BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Filibusters and financiers

by William Oscar Scroggs

Excerpt:

The filibusters left Sftfl TWiriflco in Ififtl- At Panama many friends of Flores and other Spanish-American adventurers joined them. On reaching the coast of Ecuador they landed, captured Guayaquil, and marched on Quito. The fact that the Americans had a separate camp from the rest of Flores' supporters seems to indicate that the two elements were already objects of mutual suspicion, and one morning the Americans awoke to find themselves surrounded by their Latin allies, who were strongly protected by entrenchments and barricades. Blood had proved thicker than water. The rival factions had effected a reconciliation and had now united to get rid of the newcomers. The latter were informed that they would be disarmed and sent home, but after being marched back to Guayaquil they received free passage only as far as Panama, where they were left to shift for themselves. A number straggled back to California, among them their leader, Alex Bell, who died in San Francisco in 1859.1

In this period eyer^tenth_maji_ that one met in California was a Frenchman, jand this nationality constituted a very peculiar and at the same time an important element of the population. While Irish, Germans, and Mexicans contributed a labouring population, fitted for life on the ranch or in the mines, the French contributed an urban element, including all sorts and conditions of men, from the noble marquis to the humblest peasant. Many of these had left their native country because of the political

1 This account is taken from Horace Bell's Reminiscences of a Ranger in Southern California, 203 ff. (Los Angeles, 1881.)

troubles of 1848, and a large proportion of them had received excellent military training. After the gold discoveries the French were among the earliest to reach the Pacific coast, as there was a large number of them in the near-by Spanish-American countries and the Pacific islands. French wines, brandies, canned goods, and preserved fruits brought good prices in the mining regions, and vessels laden with such cargoes afforded an available means of reaching the gold fields.1 Free tickets to California were offered in Paris as lottery prizes, and the advertisement of such prizes served as a further stimulus to emigration. Some five hundred persons actually drew such tickets,2 and came to the Pacific coast to seek their fortunes, The lot of these immigrants was unduly hard. Slow to become assimilated, and having no desire for naturalization, they herded to themselves, while British, Germans, and "Scandinavians became rapidly Americanized. The French complained, not without cause, that the Americans were more kindly disposed toward these other nationalities, but they were themselves partly to blame. Refusing to become citizens, they had little influence with the authorities, with the result that ruffians drove them from their mining claims, and there were few chances for them to gain a livelihood in a frontier town like San Francisco. T hey_forn3ed». therefore, a clannish and sorely discontented element of the population, and were fine material for exploitation by some of their adventurous countrymen. In due time several of these exploiters appeared on the scene.

In the same year in which Walker reached San Francisco there arrived two French noblemen, the Marquis Charles de Pindrayjand Count Gaston Raoul de Raousset-Boulbon. These men were not made for our era. In Middle Ages they would undoubtedly have passed for peerless knights, but the verdict of these more prosaic times denounces them as prodigal sons who had wasted their sub

i Daniel Levy, Lea Francaia en Californie, 107 (San Francisco, 1884) ; Soule, Gihon, and N is bet. Annate of San Francieco, 401-5.

* John S. Hittell, San Francisco, 185-7. (San Francisco, 1878.)

stance in riotous living and had then gone forth into a far country. De Pindray was born of a noble family of Poitou, and is described as being handsome, eloquent, full of courage and energy, with the strength of a giant and a skill at handling weapons which gained him a great reputation in France as a duellist, and had brought him all too many victims. Such virile qualities gave him an incontestable advantage in affairs with the gentler sex, and he was by no means remiss in his gallantries. But when this gay cavalier arrived in San Francisco from a journey over the plains, he was quite penniless, and for a time was hard put to it to get his daily sustenance. Thanks to his excellent marksmanship, he was enabled to eke out a living by supplying the market with bear meat and other game, but his chivalrous nature rebelled at this butcher's business, and he began to cast about in his mind for some achievement more in keeping with his noble breeding. In his discontented compatriots he found material to his hand for a somewhat venturesome undertaking an Mexico. The Mexican government had issued a call for volunteers against the Apache Indians, who were committing depredations in the mining regions of Sonora. In return for their services these volunteers were to receive a grant of valuable lands, which they were supposed to colonize. It seems to have been the purpose of the government to plant settlements which would serve as a buffer between the Indians of the Sonoran desert and the Mexican villages in the more habitable regions. De Pindray made the tavern of his countryman Paul Niquet his headquarters, and in a very short time had raised a company of volunteers and had secured sufficient funds to provide a ship. As the Mexicans had not yet recovered from the sting of their defeat by the United States, they had stipulated that Americans should be excluded, and the adventurers were all Frenchmen. While his plans were maturing De Pindray is said to have approached Count Raousset-Boulbon and invited him to join the enterprise. The latter declined, as he was at that moment concocting a similar scheme of his own in which he would not have to share the glory and rewards with another.


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