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stitution. I am unwilling to withhold from our southern brethren any of the rights given to them by that sacred instrument. If by the operation of the Constitution they have any advantage, they may possess it. . . . I am not one to violate a constitution I have sworn to support, merely to cripple an institution which I condemn. No; take it. But let the people of that distant country have the benefit of its protection extended to them. . . .
. . . This is a peace-offering. It is not proposed to organize a government where the Wilmot proviso will be either applicable or inapplicable. That question comes up when we propose to organize a territorial government. This is an intermediate step between anarchy and territorial government. This is to do what little we can for that country to protect the rights of southern men as well as men of the North; to protect the property of the South as well as of the North. . . .
Mr. DAYTON. Would the gentleman say that the Constitution of the United States can be extended by an act of legislation? ...
Mr. WALKER. I was going to remark that, whether the Constitution proprio vigore, extend there or not, or whether it can be extended over it or not by legislation, there would be no doubt as to the extension of the principles of the Constitution as a legislative act of Congress. There is nothing in the Constitution which is unconstitutional; and, therefore, it would not be unconstitutional. And, therefore, to provide that any of its provisions applicable should be extended, would not be in violation of the Constitution. If, then, we approve of the provisions of this measure, it is clearly constitutional, as far as legislation is concerned.
Mr. DAYTON. May I interrupt the Senator for a moment? I supposed it was a clear point that the Constitution of the United States, being a contract and agreement between sovereign States, could be extended no further than it, by its inherent power, extended itself. No act of legislation could make that compact between sovereign States reach further than to these States. .
Mr. WALKER. . . . But when we extend the provisions of the Constitution to these territories, we do not extend its vigor and its provisions to these localities as a whole, as a compact, but as a piece of legislation on the part of the supreme power of the nation. . . .
I have before remarked, that so far as the protection of life, liberty, personal security, and the rights of property are concerned, the citizen, as such, had the shield of the Constitution there already thrown before
him; and that when he went there, he went with these rights, and entitled to this shield of protection. Now, sir, we propose to enforce these rights, and protect him in the enjoyment of them.
Appendix to the Congressional Globe, 30 Cong., 2 sess. (Blair and Rives, Washington, 1849), 266–268 passim, February 24, 1849.
18. A Forty-Niner (1849-1850)
BY ALONZO DELANO (1852)
Delano's work is a truthful and valuable personal account of the hardships endured in crossing the plains in 1849, and of the trials, failures, and successes of the argonauts, especially in the smaller mining towns. Bibliography: H. H. Bancroft, His
tory of the Pacific States, XVIII, chs. viii-ix passim, especially 161-163.
general rendezvous was to be at St. Joseph, on the Missouri, from which we intended to take our departure. I had engaged men, purchased cattle and a wagon, and subsequently laid in my supplies for the trip, at St. Louis. My wagon I shipped by water to St. Joseph, and sent my cattle across the country about the middle of March,  to meet me at the place of rendezvous, in April. . . .
[May 21.] Our desire to be upon the road induced us to be stirring early, and we were moving as soon as our cattle had eaten their fill, when a drive of a mile placed us upon the great thoroughfare of the gold seekers.
For miles, to the extent of vision, an animated mass of beings broke upon our view. Long trains of wagons with their white covers were moving slowly along, a multitude of horsemen were prancing on the road, companies of men were traveling on foot, and although the scene was not a gorgeous one, yet the display of banners from many wagons, and the multitude of armed men, looked as if a mighty army was on its march; and in a few moments we took our station in the line, a component part of the motley throng of gold seekers, who were leaving home and friends far behind, to encounter the peril of mountain and plain. . . . [June 29.] On leaving the Missouri, nearly every train was an organized company, with general regulations for mutual safety, and with a captain chosen by themselves, as a nominal head. On reaching the South Pass, we found that the great majority had either divided, or
broken up entirely, making independent and helter-skelter marches towards California.
[August 10.] Reports began to reach us of hard roads ahead; that there was no grass at the Sink, or place where the river disappears in the sands of the desert, and that from that place a desert of sand, with water but once in forty-five miles, had to be crossed. In our worn-out condition this looked discouraging, and it was with a kind of dread that we looked to the passage of that sandy plain. At the same time an indefinite tale was circulated among the emigrants, that a new road had been discovered, by which the Sacramento might be reached in a shorter distance, avoiding altogether the dreaded desert; and that there was plenty of grass and water on the route. . . .
[August 11.] . . . There were a great many men daily passing, who, having worn down their cattle and mules, had abandoned their wagons, and were trying to get through as they might; but their woe-begone countenances and meagre accoutrements for such a journey, with want and excessive labor staring them in the face, excited our pity, wretched as we felt ourselves. Our own cattle had been prudently driven, and were still in good condition to perform the journey. Although our stock of provisions was getting low, we felt that under any circumstances we could get through, and notwithstanding we felt anxious, we were not discouraged. . . .
It was decided, finally, that we would go the northern route, although some of our company had misgivings. The younger portion being fond of adventure, were loud in favor of the road....
[August 16.] Beyond us, far as we could see, was a barren waste, without a blade of grass or a drop of water for thirty miles at least. Instead of avoiding the desert, instead of the promised water, grass, and a better road, we were in fact upon a more dreary and wider waste, without either grass or water, and with a harder road before us. . . .
[August 17.] As I walked on slowly and with effort, I encountered a great many animals, perishing for want of food and water, on the desert plain. Some would be just gasping for breath, others unable to stand, would issue low moans as I came up, in a most distressing manner, showing intense agony; and still others, unable to walk, seemed to brace themselves up on their legs to prevent falling, while here and there a poor ox, or horse, just able to drag himself along, would stagger towards me with a low sound, as if begging for a drop of water. My sympathies
were excited at their sufferings, yet, instead of affording them aid, I was a subject for relief myself.
High above the plain, in the direction of our road, a black, bare mountain reared its head, at the distance of fifteen miles; and ten miles this side the plains was flat, composed of baked earth, without a sign of vegetation, and in many places covered with incrustations of salt. Pits had been sunk in moist places, but the water was salt as brine, and utterly useless. . .
The train had passed me in the night, and our cattle traveled steadily without faltering, reaching the spring about nine o'clock in the morning, after traveling nearly forty hours without food or water. If ever a cup of coffee and slice of bacon was relished by man, it was by me that morning, on arriving at the encampment a little after ten.
We found this to be an oasis in the desert. A large hot spring, nearly three rods in diameter, and very deep, irrigated about twenty acres of ground the water cooling as it ran off. . . .
[August 20.] . . . Through the day there was a constant arrival of wagons, and by night there were several hundred men together; yet we learned by a mule train that at least one hundred and fifty wagons had turned back to the first spring west of the Humboldt, on learning the dangers of crossing the desert, taking wisely the old road again. This change of route, however, did not continue long, and the rear trains, comprising a large portion of the emigration, took our route, and suffered even worse than we did. It was resolved that several trains should always travel within supporting distance of each other, so that in case of an attack from the Indians, a sufficient body of men should be together to protect themselves. . . . Reports again reached us corroborating the great loss of cattle on the desert beyond the Sink. The road was filled with dead animals, and the offensive effluvia had produced much sickness; but shortly afterward, our own portion of the desert presented the same catastrophe, and the road was lined with the dead bodies of wornout and starved animals, and their debilitated masters, in many cases, were left to struggle on foot, combatting hunger, thirst and fatigue, in a desperate exertion to get through..
[September 17.] . . . Ascending to the top of an inclined plain, the long-sought, the long-wished-for and welcome valley of the Sacramento, lay before me, five or six miles distant. . . .
In May, 1850, a report reached the settlements that a wonderful lake had been discovered, an hundred miles back among the mountains,
towards the head of the Middle Fork of Feather River, the shores of which abounded with gold, and to such an extent that it lay like pebbles on the beach. An extraordinary ferment among the people ensued, and a grand rush was made from the towns, in search of this splendid El Dorado. Stores were left to take care of themselves, business of all kinds was dropped, mules were suddenly bought up at exorbitant prices, and crowds started off to search for the golden lake.
Days passed away, when at length adventurers began to return, with disappointed looks, and their worn out and dilapidated garments showed that they had "seen some service," and it proved that, though several lakes had been discovered, the Gold Lake par excellence was not found. The mountains swarmed with men, exhausted and worn out with toil and hunger; mules were starved, or killed by falling from precipices. Still the search was continued over snow forty or fifty feet deep, till the highest ridge of the Siérra was passed, when the disappointed crowds began to return, without getting a glimpse of the grand desideratum, having had their labor for their pains. Yet this sally was not without some practical and beneficial results. The country was more perfectly explored, some rich diggings were found, and, as usual, a few among the many were benefitted. A new field for enterprize was opened, and within a month, roads were made and traversed by wagons, trading posts were established, and a new mining country was opened, which really proved in the main to be rich, and had it not been for the gold-lake fever, it might have remained many months undiscovered and unoccupied. . . . From the mouth of Nelson's Creek to its source, men were at work in digging. Sometimes the stream was turned from its bed, and the channel worked; in other places, wing dams were thrown out, and the bed partially worked; while in some, the banks only were dug. Some of these, as is the case everywhere in the mines, paid well, some, fair wages, while many were failures. One evening, while waiting for my second supply of goods, I strolled by a deserted camp. I was attracted to the ruins of a shanty, by observing the effigy of a man standing upright in an old, torn shirt, a pair of ragged pantaloons, and boots which looked as if they had been clambering over rocks since they were made in short, the image represented a lean, meagre, worn-out and woe-begone miner, such as might daily be seen at almost every point in the upper mines. On the shirt was inscribed, in a good business hand, "My claim failed -will you pay the taxes?" (an allusion to the tax on foreigners.) Appended to the figure was a paper, bearing the following words: