The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927 Page: 49
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The Mineral Land Question in California, 1848-1866 49
any improper interference on the part of the general government,
with the rights of that large and deserving class of our popu-
lation." And if persisted in "would result in the loss of Cali-
fornia to the Federal Union."'48
The California Senators now introduced a bill to legalize the
existing state of affairs which the government had tacitly sanc-
tioned, and thus remove the technical charge that the miners were
trespassers on the public lands. The bill brought forth a long
discussion. Senator Latham reminded the Senate that the Cali-
fornia Supreme Court had decided that the right to the mines
existed in the state. But the opposition contended that such a
law would be equivalent to a virtual cession of the mineral lands
to the State of California, or to private individuals, without any
remuneration to the Federal government. The bill was rejected.4"
Effect of tLe Civil War on fthe Mining Question. At the out-
break of the Civil War the mining question was again revived.
The costliness of the war and the depleted condition of the
national treasury convinced the Federal authorities that it would
be no more than just to make the valuable gold and silver mines
contribute some revenue to the government. Secretary of the
Interior, Caleb B. Smith, and Commissioner of the General Land
Office, Edmunds, called the attention of Congress to the advis-
ability of taxing the mines. "When multiplied demands upon
the treasury weigh upon it with unprecedented pressure," argued
Commissioner Edmunds, "it could not be deemed unreasonable,
after the hundreds of millions of dollars allowed to be taken free
of cost, if the government should hereafter subject the product
of such mines to a moderate seigniorage."50
California immediately protested against the taxing plan, main-
taining that it would be a "tax on labor and enterprise"; a policy
that would be inexpedient from an economic as well as from a
political point of view, for it would discourage the production of
the precious metals-the sinews of war. The legislature adopted
a resolution opposing the passage of any law taxing the gold and
silver mines. In his annual message of January, 1863, Governor
"4Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 2 Sess., 1487; Alta, January 14, 1859; Bulletin,
November 24, 26, 1858.
"9For the bill and debate see Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., 1754, 1771,
~oH. Ex. Doc., 1, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 445, 489 [11261.
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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/m1/57/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.