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San Francisco Alta California, February 11, 1868



The Presidential Question -- The Hancock Vote of Thanks -- Washington Message -- British Impudence -- The Prince of Wales -- Good Advice to a Senator -- Sundry Items.

WASHINGTON, December 23rd [1867]

The President and Vice President.

EDITORS ALTA: The high and growing consideration in which the Pacific States are held here is evidenced in the fact that both of the great political parties seem to have an idea that a candidate for President or Vice President, in the next canvas, ought to be selected from that part of the country. The latest political gossip is to the effect that Senator Nye may chance to be the Republican nominee for Vice President.

Then, on the Democratic side of the fence, Judge Field, of California, is talked of more and more every day in connection with the Presidency of the United States. Indeed, there is no question that a movement in his favor has been going on quietly over a wide extent of country; and that, without a mention in the newspapers, hardly, as a candidate, he probably stands foremost in the list of candidates to-day. The Democrats are aware that to run a race with General Grant, with any hope of success, they must bring out a competitor that is sound in wind and limb; flaws that were merely damaging in the days of Pierce and Polk would be damning now. They have decided that there is a bill to be filled, and that that bill must be utterly and completely filled, even to the last item. They must have a man whose record as a Union man is unblemished; whose record as a war man is spotless; and one whose conservatism cannot be gain-said. Thus far, Judge Field is the only man they have found who fills this bill. He was a war man and a Union man; his decisions on the test oath and the decrees of the military commissions are quoted in proof of his conservatism. The test oath decision untied the hands of the lawyers all over the South, and restored to them the privilege of earning a livelihood. This secures to him a friendship of unquestionable value. Ultra peace men like Pendleton and Vallandigham are no longer considered at all available by the Democracy -- in the peculiar language of Democracy, "that cat won't fight." McClellan destroyed many Southern Democrats with bullets and cold steel, and embittered the lives and wore out the patience of many more with waiting for him to make up his mind to being to commence to get ready to make a start to ultimately do something at some dim, indefinite time or other. Therefore McClellan will not do. General Hancock fought; and more than this, he hung Mrs. Surratt. Hancock will hardly do. Nasby will not do. Nasby's Democracy is too genuine and too straightforward in these piping times of policy. At this present moment -- not next week, but at this present moment -- Judge Field stands fairest on the Democratic list of names for the Presidency. Whether it will remain so to the end, or whether expediency shall displace him for another man conceived to be still more available, is a thing which modern prophecy may not hope to determine.

The President's Last.

The President's last communication, asking Congress to vote a compliment to Gen. Hancock, has provoked some comment. And not without reason. It glorifies a servant of the Government! -- a subordinate of the glorifier, the supreme head of the nation's military forces -- for what? Simply for magnanimously conceding to citizens of New Orleans rights which are guaranteed to every citizen of the United States by the Constitution! Has a faithful discharge of imperative duty become so rare a thing in the land that its occurrence is matter for glorification? Is it so rare that it astonished the President of the United States and makes him haste to call public attention to the wonder? Is a discharge of duty become so sublime an event that Congress and the President must celebrate it with a national hurrah? Truly, it seems so. But the President loves to be known as the "Defender of the Constitution;" -- it is possible that this is the first time his defence of it has resulted in a success? The whole affair is funny, when you come to look squarely at it.

Congress has not yet voted the thanks the President requested for Hancock. There is a reason, but it has not leaked into print yet, I believe; nor yet into common conversation. But that reason is a potent one, and may possibly hold back the vote of thanks for all time. The facts, as they exist behind the scenes are these: The message and the suggested thanks were intended to do duty as electioneering guns for Gen. Hancock. The Republicans had no interest in their success in that capacity. So it transpired that two resolutions of thanks were drawn up and canvassed by the two political parties in the House. One of these resolutions killed the other before either ever came up for action. One resolution offered the thanks of Congress for the General's faithful discharge of his onerous duties in New Orleans. The other read:

"And be it further Resolved, That the grateful acknowledgments of Congress are also tendered to Gen. Hancock for his able and efficient services in superintending the execution of Mrs. Surratt!"

The Democrats concluded that the vote of thanks which was to have been such a fine stroke of strategy in behalf of the President's candidate had better perish unexpressed than go forth with this appalling compliment dangling to it.

The Big Trees.

Cannot the California Legislature manage somehow to give to that variety of trees which we delight to call the "Washingtonia," a name which will stick? -- a name which the nations will receive? -- a name which even England will respect? Of all the "cheek" that ever I heard of, the information that England (and through her, Europe,) has abolished the title "Washingtonia," conferred upon the Big Trees by America, and renamed them "Wellingtonia," does strike me as the sublimest effrontery that has transpired recently. That is English, all over. After Dr. Kane, steadily and surely destroying his life in a search among polar icebergs for a lost Englishman, yet doing it earnestly and unselfishly, came back a dying man, and showed the great English savans his map of the notable discoveries he had made in those mysterious solitudes of the north, they showed their gratitude for the suffering he had endured for the behest of an Englishman, and their appreciation of his great services in behalf of science and the enlargement of the world's knowledge, by scratching his American names from his discoveries and substituting the names of a gang of British bloods and princes! It was eminently English. Wherever they can stick a name so that it shall glorify anything pertaining to England, there they stick it. You never hear of an Englishman speak of the Hawaiian Islands -- no, he calls them the Sandwich Islands; Cook discovered them second-hand, by following a Spanish chart three hundred years old, which is still in the British Museum, and named them for some one-horse Earl of Sandwich, that nobody had heard of before, and hasn't since -- a man that probably never achieved any work that was really gorgeous during his earthly mission, excepting his invention for confining a slice of ham between two slices of bread in such a manner as to enable even the least gifted of our race to eat bread and meat at the same time, without being bewildered by too elaborate a conjunction of ideas. I suppose, if the real truth were known, some foreigner invented the Sandwich, but England gave it a name, in her usual cheerful fashion. They never even speak of the whale that swallowed Jonah merely as a whale, but as the Prince of Wales. They think it suggests that he was an English whale. If he was that, that is sufficient. That covers up any probable flaws in his character. It is nothing to them that he went about gobbling up the prophets wherever he found them; it is nothing that he interfered with their business -- nothing that he put them to infinite delay, discomfort and annoyance; it is nothing that he disgorged prophets in such a condition, as to personal appearance, that they might well feel a delicacy about preaching in a strange city. No -- being an English whale was sufficient to make this infamous conduct excusable; and being English, they are willing to let the "great fish" pass for a whale, notwithstanding a whale's throat is not large enough to let a man do down. But to come back to the original question, cannot the California Bear make the British Lion put down our bone? or are the bears in our coat-of-arms too busy grabbing the potatoes the Goddess of Liberty is spilling out of her sack?


I telegraphed you a morsel of Washington gossip, to-day, to the effect that Mr. Casserly is not eligible to the U.S. Senate for the same reason that General Shields was not, in his day -- namely, that he has not been an American long enough.

Premising that this gossip may be without foundation, and that Mr. Casserly may yet take his seat in the Senate, I wish to give him some fatherly advise, viz.:

That he ought to come by the Isthmus and collect mileage around the Horn.

He ought not to spend millions in the purchase of volcanoes and earthquakes, and then "retrench" by cutting off the Senate's stationery supplies.

He ought not to keep mean whiskey at his rooms and tell his constituents it is forty years old.

He ought not to draw a salary for his pet Newfoundland dog, under the name and style of "Clerk of the Senate Committee on So-forth and So-forth.

He ought not to get the handsome girls places in the Treasury Department, and tell all the homely ones the places are full.

He ought not to palm off old speeches from the Congressional Globe for 1832 as original, for behold, old speeches are even a more shameless fraud than new whiskey.

He ought not to shirk important votes and then plead those threadbare "sick relatives" in expiation and explanation. Something fresh must be tried -- sick relatives are regarded as wild-cat, now.

He ought to write a signature that another man can read, without direct inspiration from heaven.

And finally, let him never make a speech until he has something to say. This last is about the hardest advice to follow that could be offered to a Senator, perhaps.


A. D. Richardson is here, writing a biography of General Grant.

Mary Harris, the young woman who shot her former lover, a Treasury Clerk, named Burroughs, eighteen months ago, was acquitted on the plea of insanity. The Insane Asylum report, just published, establishes that she has been insane ever since. Once she got out of bed in the night and broke up all her furniture, and on another occasion she tried to stab a man and did succeed in cutting his clothes. She manifests a strong disposition to commit suicide, and she says she has no desire to live.

John C. Fremont has brought suit for the restoration of stock in the Union Pacific Railway of six million dollars, par value, which he alleges he put into Edward Leonard's hands, with the stipulation that it should not be sold until the plaintiff was paid $225,000. He alleges that Leonard has violated the contract and sold the stock.

By the report of the Superintendent of Colored Schools for the cities of Washington and Georgetown, it appears that there are, in all, 55 free colored schools, 57 teachers, 2,748 pupils -- average attendance, daily, 2,500.

The following said to be from a Western paper, is going the rounds:

"KIPOO, nov the 24 1867

"Deer Zur: Kin you inform me wheather nigger suphrage Was carried at the late lection. If such ignernat pepul is to voat I want to leav this God forsaking State and go back to Suthern illinois.

"Yrs trooly."

Miss Adelaid Phillips arrived her to-day. She is with Madame La Grange's opera troupe.

The Christian Statesman, a Philadelphia religious paper, is lending all its energies to the solution of the question, "Is alcohol food?" The editor could save himself a deal of trouble by tarrying in Washington a spell.


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