Great Men and Great Men’s Achievements Form the Background
for California’s Progress
Every man living
in a civilized community is one of two things---he is a good citizen or
he is a bad citizen. Not all the good citizens, in the true sense
of the term, are those who do not break the laws; nor, inversely, are all
the bad citizens those whose names are written on the rolls of our jails
A man, to be a really good citizen, must put back into the commonwealth something for that which he takes out of it. In return for the right to live and prosper he must give his active or moral support toward building up that commonwealth and making it better.
The one who allows “the other fellow” to do more than his share of work for the general good is shirking his bounden duties. The result: He is not taking advantage of the opportunity to make himself a good citizen. And the mere fact that he has succeeded in keeping out of jail does not make him necessarily “good”. His city, his state and his country demand more.
Looking over the history of San Francisco and California there is one thing that impresses the reader above everything else. This is the spirit of a comparatively small number of men who, ever since “the days of old, the days of gold, the days of forty-nine,” have stood in the forefront in public achievement.
It is the old rule of the survival of the fittest that has been worked out since those days of clipper ships and the Cape Horn passage. Today California stands in the front rank of progressive and enlightened communities, fairly teeming with culture and happiness and blessed with prosperity famed the world over.
It is a Great Western Empire in itself!
Not in one business or profession alone will one find those builders of the commonwealth. They are to be met in every walk of life—more in some, perhaps, than in others, yet in all of them. It is the scheme of things worldly that one pursuit should fit into and supplement another.
No man can accomplish everything necessary to promote civilization – and no one man has done so.
In the pages that follow in this work are set forth in detail the careers of some of the representative men of the West, engaged in all lines of endeavor. To the aspiring young man each sketch holds out a distinct lesson. In each it is endeavored to show by what processes the subject has reached that glittering goal – Success.
Simmered down, the secret is found in the five words -- Intelligence, Ambition, Pluck, Application and Perseverance.
With those five qualifications a man is bound to succeed in nearly anything to which he bends his efforts. Obstacles he brushes aside or surmounts; apparent failure means nothing to him but a renewal of effort; he leaves complaining and lamenting to the less hardy and makes action count.
Among the very best first Americans to land on the shores of San Francisco Bay were the miners. They came by way of Cape Horn. The community was then decidedly Spanish and the footsteps of the padres were still comparatively fresh. On January 24, 1848, James Marshall made his momentous discovery of gold in the tailrace of Sutter’s mill, on the north folk of the American river where Coloma now stands. After several months the news filtered East in a roundabout way and the famous ’49 rush began.
Most of the incoming Argonauts did not tarry long in San Francisco. This was merely an outfitting point, and they continued on up the Sacramento river by boat, and then by horse or wagon or afoot to the fields of wealth. This city being an outfitting point, it of course needed outfitters with pick and shovel, and forthwith took advantage of the opportunity to establish themselves in a mercantile business.
Where gold is in abundance, there is the lodestone to attract settlers. And San Francisco and California were no exception to the rule. Soon shiploads of people began literally pouring in through the Golden Gate. They represented all classes, all minds. Some remained in the city, which was springing up on the sand dunes by the water’s edge with a mushroom-like growth; some went on. And soon the raw gold was coming back to the mart of trade in ever-increasing shipments.
Soon there were, in addition to the traders, lawyers and doctors, bankers and teachers, to say nothing of agriculturists, lumbermen, cattlemen and engineers. The city of San Francisco, clustered as it was at first around the waterfront, began to broaden out. One sand dune after another was surmounted and the tide of civilization swept on to the next. With the opening of the route across the Isthmus Panama vessels began making regular trips into port, and the problem of transporting goods diminished in importance. Then, as the decades rolled on, there followed the stage lines and the pony express, and at length the first transcontinental railroad. And each added stability to the empire that was spring up west of the Sierra mountains.
The medical men helped along the scheme of things by guarding the health of the settlers. Early physicians rode about from mining camp to mining camp with their kits of drugs slung across their backs or thrust into their saddle-bags, ready for anything from a capital operation to the birth of another soul. Quite, unassuming and brave, the doctors did their work and went their way , and mankind was the better for them. The doctor of today is not just like the doctor of yesterday. He is more of a specialist, if not entirely so. And he knows more than physicians even dreamed of in the days of ’49.
In its mining activities California has had three sets of pioneers. First came the crude form of placer mining, wherein the “cream” of the gold deposits was washed from the beds of the mountains streams and from the gravel of the valleys, where search was made for natural “pockets” from which a fortune could be taken in a few hours or a few days. Then a period of rest from the feverish excitement and the gradual decay of those historic old settlements, painted in enduring words with such a sure hand by Bret Harte, followed by the quartz miners and their less picturesque and more businesslike work among the vast mineral deposits of the State. Finally, not so many years ago, there came to the public notice the perfection of a new system of gold dredging, highly profitable. San Francisco and California have many mining operators and engineers today whose reputation is country-wide, and whose operations involve millions. The careers of most of them read like a book of romance.
Agriculturally, California, with its 40,000,000 acres of arable lands, can be surpassed by no other State in the Union. Its early-day grazing pastures and a great many of its forests have given way to blossoming fields, and its rangers and vaqueros have largely been replaced by the man with the hoe. The old Spanish land grants of thousands of varas have been cut up into smaller tracts and men are getting rich on from five to ten acres. Here might be mentioned Captain Sutter, one of the first to discover Sacramento Valley, and who was involuntarily responsible, by reason of the existence of his mill, for the discovery of gold by Marshall.
The cattle business has by no means been throttled, nor is the State behind hand in dairying and poultry and produce raising. Here enter in the exporters of the State’s commodities, men whose ships carry California goods to remote corners of the world. Sailing vessels have in most cases given way to steam, and no longer does the mariner lie hove-to waiting for a favorable breeze. Today fleets of oil steamers also are constantly leaving California’s seaports, carrying the product, crude and refined, to foreign markers. In the State’s fields well after well is being sunk to increase the output and millions untold are invested in this industry alone; competition is keen and the result has been that vast sums are kept in circulation, to add to the wealth of the community and of its industrial leaders.
Into the forest primeval came the woodsman with his ax. He had worked his way westward clear across the continent, had crossed the Rockies and the Sierra, and now he descended upon the pines and redwoods of California. Soon log rafts began floating down the rivers or were towed down the coast, and mills, springing up overnight, turned out finished lumber at an ever-increasing rate. An industry was thus started which since has grown into huge proportions and has extended itself all over the Pacific Coast. (1915) And, as in the case of other lines of endeavor, the burden of this development has fallen upon the shoulders of a few big men, who have devoted money and energy toward blazing the trail.
California would not have all its great power plants, its network of railroads, its steel and concrete bridges, its tunnels and its aqueducts, were it not for its engineers and promoters – and financiers. A host of these pathfinders have placed their marks upon the industries and their development, men whose names are watchwords for scientific progress.
Without capital one may accomplish but little. All the big enterprises that aid in a community’s upbuilding needs must have financial backing. It is therefore no small part that the bankers of California have played in molding its history and furthering its commercial and industrial growth. The early-day bankers started in just like all their fellow-immigrants, with dingy offices and small capital. God dust flowed into their coffers, however, as the miners returned with their earnings, and gradually, as more trade routes were opened up with the East, business began to boom. William H. Crocker, Frank B. Anderson and I. W. Hellman are typical of the strong, resourceful bankers and capitalists of today.
Manufacturers, contractors, brokers, architects, accountants -- all these have helped make many things possible, as have the oil and gas interests and the men behind them; the insurance interests, which protect against poverty after death for the family left behind and against loss from fire or storm or shipwreck at sea, and whose business on the Pacific Coast alone runs away up into the millions annually; and the educators, who have waged unceasing warfare against ignorance.
California’s public school system cannot be excelled. Back through the byways in every direction the educators have gone to establish their centers of learning. With three big universities, dozens of colleges, and other institutions where one may specialize in any subject, the State has worked its way u into the forefront in cutting down the percentage of illiteracy. No one with strength and determination need today remain untutored and untrained.
As the years pass by the auto manufacturers and dealers come to be a bigger and bigger factor in every business community. It was not so many years ago that the public scoffed at those who promised to make a “no pushee, no pullee” vehicle that could be adapted to general or individual needs. We scoffed at aeroplanes and dirigibles, too, but they all have taken their places in our daily life. The automobile business is now one of the biggest in the world; yet is still in its infancy. The electric or gasoline-propelled car has ceased to be a plaything, a toy; it is a public utility. (1915)
Look in what direction one will, one sees sturdy men on whose broad backs, as it were, the world is resting. In every branch of human endeavor they are to be found. Their success has been due to personal effort, backed by the laudable ambition to leave mediocrity behind and become of the forceful few. How diversified are the careers of, for instance, inventors, builders of the telephone and telegraph, officers of the Army and Navy, sales agents and managers, public executives and legislators! Then we find the artists, the musicians and the writers appealing to our aesthetic side, furnishing us with the finer things of life.
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, San Francisco’s great world-show, which this volume helps to commemorate, was not the work of an Aladdin and his Lamp, even though its gorgeousness might have appeared so.
The history of the exposition, like the history of San Francisco and California or of any other State or community, large or small, embodies a succession of personal achievements. It is as if the exposition, in all its splendor of varied beauty, a beauty unsurpassed, were built up as a piece if coral is built up – one particle upon another particle and the whole cemented together, with each human insect adding his mite for the good of all.
Let men band together and they cam accomplish anything.
Finally, the story swings around to the legal fraternity and the part it has played in this drama of the State’s advancements. And the part has been an important one. In many ways it is the most interesting record of all, for it reflects very other phase of endeavor, bringing out into bold relief the high-lights of California’s absorbing history.
No civilization can exist without laws to govern it. This fact was early recognized, here and elsewhere. The ancients inscribed certain “rule for conduct” on stones, setting them up along the principal highways that the public might memorize them. These “rules” were the forerunners of the law. Written later on parchment, they came down through the ages, and aside from certain radical changes consistent with the needs of the times, some of the world-old principles are still in force as the basis for the codes and statutes of later years.
Man’s almost every passion involves in some way the prescribed “rules for conduct.” His liberty, property rights and bequests, his aims and his controversies, run along in keeping with the law or afoul of it at every stage. He must do certain things, and he must not do certain router things, lest he cause society in some way to suffer. This society, the coalition of mankind is built up along certain lines of the greatest known perfection. To go outside these lines were to undermine everything; so he who would go outside them is, in one way or another, restricted or punished.
No profession has developed and brought forth more great and influential men than has the law. In every walk of life the attorney wields his power – through the courts. He makes the statutes, he interprets them, and he oftentimes directs the men who apply them. He is an entire library of sociology, civics and economics personified. The tools of his trade, as it is pointed out in Bishops First Book of the Law, constitute the power that pervades and controls the universe.
California’s brilliant lawyers are legion. Their names are still as familiar as are those of Patrick Henry, Robert Ingersoll and Daniel Webster. They range from the brilliant Justice Stephen J. Field and Elisha O. Crosby, the latter of whom helped introduce into California the English common law to replace the civil law of Roman origin, down through the line of Hall McAllister and Samuel M. Wilson, two of the greatest practitioners of their day; Thomas B. Bishop, one of the original directors of the Hastings College of Law; Reuben H. Lloyd, noted for his general cleverness; General William H. L. Barnes, he of the astounding eloquence, and Creed Haymond, “Father of the California Codes.” down to the strong lawyers of the present day, such as Charles S. Wheeler, Alex. F. Morrison, Peter F. Dunne, Garrett McEnerney, Gavin McNab, Victor H. Metcalf, Judge Harmon Bell, R. M. Fitzgerald, Curtis Lindley, E. S. Pillsbury, E. J. McCutchen, Nathan H. Frank, John S. Partridge, M. C. Chapman and William C. Crittenden, besides those whose careers are treated at greater length hereafter.
To relate at all chronologically the legal history of California, or that part of it made up of the so-called “high-lights,” one is obliged to harken back to the establishment of the missions here in the eighteenth century – for a beginning. The Padres set themselves up in the then little known Northern California at about the time Independence Bell was pealing forth its defiance to King George. Mission Dolores was consecrated June 29, 1776; a few months later, January 12, 1777, Santa Clara mission was founded, and in the same year the town of San Jose, near by, came into being. These dates are of interest, particularly that the founding of San Jose, for this was the first authorized settlement in the State, receiving its authorization from Governor Felipe de Neve, and first town in California to be ruled by a civil government.
Prior to this, California was a part of New Spain, having the Viceroy of Mexico for its governing power. In 1776 it was attached to the Comandancia-General of the internal provinces, but a few years later reverted again to the Viceroy. The laws were made by the King of Spain and his council at Madrid, transmitted to the Viceroy and finally to the Governor. All over California presidios had been established, and couriers carried the orders from the Governor to the officers in command of these posts.
That period in which California was under Spanish rule was one of the most picturesque in its history. When Mexico, after a fierce struggle with the mother country, won her independence in 1822, Alta California, as it was then known, was for a time apparently forgotten. Without courts, the district’s legal controversies were adjudicated by an ecclesiastical body ruled over by Padre Jose Sanchez, then president of the mission. In the latter part of 1836 Mexico made a new set of laws whereby the alcaldes (accolades) were given jurisdiction in certain civil cases. Subsequently these officials held direct rule under a Governor, the last of which, appointed for California by Mexico, was Pio Pico, a highly respected executive.
Meanwhile, Americans had begun to drift into the territory and take up their residence, and when the United States went to war with Mexico a military governor for California was named. The first of these was Colonel Richard B. Mason, whose term of office extended from May 31, 1847, through the following year when California was ceded to the United States, until April 13, 1849.
It remained for General Bennett Riley, who succeeded Colonel Mason as Governor, to establish what was the nucleus of our present judicial system. By Proclamation on June 3, 1849, Governor Riley called for the election of a Superior Court of four judges and a fiscal or Attorney-General, a Judge of the first instance for each district, Alcaldes and Justices of the Peace. In August of the same year John W. Geary was chosen first Alcalde of San Francisco. Peter H. Burnett, Pacificus Ord, Lewis Dent and Jose M. Covarrubias were made Superior Judges, and Frederick Billings was appointed fiscal.
One of the minor Judges, with civil jurisdiction only, was the eccentric William B. Almond, who held sway in San Francisco. Judge Almond had no regular courtroom at first and he often was obliged to hole his sessions outdoors, sometimes in the rain. It is told of him that he allowed only thirty minutes for a trial, and once he had set his mind on a decision, attorneys might as well hold their peace, for no amount of argument would swerve him in the slightest.
Governor Riley’s judicial system was the outcome of a series of events that took place in San Francisco about the beginning of 1849. This was the formation by the citizens of what they chose to term the “Legislative Assembly,” for the purpose of establishing a new form of civil government for this district. The motives of the fifteen men who constituted the assembly were conceded to be conspicuously upright, although their authority was not recognized. Magistrates and other officials were named and plans were made for the calling of a constitutional convention. But at this juncture Governor Riley came forward with his project for creating a judiciary and, after some hesitation, the citizen body fell into line, then gradually declined in power until it disbanded.
The really epochal change in the legal system of California came with the gold rush of ’49. The Argonauts found upon their arrival here a peculiar combination of old customs and new. Americanized as the State was just beginning to appear, there still remained in places the Spanish atmosphere. Legislative enactment was needed, and before long it was secured. But for the time being the courts were “drumhead” affairs of the rough-and-ready sort. San Francisco was the Mecca for the immigrants, and here all the complexities of the early-day life were reflected. Hides were in general circulation as a medium of exchange.
When civilization opens up new pathways there go lawyers, and the stampede toward California was no exception to the rule. Lawyers came aplenty – stern, hardy individual who were destined to go down through the years as molders of a new empire’s government. Their lives were little different from those of the miners, for they were inured to hardships, against which they were forced to struggle unceasingly.
These were the days in which some of California’s most noted lawyers got their start. For instance, Stephan J. Field, who was largely responsible for the establishment of old mining customs as the laws of the State, the founding of community property and the development of the Code of Civil Procedure later on. He stands out conspicuously for his position on the Supreme Court bench of the United States as well as for his historic quarrel with Justice David S. Terry, who later was assassinated.
The first session of the State Legislature, which convened December 21, 1849, stared in to develop the legal system and make it adequate for the public needs. Peter H. Burnett, who came here from Tennessee and shortly afterward became Governor, pointed out the workings of the civil law in the South and suggested that California adopt a similar code, made up of a combination of the common law of England, the English laws of evidence and commerce, the civil law of Louisiana and the Louisiana Code of Practice.
There was strenuous objection to such a suggestion. The majority of the San Francisco bar, then numbering about a hundred members, favored the common law. Finally the English law was modified and transformed into the “American Common Law,” and on April 12, 1850, it went into effect as the “fundamental unwritten law of California.”
But meanwhile the State had been provided with a constitution, ratified in November, 1849, and one that has since called forth much praise for the sturdy citizens that drafted it. The judicial system was defined and a supreme court, district, county and probate and justice courts were established. Jurisdiction in each case also was defined, as was the length of the terms of office.
The constitution was formed with the idea that California soon was to become a member of the Union, and in this the framers were not disappointed. On August 7, 1848, the treaty of peace between the United States and Mexico, by which Upper or Alta California was formally ceded to this country, had been ratified by proclamation of Governor Mason. Immediately after the State had provided itself with a constitution and the Legislature had established itself, General Riley, the Military Governor, resigned from office. Then California began governing itself, although its admission to the Union did not come until September 9, 1850.
The first radical change in the provisions of the original constitution was made in September, 1862. For one thing, the Supreme Court was given two additional members and, as reorganized, its judges were Silas W. Sanderson, Lorenzo Sawyer, John Currey, Augustus L. Rhodes and Oscar L. Shafter, all learned jurists commanding the highest respect. Their terms of office were increased from six to ten years and they were given added jurisdiction, as were also District and County Judges.
For the next seventeen years matters judicial ran along in this way in California; but in 1879 when another constitutional convention met, radical changes were deemed necessary, to keep pace with the times and to weed out certain objectionable features. The Supreme Court was enlarged again, this time to seven numbers, who terms of office were twelve years, and five commissioners were appointed with power to adjudicate causes referred to them by the supreme tribunal; the Court also was divided into two departments.
This convention brought into force the important provision that, in order to expedite the meting out of justice, no judge of a Superior or Supreme Court could draw his monthly salary unless he made affidavit that no case submitted to him more than ninety days before remained undecided.
The constitutional amendments known as those of 1879 went into operation in 1880. Under California’s Constitution, as variously revised, the citizens of the State have secured substantial justice, without being hemmed in by many of the “freak” provisions that hampered the advancement of other States of the Union.
California is today governed by four well-formulated codes – the Political Code, the Penal Code, the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure. (1915) Creed Haymond, as chairman of the Code Commission, with J. C. Burch and Charles Lindley as his associates, wrote the Codes in three years’ time. After they had been submitted to an advisory board they were adopted and went into effect January 1, 1873. They were the first complete Codes ever adopted by any State and afterward were widely copied, notable in the revision of the laws of Japan.
The legal development of California has passed through many stirring periods; it has brought forth many famous cases at bar and many famous lawyers. No State’s judiciary, perhaps, can point to a more picturesque career. Still vivid in the minds of the older San Franciscans are the days of the criminal band of “Hounds” and the famous Vigilance Committees of 1851 and 1856, vigorously fought by courts and bar as being a brake on the approved forms of delivering justice. Those stirring times well ever remain green in memory.
Back over the years stretches the history of California’s great men – men in every walk of life, men destined to make for progress and advancement and who lived out their destinies. To them California owes the fulfillment of its birthright.