The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927 Page: 41
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The Mineral Land Question in California, 1848-1866 41
would not brook any interference.21 The Whig state convention
adopted a resolution favoring the retention of the mineral lands
by the government, "for the benefit of the miners, to be worked
by ihem, free from any tax or toll whatever."22 In their mes-
sages to the legislature Governors McDougal and Bigler deprecated
the policy of leasing or selling the mineral lands.23
While the majority of the people of California opposed the
leasing or selling the gold fields, there was, however, no unanimity
of opinion on any other policy. A convention of miners and set-
tlers was held in Sacramento, but the opinions voiced there were
too dissimilar to lead to a well digested plan for the regulation
of the mineral lands. Some held that the rules and regulations
adopted by the miners were working satisfactorily; others, how-
ever, held that some definite legislation was needed to unify the
mining regulations. But the question was who should legislate,
Congress or the state legislature. It was contended that for the
want of necessary experience Congress could not legislate properly
for the mineral lands, hence it should relinquish them to the
The determined opposition of California to their former plan
convinced President Fillmore and Secretary Stuart that the min-
eial land question "is a subject surrounded by great difficulties."
They now recommended to Congress to leave the gold fields open
to the industry of all American citizens "until further experience
shall have developed the best policy to be ultimately adopted in
regard to them." "It is safer to suffer the inconvenience that
now exists, for a short period," said the President, "than by pre-
mature legislation to fasten on the country a system founded in
error, which may place the whole subject beyond the future con-
trol of Congress."25 The policy of laissez faire recommended
"Cal. Legislature Jours., 1851, 1021. The resolution and long preamble
were printed in the Pacific News, January 29, 1851.
"Davis, Political Conventions in California, 13.
"Cal. Sen. Jour., 1852, 17, 78-79.
"'Alta, March 1, August 5, 13, 1851; Herald, June 6, 1851; Picayune,
September 18, October 11, 1851; Pacific News, March 6, 1851; Sacramento
Union, January 26, 1852.
2"Richardson, Messages, V, 127; H. Ex. Doc., 2, 32 Cong., 1 Sess., 501
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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/m1/49/: accessed March 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.