The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927 Page: 37
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The Mineral Land Question in California, 1848-1866 37
Riley declared that no persons, neither American citizens nor for-
eigners, had any right to dig gold in California on government
land; but until Congress should legislate in this matter, he would
not permit any class of miners to monopolize the gold fields.10
Attitude of California to the Mineral Land Question. The
question of the regulation of the gold fields attracted great in-
terest in California. The discussion on the subject at the con-
stitutional convention of 1849 indicates that the general senti-
ment of the delegates, particularly from the mining districts, was
in favor either of free mining, or government regulations for the
benefit of the state. One resolution requested Congress to allow
the free use of the mineral lands to all American citizens. An-
other resolution recommended that Congress should by legislative
enactment throw open the placer mines to all people, at the pay-
ment of five dollars a month for the permit to dig. The income
from this source was to be turned over to the State of California.
Some favored the entire relinquishment of the mines to the state."
The first legislature took considerable interest in the mining
question. In the assembly two reports were submitted by a select
committee, advocating that the privilege of working the mines
should be restricted to American citizens, and foreigners who had
legally declared their intention to become citizens. The argument
was that California had been acquired at the expense of the Amer-
ican nation, hence the benefits from this acquisition should accrue
to Americans only. It was also argued that most of the foreign
miners were adventurers, peons of low character, who might
jeopardize the morals of the young Americans, and in time of war
a large foreign population in California would prove a positive
'danger to the safety of the state. On the question of the dis-
position of the mineral lands the committee could not agree. The
majority was not opposed to leasing or even selling the mineral
lands in small tracts. But the minority report opposed the policy
of leasing as well as selling, believing that either system would
result in the monopolization of all the best placers in the hands
of the capitalists. The policy advocated in the minority report
was to let the American citizens work the mines freely without
.a tax other than what might be necessary to secure them some
"1Ibid., 788-789 (573); Sacramento Placer Times, July 9, 1849.
1Browne, Debates, 430-431, 461, 462, 463-464.
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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/m1/45/: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.