissioners insisted upon a larger amount, and after considerable discussion, "it was finally decided that the U. States should Pay $15,000,000 for all other concessions and $5,000,000 to be devoted for the satisfaction of private claims." Of the former sum, one-fifth was to be paid on the exchange of ratifications and the remaining four-fifths in monthly installments of three millions each - an arrangement which must have made the wily dictator chuckle! Nothing now remained but the signing of the completed document. This took place on December 30, and Gadsden set out immediately for Washington.

The terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and of the Gadsen Treaty of 1853 stated, Mexican citizens living in the area are given the choice of returning to Mexico under no penalty or tax, or of remaining and becoming American citizens automatically one year, following the ratification of the treaty. Property rights are to be respected during the interim period and all rights of citizenship are conferred upon those who elect to stay.

Most Mexicans decided to stay; yet they had not contemplated that they would be forced to "deal with problems of acculturation and language."

December 1, 1854, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

The U.S. Boundary Survey - Lt. Michler and his party left here on Thursday, with a large train, for their field of operations in running the new boundary line between the United States and Mexico, agreeable to the provisions of the Gadsden Treaty. Another party, under the direction of Major Emory, have commenced at El Paso, on the other end of the line, and will work this way till they meet Lt. Michler. The following are the names of the surveying party that left here: Lieut N. Michler; A. C. Von Schott, Geologist and Botanist; E. A. Phillips, J. Donoghue, T. Cozzens, and C. Michler, Assistants.

November 17, 1855, Los Angeles Star, Los Angeles, California

The Mexican Boundary Survey.

(Extracts from Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun.)

FORT FILLMORE (N. M.), August 6, 1855

Our boundary commissioner, Major Emory, and his party, escorts, surveyors, star gazers, &c., returned to this post from the West, having completed the survey of the boundary line between the United States and Mexico, except about one hundred miles, which Lieut. Michler, his able assistant and second, is or has finished by this time, from the Colorado. The party returned safe and sound, all in robust health, pleased to end their labors in so inhospitable a desert. Some of the wags along say, in describing the country, that for a crow to travel safely over it, it should provide itself with a canteen of water and a haversack of provisions. There are but few inhabitants in all this large extent of country, and, with the exception of three villages of no great extent, not an acre of arable ground suitable for cultivation, owing to the want of water. It would be a country to test the value of them camels friend Power's to bring from Arabia in that temperanco ship. Lt. Michler, with his party, will or ought to be here in two weeks.

There is an apprehended difficulty in the final settlement of this survey that causes Major Emory some uneasiness. The treaty stipulates "the line to be run conjointly by commissioners of the two countries." The Mexican commissioner, Mr. Salaza, was to have started from El Paso last January with Major Emory, and was in readiness to do so, but delayed a day or two to join the Major before he reached Lake Guzman. To his misfortune, either the Indians or vagabond Mexicans stole all the mules the very morning he had prepared to leave.

He had expended all his funds and all his credit to raise the outfit, and could not get another. Necessity obliged him to halt, and soon after he was arrested by Santa Anna's order, and I believe lodged in the calaboose. But, let that be as it may, Major Emory had no Mexican commissioner with him. The line is run, and doubtless well and accurately done; but whether lawfully so is the question. If to be run over, it would involve an expense greater than the value of the country.

We have heard Lieut. Parke's railroad surveying party, which started last December, I believe, from California. It will be here in a week; all were well.

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Artists of the West

Artists of the West.

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Western ArtWestern Art and Artists.

BARSKA Anchormaster 15-45x50 Spyscope w/ Mahogany Floor TripodBARSKA Anchormaster Telescope.

BARSKA Anchormaster Spyscope.

High power viewing with zoom magnifications from 15x to 45x and large 50mm objective lens in a polished brass scope

• Fully coated achromatic lenses for brilliant images structured in a refractor design with helical focusing rings
• Internal image-correcting lens provides right-side-up images for the naked eye
• Brass arc mounts allows the scope to move smoothly in all directions
• Stands proudly on a mahogany tripod with extendable legs and polished brass joints

The Project

Ship Passengers, Sea Captains, Maritime Nations, Merchants, Merchandise into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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