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Lot 147

The Impact of the Gold Rush on the Original Inhabitants of the Gold Region

147. UNITED STATES. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, Communicating, in Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate, the Correspondence between the Indian Office and the Present Superintendents and Agents in California, and J. Ross Browne, Esq., together with the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Inclosing the Same to the Department. [Washington, ca. 1860]. 36th Congress, 1st session, Senate Ex. Doc. No. 46, May 17, 1860. 44 pp. 8vo, new plain grey wrappers, printed paper label on upper wrapper. Very fine. Rare in commerce.

     First edition. Norris 415. The report was based on the investigations of J. Ross Browne, a prominent political and literary figure in the California Gold Rush era and beyond, whose writings influenced both Samuel L. Clemens and Herman Melville. Although not specifically concerned with the Gold Rush, this devastating review of the way Native Americans had fared in California in the decade following reports little but desolation, destruction, dissolution, murder, and mayhem. Surveying each reservation individually, Browne concludes that the government’s charges are not prospering on any of them, and indeed are being made miserable by the very agents supposed to help them. In fact, in some cases, as Browne points out, the agents are using their positions to enrich themselves and steal from the Native Americans. As Lina Fergusson Browne points out in her edition of Browne’s letters, this report is “a hard-hitting, bitter, and sarcastic protest against the inhuman treatment the U.S. government was according its helpless wards” (p. xix in J. Ross Browne: His Letters, Journals and Writings, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1969). The last several pages detail all the property available for Native American use on the various reservations. As an indication of the general state in which Browne found the reservations is the comment that a wagon on the Fresno Agency “is good for nothing.”

     This report is under-utilized in research, and there is very little contemporary documentation to be found on the impact of the Gold Rush on Native Americans. ($200-400)

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