Primary sources, baby!

I've been digging a new collection on the Library of Congress' American Memory site about early California history.

It only includes works in English which excludes material from the Spanish speakers who had been running the place when it was a colony of Spain and then later when it was the most Northern province of Mexico. Also missing are voices from members of California's 70+ native tribes which used spoken but not written languages, and from the thousands of international gold seekers who came from China and Chile, and from all over the rest of the world, leaving an emphasis on adventuring Anglo-American men. As limited as adventuring Anglo-American men can be, I like the first-person accounts of California history. Here's a passage from San Francisco bartender John H. Brown, recalling the Anglo-American seizure of California from Mexico. At that time, those "rising up" were attempting to found an independent Republic of California until the Navy sailed into Monterey Bay and occupied California in the name of the United States, quickly quashing that idea. Note that the then-sleepy pre-Gold Rush city of San Francisco was still called Yerba Buena at the time:

Things went on as usual in the city until the latter part of May, when a report reached the city, that trouble was expected. A party at Sutter's Fort were raising a company to take possession of the upper part of California. In the early part of June, a boat arrived from Martinez, with the news that Sonoma was taken, and a proclamation, with Mr. Hyde's signature, was posted in a prominent place which announced that General Vallejo and Timothy Murphy, of San Rafael, with many others, were taken prisoners... A few days after, General Castro issued a proclamation, commanding all Mexican citizens to meet him at Santa Clara for orders. The only foreigners who left the city for Santa Clara, were Captain William Hinckley and Robert T. Ridley. They were ordered to stop all boats and prevent all persons from landing in Yerba Buena. On their return home, Hinckley was taken sick and died, on Burnell's Ranch, and was buried in the church at Mission Dolores.

Robert T. Ridley returned to the city to carry out the orders of General Castro, but could not find anyone to assist him, as there was not one Mexican citizen to be found in Yerba Buena, and the few foreigners who were here, were in favor of the ''Bear Flag,'' as it was called. This flag was made at Sutter's Fort, of bunting, and had the picture of a grizzly bear painted in the center, as the parties making the flag had no paint on hand, they used some blackberry juice, which answered the purpose very well. (The flag can still be seen at the Pioneer's Hall, in San Francisco). But they did not take up arms until the American Flag was raised.

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