My Blanket Man

When he wrote me that he had traded the blankets for flour, and had gone to the Yuba river with the flour, I knew that it was a lie, and that he was a rascal, and I found that blankets had been in great demand, at a high price, and likewise learned that he had been connected with a forgery in New York city, but that his brother was a respectable merchant there, so for the time I gave up my $800 as lost. What was my surprise after six weeks at my hotel (which was an expensive one), to see my man at the tea table. I greeted him most cordially and asked no questions about the blankets, but talked to him about the brig I owned and had running to Stockton; that I had been looking for him to come back; there was such a splendid chance for us to make purchases in San Francisco, and for him to take them up on my vessel and sell them out in the Southern gold mines, near that place; that what we had lost on the blankets we could more than make up on the first venture, and that there would be big money in that kind of a speculation. We spent the evening together most cordially. The next morning I detained him in conversation until about the time for the Miners’ Bank to open, then we went out together. When we got opposite the bank I took out my watch and said to him, that I did not think it was so late. I said I had a note of $800 due there that morning; I asked him if he had the gold dust about him to that amount. He said yes. I said let me have it and I will take up my note. He said there was no place to weigh it. I said yes, here there was a place where I was acquainted. It was weighed and handed to me. I told him I would see him at dinner, which I did. I then opened on him, and told him how despicably he had acted when I so generously trusted to his honor. He made no reply; he virtually admitted the truth of my statement. I never saw him afterward. That was the only time I ever played the confidence game in my life, and my conscience has approved of it ever since.

My friend, Mr. R., had got his brewery well under way in Happy Valley, as they called that part of the city, had used up his $8,000 and commenced borrowing money on my endorsement, at ten per cent a month, the regular interest at that time. He had a friend, Lieutenant S., who resigned from the regular army, a graduate from West Point, who had been up in the country, and came back with a flaming account of a place on the Toulama river, which empties into the San Joaquin, which was the head of navigation on that river, and was the place to start a town, and if we would furnish him with $1,500 to do it with, we would each own a third of it. I did not take to it, but Mr. R. was so earnest about it, and had such confidence in his friend, that I finally let him have the money. There was quite a spirit of speculation of that kind at that time. Colonel Stevenson had laid out one on Suisan bay, at the mouth of the San Joaquin river, named New York of the Pacific. Marysville, on the Sacramento river, was laid out a short time previous, and proved a great success, making the fortunes of the projectors. Of course, a few were successful, and many failed. It seemed to have been a legitimate thing to do to make a fortune in a new country. I became acquainted with Broderick. It was Koyler & Broderick. They had an office in the same building with Colonel Stevenson. Broderick, who was afterward United States Senator from California, and I became very intimate. He was not intellectually a very brilliant man, but a solid, able and strictly honest man, and a thoroughly posted politician of his day. He had run as a Democratic candidate for Congress from the city of New York, but was not elected. In California he was first elected to the State Senate from the city. It was he who conceived the project of laying out the water lots on the bay, and got the bill through the Legislature. He advised me to buy one or more. I looked at where he suggested to me to buy, and found them six feet under water. Although they could be bought very cheap then, their prospective value seemed so remote to me I thought they were not worth the trouble of bothering with. It shows how easy it is to be mistaken in apprehending the future. I understand they are now the most valuable part of the city.

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