BLTC Press Titles

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The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

A history of the city of San Francisco

by John Shertzer Hittell



This book was written at the request of the committee appointed to manage the celebration in San Francisco of tho Centennial Anniversary of the Declaration of our National Independence, in accordance with a resolution adopted by Congress on the thirteenth of March, 1876, recommending that in every town the delivery of a historical sketch of tho place from N its foundation should be part of the local celebration. It was considered better that, instead of a brief sketch to bo read publicly in an hour, the metropolis on tho Amorican coast of the North Pacific should have a book of several hundred pages. The city furnishes material enough for a history which could nover bo proparod on a more appropriate occasion than in commemoration of tho National Centennial year, especially since it happens to coincide with tho completion of tho first century in the existence of our city. Such a double epoch demanded somo special mark of recognition.

Thero are urgent reasons why works of this kind should be written by pioneers, and while thero are still hundreds of pioneers living to furnish information from their personal reminiscences and from papers that will be lost when they dio. No record, however brilliant in its composition or comprehensive and careful in its statements, could ever be accepted as satisfactory, as to many of the great events that have occurred here on a comparatively small stage of action within tho last thirty years, unless based on the authority of the actors themselves—who, with highly-wrought feelings, often played for tho great stake of fortune, and sometimes for tho still greater one of life, running through a succession of rapid and startling vicissitudes. "Whatever misfortunes havo overtaken the individual citizens, they have the consolation of seeing that California has advanced with a swift and grand prosperity, and that they have participated in one of the most imposing pageants ever enacted on the stage of universal history.

The scenes which I must try to depict for the reader will show a multitude of figures and many phases of passion. A, host of adventurers flocking from the centers of civilization on the shores of the Atlantic, half across the world, to a remote corner on the coast of what was then the semi-barbarous Pacific, coming to make a brief stay iu the rude search for gold, brought a high culture with them, and suddenly lifted their new homo to an equal place among the most enlightened communities. The early American settlers in California, instead of being, as many persons at a distance supposed they would bo, the mere offscourings of a low rabble, were, in a largo proportion, men of knowledge and capacity; and if generally inexperienced in high station and serious responsibility, yet not incompetent for them. At brief notice tbey organized a stato, complete in all its parts. As if by magic, their touch or their influence created magnificent cities; clipper ships, that cast tho boasted Indiamen of England into disrepute; two railroads, connecting tho Atlantic with the Pacific; a line of ocean steamers, connecting Asia with America, and a telegraph line from tho Golden Gate to the Mississippi.

By their help, a village so insignificant that it had scarcely a mention on the map, grow till it became a leading center of population, commerce, industry, wealth, luxury, and of intellectual, political, and financial activity. They saw the indigenous chaparral give way to tents, these to cloth-lined wooden buildings, and these to public and private palaces that rival the homes of European princes. Unablo to find suitable room upon the land, they built a thousand houses and miles of street upon piles, rivaling the exploits of Venice and Amsterdam in encroaching upon the sea. But since this work, whon first done in haste, lacked the character of permanence, the

solid earth was moved out to give an everlasting foundation to the structures erected upon places once occupied by tho bay. "Under their labor, a hundred hills were cut down and transported to fill as many valleys, and thus a spacious, level and solid site was made by costly art where nature had but little save steep ridge, unsightly ravine, swamp, mud-flat and deep bay.

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