The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927 Page: 36
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
especially from the placers, which contained only one crop of gold.
His own bill provided for agents to grant permits for working
the mines without any revenue purposes. His policy, he claimed,
would preserve order among the miners; while the plan of the
committee would place the miners in opposition to the law.7
Neither plan was adopted.
Also President Taylor and his Secretary of the Interior, Ewing,
took considerable interest in the mineral land question. Secre-
tary Ewing recommended that the quartz mines, which required
large capital for their successful working, should be sold; but
the placer mines should be leased on favorable terms, so that
many industrious citizens could work them and pay the rent out
of the proceeds. Hle did not think that the government would
experience difficulties in collecting the rent. In his annual mes-
sage of December 4, 1849, President Taylor recommended that
the gold fields be divided into small tracts "and be disposed of
by sale or lease."8
In the absence of any legislation the military officials in Cali-
fornia, who had charge of all government property in the territory,
adopted the laissez faire policy with regard to the gold fields.
Colonel Mason believed that the miners ought to pay some rent
to the government for the privilege of digging in government
lands, but since he had no instructions to that effect, nor sufficient
soldiers to enforce such rules in such an extensive territory, he
decided not to interfere. General Smith at first intended to expel
all the foreigners from the gold fields. I-Ie admitted that legally
all gold diggers were trespassers, but since Congress always made
distinctions in favor of early settlers by granting pre-emption, he
felt justified in allowing American citizens to work in the mines.
He wrote to the consul at Panama, asking him to inform the other
consuls on the South American coast that the laws of the United
States forbidding trespassing on the public lands would be en-
forced by him in California against all foreigners.' Under the
color of this proclamation many American miners undertook to
drive out the South American and Mexican miners. But General
'Cong. Globe, 30 Cong., 2 Sess., 257-259. Benton held that the gold
mines were a curse and not a blessing to a nation, for they demoralize
8Richardson, Messages, V, 20; Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., App. 22-23.
9. Ex. Doe., 17, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., 704, 707, 708, 710 (573).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927, periodical, 1926; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117142/m1/44/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.