Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Washoe Lodge Was Once An Active Masonic Lodge In Nevada

Photo of Washoe Lodge #2, courtesy of the University of Nevada Reno. Identification: UNRS-P1991-44-12; Ca. 1863-1888; Collection name W.A. Kornmayer; Collection number, NRS-P1991-44.

Washoe City and the surrounding valley were once known for significant economic and agricultural industriousness.

Within the social milieu of the new decade of the 1860s that saw significant economic changes — before Nevada statehood — were Freemasons who wanted to create a Masonic Lodge in search of that brotherly fraternity that an active lodge can further cement.

"The urge for Masonic intercourse in Washoe City was felt by the sojourning brethren, resulting in the establishment of a lodge under California registry," stated the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Mason of Nevada on its website*. (https://nvmasons.org/history/) "It is inconceivable, but it is nevertheless true, that but small attention was paid by the officers of the Grand Lodge of California, to the organization of Washoe lodge, No. 157 chartered under California register in July 1862."

If I correctly understand the Washoe Lodge's history, it was charted as a Nevada Lodge in 1863, ceasing to be a California-affiliated lodge.


This photo was been cropped on the left to provide a more concise view. Photograph of Washoe City (ghost town) in 1943. The buildings on the right and in the center appear to be in the University of Nevada Reno-confirmed photo of Washoe Lodge #2. Note the three windows in the central building. Courtesy of UNR. Photographer: Gus Bundy. From the UNR Gus Bundy Collection. Image ID: UNRS-P1985-08-01125. Collection ID: UNRS-P1985-08.

"It is interesting to note, that at that time Washoe Lodge had an enrollment of 36 members," according to the Nevada Masons. "Not an unusual numerical list it is true, but among its number were those who were nevertheless sincere and devoted brethren, through whose instrumentalities the lodge grew and spread its Masonic light; men who figured prominently in municipal, county and state affairs, and brought fame and honor to themselves and the section from which they hailed; some of whom afterward crossed over into California, becoming identified with its commercial, industrial, political and social life, adding luster to the honor roll of that state. For, the Masons who pioneered the way in Washoe Lodge were men of outstanding merit and integrity; they took a leading part not only in Masonic affairs, but in public life as well; some of them attained not only public honor, but also became wealthy."

The Nevada Masons' website mentions a few prominent men, so if you want to learn more about them, I strongly suggest you visit the website.

The Lodge cannot be separated from Washoe Valley's and Washoe City's golden days, as noted by the Masons:

"The history of Washoe Lodge begins in the winter of 1860-61, and is cast in that period of glamour and excitement, attendant upon the discovery and development of The Comstock Lode, dating from Jan. 28, 1859, when James Finney, or 'Old Virginia,' made a rich strike in Gold Hill, and Henry Comstock, Patrick McLaughlin, Peter O’Reilly, Emanuel Penrod and Kentuck Osborne came into the picture, and Sandy Bowers and his wife Eilley Orrum, rose to opulence, whose reckless extravagance and final relapse into almost poverty, is a story of human pity and interest." 

In colorful writing, the Nevada Masons' website notes the synergy between the growth of Masonry in Nevada and The Comstock Lode:

"The story of the blue-black clay, secret of the wealth of the Comstock, at first cursed by the miners and thrown upon the dump as worthless — but afterward by an accident found to contain $1,595 in silver, and $4,790 in gold values per ton — precipitat{ed} a 'rush,' the scenes and excitement of which no pen could hope to portray, for they are deep-dyed with the richest color of comedy, pathos and tragedy, acts of heroism, self-denial, intrigue, shame and honor, but inextricably interwoven into the history of Washoe County.

"For when the great discovery was made on Mt. Davidson, or Sun Peak Mountain, Washoe Valley leaped into prominence for it had fuel and timber for building, plenty of water and fine rich land for farming; and from it the Comstock could be and was supplied. It soon assumed importance and following the necessary location surveys made in the spring of 1861, Washoe City came into being, began to grow and for the next five or six years, enjoyed a substantial and steady expansion."

In 1866, Washoe City became the county seat of Washoe County; however, it's a distinction that would be short-lived:

"With the coming of the V. & T. Railway, {Washoe City's} decline commenced," the Nevada Masons note. "Reno wanted the county seat, and on Aug. 5, 1868, a petition signed by 750 residents of Reno was sent to the county commissioners asking for the removal of the county seat to Reno. This petition was denied, but another was framed and sent in February 1870. Washoe City made a protest, and sent William Webster and William Boardman to plead their case, while Thomas E. Hayden appeared for Reno. The petition was withdrawn, but another was soon presented."

A special election was held on June 14, 1870 to settle the matter.

"Reno won by a vote of 544 to 362," according to the Nevada Masons. "Washoe then applied to the courts for redress, resulting in a bill being sent to the Legislature, which was passed, declaring Reno to be the county seat on and after April 3, 1871. It was the doom of the valley city; an early exodus of many of the residents followed, business became stagnant and, while for the next 18 years or more, a settlement continued to exist on the old site of the town, yet its progressive spirit was broken, and one by one its citizens departed to other fields."

Washoe City slowly declined. I've found several photos that may or may not be Washoe Lodge No. 2; however, there is one from the University of Nevada Reno that clearly states it is the site of the lodge. From that photo, it appears that others may also show that building. Any suggestions and/or corrections would be appreciated.

There are many misconceptions about Free & Accepted Masons, so I refer readers to an excellent rebuttal to common fallacies regarding Freemasonry that the Grand Lodge of Virginia published: "Myths of Freemasonry."

* Quotes from the Nevada Masons' website have been edited for AP Style.

Masons are free to use photos I've personally taken however they want, commercially or noncommercially.

Silver City's Amity Lodge Remains Active Masonic Lodge

Travelers might notice the well-cared-for white building with blue trim in Silver City, Nev., without realizing it is part of a living history that dates all the way back to the origins of The Comstock Lode.

Silver City's Amity Lodge No. 4 F. & A.M. — located at 175 Main St. — was chartered in 1863.

"Amity Lodge No. 4 had its beginnings as Silver City Lodge No. 163," according to Amity Lodge's website. "Sojourning Masons living in Silver City, Nevada, under the guidance of Brother John C. Currie expressed their desire to organize a lodge, by framing a petition to the Grand Lodge of California.

Amity Lodge, Silver City. © Glenn Franco Simmons.
"A dispensation was granted by Grand Master William C. Belcher on March 20, 1863, to the sundry Brethren at Silver City, Nevada Territory, and a charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of California on May 15, 1863, as Silver City Lodge No. 163.

"The officers and members included — John C. Currie, W. M.; Charles F. Brant, S. W.; William B. Hickok, J. W.; August Koneman, Treasurer; Henry W. Arnold, Secretary; James A. Cowden, S. D.; Moses J. Rourke, J. D.; Henry Lun, Tyler. Other members included Master Masons M. J. Henley, R. P. Kerr, and Robert H. Watson.

"Lodge membership increased to 36 Master Masons, 4 Fellow Craft, and 12 Entered Apprentices in 1865, when the Lodge severed it connection to the Grand Lodge of California, and united with other Lodges in the organization of the Grand Lodge of Nevada, from which it received a charter at the time as Amity Lodge No. 4 on January 16, 1865.

"Its first Master, Brother John C. Currie, withdrew, and united with Virginia City Lodge at Virginia City, and was elected Grand Master of Masons of the State of Nevada, and also served as Mayor of Virginia City. Brother Richard T. Mullard was the last Master under California jurisdiction, and Master under newly formed Amity Lodge No. 4, he would later became Deputy Grand Master."

There is a stated meeting first Thursday of each month at Amity Lodge.

To contact the Lodge, here are its mailing details: P.O. Box 11332, Reno, NV. 89510-1332.

An excellent historical resource about Freemasonry in Nevada is located on the History of the Grand Lodge of Nevada webpage. The Grand Lodge's home page is also a good starting point to learn more about Freemasonry and Freemasonry in Nevada.

There are many misconceptions about Free & Accepted Masons, so I refer readers to an excellent rebuttal to common fallacies regarding Freemasonry that the Grand Lodge of Virginia published: "Myths of Freemasonry."

(Photos taken by Glenn may be used without restriction by Masons. For Masons, photo credit is not required.)

Amity Lodge in Silver City. © Glenn Franco Simmons.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Virginia City Justice Statue Has Her Eyes Wide Open

© Glenn Franco Simmons.
One of the most-impressive buildings in Virginia City, Nev., is the ornate — by Wild West standards — Storey County Courthouse at 26 South B. St.

Located near the equally historic Piper's Opera House, the courthouse is an impressive structure that must have magnificent views of Virginia City northward, from its second-story windows. Whether standing inside or outside the courthouse, which features a jail and courtroom, it is easy to imagine the destinies of lives forever changed in this building.

The National Park Service's "Three Historic Nevada Cities" series features historically important information about Carson City, Reno and Virginia City.

"The Storey County Courthouse was built in the high Italianate style that embodies 19th-century ideals of decorative opulence as well as law and order," according to the NPS."

It replaced the first courthouse, which was destroyed the catastrophic Virginia City Great Fire of October 1875.

"Reconstruction began in 1876 and the present building, designed by the San Francisco architectural firm of Kenitzer and Raun and built by contractor Peter Burke, was completed in February 1877," according to the NPS. "The total cost of construction, including fixtures and the jail, was $117,000, a remarkable sum even for the Comstock boom years."

It even features a memorable and iconic sculpture.
© Glenn Franco Simmons.

"A life-sized figure of Justice stands as sentry at the entrance, but she is not blindfolded, a rare occurrence in our national symbology," according to the NPS.


The Comstock Historical Marker (No. 8) that is located outside the courthouse (at the time this photo was taken) states that "over the years, a legend has evolved that she {Justice} was one of only a few created not blindfolded."

"The courthouse's statue of Justice is the only one to grace the exterior of a Nevada building," according to OnlineNevada. "The full-sized, zinc figure came from New York and cost $236, including shipping. Local folklore maintains it is one of two or three in the nation without a blindfold, presumably because the Wild West needed Justice to pursue crime vigorously. In fact, Justice with eyes exposed was a common option in the nineteenth century, and over twenty examples survive throughout the country."

In Virginia City, all enforcement had to have its eyes wide open because it was the epitome of Wild West skulduggery.

"The façade of the building was decorated with elaborate ironwork, painted contrasting colors, and a pediment that included the date of construction, 1876, also the national centennial," the NPS states.

The NPS also said the Storey County Courthouse is the most opulent of all Nevada courthouses built in the late 19th century.


© Glenn Franco Simmons.
"Far exceeding the cost of its counterparts, the building served the state's richest community," the NPS states. "Ironically, the county built the courthouse at a time when the boom economy of Virginia City was on the verge of collapse. Perhaps due to the inevitability of a downturn, local leaders rebuilt their town following the devastating 1875 fire in grand style.

"The Storey County Courthouse remains a vivid example of this community's rebirth in the face of economic decline. A portion of its restoration was funded through a grant from the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund."

It is a building that needs to continue to be kept up because of its historical significance as not only a courthouse, but also a jail.


"Storey County's two-story Italianate structure includes a two-tier jail, a spacious courtroom, and large iron-sheathed vaults for records," according to OnlineNevada. "Electrified during The {Great} Depression, the courtroom features Art Deco style light fixtures. The building is one of two 19th-century courthouses (the other being in Eureka) still serving local government."

According to another Comstock Historical Marker (No. 17) outside the courthouse, "This two-story jail was completed in 1877, and featured 10 individual cells, each of which had bunkbeds and 'state-of-the-art' plumbing for the day."

Men and women were jailed there.

"Women were housed on the second level and men on the first floor until 1963, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that males and females could not occupy the same facility without being physically separated," according to the marker. "There was heavy wire mesh strung between the posts of the second level to prevent falls and mingling of the inmates.

"The jail operated continuously from 1877 until September of 1986, when the county's insurance carrier decided it was unwise to operate it with only one fire exit in the event of a fire. Inmates were then housed at the Carson City Sheriff's Jail, for a fee, until the current jail was opened in 1992 on the outskirts of town on Truck Route, SR341."

Security was built into the jail.

"The walls of the jail were covered in boiler plate, after a successful escape in 1897 by an alleged murderer who had worked on the building as a bricklayer," according to the marker. "'Red Mike' Langan knew the walls had not been properly filled with rubble material as required and was able to dig his way out and escape. The county went to great expense to see that this did not happen again."

The marker makes no mention of Mr. Langan being caught, and I have not been able to determine if he was re-imprisoned.

"The doors of the jail were built by C.F. Nutting of San Francisco, the same company that supplied the vaults in the rest of the courthouse," the marker notes. "The stone floors are made of 'Kate's Peak Andesite," a very dense and heavy granite which was quarried from the hills a short distance to the east of Virginia City."

© Glenn Franco Simmons.

© Glenn Franco Simmons.

Victorian Savage Mansion A Rare Beauty In Comstock Lode

© Glenn Franco Simmons.
Hidden below the main street of Virginia City is an example of Victorian splendor.

It's a refined beauty painted in a beautiful yellow that would make two of California's cities with significant preserved Victorian structures — The Victorian Seaport of Eureka and The Victorian Village of Ferndale — envious.

Rising out of a still-steep hillside at 146 D  St. in the epicenter of the richest U.S. silver ore discovery is the Savage Mining Building, also known as the Savage Mansion.

"This magnificent 21-room Second Empire Style building was constructed by the Savage Mining Co. in 1861," according to the National Park Service's webpage about what is often referred to as the Savage Mansion.

"The ornate building is an excellent example of the architectural elegance associated with the offices and residences of the mining elite," the NPS states. "The top two floors of the building served as the mine superintendent's residence, while the ground floor was the mine office."

Photo example of a Lincrusta frieze.
Courtesy of Wikipedia. Public domain.
The beautifully adorned building is privately owned. The NPS said it presently serves as an office building.

"{It} has been restored with attention to its distinctive architectural features, such as the mansard roof, dormer windows and delicate gingerbread trim," according to the NPS. "The interior boasts 14-foot-high ceilings, a seven-foot copper bathtub, a {Lincrusta} frieze in the main hallway and early Victorian furnishings."

Aside from its architectural important, the Savage building is also historically important — perhaps most notably because a U.S. president once spoke there to a gathered crowd who must have been impressed that so distinguished a person would make a stop in the Comstock capital.


"Ulysses S. Grant is said to have stayed in the house in 1879 and addressed crowds in a speech from the porch. During this time, a Mrs. Monoghan, whose husband had been killed in one of the mines, served as a housekeeper to the superintendent.

"When the mines closed down in 1918, the Savage Mining Co. deeded the land, house and furnishings to Mrs. Monoghan."

In the rough-and-tumble and oft-greedy world of The Comstock Lode, such a gesture was probably not too common.

The NPS said it is being used as office space. When I was there, a woman came out of the building and moved her car for me so I could get some better shots, which I appreciated a lot.
In this photo, one can clearly see the porch from
which a former U.S. president once gave a speech.
© Glenn Franco Simmons.

"The term 'mansion' has been liberally applied in the Comstock to include any large and vaguely residential building," the NPS sates. "This has been done for promotional purposes and is far from being an accurate characterization. Even the most elaborate dwellings in Virginia City would be considered no more than ordinary houses in any urban setting.

"In the case of the Savage, Gould & Curry and Chollar properties, all referred to as mansions, the term is a complete misnomer, having been applied to buildings that served primarily as offices for major mining companies."

I was reared in a small, forested valley not far from a small city with a unique historic Victorian architectural history of The Victorian Seaport of Eureka, Calif., and I have to say that this former office would be considered a mansion, even among Eureka's beautifully preserved Victorians.

This Virginia City landmark would also be at home in one of my favorite cities in California, The Victorian Village of Ferndale.

Call it what you want, it's a true beauty.

(Editor's note: These photos were taken with my smartphone. I plan to return to Virginia City to take photos with my professional gear, which will enable me to take much better photos. My dream is to be able to tour this grand Victorian and take photos inside.)

 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Prominent, Distinguished San Francisco 'Great Diamond Hoax of 1872' Investors Taken For A Ride Like Theranos' Backers

“Horace Greeley (1811–1872) was an American author
and statesman who was the founder and editor of
The New York Tribune. ...,” according to Wikipedia.
“Long active in politics, he served briefly as a congressman
from New York, and was the unsuccessful candidate
of the new Liberal Republican party in the 1872 presidential
election against incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant.”
Source: Wikipedia. Public domain.
As C.C. Goodwin postulated in his literary masterpiece titled “The Comstock Lode,” more money probably exchanged hands in stock ownership and stock scams, as well as those who supplied all the material needs of the mining companies.

The public interest in vast riches that could be relatively easy to access was palpable in 1872.

First, there was the false claim of a mountain of riches that was reported to contain silver.

“An announcement in the Tucson Weekly Arizonian in April of 1870 catches the mood of the moment: ‘We have found it!” according to Smithsonian.com. “The greatest treasures ever discovered on the continent, and doubtless the greatest treasures ever witnessed by the eyes of man.’

“Located in the Pyramid Mountains of New Mexico, the ‘it’ was a new mine dubbed the Mountains of Silver. Bankers hurried in, miners claimed stakes, investors sought capital in distant cities and surveyors laid out a town nearby. But in the end, the much-touted venture did not yield enough of the stuff for a single belt buckle.”

Then there was the diamond rush in South Africa.

“At about the same time came news of a diamond rush in South Africa, the third major diamond find known to the world after one near the city of Golconda, India, and an 18thcentury site discovered by the Portuguese in Brazil,” according to the Smithsonian.

“Stoked by the tall tales of early 19th-century trapper-guides like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson about diamonds, rubies and other gems that could be scooped right off the ground, avaricious dreamers were soon looking for precious stones in Arizona and New Mexico, where the terrain was said to resemble South Africa’s.”

Adding to the diamond fever, diamonds were found in during the initial California Gold Rush.

“And so the stage was set for the ‘Great Diamond Hoax’, a brilliantly acted scam by two Kentucky grifters that would embroil, among others, some of California’s biggest bankers and businessmen, a former commander of the Union Army, a U.S. representative, leading lawyers on both coasts, and the founder of Tiffany & Co.,” according to the Smithsonian.


William Ralston, founder of the Bank of
California. Source: Wikipedia. Public domain.
In 1872, The San Francisco Chronicle said the hoax was “the most gigantic and barefaced swindle of the age.”

What was the “Great Diamond Hoax” and how did it start?

“The diamond hoax of 1872 was a swindle in which a pair of prospectors sold a false American diamond deposit to prominent businessmen in San Francisco and New York City,” according to Wikipedia’s “Diamond hoax of 1872” page. “It also triggered a brief diamond prospecting craze in the western USA, in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.”

The scheme began in 1871 when two Kentucky cousins, Philip Arnold and John Slack, traveled the very long distance to San Francisco, Calif.

Crucial to their skulduggery was successfully convincing potential San Francisco investors that they were privy to a diamond mine. They even produced what was said to be a bag of diamonds and deposited it in the Bank of California — which had significant investments in The Comstock Lode of Nevada in the Virginia Mountain Range.

So how could they produce a bag of diamonds? The answer can be found in an April 2014 issue of The San Francisco Chronicle.

"Arnold was a born con man, Slack his close-mouthed foil," The Chronicle notes. "The 40-year-old Arnold was a small-time miner who was working as a bookkeeper for a drill manufacturer that used diamond-headed bits. He pilfered a bag of uncut diamonds from his work and acquired some garnets, rubies and sapphires, probably by trading with Indians. These were the raw materials of the scam.

"The two crooks could not have chosen a better time to work a hoax. San Francisco was in the grip of a delirium of greed unrivaled since the Gold Rush."

Not only was San Francisco gripped with gold fever, but Virginia City and the rest of The Comstock Lode was in the midst of a silver and gold rush — at the time, the largest known deposit of silver in the world. (Quartz was also mined.)

Wild rumors were spun with a storyteller’s expertise, and in the social currency of the time, it was said that anyone could get rich, and quick, on The Comstock Lode — whether in Six Mile Canyon (current spelling), Virginia City or Gold Hill.


Charles Lewis Tiffany (left) in his store, ca. 1887. What investors didn't  know
was that Tiffany was not qualified to judge the gems from the bogus gem field.
Source: Wikipedia. Public domain.
Arnold and Slack played potential investors with the expertise of a conductor leading an orchestra.

“Prominent financiers convinced the ‘reluctant’ Arnold and Slack to speak out on their find,” Wikipedia states. “The cousins offered to lead investigators to their field.”

Yet investors were still not convinced, so they hired their own mining engineer to examine the diamond field.

The brothers had an answer for that.

“They planted their diamonds on a remote location in northwest Colorado Territory,” according to Wikipedia. “They then led the investors west from St. Louis, Missouri in June 1872. Arriving by train at the town of Rawlins, in the Wyoming Territory, they continued on horseback. But Arnold and Slack wanted to keep the exact location a secret, so they led the group on a confusing four-day journey through the countryside. The group finally reached a huge field with various gems on the ground. Tiffany's evaluated the stones as being worth $150,000.”

The cousins’ trickery worked for now.

“When the engineer made his report, more businessmen expressed interest,” according to Wikipedia. “They included banker {William Chapman} Ralston, Gen. George S. Dodge, Horace Greeley, Asbury Harpending, George McClellan, Baron von Rothschild, and Charles Tiffany of Tiffany and Co.

“The investors convinced the cousins to sell their interest for $660,000 ($13.8 million today) and formed the San Francisco and New York Mining and Commercial Co. They selected New York attorney Samuel Latham Mitchill Barlow as legal representative.”

The investors remind me of those who invested in the alleged fraud of Theranos — the company that promised to miniaturize blood testing but ended up in a shocking Silicon Valley scandal.

These investors, like Theranos, had distinguished and prominent board members who new little about the “gem field” they were going to commit significant sums for investment.

The “gem” investors even called in a powerful U.S. congressman to help them solidify their stake in what they thought were fields of riches.

“Barlow convinced them to add U.S. Congressman Benjamin F. Butler to the legal staff,” Wikipedia said. “Barlow setup a New York corporation known as the Golconda Mining Co. with capital stock of $10,000,000, while Butler was given one thousand shares for amending the General Mining Act of 1872 to include the terms ‘valuable mineral deposits’ in order to allow legal mining claims in the diamond fields. The U.S. Attorney General, George H. Williams issued an opinion on Aug. 31, 1872, specifically stating that the terms ‘valuable mineral deposits’ included diamonds.”

The entire scheme was a comedy of errors worthy of a Shakespearean play.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Professor Laments 'Anonymous' Sacrifice Of Heroic Miners

An 1879S Morgan Dollar. Wikipedia. Public domain.
The death of Mr. Wright has had a sobering effect on the gentlemanly Comstock Club in Virginia City, Nev.

My last post included author C.C. Goodwin’s prosaic and philosophical insights on the untimely death.

After Mr. Wright's wake, the professor spoke about the very real sacrifices of those who mined the silver that made many people rich — the value of which was eventually represented in U.S. coinage.

He lamented about the anonymous miners' sacrifice of health, and of the devastating price that miners' loved ones paid when a miner was injured or killed.

He felt the true value of the silver mined was in no way reflected in the wholesale and retail silver markets; essentially saying that miners were an inconvenient necessity for mine owners.

"Three days ago this piece of crumbling dust {Mr. Wright} was a brave soldier of peace,” the professor said. “I mean the words in their fullest sense. Just now our brothers in the East are fearful lest so much silver will be produced that it will become, because of its plentifulness, unfit to be a measure of values.

“They do not realize what it costs or they would change their minds.

“They do not know how the gnomes guard their treasures, or what defense Nature uprears around her jewels.

An 1879S Morgan Dollar reverse.
Wikipedia. Public domain.
“They revile the stamp which the Government has placed upon the white dollar.

“Could they see deeper they would perceive other stamps still. There would be blood blotches and seams made by the trickling of the tears of widows and orphans, for before the dollar issues bright from the mint, it has to be sought for through perils which make unconscious heroes of those who prosecute the search.

“For nearly twenty years now, on this lode, tragedies like this have been going on. We hear it said: 'A man was killed to-day in the Ophir,' or 'a man was dashed to pieces last night in the Justice,' and we listen to it as merely the rehearsal of not unexpected news.

"Could a list of the men who have been killed in this lode be published, it would be an appalling showing. It would outnumber the slain of some great battle.


"Besides the deaths by violence, hundreds more, worn out by the heat and by the sudden changes of temperature between the deep mines and the outer air, have drooped and died.

An obverse of an 1857 Seated Liberty
Half Dime. Wikipedia. Public domain.
"The effect is apparent upon our miners. Their bearing perplexes strangers who come here. They do not know that in the conquests of labor there are fields to be fought over which turn volunteers into veteran soldiers quite as rapidly as real battle fields.

"They know nothing about storming the depths; of breaking down the defences of the deep hills.

"They can not comprehend that the quiet men whom they meet here on the streets are in the habit of shaking hands with Death daily until they have learned to follow without emotion the path of duty, let it lead where it may, and to accept whatever may come as a matter of course.

"Such an one was this our friend, who fell at his post; fell in the strength of his manhood, and when his great heart was throbbing only in kindness to all the world.

"One moment he exulted in his splendid life, the next he was mangled and crushed beyond recovery.

"Still there was no repining, no spoken regrets. For years the possibility of such a fate as this had been before his eyes steadily; it brought much anguish to him, but no surprise.

An obverse of an 1857 Seated Liberty
Half Dime. Wikipedia. Public domain.
"He had lived a blameless life. As it drew near its close the vision of his mother was mercifully sent to him, and so in his second birth the same arms received him that cradled him when before he was as helpless as he is now.

"By the peace that is upon him, I believe those arms are around his soul to-night; I believe he would not be back among us if he could.

"We have a right on our own account to grieve that he is gone, but not on his. He filled on earth the full measure of an honest, honorable, brave and true life. That record went before him to Summer Land. I believe it is enough and that he needs neither tears nor regrets."

A few days more went by, but the old joy of the Club was no more.

(This is my last post with regard to “The Comstock Club,” authored by C.C. Goodwin — one of the most prosaic and philosophical writers who belonged to The Sagebrush School of Writers that were dominant mostly in Nevada. The rest of the book contains many a surprise — surprises I will not mention here because, to do so, would ruin it for those who read the book.)


The Comstock Club Ends After Mining Deaths

Silver Terrace Cemetery with Virginia City in the background. © Glenn Franco Simmons.

The gentlemanly camaraderie formed at The Comstock Club was a grand notion but one that would fall apart in the end.

In this post, we find that Mr. Wright has suffered seriously injuries that ultimately led to his death. At his wake, Mr. Goodwin describes it with compassion and wisdom:

The undertaker came, the body was dressed for the grave and placed in a casket, and the Club took up their watch around it. Now and then a subdued word was spoken, but they were very few. The hearts of the watchers were all full, and conversation seemed out of place. Wright was one of the most manly of men, and the hearts of the friends were very sore.

The evening wore on until ten o'clock came, when there fell a gentle knock on the outer door. The door was opened and by the moonlight four men could be seen outside. … They were the famous quartette of Cornish miners and were at once invited in. They filed softly into the room — the Club rising as they entered — and circled around the casket. After a long look upon the face of the sleeper they stood up and sang a Cornish lament. Their voices were simply glorious. The words, simple but most pathetic, were set to a plaintive air, the refrain of each stanza ending in some minor notes, which gave the impression that tears of pity, as they were falling, had been caught and converted into music. The effect was profound.

The stoicism of the Club was completely broken down by it. When the lament ceased all were weeping, while warm-hearted and impetuous Corrigan was sobbing like a grieved child. The quartette waited a moment and then sang a Cornish farewell, the music of which, though mostly very sad, had, here and there, a bar or two such as might be sung around the cradle of Hope, leaving a thought that there might be a victory even over death, and which made the hymn ring half like the Miserere and half like a benediction.

When this was finished and the quartette had waited a moment more, with their magnificent voices at full volume, they sang again — a requiem, which was almost a triumph song, beginning:

Whatever burdens may be sent
For mortals here to bear,

It matters not while faith survives
And God still answers prayer.

I will not falter, though my path
Leads down unto the grave;

The brave man will accept his fate,
And God accepts the brave.

Then with a gentle "Good noight, lads," they were gone. It was still in the room again until Corrigan said: "I hope Wright heard that singin'; the last song in particular."

Virginia City's Silver Terrace Cemetery. © Glenn Franco Simmons.

"Who knows?" said Ashley. "It was all silence here; those men came and filled the place with music. Who knows that it will not, in swelling waves, roll on until it breaks upon the upper shore?"

"Who knows," said Harding, "that he did not hear it sung first and have it sent this way to comfort us? I thought of that when the music was around us, and I fancied that some of the tones were like those that fell from Wright's lips, when, in extenuation of Miller's fault, he was reminding us that it was the intent that measured the wrong, and that Miller never intended any wrong. Music is born above and comes down; its native place is not here."

"He does not care for music," said the Colonel. "See how softly he sleeps. All the weariness that so oppressed him has passed away. The hush of eternity is upon him, and after his hard life that is sweeter than all else could be."

"Oh, cease, Colonel," said Brewster. "Out of this darkened chamber how can we speak as by authority of what is beyond. As well might the mole in his hole attempt to tell of the eagle's flight. "We only know that God rules. We watched while the great transition came to our friend. One moment in the old voice he was conversing with us; the next that voice was gone, but we do not believe that it is lost. As we were saying of the telephone, when we speak those only a few feet away hear nothing. The words die upon the air, and we explain to ourselves that they are no more. But thirty miles away, up on the side of the Sierras, an ear is listening, and every tone and syllable is distinct to that ear. Who knows what connections can be made with those other heights where Peace rules with Love?

"Our friend whose dust lies here was not called from nothing simply to buffet through some years of toil and then to return to nothing through the pitiless gates of Death. To believe such a thing would be to impeach the love, the mercy and the wisdom of God. Wright is safe somewhere and happier than he was with us. I should not wonder if Harding's theory were true, and that it was to comfort us that he impelled those singers to come here."

"Brewster," said Alex, "your balance is disturbed to-night. You say 'from out our darkened chamber we cannot see the light,' and then go on to assert that Wright is happier than when here. You do not know; you hope so, that is all. So do I, and by the calm that has pressed its signet on his lips, I am willing to believe that all that was of him is as much at rest as is his throbless heart, and that the mystery which so perplexes us — this something which one moment greets us with smiles and loving words, but which a moment later is frozen into everlasting silence — is all clear to him now. I hope so, else the worlds were made in vain, and the sun in heaven, and all the stars whose white fires fill the night, are worthy of as little reverence as a sage brush flame; and it was but a cruel plan which permitted men to have life, to kindle in their brains glorious longings and in their hearts to awaken affections more dear than life itself."

Then Harding, as if to himself repeated: "It matters not while Faith survives, and God still answers prayer."

"This is as it seems to us, straining our dull eyes out upon the profound beyond our petty horizon (, the Colonel said. “} But who knows? We can trace the thread of this life as it was until it passed beyond the range of our visions, but who of us knows whether it was all unwound or whether in the 'beyond' it became a golden chain so strong that even Death can not break it, and thrilled with harmonies which could never vibrate on this frail thread that broke to-day?"

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

American Anti-Chinese Sentiment Dates Back To 1800s

This image shows a caricature of a Chinese worker wearing a queue
an 1899 editorial cartoon titled "The Yellow Terror In All His Glory."
It shows that the anti-Chinese sentiment, which C.C. Goodwin
chronicles, became more virulent as the American Empire
matured. Wikipedia. Public domain.
(Editor's note: This post will expose the discrimination the Chinese faced in the United States in the era of The Comstock Lode. It's a prejudice that was left to linger and that would metastasize into a spiritual malignancy that nefariously infected every strata of American society, including its religious, educational, political and legal institutions, in addition to newspapers. At the end is a comment that shows that maybe not all the gentlemen agreed with the prejudice against the Chinese.)

In this post, we join the gentlemen of The Comstock Club, written by C.C. Cummings, in Virginia City, Nev., discussing what Goodwin said was "the Chinese question {that} came up for consideration. C.C. Goodwin writes:

Strong took up this latter theme and said: "The men of the Eastern States think that we of the West are a cruel, half-barbarous race, because we look with distrust upon the swelling hosts of Mongolians that are swarming like locusts upon this coast.

"They say: 'Our land has ever been open to the oppressed, no matter in what guise they come. The men of the West are the first to stretch bars across the Golden Gate to keep out a people. And this people are peaceable and industrious; all they petition for is to come in and work. Still, there is a cry which swells into passionate invective against them. It must be the cry of barbarism and ignorance. It surely fairly reeks with injustice and cruelty and sets aside a fundamental principle of our Government which dedicates our land to freedom and opens all its gates to honest endeavor.'

"Those people will not stop to think that we came here from among themselves. We were no more ignorant, we were no worse than they when we came away. We have had better wages and better food since our coming than the ordinary men of the East obtain. Almost all of us have dreamed of homes, of wives and children that are men's right to possess, but which are not for us; and though they of the East do not know it, this experience has softened, not hardened our hearts, toward the weak and the oppressed. If they of the East would reflect they would have to conclude that it is not avarice that moves us; that there must be a less ungenerous and deeper reason.

"Our only comfort is, that, by and by, maybe while some of us still live, those men and women who now upbraid us, will, with their souls on their knees, ask pardon for so misjudging us. "We quarantine ships when a contagion is raging among her crew; we frame protective laws to hold the price of labor up to living American rates; New England approves these precautions, but when we ask to have the same rules, in another form, enforced upon our coast, her people and her statesmen, in scorn and wrath, declare that we are monsters.

"{...} There are one hundred thousand {Chinese} people in this State and California. We will suppose that they save only thirty cents each per day. That means, for all, nine hundred thousand dollars per month, or more than ten million dollars per annum that they send away. This is the drain which two States with less than one million inhabitants are annually subjected to. How long would Massachusetts bear a similar drain, before through all her length and breadth, her cities would blaze with riots, all her air grow black with murder? Ireland, with six times as many people, and with the richest of soils, on half that tax, has become so poor that around her is drawn the pity of the world.

"'But,' say the Eastern people, 'you must receive them, Christianize them, and after awhile they will assimilate with you.'

"Waiving the degradation to us, which that implies, they propose an impossibility. They might just as well go down to where the Atlantic beats against the shore, and shout across the waste to the Gulf stream, commanding it to assimilate with the 'common waters' of the sea. Not more mysterious is the law that holds that river of the deep within its liquid banks, than is the instinct which prevents the Chinaman from shaking off his second nature and becoming an American. He looks back through the halo of four thousand years, sees that without change, the nation of his forefathers has existed, and with him all other existing nations except Japan and India and Persia, are parvenues. "For thousands of years, he and his fathers before him, have been waging a hand-to-hand conflict with Want. He has stripped and disciplined himself until he is superior to all hardships except famine, and that he holds at bay longer than any other living creature could.

"A defiant 'Columbia' in an 1871 Thomas Nast cartoon of Harper's Review, shown protecting a defenseless Chinese man from an angry Irish lynch mob that has just burned down an orphanage. The billboard behind is full of inflammatory anti-Chinese broadsheets," according to Wikipedia. "Columbia is the personification of the United States. It was also a historical name used to describe the Americas and the New World. It has given rise to the names of many persons, places, objects, institutions and companies; for example: Columbia University, the District of Columbia (the national capital of the United States), and the ship Columbia Rediviva, which would give its name to the Columbia River." The cartoon illustrates anti-Chinese prejudice, but also shows that fundamental American values of fairness should protect everyone. Wikipedia. Public domain.

"Through this training process from their forms everything has disappeared except a capacity to work; in their brains every attribute has died except the selfish ones; in their hearts nearly all generous emotions have been starved to death. The faces of the men have given up their beards, the women have surrendered their breasts and the ability to blush has faded from their faces.

"Like all animals of fixed colors they change neither in habits nor disposition. In four thousand years they have changed no more than have the wolves that make their lairs in the foothills of the Ural mountains, except that they have learned to economize until they can even live upon half the air which the white man requires to exist in. They have trained their stomachs until they are no longer the stomachs of men; but such as are possessed by beasts of prey; they thrive on food from which the Caucasian turns with loathing, and on this dreadful fare work for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four. "The moral sentiments starved to death in their souls centuries ago. They hold woman as but an article of merchandise and delight to profit by her shame.

"Other foreigners come to America to share the fortunes of Americans. Even the poor Italian, with organ and monkey, dreams while turning his organ's crank, that this year or next, or sometime, he will be able to procure a little home, have a garden of his own, and that his children will grow up — sanctified by citizenship — defenders of our flag.

"But the Chinaman comes with no purpose except for plunder; the sole intention is to get from the land all that is possible, with the design of carrying it or sending it back to native land. The robbery is none the less direct and effective for being carried on with a non-combatant smile instead of by force.

"It is such a race as this that we are asked to welcome and compete with, and when we explain that the food we each require — we, without wife or child to share with — costs more in the market daily than these creatures are willing to work for and board themselves; the question, with a lofty disdain, is asked: 'Are you afraid to compete with a Chinaman?'

Chinese workers on the Transcontinental Railroad.
Wikipedia. Public domain.
"It is an unworthy question, born of ignorance and a false sentimentality; for no mortal can overcome the impossible.

"In the cities these creatures fill the places of domestics and absorb all the simpler trades. The natural results follow. Girls and boys grow up without ever being disciplined to labor. But girls and boys must have food and clothes. If their parents can not clothe and feed them other people must. If poor girls with heads and hands untrained have nothing but youth and beauty to offer for food, when hungry enough they will barter both for bread.

"The vices and diseases which the Chinese have already scattered broadcast over the west, are maturing in a harvest of measureless and indescribable suffering.

"The Chinese add no defense to the State. They have no patriotism except for native land; they are all children of degraded mothers, and as soldiers are worthless.

"Moreover it is not a question of sharing our country with them; it is simply a question of whether we should surrender it to them or not. When the western nations thoroughly understand the Chinese they will realize that with their numbers, their imitative faculties, their capacity to live and to work on food which no white man can eat, with their appalling thrift and absence of moral faculties, they are, to-day, the terror of the earth.

"The nations forced China to open her gates to them. It was one of the saddest mistakes of civilization.

"To ask that their further coming be stopped, is simply making a plea for the future generations of Americans, a prayer for the preservation of our Republic. It springs from man's primal right of self-preservation, and when we are told that we should share our country and its blessings with the Chinese, the first answer is that they possess already one-tenth of the habitable globe; their empire has everything within it to support a nation; they have, besides, the hoarded wealth of a hundred generations, and if these were not enough, there are still left illimitable acres of savage lands. Let them go occupy and subdue them.

"The civilization of China had been as perfect as it now is for two thousand years when our forefathers were still barbarians. While our race has been subduing itself and at the same time learning the lessons which lead up to submission to order and to law; while, moreover, it has been bringing under the ægis of freedom a savage continent, the Mongolian has remained stationary. To assert that we should now turn over this inheritance (of which we are but the trustees for the future), or any part of it, to 'the little brown men,' is to forget that a nation's first duty is like a father's, who, by instinct, watches over his own child with more solicitude than over the child of a stranger, and who, above all things, will not place his child under the influence of anything that will at once contaminate and despoil him.

"Finally, by excluding these people no principle of our Government is set aside, and no vital practice which has grown up under our form of government. Ours is a land of perfect freedom, but we arrest robbers and close our doors to lewd women. While these precautions are right and necessary it is necessary and right to turn back from our shores the sinister hosts of the Orient."

With this the whole Club except Brewster heartily agreed.

Brewster merely said: "Maybe you are right, but your argument ignores the saving grace of Christianity, and maybe conflicts with God's plans."

Then the good-nights were said.

---

That one sentence uttered by Mr. Brewster shows that C.C. Goodwin was aware of the contradiction for Christians to be prejudiced against people from China and yet believe that Christ came to serve all humanity, which He did.

It just goes to show that prevailing public opinion is not always an indicator of what is moral.

Because this is a series about the book titled "The Comstock Club" by C.C. Goodwin, it is not appropriate here to go into the brutal history of repression against Chinese and other Asian immigrants. It is worth noting, however, that this ungodly prejudice resulted in murders, rapes, beatings, loss of jobs, and so much more. It is a shameful epoch in American history and one we should not repeat.


American Vulnerabilities Weighed In 'Comstock Club'

This may be a wagon wheel. Photographed near
Silver City, Nev. © Glenn Franco Simmons.
This post returns us to the gentlemen of fictitious Comstock Club in Virginia City.

Author C.C. Goodwin created a back-and-forth that began with the gentlemen's feeling that silver was not worth what should be. They wondered if the price of silver and gold were being manipulated.

The conversation also encompasses what the wealth and silver will bring to the relatively new nation, now becoming an empire.

Will it create wealth unseen in the annals of history? Will it, as one gentleman believes, eclipse even the might and wealth of Imperial Rome at its height?

Will such wealth make the European nations, all in an arms buildup, become suspicious of the United States' power and wealth. As a result, they pondered, will those same nations' fear of a new world power lead to them joining together to attack the United States?

Also mentioned is how the new nation escaped what could have been a catastrophe to maintaining The Union, had the British joined the French in supporting the Confederacy.

It may take more than one reading of this, to truly understand what C.C. Goodwin is asking of his compatriots who may have purchased his literary masterpiece titled "The Comstock Club":

As usual, the first theme was the condition of stocks. Miller believed that Silver Hill was the best buy on the lode, Corrigan had heard that day that a secret drift had been run west from the thirteen hundred level of the Con. Virginia; that up in the Andes ground an immense body of ore had been cut through, but that nothing would come of it until the Bonanza firm could gather in more of the stock.

Carlin was disposed to believe that a development was about to be made in Chollar Potosi, because during the past month the superintendent had come up twice from Oakland, California, to look at the property.

Strong was disposed to unload all the stocks that he had and invest in Belcher and Crown Point because the superintendent of both mines had that day assured him that they had no developments worth mentioning.

At length the conversation turned on silver.

The Club had that day received a portion of their month's pay in silver, and some grumbled, thinking they should have received their full wages in gold.

After a good deal had been said, the Professor, who had been quietly reading and had taken no part in the discussion, was asked for his opinion.

He answered as follows: "It is not right to pay laboring men in a depreciated currency; it is a still greater wrong that there is a discount on silver. It is the steadiest measure of values that mankind has ever found; it is the only metal that three-fifths of the human race can measure their daily transactions in; its full adoption by our Government, as a measure of values and basis of money, would mean prosperity; its rejection during the past five years and the denying to it its old sovereignty, have wrought incalculable loss.

Photograph of Chollar, Norcross, Savage Shaft, Virginia City, Nevada.
Photo by R. J. Waters. Photo courtesy of the University of Nevada, Reno,
which provides a significant public service by offering its
collections of photos and other material to the public for study.n
"Here on the Comstock it sleeps in the same matrix with gold, the proportion in bullion being about forty-four per cent. gold to fifty-six per cent. silver.

"The Nation cannot make a better adjustment than to keep that proportion good in her securities.

"Five years ago silver commanded a premium over gold. Since then two dollars in gold to one in silver have been taken from the earth, but silver is at a discount, because through unwise if not dishonest legislation, its sovereignty as a measure of values, its recognition as money was taken away.

"The whole burden was put upon gold, and the result is that the purchasing power of gold has been enhanced, and silver is, or seems to be, at a discount. Those who have accomplished this wrong affect to scorn the proposition that legislation could restore to silver its old value, ignoring the fact that the present apparent depreciation is due entirely to unfriendly legislation, and conveniently forgetting that with silver, everything else is at a discount when measured by gold. That is, gold is inflated by the discriminations which have been made in its favor.

"The chief use of silver in the world is for a measure of values, as the chief use of wheat is for material out of which to make bread. Were men forbidden to make any more bread from wheaten flour and compelled to use corn meal as a substitute, would the present prices of wheat and corn remain respectively the same?

"Silver should be restored to its old full sovereignty, side by side with gold. Then, in this country, just as little of either metal as possible should be used in men's daily transactions. Handling gold and silver directly in trade is but continuing the barter of savage men, and is a relic of a dark age. Moreover, the loss by abrasion is very great. Both metals should be cast into ingots and their values stamped upon them. Then they should be stored in the Treasury and certificates representing their value should be issued as the money of the people.

"If this makes the Government a banker no matter, so long as it supplies to the people a money on which there can be no loss. The thought that this would drain our land of gold has not much force, because the trade balances are coming our way and will soon be very heavy; if the gold shall be taken away something will have to be returned in lieu of it, and after all the truth is that four-fifths of our people do not see a gold piece twice a year. Our internal commerce is very much greater than our foreign commerce, and to keep that moving without jar should be the first anxiety of American statesmen. For that purpose nothing could be better than the silver certificate.

Eventually, silver coinage was minted in Carson City
from the very same Comstock silver the club's gentlemen
were mining in Virginia City, Nev. Wikipedia. Public domain.
"The Government has commenced to coin silver and has partially remonetized it. It is only partial because gold is still made the absolute measure of values and preference is reserved for it in ways which will keep silver depressed until there shall come a demand for it which cannot at once be met; then it will be discovered that it is still one of the precious metals and it will take its place in trade as it has its place here in the mines, side by side and the full brother of gold.

"Were the Government to-morrow to commence to absorb and hoard all the product of our mines and keep this up for a generation, issuing certificates on the same for the full value, at the end of about thirty years there would be on deposit as security for the paper afloat more than one thousand millions of dollars. This seems like a vast sum, but it would then amount to but ten dollars per capita for our people. You have each received two and a half times that amount to-day on account of your last month's wages, and the only serious inconvenience it has inflicted upon you is the discount which wicked legislation has given to silver.

"But long before one thousand millions in silver could be secured it would command a premium, because that would mean one-fourth of all the silver in circulation, and this old world cannot spare to one Nation that amount and still keep her commerce running and the arts supplied."

"But, Professor," said Alex, "why hoard the metals? Why may not money be represented by paper backed by the Nation's faith? Why pile up the metals in the Government vaults when the printing press can supply as good money as the people want?"

"That," replied the Professor, "is an argument for times of peace and prosperity only. The failure of one crop would so lessen the faith of the people that a serious discount would fall upon the money that was only backed by faith. And suppose Europe were to combine to fight the United States, then what would the loss be to the people? We can only estimate the amount by thinking what the United States currency was worth in 1864.

"Such a combination is not at all impossible. There is a vast country to the south of us, the trade of which should be ours, and with the Governments of which we have notified Europe there must be no interference from beyond the Atlantic. There are channels for ships to be hewed through the Spanish American Isthmus, and their control is to become a question.

"Above all, the light and majesty of our Republic are becoming a terror to the Old World. Think of it. The immigrants that come to us annually, together with the young men and women that annually reach their majority here, are enough to supply the places of all the people of this coast were they to go away. Who can estimate the swelling strength that is sufficient to fully equip a new state annually?

"Before the spectacle thrones are toppling and kings sleep on pillows of thorns. If our soil was adjacent to Europe, the nations would combine and assail us to-morrow, in sheer self-defense. They have tremendous armies; they are accumulating mighty navies and arming them as ships were never armed before. Suppose that sometime they decide that the world's equilibrium is being disturbed by the Great Republic, even as they did when Napoleon the first became their terror, and that, as with him, they determine that our country shall be divided or crushed. What then? Of course they will maneuver to have a rebellion in our country and espouse the cause of the weaker side. This is what nearly happened in 1862; what would have surely happened had not Great Britain possessed the knowledge that if she joined with France in the proposed scheme, whatever the outcome might be, one thing was certain, for a season at least, there would be no night on the sea; the light made by British ships in flames would make perpetual day.

"Then ocean commerce was carried mostly in ships that had to trust alone to the fickle winds for headway. In twenty years more steam will be the motive power for carrying all valuable freights, and will be comparatively safe as against pursuing cruisers.

"Imagine such a crisis upon us, what then would the unsupported paper dollar be worth? But imagine that behind the Republic there was in the treasury a thousand millions of dollars in silver, the original money of the world, and another thousand millions in gold, what combination of forces could place the money of the Nation in danger of loss by depreciation?

Gold was also mined on The Comstock Lode. It was also
minted into coinage in Carson City. Note the "C.C." on the
coin. Wikipedia. Public domain.
"Gold and silver when produced are simply the measures of the labor required to produce them; they are labor made imperishable; and when either is destroyed — and demonetization is destruction — just so much labor is destroyed, and you who work have to make up the loss by working more hours for a dollar. You are supposed to receive the same wages that the miners did who worked on this lode six years ago, for a month's work. But you do not because, through the mistake of honest men or the manipulation of knaves, twenty per cent. of the twenty-five dollars paid you in silver for last month's work has been destroyed; and now those who have dealt this blow insist that money can in no wise be changed in value by legislation.

"The trouble is our law-makers do not estimate at half its worth their own country. They stand in awe of what they call the money centers of the world, and refuse to see that already the world is placed at a disadvantage by our Republic; that within thirty years all existing nations, all the nations that have existed through all the long watches of the past, will, in material wealth and strength, seem mean and poor in comparison with our own.

"Look at it! Five hundred thousand foreigners absorbed annually, and not a ripple made where they merge with the mighty current of our people! What is equal to a new State, with all its people and equipments, launched upon the Union every year — it makes me think of the Creator launching worlds — with immeasurable resources yet to be utilized; the wealth of the country already equal to that of Great Britain, with all her twelve hundred years of spoils; all our earnings our own; no five millions of people toiling to support another million that stand on guard, as is required in France and Germany and Russia and Austria and Italy; our great Southern staple commanding tribute from all the world; hungry Europe looking to our Northern States for meat and bread, and to our rivers for fish; our Western miners supplying to business the tonic which keeps its every artery throbbing with buoyant health, while over all is our flag, which symbols a sovereignty so awful in power and yet so beneficent in mercies, that while the laws command and protect, they bring no friction in their contact; rather they guarantee the perfect liberty of every child of the Republic, to seize with equal hand upon every opportunity for fortune, or for fame, which our country holds within her august grasp.

"To carry on the business of such a land an ocean of money is needed, and infinitely more will be required in future. And for this money there must be a solid basis; not merely a faith which expands with this year's prosperity and contracts with next year's calamity; not something which the death of a millionaire or a visitation of grasshoppers will throw down; but something which is the first-born child of labor, and is therefore immortal and without change. This is represented by gold and silver, and to commerce they are what 'the great twin brethren' at Lake Regillus were to Rome."

When the Professor ceased speaking, Harding said: "Professor, what you have been saying about our Republic sounds to me almost like a coincidence. Did you dream what you have been saying?"

The Professor replied that he did not, and asked what in the world prompted such a question.

Harding smiled and blushed, and then said: "Because I had a dream last night."

All wanted to hear what it was. "You won't laugh, Carlin?" said Harding. Carlin said he would not.

"And you will not call me a fool, Wright?" Harding asked. Wright promised to conceal his sentiments, if necessary.

"You will not call it a mirage, Corrigan?" asked Harding. Corrigan agreed to refrain.

"And, Colonel, you will not ask mysterious questions about who usually sits as a commission of lunacy in Virginia City?" Harding inquired. The Colonel agreed to restrain himself.

"And, Alex, you will not expose me in the paper?" questioned Harding. Alex promised to be merciful to the public.

In final appeal, Harding said: "And you, Professor, you will not say it is a tough, hard formation and too nearly primitive to carry any treasure?" The Professor assured him that faults and displacements were common in the richest mineral-bearing veins.

"Well," said Harding, "I was tired and nervous last night. I could not sleep, and so determined to get up and read for an hour. I happened to pick up a volume of Roman history, and became so absorbed in it that I read for an hour or two more than I ought to. I went to bed at last, and my body dropped to sleep in a moment, but my brain was still half awake, and for a while ran things on its own account in a confused sort of a way.

"I thought I was sitting here alone, when, suddenly, a stranger appeared and began to pace, slowly, up and down the room. He had an eye like a hawk, nose like an eagle's beak and an air that was altogether martial. His walk had the perfect, measured step of the trained veteran soldier. After watching him for a little space, I grew bold and demanded of him his name and business.

Hannibal's celebrated feat in crossing the Alps with war elephants passed into European legend: detail of a fresco by Jacopo Ripanda, ca. 1510, Capitoline Museums, Rome. © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro. CC BY-SA 4.0. Wikipedia.

"When I spoke the sound of my own voice startled me, for he was more savage looking than a shift boss. He turned round to me — don't laugh, I pray you — and said: 'I am that Scipio to whom Hannibal the terrible capitulated. I was proud of my Rome and my Romans. We were the Iron Nation, truly. All that human valor and human endurance could do we accomplished. Amid the snows of the Alps and the sands of Africa we were alike invincible. We were not deficient either in brain power. We left monuments enough to abundantly establish that fact. To us the whole civilized world yielded fealty, but we were barbarians after all. Listen!'

"Just then there floated in through the open window what seemed a full diapason of far-off but exquisite music.

"'Do you know what that is?' he asked. 'It is the echo of the melody which the children of this Republic awaken, singing in their free schools. It smites upon and charms the ear of the sentinel angel, whose station is in the sun, through one-eighth of his daily round; those echoes that with an enchantment all their own ride on the swift pinions of the hours over all the three thousand miles between the seas.

"'My Rome had nothing like that. We trusted alone to the law of might, and though we tried to be just, the slave was chained daily at our gates; we sold into slavery our captives taken in war; we fought gladiators and wild beasts for the amusement of our daughters and wives; we never learned to temper justice with mercy; only the first leaves of the book of knowledge were opened to us; our brains and our bodies were disciplined, but our hearts were darkened and we perished because we were no longer fit to rule.

"'Whether by evolution the world has advanced, or whether, indeed, the lessons of that Nazarene, whom our soldiers crucified, are bearing celestial fruit, who knows! But surely our Rome, with all its power, all its splendor, all its heroic men and stately women; its victories in the field, its pageants in the Imperial City on the days when, returning from a conquest, our chieftians were laurel-crowned; our art, our eloquence — all, were nothing compared with this song of songs. It started at first where the sullen waves wash against Plymouth Rock; it swelled in volume while the deep woods gave place to smiling fields; over mountain and desert it rolled in full tones and only ceases, at last, where the roar of the deep sea, breaking outside the Golden Gate, or meeting in everlasting anger the Oregon upon her stormy bar, gives notice that the pioneer must halt at last in his westward march.'"

"As he ceased to speak the melody was heard again, sweeter, clearer and fuller than before. My guest faded away before me and I awoke. In all the air there was no sound save the deep respirations of the hoisting engine in the Norcross works, and the murmur of the winds, as on slow beating wings they floated up over the Divide and swept on, out over the desert."

The verdict of the Club was that if old Scipio talked in that strain he had softened down immensely since the days when he was setting his legions in array against the swarthy hosts of the mighty Carthagenian.

---

Or, perhaps C.C. Goodwin could foresee a time when the United States would achieve more than even Imperial Rome. Perhaps he was correct, when one consider the United States has approximately 5,000 military bases with 600 overseas, according to the Pentagon in 2013, the last year for which I could find an official number.

But, more importantly, what the Romans could do in hours, days, months and years, the United States can do in minutes, hours, days and weeks. There is nowhere in this world that is not monitored in some way by a branch of the American military — even truer if you add the CIA to the mix.

Was C.C. Goodwin saying that might doesn't always make right; that brains and compassion are more important than brute force and brawn?

C.C. Goodwin's bio from the contemporary Washoe Courts' website.

No matter what conclusion one draws from C.C. Goodwin's prescient literary back-and-forth, it is apparent that some Americans were, even in the 1800s, thinking about excesses, vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses of the growing American empire.

He seems to be asking what will be America's fate when it becomes an imperialist power; and, although I'm a patriotic American who used to construct flag poles all over his parent's property in a rural forested valley of the North Coast of California, I have to say that the United States is every bit the imperial power foreshadowed by this Comstock Club conversation.

Sadly, it may be too late to heed the fears of those who, like C.C. Goodwin, realize what can happen when an advanced society becomes an imperial state.

What of Rome? What of Persia? What of Greece?

It is a fear of empire that permeates several Comstock Club discussions. Rather than being unpatriotic, it is indeed a citizen's duty to humbly ask if people in the future will say the same about us: what of the United States? What caused its empire to crumble?

Perhaps our leaders today could use a dose of C.C. Goodwin's wisdom, what with our imperial military and its thousands of bases.

What about our tight-knit de facto social-cultural-political-educational aristocracy, which is a class unto its own on the East Cost, with the five wealthiest counties in the United States surrounding its Capital: Loudon County, Va., Faifax County, Va., Howard County, Md. Falls Church City, Va. Arlington County, Va.?

Surely, the concentration of such wealth based on a fiat currency, and not on gold and silver, would send shivers down the spines of the Comstock Club's gentlemen.

What would they think about the federal government's overreach into every aspect of our lives?

Perhaps the same pitfalls faced by other empires will also see an end to the American empire as we know it.

To ponder such questions is not unpatriotic; in fact, it is unpatriotic not to consider such possibilities because it blinds you to necessary change.