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Title: Extracts From a Letter Dated San Francisco
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationmerchant
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSan Francisco, California, USA
Recipient Genderunknown
Relationshipre trade
SourceThe Belfast News-Letter, Friday, 8 March, 1850
ArchiveThe Central Library, Belfast
Doc. No.101029
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 27:12:00.
Word Count1135
A highly interesting letter from California, giving
one month's later intelligence respecting the condition
of that region than any accounts hitherto received in
this country, being dated " St. Francisco, Dec. 31, 1849"
has appeared in the Times, and from it we make the
following extracts:-

Will you allow me to ask our Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs why he leaves us in this port without
an English consul, our ships to get into trouble (owing
to the seizure of goods under the administration of the
United States Collector, for violating the revenue
system, since California has been recognised as one of
the States), their captains into ruinous lawsuits, which,
in some cases, will end in the loss of their vessels, and
our sailors to vagabonise about the country, abandoning
their vessels, and this, too, in a port where we have a
large fleet of merchantmen, without a single vessel of
war of our nation to protect them? Surely, we could
afford to pay a consul. To speak soberly, I do not
know a port in the Pacific (and I know something of
most of them), where the presence of a consul, and of
an efficient one, is so much required. This is
becoming not only one of the best, but a very extensive
market for English manufactures; and I am informed, by
parties competent to judge, that present appearances
justify the hope that it will soon be the most extensive
mart for English goods in the Pacific.
I subjoin a short price current of such articles as
will, I hope, be interesting to your English readers
trading, or intending to trade, with this part of the
Coals, $35 is the safest quotation. Ale - $4 50c.
to $5 per dozen wholesale. Bricks - $45 per 1,000;
great demand. Blankets - Whitney assorted, $4 to $5
per pair. Coloured cotton shirts, $7 to $8 per doz.
Merino drawers, - $22 per doz; woollen hoze [hose?]
(grey) $7 to $8 per doz; Merino shirts, $27 to $28 per
doz; Flushing trousers, $4 50c. per pair. Pea jackets
and coats, $8 to $10 each; brogans [shoes?] (English),
$24 to $28 per doz. Heavy boots, pegged, $20 per pair,
for fair quality; ditto, pegged, superior quality, $40
to $60 per pair. Long fishing boots, well nailed, are
worth $100 a pair. The streets of San Francisco are such
sloughs and quagmires of mud, that good long thick
boots to come over the knee are worth almost their
weight in gold. Preserved meats, 25c. to 30c. per lb.
Drugs abundant; no sales. Red and blue flannel shirts,
$18 to $20 per dozen. Mackintosh waterproofs unsaleable.
Prints - Fast colours, dark rich styles, $4 50c. to $5
per piece. Iron houses are very abundant, but in slight
demand. Ready-made houses of all classes and of every
material are abundant and unsaleable. The rage for them
has completely died away; but building materials of iron
and zinc would sell well. Druggets, and all sorts of
common stuffs for floor covering, much in demand.
Furniture - Good strong cottage, cheap and pretty, in
great demand. Wines - Port and sherry, $12 to $15 per
doz. All sorts, if really good, would sell at very
remunerative prices. Office furniture wanted, and, if
neat and ingeniously made, would sell very well. Chili
[Chile?] flour sold lately as high as $45 per sack of
200lb. on shore. The price now is $26 to $28. Flour
has been a splendid speculation lately. In three days
it rose from $8 to $32 per sack of 200lb., and in a
week was up to $45. A vessel came in from Chili
[Chile?] when the rage was at its height. She cleared
$50,000 gain to the shipper, made $10,000 commissions
to the consignee, and returns in a few days with the
gold dust, all returns realized. * * * Gold dust
is very scarce, and eagerly enquired for to make up
remittances for the steamer that leaves for Panama
to-morrow. The value of "dust" is, at this moment,
on a par with coin, i.e. worth $16 the ounce. * * *
The progress of this place continues unabated. A few
months ago, I stated the place to be but a collection
of huts. I dread to describe the place as is now is;
the change is so great that my account would be doubted.
I have seen nothing out of London to compare with this
activity. New Orleans is a place with which it may bear,
perhaps, many points of comparison. * * * The
prosperity of the country increases rapidly in all
respects. Vast sums are drained off constantly, but
then large amounts are constantly coming into the country.
This is the most curious part of our system. Last month,
$2,300,000 in gold dust was exported, and within the
last week, $700,000 has arrived from various parts of
the world, so that some considerable part of the progress
of this place is paid for from foreign capital actually
brought into the country.
We had rather a serious fire on Monday last, which
destroyed property to the value of $2,000,000. The
loss has fallen chiefly upon American and Chilian
settlers; 25 houses were burnt, and about two acres of
ground laid bare. A week only has passed. At this time
this day week the fire was consuming the house; at the
present moment the ground is more than half covered with
houses built and building since the fire on the scene of
the conflagration. The energy of character displayed
is wonderful. Whilst the fire was still burning one
man, and he, too, one of the greatest sufferers,
bargained for and bought lumber to rebuild his house,
and before 6 o'clock of the same evening he had
concluded - " signed, sealed, and delivered" - a
contract with a builder to re-construct his house in
16 days, under a penalty. The house is now built up
and roofed. The builder will save the penalty.
Ships are continually arriving and departing. There
is now no difficulty in procuring sailors. Wages have
fallen to $30 and $35 a month. This port does not
afford any encouragement to English ships for employment.
There being no exports, they cannot get freights. They
will be much better off, however, now that the trade
is thrown open to them, as they can carry goods of any
nation from any port they please to call at.
The news from the mining districts is encouraging. In
some of the " diggins" the work is not suspended, and
now the miners are taking to work by means of quicksilver,
and recover great quantities of gold hitherto lost by
the rude system of washing.
So soon as the rains cease, and the roads in the
interior are open, the trade will revive with briskness.
There is plenty of gold actually earned in the " diggins"
to pay for all the accumulating wants of the miners.
Emigration continues to pour in, and a large arrival
of emigrants is expected from Europe and the Atlantic