Chapter XI. That Which Followed After
About the time that the people of California were beginning to feel the trouble arising from the unlimited wealth and power of the great railroad corporation, they discovered what they felt was danger coming from another quarter. This was in the large number of Chinese pouring into the state. Already every town of importance had its quaint Chinese quarter, bits of Asia transplanted to the western hemisphere. Yet these sons of Asia, with their quiet, gliding motions and oriental dress, had been of great service in the development of the new land. Many of the most helpful improvements were rendered possible by their labor, and for years they were almost the only servants for house or laundry work to be obtained. Never did the housewives of the Pacific coast join in the outcry against the Chinese.
Although all this was true, it was also a fact that an American workingman could not live and support his family on the wages a Chinaman would take; and when the white man saw the Chinese given the jobs because they could work cheaply, he became discouraged and angry. Was he to be denied a living in his own country because of these strangers? For this reason the working people became very bitter toward the Chinese.
Their complaints were carried to Washington, and because of them the government finally arranged with China for the restriction of immigration, but not, however, before the matter caused much trouble in California.
During the years 1876-77 times were rightly called "hard" along the Pacific slope. Often laboring men could not get work, and their families suffered. The blame for all this was unjustly given to the Chinese, who were several times badly treated by mobs. The general discontent led at last to a demand for a new state constitution, which many people thought would remedy the evils of which they complained. For twenty-five years the old constitution had done good service. On the day it had been signed, Walter Colton, alcalde of Monterey, wrote thus of it in his diary: "It is thoroughly democratic; its basis, political and social equality, is the creed of the thousands who run the plow, wield the plane, the hammer, the trowel, the spade." Still it had its faults, the greatest of which was the power given the legislature over public moneys and lands, as well as the chance it allowed for dishonesty in voting.
Unfortunately many of the delegates to the convention which was to make the new constitution were foreigners who knew very little of American manners, customs, and laws, and few of them were among the deeper thinkers of the state, men who had had experience in lawmaking. That the new constitution is not much better than the old, many who helped in the making of it will agree. It was adopted in May, 1879. Since that time it has received a number of changes by means of amendments voted for by the people, and in spite of whatever errors it has contained, the state under it has gone forward to a high degree of prosperity.
In 1875, during the administration of Governor Pacheco, the first native state governor, an invitation was extended to native-born boys of San Francisco to take part in the Fourth of July celebration. A fine body of young men were thus assembled, of whom Hittell in his story of San Francisco says, "They were unparalleled in physical development and mental vigor, and unsurpassed in pride and enthusiasm for the land that gave them birth." This gathering led to the founding of the "Native Sons of the Golden West," an organization which now numbers many thousands and of which the great state may well be proud. Later there was organized a sister society of native daughters, and this also has a large membership. As stated in their constitution, one of the main objects of these sons and daughters of the West is "to awaken and strengthen patriotism and keep alive and glowing the sacred love of California."
An event of the utmost importance to the southern part of the state was the completion of the railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which occurred in 1879. Its route lay through the rich valley of the San Joaquin. Work had been carried on from each end of the line, and it was a very happy assembly which gathered to witness the junction of the two divisions, the event taking place at the eastern end of the San Fernando tunnel. This road was afterward extended from Los Angeles eastward by the way of Yuma and Tucson, and is to-day the Southern Pacific Overland. Later the Santa Fe Company built its popular road between Los Angeles and the Eastern states. Both these companies now have lines from Los Angeles to San Diego, and the Southern Pacific has a coast road the length of the state, along which the scenery is of great beauty.
In the history of the state the most pathetic portion is that which relates to the Indians. Bancroft says, "The California valley cannot grace her annals with a single Indian war bordering upon respectability. It can boast, however, a hundred or two of as brutal butcherings on the part of our honest miners and brave pioneers as any area of equal extent in our republic." Miners and settlers coming into the country would take up the waters where the natives fished, the land where they hunted, driving them back to rocky soil, where there was nothing but acorns and roots to support life. As a result the poor, unhappy creatures, driven by hunger, would steal the newcomers' horses and cattle. It is true that the white men depended, in a great measure, upon their animals for the support of their families; but they thought only of their own wrongs, and would arm in strong parties, chase the wretched natives to their homes, and tear down their miserable villages, killing the innocent and guilty alike. The government was the most to blame, because it did not in the first place enact laws for the protection of the Indians in their rights.