The life of a republic, like that of an individual, is made up of many events. Crucial events, a few of them, and the turn of the dial may decide the destiny of the nation.
In 1860 the United States had reached the turn of the dial. For more than a half century the south had been fighting for state rights, slavery and territorial extension. The north had opposed her claim. The Republican party, opposing slavery, had come into existence and rapidly grew. Fearing its power, the south declared "If Abraham Lincoln, the Republican nominee, is elected President, we will secede from the Union." Abraham Lincoln was elected. True to their threat, the south seceded. Two months later (April 12, 1961) South Carolina fired upon the old flag, then flying over Fort Sumter.
Immediately the states declared their loyalty or disloyalty to the Union. How stood California? None could tell. The presidential election of the previous year indicated that the state was almost equally divided between the three parties . The balance of power lay with the Douglas Democrats. Everything, however, favored the secessionists. The custom house, the post office and the mint were under the control of their friends. Officers of southern birth were in command of the arsenal, the forts and presidio. Many persons believed that Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander-in-chief, was disloyal. The State Legislature was Democratic. The Governors loyalty was questioned, and California's Congressmen were friendly to the south. Three of them proved to be disloyal.
Secession was in the air. For several years, in case of war, the southerners had been planning to take California out of the Union and form a Pacific Republic. The republic was to comprise California, Oregon and Nevada . The project was openly declared upon streets and in the press, and Congressmen and southerners boasted of the scheme .
To carry out their plan of secession, they formed an organization known as the "Knights of the Golden Circle." They were organized in all parts of the state. They held their secret meetings, had their passwords and signs known only to the members, and drilled weekly. They claimed to have 20,000 men. At the opportune moment they intended to revolt and seize the forts and government buildings. Waiting for the time of action, John B. Floyd, then Secretary of War, had secretly sent 20,000 stand of arms to California. Arms and ammunition were stored in the Benicia arsenal.
In looking for a leader they approached Charles Doane, marshal of the Vigilantes. He was a man of southern birth and they believed him disloyal. A committee waiting on him showed him a list of seven hundred prominent men identified with the plot and requested him to take command. He told them he would give them an answer the following day. That night Doane informed Colonel Stevenson of the plot. The colonel the following morning saw David Seanell. "Dave, what force can you depend on?" Looking at his watch, Scannell replied, "It is now 8:00 o'clock; I will report to you at 12:00 o'clock." Scannell, meeting Stevenson at the hour named, said, "At any hour after 1:00 o'clock, three taps upon the fire bell will bring into the plaza one thousand men, well armed and equipped, and every man will carry twenty-five rounds of ammunition." A consultation was then held with Governor Downey, the Mayor and the commander-in-chief, Johnson, and plans laid to checkmate the plot. As the Union men were now on guard no further efforts were then made.
The arrival a few weeks later of General E. V. Sumner baffled completely the hopes of the secessionists. His arrival was a surprise to both citizens and militia, and was the result of a letter sent to Colonel E. D. Baker by James McClatchy  informing him of the disloyalty of the commander-in-chief. General Sumner arrived April 24th on the Golden Gate . He increased the number of regulars at Alcatraz Island, Fort Point and the Benicia arsenal, and telegraphed to Oregon for the companies there stationed to immediately sail for California. In a few weeks Sumner had the forts well protected and troops ready at an hour's notice to march to any point.
The California life was too slow for Sumner. He wanted to be in the midst of the fight. At his request he was relieved and General George Wright sent to this coast. Sumner was accompanied east by the Sixth Infantry from Oregon and the Third Artillery band. They left San Francisco for Panama on the steamship Orizaba October 21, 1861,  with the state safe from any local strife.
No person was more bitterly disappointed because of General Johnson's removal than was Senator Gwin. And three months previous, say Kennedy in "The Conquest of California," orders came from the War Department, by Gwin's recommendation, that his friend Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston be placed in command of the Pacific department. Gwin, accompanied by Calhoun Benham, also sailed on the Orizaba. But as they were engaged in a secret mission in the interests of the Southern Confederacy, they now sought no public honors or applause. They were bound for Havana, there to meet Mason and Sidell, the Confederacy ambassadors. The two men quietly boarded the steamship early in the morning and remained in their staterooms out of sight until after the steamer passed the heads. The presence of the distinguished passengers was report to General Sumner and the well known secession proclivities of Gwin. As the steamer approached Panama, Sumner, on general principles, ordered the arrest of both Gwin and Benham. Upon being arrested Gwin, excusing himself for a moment, stepped into his stateroom and quickly threw out of the cabin window the carpetbag which he had brought on board. The few passengers who saw it floating upon the waves little suspected its importance to Uncle Sam. At Panama Gwin strongly protested against his arrest and threatened to call upon the Nicaragua government for protection. He was taken to New York and there confined for few weeks in Fort Lafayette. On his release he went to Paris. Later he was interested in the deal of France to seize Mexico. From that time until his death September 3, 1885, he was known as Duke de Gwin.
In the early days of the Civil war it was almost impossible to make Union men believe the California was in any danger. They seemed to be asleep regarding the movements of the southern leaders, and in San Joaquin county a young man named George W. Tyler, then thirty years of age, resolved to awaken them. Coming to Stockton from Vermont (in 1860) he was positively convinced that the nation would soon be engaged in a civil war. He knew that the secessionists were planning to capture California and the Union men must be pot on guard. But how? Tyler believed that if an attempt were made to hold a Union meeting in a secession stronghold they would show their hand and purpose. It was advertised that (May 15, 1861) a meeting would be held at Woodbridge for the purpose of organizing a Union club. Near by was Liberty, a strong secession precinct. The meeting was held in a carpenter shop, the only place large enough for a public assembly. The meeting was organized. Then a series of resolutions were ready, eulogizing the Union, recommending the formation of a Union club, and a call to all Union men to stand by the government. Speeches were made in favor of and against the resolutions. When the chairman called for a vote upon the resolutions, Mark Evans, a county official and strong secessionist, jumped upon the bench and exclaimed, "Tyler, you'll never live to see those resolutions enforced." The threat caused great excitement and confusion. Efforts were made to continue the meeting. It was impossible, however, as the secessionists far outnumbered the Union men. The scheme had worked like a charm. The news that a Union meeting had been broken up in San Joaquin county was telegraphed over the state and there was great indignation among the Union men regarding the outrage.
In San Francisco (May 11th) a demonstration was held to test the sentiment of the people. Everywhere the Stars and Stripes were seen. Montgomery and other streets were literally hidden in bunting, and the sidewalks were crowded with men, women and children wearing the colors of the Union. The procession, the largest ever seen, was composed of all the military, civic and benevolent societies of the city. Platt's hall was crowded and the strong Union sentiments of the speakers, Milton S. Latham, General Sumner, John McDougall and General Shields, were loudly applauded.
The Fourth of July, 1861, was the day of days. No such patriotic celebrations have since been seen. It seemed as if the spirits of 1776 had again arisen to inspire the people with patriotic fire. Every heart beat to the "music of the Union," save a few thousand secessionists who were seeking to destroy. A Democratic school teacher had remarked "that the Fourth of July was played out," but the demonstration on that day proved California's loyalty. There were a few local difficulties, but cool and wise heads prevented anything serious happening. At Stockton a Miss Davis boastingly declared that when the procession passed she would wave a Confederate flag from the balcony of the hotel. Her friends prevented her from attempting such a rash act. The militia that day marched with muskets loaded and three extra rounds of cartridges. In Sacramento a newspaper editor raised a flag with thirteen stars only, upon the plea that it was the only flag he possessed. He later raised a thirty-five star flag. The colors of the Masonic Temple were raised, but soon after lowered upon the plea that Masonry did not interfere in politics. All day, however, Old Glory waved over the hall. During the early morn some individual spiked the cannon of the City Guard. It required some two hours' work drilling another hole before they could fire the national salute. During the afternoon two men marched past the St. George hotel carrying a cane with a rebel flag. They were promptly knocked down and the flag captured. In Oroville a horseman rapidly rode through the streets waving a rebel standard. At Snelling, Los Angeles and other southern points the three-barred flag waved throughout the day unmolested. The Union men were far in the minority.
In the United States marshal's office, San Francisco, a small Confederate flag waved from a miniature man-of-war named Jeff Davis. A change of marshals (April 30, 1861) hauled down the Confederate flag. August 16th a secession flag was discovered waving from the window of the Portsmouth House. The owner withdrew it before the police could capture it.
On the morning of October 1, 1861, early risers in Stockton noticed rebel flags flying from several public buildings, including the courthouse. The stars and strips had been taken down. The new colors had been run up during the night by the southern sympathizers. They were hastily hauled down and the old flag refloated. One of the flags was hoisted on Banner Island. This so enraged the owner, Captain C. M. Weber, that, lowering the standard, he rammed it into his cannon and blew it into a hundred pieces. then, hoisting aloft "Old Glory" 120 feet in height, he fired a salute of thirty-five guns.
At this time the quickest news that could be received was by the "pony express"  which arrived every eight days from St. Louis, Missouri. Strange as it may appear, the same day as General Sumner's arrival (April 24th) the "pony" brought the news that the south (April 12th) had fired upon Fort Sumpter. Shortly after that event President Lincoln called for an enlistment of 75,000 men for a term of three months. California was expected to supply her quota of 6,000 men . So threatening was the situation, however, "not one loyal man could be spared from the state." Volunteers, however, were received for state and coast duty. Recruiting offices were opened and men enlisted for garrison duty, preventing Indian massacres, guarding the overland mail and keeping quiet the secessionists in southern California and Nevada. For these purposes eight regiments of infantry and three regiments of cavalry were organized . Hundreds of citizens went east and joined the regiments of other states. Many of them had been prominent in public life. None, however, was more prominent than Colonel Edward D. Baker  , who was killed at Ball Bluff (October 21, 1862) while leading his regiment.
His death was California's greatest loss during the Civil war. Many friends blamed him for thus sacrificing his life upon the battlefield. They declared in living he could have been of far greater service to the Union, the party and society. Baker believed in practicing what he preached, and that it was his duty to go to the front.
When Baker arrived at San Francisco, October 19, 1861, from Oregon, salutes were fired from Fort Point as the steamer passed. He was then on his way to Washington as Oregon's United States Senator. The citizens asked Baker to deliver an address, and in the American Theatre (October 18th) he delivered one of the most masterful orations ever heard, his subject being "Freedom and the Republican Party." Men came from all parts of the state to hear him. William Kennedy, author of the book "Baker in the Days of '61," came all the way from Marysville. The lecture was printed and sent broadcast over the state. Many believed that this address "broke the backbone of the rebellion in California."
Upon arrival in New York, Baker there recruited a regiment, taking command as colonel. At the same time he performed his duties as United States Senator. I will close this brief sketch in the words of James G. Blaine, as given in his work "Twenty Years in Congress." "From the far-off Pacific came Edward Dickerson Baker, a Senator from Oregon, a man of extraordinary gifts of eloquence. In personal appearance he was commanding, in manner most attractive, in speech most irresistibly charming. Perhaps in the history of the Senate no man ever left so brilliant a reputation for so short a service. Baker was in command of a California regiment and on August 1st he entered the Senate and took his seat in uniform. He laid his sword across his desk and for a time listened intently to the debate then in progress. The discussion was upon a bill to suppress insurrection and sedition, and Breckenridge of Kentucky was then strongly reflecting the sentiments of the Confederate convention then in session at Richmond. Baker became restive and excited under the stinging remarks of the speaker and when he closed Baker sprang to his feet. In his eloquent reply he said, 'Are not the speeches of the Senators from Kentucky intended for a disorganization? Sir, are they not words of polished treason even in the very capitol of the republic?' It was impossible to describe the effect produced by his magic words, for in the history of the Senate no more thrilling speech was ever delivered." He went out from the Senate and a few months later lay dead in the camp, killed by the blundering charge of Ball's Bluff. His body was brought to California. He was buried with imposing ceremony in Lone Mountain cemetery. Thomas Starr King delivered the funeral oration.
The population of the southern portion of the state at that time was composed principally of Mexicans and immigrants from Missouri and Arkansas. The country was thinly populated. Their occupation consisted in the raising of cattle and sheep. Nearly the entire population were in sympathy with the Southern Confederacy, and several months before the firing upon Fort Sumpter bear flags were waving in the breeze in Los Angeles and San Bernardino county. Los Angeles was so bitter against the government that General Sumner stationed there three companies of cavalry. In his report he declared "there is more dissatisfaction at that place than any other in the state." Their Assemblyman, E. J. C. McKewan, was arrested in October, 1862, for uttering treasonable language and confined in Alcatraz. Two weeks later he took the oath of allegiance and was released on giving a $5,000 bond.
Another hotbed of secession was Snelling , Visalia and Merced. In Merced county Union men were very much in the minority and in every campaign P. D. Wiginton stumped the county speaking for the secession candidates. He was accompanied by Jim Wilson, who sang songs with violin accompaniment. Two of his favorite songs were "We'll Hang Abe Lincoln to a Tree" and "We'll Drive the Bloody Tyrant Lincoln From Our Dear Native Soil." the Merced Banner said (April 24, 1862) "the United States officers will go to any length to sustain their master, Abe Lincoln, whose cringing slaves they are." Soldiers were also stationed at Visalia, the Visalia Delta declared (August 22, 1861) "treason against the government constitution is preached from the pulpit, printed in the newspapers and openly advocated in the streets and public places of Visalia." The Expositor printed an abusive rhyme regarding Lincoln. Two days later the soldiers mobbed the office, completely destroying it.
Sympathy for the south was also expressed in religious circles and traitors were found in the Methodist (South), Catholic and Episcopal denominations. They asserted that religion had nothing in common with politics and the church was a place too sacred to be polluted .
There were thousands of loyal Californians, none more loyal, however, than in the Methodist (North). They not only preached loyalty, but at all times they displayed the flag and publicly rejoiced over every Union victory. Most of the clergymen who believed in state rights had the good sense to publicly remain silent. The only exception to this rule was the Rev. William Scott , the famous pastor of Calvary Presbyterian church, located where now stands the St. Francis hotel. In his prayers he insisted in praying "for all presidents and rulers and all officers of the army and navy." As the feeling over the war grew more intense, it finally created trouble in the congregation and the reverend gentleman resigned and visited Europe.
His resignation was caused by an incident which took place in September, 1862. In that month the San Francisco Presbyterian Synod by a vote of eight to one passed a series of union resolutions. Dr. Scott voted against them, he declaring "that Jefferson Davis was no more traitor than George Washington." On the following Sunday morning an effigy of the pastor was found hanging from a sign board opposite Calvary Church. It was placarded "Death to Traitors." The same party had raised two small flags upon the church and fastened a large flag to one of the lamp posts at the front entrance. Soon after this a woman church member tore down the large flag. The crowd rushing forward to capture it, by mistake severely beat the owner of the flag. His only regret was that the crowd took him for a secessionist.
The crowd continued increasing until the hour of service drew near. In the number were 500 Union men, sent there by the Union Secret Club to assist the police in keeping order. Dr. Scott's friends, fearing that personal harm would befall their beloved pastor, used every possible argument to prevent his preaching that morning. The building was crowded, but only a few women were present. Dr. Scott entered by a side door and in his prayer, carefully guarding his words, made no allusion to magistrates. He delivered as usual a masterly sermon; everything was quite, and after the benediction was pronounced, the congregation poured out into the street. The crowd outside opened a passageway for them. They immediately closed the gap, however, when the pastor appeared, leaning on the arm of Mrs. Thomas Selby. In the meantime the large flag had been refastened to the lamp post. As the pastor descended the steps to the carriage in waiting, a person catching hold of the corner of the flag stretched it across the steps, thus compelling Dr. Scott to walk beneath Old Glory. This pleased the crowd and they hooted and yelled. Soon after this event Dr. Scott received several anonymous letters threatening his life if he remained in the state. The trustees accepted his resignation. In October, on the Uncle Sam, he sailed for New York and then to Europe.
In marked contrast to the actions of Rev. W. Scott were those of Thomas Starr King. At the time when some Union men were paralyzed with dread because of the actions of the south, and others undecided which way to turn, Thomas Starr King from pulpit and rostrum traveled over the state bolstering up the weak hearted and urging the loyal men to stand firmly for the Union. In his lectures, "Washington," "Daniel Webster," "Lexington and Concord," "The Great Uprising" and "The Rebellion in Heaven," in unanswerable arguments and matchless eloquence he kindled the patriotism of the people into a flowing flame. He considered his country next to his God, and it is conceded that no individual did more to keep California in the Union than did Thomas Starr King. He did not live to enjoy the result of his labors. He died March 4, 1864 .
When it was learned that the south was determined to secede there could be but one result, a civil war. Thousands would be wounded and die upon the battlefield or in the hospitals. To relieve their sufferings as much as possible the loyal northern men organized the three commissions. They were known as the sanitary, the Christian, and the freedman's commission. The leader of the movement was Henry W. Bellows of Massachusetts, a co-laborer in Christian work with Thomas Starr King. In 1862 he wrote to King asking him to organize branch commissions in California. The movement was started and in the fall of that year California sent east to the suffering soldiers $480,000. All classes contributed, even those who favored the south, for the sanitary or Red Cross commission, which later developed, made no distinction in assisting the wounded. In October, 1863, Mr. Bellows telegraphed to King, "the sanitary funds are low. We have already distributed over seven millions of dollars. California has been our main support in money, and if she fails we are lost." King responded, "We will send you $25,000 a month." And Mr. King, putting both body and soul into the work of collecting funds, made good his promise. California contributed over $1,200,000 gold to the sanitary fund and $34,000 to the Christian fund. The amount was equal to over a million and a half in currency, for nothing but greenbacks was in circulation in the eastern states. California with her gold helped to save the Union. Of this amount $275,000 was collected by Ruel C. Gridley  through the repeated sale of his Austin sack of flour.
When the news of the threatened Civil war reached California, the southern wing of the Democratic press sneered at the idea of any war and declared the reports untrue. During the time that they were denying the reports of war, their friends were secretly planning to secede. When the fact was undeniable that war existed, then they began abusing the government. The majority of the Democratic press took good care to keep within the bounds of martial law. The San Jose Tribune, San Joaquin Republican, Stockton Argus, Visalia Expositor and Merced Express abused the government and the United States troops. They were excluded from the mails by the orders of General Wright and thus suppressed .
During the war this press continued its abuse, and it culminated April 15, 1864, in the destruction of several San Francisco offices by a mob. When the news was received of the assassination of President Lincoln, on the morning of April 15th about 8:00 o'clock, it created intense excitement throughout the loyal state. In San Francisco a body of men rushed to the Democratic Press and smashed things generally, and ended by throwing all of the type out of the window. The crowd howled. Beriah Brown, the editor, started hurriedly for San Leandro. The police dispersed the crowd, but again forming they served the Catholic religious paper, the Monitor  as they had served the Press. Then followed in turn the News Letter, edited by the Englishman Frederick Marriott, and the Occident, published by Zacharaih Montgomery, one of the bitterest secessionists in the state. Burning the printing cases of these papers in the streets, the mob started on the run for the office of the French paper, the Echo de Pacifique. The Alta, owned by Fred MacCrellish, was in a part of the same building. MacCrellish succeeded in pacifying the mob and thus saved a part of the French paper. The police now succeeded in driving back the mob and soon after General McDowell put the city under martial law and United States soldiers guarded all of the streets.
The ships Sawnee and Saginaw were sent to California in August, 1865, to capture the rebel privateer Shenandoah. She had been preying on the commerce of the North Pacific and obtained many prizes. The Panama steamers ran each night without lights and were armed with Dahlgren guns, revolvers and cutlasses, for they were in constant fear of this privateer. No steamships were captured. They would have been a rich prize, for every steamer carried from $1,000,000 to $2,500,000 in gold.
In the spring of 1863 an attempt was made by a party of secessionists to fit up a vessel for privateering purposes and capture the gold of one or more steamers. They also believed that they could stop the exportation of gold to the east . The leaders in the plot were Aubrey Harpending, Ridgley Greathouse and Alfred Rubery. Letters of Marque and captain's commission were issued to Harpending and $250,000 subscribed to finance the scheme. The three men purchased for their purpose a very fast sailing vessel called the Chapman. She had made a record breaking voyage from New York and was bought through an agent named Edward Travers.
The vessel was loaded with two twelve-pound cannon, ammunition and small arms; everything was heavily boxed and marked "machinery," and to avoid suspicion, as they supposed, they took on a large quantity of general merchandise, goods that were salable in Mexico. An able body of seamen were engaged to man the Chapman and twenty picked men, all southerners, were invited to take part in the work. Everything being in readiness for the voyage, the men on the night of March 14th boarded the vessel. "Our clearance papers," said Harpending, "we received from the custom house with a readiness that might have suggested suspicions to more alert minds and the Chapman was certified to sail for Manzanillo with a cargo of machinery and mixed merchandise." The entire plot had been revealed and before the Chapman could put to sea Chief of Police Lees and the naval officer, William Farwell, boarded the schooner from a tug-boat. About the same time two boatloads of armed marines boarded the vessel from the sloop of war Cyane. All of the men were arrested but soon after released, except Harpending, Greathouse and Rubery. They were tried in the Federal court and convicted of an attempt to commit piracy on the high seas. They were sentenced to ten years in a Federal prison. Greathouse and Harpending were shortly released under the amnesty proclamation of President Lincoln. Rubery was pardoned by the President through the intercession of his uncle, John Bright, the great English labor leader .
1. In the election Lincoln received 38,734 votes, Douglas 38,023, Breckenridge 33,975, and Bell 9,136.
2. In 1859 the legislature, then dominated by the Southern men, passed a law permitting a division of the state. The law authorized the South to form an independent state, a Pacific republic, in case the plot failed.
3. Congressman John C. Burch in his letter of January 4, 1861, published in the San Francisco Herald, said: "The people of California should all be of one mind on this subject (a Pacific republic), raise aloft the flag of the hydra-headed cactus of the western wilds and call upon the enlightened nations of the earth to acknowledge our independence and protect us from the wreck of a once noble Union."
4. Says the Sacramento Bee: "One evening James McClatchy was conversing with Edmond Randolph regarding the signs of war. Randolph declared that it was inevitable. He hoped 'that California may be saved from its horrors.' 'All looks well,' he declared, 'but there is great danger,' as Albert Sidney Johnston was at heart a traitor and would give Southerners every opportunity to take possession of the state." Twenty thousand men, he declared, were ready to take up arms in favor of a Pacific Republic. McClatchy that night wrote a letter to Colonel E. D. Baker detailing the facts of the case. Baker, an old friend of President Lincoln, was at once received and Sumner sent to California. Sumner was instructed to leave secretly. Nevertheless, eastern friends of Johnston learned of the movement and immediately, by pony express, sent word to California. Johnston received the letter the night before Sumner's arrival.
5. The Golden Gate the following year, July 27, 1862, was entirely destroyed by fire. On her downward trip off the coast of Mexico the cry of fire was heard and the steamship was immediately run to shore with all speed. They succeeded in reaching the land, but 198 lives were lost and over a million dollars in gold. Many of the passengers wore gold belts filled with gold. Jumping overboard, they sunk like lead.
6. As the steamer lay at the wharf ready to sail, the band began playing "Dixie Land." A lieutenant immediately stopped them. He reported to General Sumner. The general turned white and exclaimed: "Damn it, let them play 'Dixie'; there's where we are going." As the steamer moved toward the Golden Gate, salutes were fired from the forts. The British man-of-war also saluted the General, and her sailors, manning the yards, leaned far out, cheering and waving their hands. General Sumner ordered the band to play "God Save the Queen." England then was friendly. Two years later she favored the Southern confederacy.
7. The pony express was establish in 1860, the first "pony" leaving St. Louis April 3rd. The riders were light, wiry men, and they traveled the entire distance, 2,000 miles, in from eight to ten days. They rode day and night, each man traveling 25 miles. As a rider arrived at the station, another rider was ready and waiting. Jumping into the saddle, he grabbed the mailbags and hastened on. They carried nothing but special letters and dispatches, written upon tissue paper of very light weight. Letters were carried for $5, each not exceeding one ounce in weight.
8. When the war broke out there was a general commotion among the state militia. Many of the members of the various companies were friendly to the South, while others stood firmly for the Union. The Marysville Rifles took the oath of allegiance to the government. They expelled their Captain, who refused to take the oath. The National Guard, San Francisco, offered their services to General Sumner for three months' time to guard the forts. The Stockton Blues disbanded. Immediately the Union members organized a new company, the Union Guard. The ranks were soon filled, and they tendered their services to the government, to serve where called.
9. Among those who enlisted and went east was a company of cavalry known as the "California Hundred." their Captain was Salvator Vallejo, and they wee engaged in twenty-three battles.
10. Born in London, England,
in 1811, his family in 1816 moved to America and later settled
in Illinois. At the age of 19 years young Baker was admitted to
the bar. Two years later he took part as a private in the Black
Hawk war. Later he fought in the Mexican war, 1846. He served
the state in the Senate in 1840 and in 1844. Defeating Abraham
Lincoln, he was sent to Congress. In 1848, he again entered the
United States Senate. With Abraham Lincoln he stumped the states
of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota for Taylor for President.
In San Francisco he landed with his family in 1852. His fame as a lawyer and public speaker had preceded him and he at once took rank with the leading lawyers and speakers of that day. In almost every celebration of note he was the orator. "For," said Attorney General Williams of Grant's cabinet, "Edwin D. Baker was the most eloquent man I ever heard speak. He had a clear, ringing voice, with an easy flow of beautiful language, and withal was an exceedingly handsome man." I have been informed that speaking in a whisper, it could be heard in all parts of the house. Baker was a leading Whig politician, and he was desirous of representing California in the United States Senate. But, popular as he was, the Democratic majority wanted a Union man to represent them. Failing to reach his goal, in 1860 he located in Oregon. The "Webfoot" state that year elected Baker as its United States Senator.
11. When the news was received August 9, 1861, of the federal defeat at Manassas Junction, the rebel citizens of Snellings fired cannon salutes and rejoiced that 10,000 Yankees had been killed.
12. One pastor of the Methodist church, South, Stockton, believed the church so sacred that even the bell should not be rung on July 4th morning, although that had been the usual custom. It had been reported that the pastor, a rabid secessionist, would oppose the ringing of the bell. And the citizens had obtained permission of the trustees to ring it. The pastor, however, locked the doors and refused to give up the keys. A Yankee pioneer, however, crawled in the window and at sunrise the old bell pealed out. The minister, hurrying to the church from the parsonage across the street, attempted to stop the ringing by hanging to the rope. The shipbuilder twisted the bell rope around the pastor's wrist with a vise-like grip, and he soon let go his hold on the rope, crying out with pain. The incident was soon the talk of the town. It caused great excitement, for the secessionists had boasted that the bell should not be rung at sundown. One of the number, Thomas Laspyre, foolishly asserted that if the bell was rung it would be rung over his dead body. The Union men declared that at sundown the bell would be rung or the building would be torn down. During the afternoon a small cannon loaded with powder and scrap-iron was placed in front of the edifice, ready for the fight. At sundown a large crowd began to assemble on the street. Union men smashed in the doors and the bell began its joyful peal. Laspyre attempted to stop the ringer, but a John Sullivan blow sent him reeling through the door onto the sidewalk.
13. The Rev. William Scott,
of Scotch-Irish descent, was born in Tennessee. A highly educated
scholar, especially in the classics, he came to California in
1854 and at once became an associate of the leading minds of San
Francisco. Accepting the call of the Calvary Presbyterian church
at a salary of $5,000 a year, his popularity rapidly increased
until 1856. he then made many enemies and caused a division in
the church by denouncing the acts of the vigilance committee.
He not only denounced the committee, but he prayed for those who
had been persecuted. One morning an effigy was found hanging over
the front door of the church. the doctor was so grieved over the
event that he sent in his resignation. The congregation refused
to accept it. Soon the incident was forgotten. He arose to his
former position as one of the ablest divines of the coast and
one of the most beloved.
After the close of the war Dr. Scott returned to the United States and for several years preached in New York. Strong was the love of many of the members of Calvary for their old pastor. Receiving dismissal cards from that church, they organized in 1870 St. John's Presbyterian church. Dr. Scott accepted their call and he remained in charge until his death in January, 1885. When the congregation removed to the corner of California and Octavia streets, they placed within the building a magnificent memorial window for their late pastor. The church was re-dedicated July 13, 1889.
14. In Golden Gate park there stands a handsome bronze statue of Thomas Starr King, erected at a cost of $15,000. He is regarded as one of the greatest patriots in American history, and he is the only civilian whose memory was officially honored by the federal army and by foreign nations. At the time of his funeral March 7, 1864, minute guns were fired from Alcatraz island and answered by a battery on Union square. The Governor and his staff were in the line of parade. Flags were at half-mast upon all of the private and public buildings and government buildings, including all of the foreign consuls of the city. The shipping in the harbor was also at half-mast, this including the ships of England, Russia, Hamburg, Columbia and France. The pastor thus honored for his work and loyal devotion to his country was born in Boston, Massachusetts, December 16, 1824. His father, a Universalist minister, hoped to see his son enter the ministry. With that object in view his education was planned. He learned rapidly, especially in language. At the age of ten he could read in French and in Latin. when nineteen years old Theodore Parker said of him, "King's a capital fellow, who reads French, Latin, Italian, a little Greek, and now begins German." During this time he was the only support of the family, his father having died in 1849. the young man taught school, did clerking, etc., until 1844. He then entered the ministry and four years later took charge of the famous Hollis street church, Boston, organized in 1732. He there remained until 1859. He was then given a leave of absence because of failing health. Calls were then given him from Chicago, Brooklyn and Cincinnati, but accepting the call from San Francisco, he arrived in April, 1860. Thomas Starr King's fame as an eloquent speaker had preceded him and at every service the edifice was crowded. In the latter part of 1863 a fine large stone church was erected through Starr King's efforts, the congregation during that time also paying off a $20,000 church debt. The new building was dedicated January 10, 1864, and the pastor preached eight sermons within its walls. He died March 4, 1864, while repeating the twenty-third psalm.
15. Ruel C. Gridley in April, 1864, was engaged in the grocery business in Austin, Nevada. As the city election came on he bet a sack of flour with Dr. Herrick that the Douglas-Democrat would be elected mayor. Gridley lost the bet. Its conditions were that the loser was to carry the flour from Austin to Clifton, a distance of a mile and a quarter. At the appointed time Mr. Gridley appeared carrying the flour on his shoulder, neatly trimmed with ribbons and flags. A procession was then formed of citizens of both parties and preceded by a band of music they marched to Clifton. On arrival the saloon keeper invited the crowd in to take a drink. While in the saloon there was much joking regarding this fifty-pound sack of flour. At last Mr. Gridley said, "This crowd of people have had their fun at my expense: let us see now who will do most for the sick and wounded soldiers. We will put this sack of flour up at auction to be sold for cash, with the understanding that the buyer is to return it, to be sold again for the benefit of the sanitary commission." Ready for any kind of excitement, the proposition was quickly accepted. The chairman of the local commission acted as auctioneer. It was sold and resold for $4,400. then taken to Gold Hill, it was sold for $5,225. Taken to other places the sales were lifeless without the inspiration of Mr. Gridley. This patriot then, leaving his business and paying his own expenses, traveled throughout the Pacific coast and a few of the eastern states, selling the famous sack of flour. Mr. Gridley died in Stanislaus county November 24, 1874, of consumption, the result of overwork and exposure during his travels. He was later buried in the Soldiers' Grand Army plot at Stockton. Rawlins Post erected over his grave a magnificent marble monument and life-size statue.
16. William Hall, of the
Merced Democrat, July 24, 1864, was arrested by a squad
of United States Cavalry for uttering treasonable language and
confined at Fort Alcatraz.
The following day C. L. Weller, ex-postmaster and president of the Democratic state central committee, was arrested in San Francisco for uttering treasonable language in a public speech. He also was imprisoned. The Democrats held an indignation meeting in Hays Park and violently denounced the Federal government. After three weeks' confinement Weller took the oath of allegiance and was released.
17. The Monitor was founded by James Brady, so said his son in the Bulletin, 1913. he was a passionate advocate of secession and every issue of his paper bore flaring articles in support of the south. The evening following the assassination of Lincoln, he jumped upon a stand in Montgomery street and making a speech said, "It served Lincoln right because he had gone to the theater on Good Friday, thus insulting one-third of the population of the United States, the Catholics." "The crowd dragged my father from the stand and would have hanged him, but he was rescued by General McDowell and a company of soldiers then marching down the street. The mob then rushed to the office of the Monitor, on Clay Street, and wrecking the office, tried to burn the building."
18. Jefferson Davis realized the importance of shutting off the great gold shipment and said, "It would be more important than many victories in the field."
19. Aubrey Harpending,
then seventy-four years of age, wrote up this story for the San
Francisco Bulletin, October, 1913, together with the famous
Arizona diamond swindle.
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