What the railroad will bring us
by Henry George
first published in Overland Monthly, vol.1,
October 1868, No.4
UPON the plains this season railroad building is progressing with a rapidity never before known. The two companies, in their struggle for the enormous bounty offered by the Government, are shortening the distance between the lines of rail at the rate of from seven to nine miles a day-almost as fast as the ox teams which furnished the primitive method of conveyance across the continent could travel. Possibly by the middle of next spring, and certainly, we are told, before mid-summer comes again, this “greatest work of the age” will be completed, and an unbroken track stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Though, as a piece of engineering, the building of this road may not deserve the superlative terms in which, with American proneness to exaggeration, it is frequently spoken of, yet, when the full effects of its completion are considered, it seems the “greatest work of the age,” indeed. Even the Suez Canal, which will almost change the front of Europe and divert the course of the commerce of half the world, is, in this view, not to be compared with it. For this railroad will not merely open a new route across the continent; it will be the means of converting a wilderness into a populous empire in less time than many of the cathedrals and palaces of Europe were building, and in unlocking treasure vaults which will flood the world with the precious metals. The country west of the longitude of Omaha, all of which will be directly or indirectly affected by the construction of the railroad, (for other roads must soon follow the first) is the largest and richest portion of the United States. Throughout the greater part of this vast domain gold and silver are scattered in inexhaustible profusion, and it contains besides, in limitless quantities, every valuable mineral known to man, and includes every variety of soil and climate.
The natural resources of this country are so great and varied, the inducements which it offers to capital and labor are so superior to those offered anywhere else, that when it is opened by railroads placed, as it soon will be, within a few days’ ride of New York, and two or three weeks’ journey from Southampton and Bremen, immigration will flow into it like pent-up waters seeking their level, and States will be peopled and cities built with a rapidity never before known, even in our central West. In the consideration of the effects of this migratory movement; of the economical, social and political features of these great commonwealths shortly to be called into vigorous being, and of the influences which their growth will exert upon the rest of the Union and the rest of the world; of the changes which must follow the movement of the centre of population and power Pacific-wards, a bound less and most tempting field for speculation is opened up; but into it we cannot enter, as there is more than enough occupy us in the narrower range suggested by the title of this article.
What is the railroad to do for us?–this railroad that we have looked for, hoped for, prayed for so long?
Much as the matter has been thought about and talked about; many as have been the speeches made and the newspaper articles written on the subject, there are few of us who really comprehend all it will do. We are so used to the California of the stage-coach, widely separated from the rest of the world, that we can hardly realize what the California of the railroad will be—the California netted with iron tracks, and, almost as near in point of time to Chicago and St. Louis, as Virginia City was to San Francisco when the Washoe excitement first commenced, or as Red Bluff is now. The sharpest sense of Americans–the keen sense of gain, which certainly does not lose its keenness in our bracing air–is the first to realize what coming with our railroad. All over the State, land is appreciating–fortunes are being made in a day by buying and parceling out Spanish ranches; the Government surveyors and registrars are busy; speculators are grappling the public domain by the hundreds of thousand of acres; while for miles in every direction around San Francisco, ground is being laid off into homestead lots. The spirit of speculation, doubles, trebles, quadruples the past growth of the city in its calculations, and then discounts the result, confident that there still remains a margin. And it is not far wrong. The new era will be one of great material prosperity, if material prosperity means more people, more houses, more farms and mines, more factories and ships. Calculations based upon the growth of San Francisco can hardly be wild. There are men now in their prime among us who will live to see this the second, perhaps the first city on to the continent. This, which may sound like the sanguine utterance of California speculation, is simply a logical deduction from the past.
After the first impulse which settled California had subsided, there came a time of stagnation, if not of absolute decay. As the placers one after another were exhausted, the miners moved off; once populous districts were deserted, there are probably but few of us who once flourishing mining towns fell into ruin, and it seemed to superficial observers as though the State had passed the acme of her prosperity. During this period quartz mining was being slowly developed, agriculture steadily increasing in importance, and manufactures gaining a foot-hold; but the progress of these industries was slow; they could not at once compensate for the exhaustion of the placer mines; and though San Francisco, drawing her support from the whole coast, continued to grow steadily if not rapidly, the aggregate population and wealth of the State diminished rather than increased. Through this period we have passed. Although the decay of portions of the mining regions still continues, there has been going on for some time a steady, rapid development of the State at large–felt principally in the agricultural counties and the metropolis, but which is now beginning to make itself felt from one end of the State to the other. To produce this, several causes have combined, but prominent among them must be reckoned the new force to which we principally and primarily look for the development of the future—rail-roads. This year–during which more has been done in railroad building and railroad projecting than in all previous years combined–the immediate and prospective influence of this new force, the great settler of States and builder up of cities, has first been powerfully felt. This year we have received the first great wave of the coming tide of immigration, the country has filled up more rapidly than for many years before, more new farms have been staked off and more land sold. And this year a spirit of sanguine enterprise has sprung from present prosperity.
It is not only the metropolis that is hopeful. Sacramento, Stockton and Marysville feel the general impulse. Oakland is laying out, or at least surveying, docks which will cast those of Jersey City, if not of Liverpool, into the shade; Vallejo talks of her coming foreign commerce, and is preparing to load the grain of the Sacramento and Napa valleys into ships for all parts of the world; and San Diego is beginning to look forward to the time when she will have steam communication with St. Louis and New Orleans on the one hand, and China and Japan on the other,–and be the second city on the coast. Renewed interest is being taken in mining–new branches of manufacture are being started. All over it is felt that the old era of stage coaches and ox and mule transportation is rapidly passing away, and that the locomotive, soon to penetrate the State in all directions, will in future carry the wheat to the wharf, the ore to the mill, the timber to the mine; supply the deficiency of navigable streams, open up millions of acres of the best fruit and grain lands in the world, and make accessible and workable thousands of rich mines.
In San Francisco the change is especially observable, and no one who walks our streets can fail to be struck with the stirring atmosphere of rapid growth. In the crowded avenues and squares, the bustling business air of the centre, the rapidly rising buildings of the suburbs; in new manufactories, docks and wharves, he will everywhere find evidence that San Francisco is fast rising to the rank of a great metropolis.
To the old resident, the growth of this city during the past few years in which she has taken her second start seems sufficiently marvellous. It does not seem long ago when Market street was blocked below Third by a huge sand dune; when the walk to Russ Garden was esteemed a “Sabbath day’s journey;” when the “old road” and the “new road” led past nursery, garden, swamp and sandhill to the suburban village of the Mission; when Mason street bounded civilization on one side and South Park on the other; when the Rassette and International were crack hotels, the Queen City and the Antelope ran to Sacramento, and the gun of the Panama steamer roused the whole town–and when (inevitable reflection) land enough to make a millionaire now might have been had for a song. In striking contrast with these memories of the San Francisco of but a few years back is the widespreading, well built city of the present, whose dwellings, workshops and wharves already straggle past points which ten years ago only the daring would have thought they could reach during the present generation.
Yet the growth of San Francisco has hardly commenced–growing now with greater rapidity than ever, her greatest growth will date from the completion of the railroad next year. The San Francisco of the new era will be a city compared with which the San Francisco of the present is only a little village.
Look for a moment at the geographical position of this city, and all doubt as to her future rank will be dispelled. There is in the whole world no city–not even Constantinople, New Orleans, or Panama–which possesses equal advantages. From San Diego to the Columbia river, a stretch of over 1000 miles of coast, the bay of San Francisco is the only possible site for a great city. For the whole of the vast and rich country behind, this is the only gate to the sea. Not a settler in all the Pacific States and Territories but must pay San Francisco tribute; not an ounce of gold dug, a pound of ore smelted, a field gleaned, or a tree felled in all their thousands of square miles, but must, in a greater or less degree, add to her wealth. She must be the importer, the banker, the market, the centre of every kind, for all the millions who are shortly to settle this territory. She will be not merely the metropolis of the Western front of the United States, as New York is the metropolis of the Eastern front, but the city, the sole great city–relatively such a city as New York, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia, Richmond and Charleston, with many a coast and inland city rolled into one, would be. The Atlantic shore line is indented with bays and navigable rivers, but from San Diego to the Columbia on the Western coast there is but one bay San Francisco–and the only navigable rivers are those which empty into it. For a thousand miles north and south of San Francisco no cities are possible to become her rivals as the seaboard cities from Maine to South Carolina rival New York. On this single bay the whole business of the coast must be concentrated.
And then, San Francisco has all the advantage of the start. When New York had the same population that San Francisco has at present, Philadelphia was of equal size, Boston and Baltimore were considerable rivals, and the foreign commerce of the East was divided between half a dozen cities. But while San Francisco has today a population of 140,000, from Panama to Alaska there is not a town which, compared with her, is more than an embarcadero, and from Panama to Alaska her influence will be felt in preventing the growth of other cities, by drawing to herself business which should naturally belong to them. Great cities draw to themselves population, business, capital, by the law of attraction–the law that “unto him that hath shall be given;” they prevent the growth of rivals just as the great tree with its wide-spreading branches and deep-striking roots prevents the growth of the sapling over which it casts its shadow.
The start of San Francisco–the concentration of capital and business which is inevitable here–will enable her to draw support from the whole Pacific, stunting cities which might otherwise become her rivals; and when she gets free-trade (as she one day will) she will become the great financial and commercial centre of all the Pacific coasts and countries.
Considering these things, is it too much to say that this city of ours must become the first city of the continent; and is it too much to say that the first city of the continent must ultimately be the first city of the world? And when we remember the irresistible tendency of modern times to concentration remember that New York, Paris and London are still growing faster than ever–where shall we set bounds to the future population and wealth of San Francisco; where find a parallel for the city which a century hence will surround this bay?
The new era into which our State is about entering–or, perhaps, to speak more correctly, has already entered–is without doubt an era of steady, rapid and substantial growth; of great addition to population and immense increase in the totals of the Assessor’s lists. Yet we cannot hope to escape the great law of compensation which exacts some loss for every gain. And as there are but few of us who, could we retrace our lives, retaining the knowledge we have gained, would pass from childhood into youth, or from youth into manhood, with unmixed feelings, so we imagine that if the genius of California, whom we picture on the shield of our State, were really a sentient being, she would not look forward now entirely without regret. The California of the new era will be greater, richer, more powerful than the California of the past; but will she be still the same California whom her adopted children, gathered from all climes, love better than their own mother lands; from which all who have lived within her bounds are proud to hail; to which all who have known her long to return? She will have more people; but among those people will there be so large a proportion of full, true men? She will have more wealth; but will it be so evenly distributed? She will have more luxury and refinement and culture; but will she have such general comfort, so little squalor and misery; so little of the grinding, hopeless poverty that chills and cramps the souls of men, and converts them into brutes?
Amid all our rejoicing and all our gratulation let us see clearly whither we are tending. Increase in population and in wealth past a certain point means simply an approximation to the condition of older countries the Eastern States and Europe. Would the average Californian prefer to “take his chances” in New York or Massachusetts, or in California as it is and has been? Is England, with her population of twenty millions to an area not more than one-third that of our State, and a wealth which per inhabitant is six or seven times that of California, a better country than California to live in? Probably, if one were born a duke or a factory lord, or to any place among the upper ten thousand; but if one were born among the lower millions–how then?
And so the California of the future the California of the new era will be a better country for some classes than the California of the present; and so too, it must be a worse country for others. Which of these classes will be the largest? Are there more mill owners or factory operatives in Lancastershire, more brown stone mansions, or tenement rooms in New York? With the tendency of human nature to set the highest value on that which it has not, we have clamored for immigration, for population, as though that was the one sole good. But if this be so, how is it that the most populous countries in the world are the most miserable, most corrupt, most stagnant and hopeless? How is it that in populous and wealthy England there is so much more misery, vice and social disease than in her poor and sparsely populated colonies? If a large population is not a curse as well as a blessing, how was it that the black-death which swept off one-third of the population of England produced such a rise in the standard of wages and the standard of comfort among the people?
We want great cities, large factories, and mines worked cheaply, in this California of ours! Would we esteem ourselves gainers if New York, ruled and robbed by thieves, loafers and brothelkeepers; nursing a race of savages fiercer and meaner than any who ever shrieked a war-whoop on the plains; could be set down on our bay tomorrow? Would we be gainers, if the cotton-mills of Massachusetts, with their thousands of little children who, official papers tell us, are being literally worked to death, could be transported to the banks of the American; or the file and pin factories of England, where young girls are treated worse than ever slaves on Southern plantations, be reared as by magic at Antioch? Or if among our mountains we could by wishing have the miners, men, women and children, who work the iron and coal mines of Belgium and France, where the condition of production is that the laborer shall have meat but once a week—would we wish them here?
Can we have one thing without the other? We might, perhaps. But does human nature differ in different longitudes? Do the laws of production and distribution, inexorable in their sphere as the law of gravitation in its lose their power in a country where no rain falls in the summer time?
For years the high rate of interest and the high rate of wages prevailing in California have been special subjects for the lamentation of a certain school of local political economists, who could not see that high wages and high interest were indications that the natural wealth of the country was not yet monopolized, that great opportunities were open to all–who did not know that these were evidences of social health, and that it were as wise to lament them as for the maiden to wish to exchange the natural bloom on her cheek for the interesting pallor of the invalid? But however this be, it is certain that the tendency of the new era—the more dense population and more thorough development of the wealth of the State—will be to a reduction both of the rate of interest and the rate of wages, particularly the latter. This tendency may not, probably will not, be shown immediately; but it will be before long, and that powerfully, unless balanced and counteracted by other influences which we are not now considering, which do not yet appear, and which it is probable will not appear for some time yet.
The truth is, that the completion of the railroad and the consequent great increase of business and population, will not be a benefit to all of us, but only to a portion. As a general rule (liable of course to exceptions) those who have it will make wealthier; for those who have not, it will make it more difficult to get. Those who have lands, mines, established businesses, special abilities of certain kinds, will become richer for it and find increased opportunities; those who have only their own labor will be come poorer, and find it harder to get ahead–first, because it will take more capital to buy land or to get into business; and second, because as competition reduces the wages of labor, this capital will be harder for them to obtain.
What, for instance, does the rise in land mean? Several things, but certainly and prominently this: that it will be harder in future for a poor man to get a farm or a homestead lot. In some sections of the State, land which twelve months ago could have been had for a dollar an acre, cannot now be had for less than fifteen dollars. In other words, the settler who last year might have had at once a farm of his own, must now either go to work on wages for some one else, pay rent or buy on time; in either case being compelled to give to the capitalist a large proportion of the earnings which, had he arrived a year ago, he might have had all for of himself. And as proprietorship is thus rendered more difficult and less profitable to the poor, more are forced into the labor market to compete with each other, and cut down the rate of wages—that is, to make the division of their joint production between labor and capital more in favor of capital and less in favor of labor.
And so in San Francisco the rise in building lots means, that it will be harder for a poor man to get a house and lot for himself, and if he has none that he will have to use more of his earnings for rent; means a crowding of the poorer classes together; signifies courts, slums, tenement-houses, squalor and vice.
San Francisco has one great advantage—there is probably a larger proportion of her population owning homesteads and homestead lots than in any other city of the United States. The product of the rise of real estate will thus be more evenly distributed, and the great social and political advantages of this diffused proprietorship cannot be overestimated. Nor can it be too much regretted that the princely domain which San Francisco inherited as the successor of the pueblo was not appropriated to furnishing free, or almost free, homesteads to actual settlers, instead of being allowed to pass into the hands of a few, to make more millionaires. Had the matter been taken up in time and in a proper spirit, this disposition might easily have been secured, and the great city of the future would have had a population bound to her by the strongest ties–a population better, freer, more virtuous, independent and public spirited than any great city the world has ever had.
To say that “Power is constantly stealing from the many to the few,” is only to state in another form the law that wealth tends to concentration. In the new era into which the world has entered since the application of steam, this law is more potent than ever; in the new era into which California is entering, its operations will be more marked here than ever before. The locomotive is a great centralizer. It kills towns and builds up great cities, and in the same way kills little businesses and builds up great ones. We have had comparatively but few rich men; no very rich ones, in the meaning “very rich” has in these times. But the process is going on. The great city that is to be will have its Astors, Vanderbilts, Stewarts and Spragues, and he who looks a few years ahead may even now read their names as he passes along Montgomery, California or Front streets.–With the protection which property gets in modern times–with stocks, bonds, burglar-proof safes and policemen; with the railroad and the telegraph after a man gets a certain amount of money it is plain sailing, and he need take no risks. Astor said that to get his first thousand dollars was his toughest struggle; but when one gets a million, if he has ordinary prudence, how much he will have is only a question of life. Nor can we rely on the absence of laws of primogeniture and entail to dissipate these large fortunes so menacing to the general weal. Any large fortune will, of course, become dissipated in time, even in spite of laws of primogeniture and entail; but every aggregation of wealth implies and necessitates others, and so that the aggregations remain, it matters little in what particular hands. Stewart, in the natural course of things, will die before long, and being childless, his wealth will be dissipated, or at least go out of the dry goods business. But will this avail the smaller dealers whom he has crushed or is crushing out? Not at all. Some one else will step in, take his place in the trade, and run the great money-making machine which he has organized, or some other similar one.
Stewart and other great houses have concentrated the business, and it will remain concentrated. Nor is it worth while to shut our eyes to the effects of this concentration of wealth. One millionaire involves the little existence of just so many proletarians. It is the great tree and the saplings over again. We need not look far from the palace to find the hovel. When people can charter special steamboats to take them to watering places, pay four thousand dollars for the summer rental of a cottage, build marble stables for their horses, and give dinner parties which cost by the thousand dollars a head, we may know that there are poor girls on the streets pondering between starvation and dishonor.
When liveries appear, look out for bare-footed children. A few liveries are now to be seen on our streets; we think their appearance coincides in date with the establishment of the almshouse. They are few, plain and modest now; they will grow more numerous and gaudy—and then we will not wait long for the children—their corollaries.
But there is another side: we are to become a great, populous, wealthy community. And in such a community many good things are possible that are not possible in a community such as ours has been. There have been artists, scholars, and men of special knowledge and ability among us, who could and some of whom have since won distinction and wealth in older and larger cities, but who here could only make a living by digging sand, peddling vegetables, or washing dishes in restaurants. It will not be so in the San Francisco of the future. We shall keep such men with us, and reward them, instead of driving them away. We shall have our noble charities, great museums, libraries and universities; a class of men who have leisure for thought and culture; magnificent theatres and opera houses; parks and pleasure gardens.
We shall develop a literature of our own, issue books which will be read wherever the English language is spoken, and maintain periodicals which will rank with those of the East and Europe. The Bulletin, Times and Alta, good as they are, must become, or must yield to, journals of the type of the New York Herald or the Chicago Tribune. The railroads which will carry the San Francisco newspapers over a wide extent of country the same day that they are issued, will place them on a par, or almost on a par in point of time, with journals printed in the interior, while their metropolitan circulation and business will enable them to publish more and later news than interior papers can.
The same law of concentration will work in other businesses in the same way. The railroads may benefit Sacramento and Stockton by making of them workshops, but no one will stop there to buy goods when he can go to San Francisco, make his choice from larger stocks, and return the same day.
But again comes the question: will this California of the future, with its facilities for travel and transportation; its huge metropolis and pleasant watering places; its noble literature and great newspapers; universities, libraries and museums; parks and operas; fleets of yachts and miles of villas, possess still the charme which makes Californians prefer their State, even as it is, to places where all these things are to be found?
What constitutes the peculiar charm of California, which all who have lived here long enough feel? Not the climate alone. Heresy though it be to say so, there are climates as good; some that on the whole are better. Not merely that there is less social restraint, for there are parts of the Union and parts from which tourists occasionally come to lecture us where there is much less social restraint than in California. Not simply that the opportunities of making money have been better here; for the opportunities for making large fortunes have not been so good as in some other places, and there are many who have not made money here, who prefer this country to any other; many who after leaving us throw away certainty of profit to return and “take the chances” of California. It certainly is not in the growth of local attachment, for the Californian has even less local attachment than the average American, and will move about from one end of the State to the other with perfect indifference. It is not that we have the culture or the opportunities to gratify luxurious and cultivated tastes that older countries afford, and yet those who leave us on this account as a general thing come back again.
No: the potent charm of California, which all feel but few analyze, has been more in the character, habits and modes of thought of her people–called forth by the peculiar conditions of the young State—than in anything else. In California there has been a certain cosmopolitanism, a certain freedom and breadth of common thought and feeling, natural to a community made up from so many different sources, to which every man and woman had been transplanted—all travellers to some extent, and with native angularities of prejudice and habit more or less worn off. Then there has been a feeling of personal independence and equality, a general hopefulness and self-reliance, and a certain large-heartedness and open-handedness which were born of the comparative evenness with which property was distributed, the high standard of wages and of comfort, and the latent feeling of every one that he might “make a strike,” and certainly could not be kept down long.
While we have had no very rich class, we have had no really poor class. There have been enough “dead brokes,” and how many Californians are there who have not gone through that experience; but there never was a better country to be “broken” in, and where almost every man, even the most successful, had been in the same position, it did not involve the humiliation and loss of hope which attaches to utter poverty in older and more settled communities.
In a country where all had started from the same level–where the banker had been a year or two before a journeyman carpenter, the merchant a foremast hand; the restaurant waiter had perhaps been educated for the bar or the church, and the laborer once counted his “pile,” and where the wheel of fortune had been constantly revolving with a rapidity in other places unknown, social lines could not be sharply drawn, nor a reverse dispirit. There was something in the great possibilities of the country; in the feeling that it was one of immense latent wealth; which furnished a background of which a better filled and more thoroughly developed country is destitute, and which contributed not a little to the active, generous, independent social tone.
The characteristics of the principal business–mining–gave a color to all California thought and feeling. It fostered a reckless, generous, independent spirit, with a strong disposition to ” take chances” and “trust to luck.” Than the placer mining, no more independent business could be conceived. The miner working for himself, owned no master; worked when and only when he pleased; took out his earnings each day in the shining particles which depended for their value on no fluctuations of the market, but would pass current and supply all wants the world over. When his claim gave out, or for any reason he desired to move, he had but to shoulder his pick and move on. Mining of this kind developed its virtues as well as its vices. If it could have been united with ownership of land and the comforts and restraints of home, it would have given us a class of citizens of the utmost value to a republican state. But the “honest miner” of the placers has passed away in California. The Chinaman, the millioner and his laborers, the mine superintendent and his gang, are his successors.
This crowding of people into immense cities, this aggregation of wealth into large lumps, this marshalling of men into big gangs under the control of the great “captains of industry,” does not tend to foster personal independence-the basis of all virtues-nor will it tend to preserve the characteristics which particularly have made Californians proud of their State. However, we shall have some real social gains, with some that are only apparent. We shall have more of home influences, a deeper religious sentiment, less of the unrest that is bred of an adventurous and reckless life. We shall have fewer shooting and stabbing affrays, but we will have probably something worse, from which, thank God, we have hitherto been exempt-the low, brutal, cowardly rowdyism of the great Eastern cities. We shall hear less of highway robberies in the mountains, but more, perhaps, of pickpockets, burglars and sneak thieves. That we can look forward to any political improvement is, to say the least,–doubtful. There is nothing in the changes which are coming that of itself promises that. There will be a more permanent population, more who will look on California as their home; but we would not aver that there will be a larger proportion of the population who will take an intelligent interest in public affairs. In San Francisco the political future is full of danger. As surely as San Francisco is destined to become as large as New York, as certain is it that her political condition is destined to become as bad as that of New York, unless her citizens are aroused in time to the necessity of preventive or rather palliative measures. And in the growth of large corporations and other special interests is an element of great danger. Of these great corporations and interests we shall have many. Look, for instance, at the Central Pacific Railroad Company, as it will be, with a line running to Salt Lake, controlling more capital and employing more men than any of the great eastern railroads who manage legislatures as they manage their workshops, and name governors, senators and judges almost as they name their own engineers clerks! Can we rely upon sufficient intelligence, independence and virtue among the many to resist the political effects of the concentration of great wealth in the hands of a few?
And this in general is the tendency of the time, and of the new era opening before us: to the great development of wealth; to concentration; to the differentiation of classes; to less personal independence among the many and the greater power of the few. We shall lose much which gave a charm to California life; much that was valuable in the character of our people, while we will also wear off defects, and gain some things that we lacked.
With our gains and our losses will come new duties and new responsibilities. Connected more closely with the rest of the nation, we will feel more quickly and keenly all that affects it. We will have to deal, in time, with all the social problems that are forcing themselves on older communities, (like the riddles of a Sphinx, which not to answer is death) with one of them, the labor question, rendered peculiarly complex by our proximity to Asia. Public spirit, public virtue, the high resolve of men and women who are capable of feeling the “enthusiasm of humanity,” will be need ed in the future more than ever.
A great change is coming over our State. We should not prevent it if we could, and could not if we would, but we can view it in all its bearings-look at the dark as well as the bright side, and endeavor to hasten that which is good and retard or prevent that which is bad. A great State is forming; let us see to it that its foundations are laid firm and true.
And as California becomes populous rich, let us not forget that the character of a people counts for more than their numbers; that the distribution of wealth is even a more important matter than its production. Let us not imagine ourselves in a fools’ paradise, where the golden apples will drop into our mouths; let us not think that after the stormy seas and head gales of all the ages, our ship has at last struck the trade winds of time. The future of our State, of our nation, of our race, looks fair and bright; perhaps the future looked so to the philosophers who once sat in the porches of Athens–to the unremembered men who raised the cities whose ruins lie south of us. Our modern civilization strikes broad and deep and looks high. So did the tower which men once built almost unto heaven.