Criminal Annals, Part 42 – The Placer Times: New Treaty

In addition to the in depth report on the slavery issue, the May 27, 1850 edition of the “Placer Times” contained a number or short articles regarding two in-progress trials involving squatters, a theft and a mysterious loss.

“JUSTICES’ COURT. – Two cases involving the possessory rights of ‘squatters,’ or ‘settlers.’ as they prefer to be termed, were argued before Justice [Charles C.] Sackett on Saturday. In the afternoon trial Mr. [John H.] McCune went over the usual ground on which their claims are based, and Murray Morrison, Esq. appeared on the other side. The decision will be given this morning at 8 o’clock.”

“$14,000 ROBBERY. – Two miners stopping Saturday night at the Steam Packet Hotel went to bed with 14,000 dollars about their person. Two men slept alongside and got up before them in the morning, when the money was nowhere to be found. Officers are on the alert. More anon.”

“LOST By Joseph Kelly, about the middle of the month, between this City [Sacramento] and some part of the mines, one leather pocket-book, containing several notes and papers which will be of no service to any person except myself. Any person finding said pocket-book and leaving it with Barton Lee, shall be liberally rewarded for the same.
“AMANDA KELLY, Sacramento City, May 27, 1850.”

Problems with the Indians are continual in early California. Members of the newly formed California Militia, which will later become the California National Guard, have travelled north along the Bear River where an number of recent problems had been occurring.

Major General Thomas Jefferson Green, who was in charge of the group, reported to California Governor Peter Burnett and presented him with a treaty signed by he and the tribal chiefs in that area. The treaty is interesting because it appears to be the first one between the Indians and the California government.

“Town of Kearney, Bear River, Yuba Co. California.
“WHEREAS, numerous depredations and murders have been committed upon the persons and property of the American citizens in this vicinity by the native Indians, belonging to the tribes of the undersigned Chiefs; and whereas it became the duty of undersigned, Thomas J. Green, Major General of the First Division of California Militia, to pursue and punish said depredators and murderers: Now, therefore, in the absence of higher authority, I, Thomas J. Green, Major General as aforesaid, on behalf of the people of California and the Government of the United States on the one part, and the head Indian Chiefs, Weima and Buckler, and Sub-Chief, Poollel, on the other part, representing fully and completely their several tribes, do enter into the following solemn treaty of peace and friendship, to wit:

“Article 1. Henceforth and forever the American citizens and the several tribes aforementioned shall live in peace and friendship.

“Art. 2. Should any Indian belonging to either of the before mentioned tribes commit any murder, robbery or other offence against the persons or property of the American citizens, the offender or offenders shall be promptly delivered up to the proper authorities for punishment.

“Art. 3. Should any American citizen or foreigner commit any wrong upon the persons or property of the beforementioned tribes, they shall be punished therefor as the law directs.

“Art. 4. To prevent any hostile feelings arising between the whites and Indians, as well as to prevent the friendly Indians from being mistaken for those unfriendly, it is hereby stipulated that the people of the beforementioned tribes shall not carry arms while in the settlements of the whites.

“Art. 5. To cultivate warmer friendship and acquaintance between the white people and the Indians, the latter are guaranteed the free use of the gold mines, and the full value of their labor in working the same, without charge or hindrance; and any contract made between the Indians and whites, before competent witnesses, shall be recoverable before any Court of competent jurisdiction.

“Art. 6. The Indian prisoners shall be delivered up with the signing of this treaty.

“Art. 7. The Government of the United States shall have six months from this date to confirm, amend or annul this treaty; and should said Government of the United States confirm the same, it is hereby stipulated that each of the beforementioned tribes shall receive a semi-annual annuity of one thousand dollars, to be paid to them respectively for the term of ten years from the date thereof.

“In witness whereof, the undersigned parties before mentioned, have signed, sealed and delivered this treaty, each to the other, in the presence of Capt. Nicholaus Allgier, Capt. Chas. H. Hoyt, Col. James Bell, J. S. Christy, counselor at law, Edwin P. Linck, J. B. Fairchild, Joseph Foster, subscribing witnesses.

“May 25th, 1850. THOMAS J. GREEN, Maj. Gen. 1st Div. California Militia.

“WEIMA, his X mark.  “BUCKLER, his X mark.  “POOLLEL, his X mark.

“Nicholaus Allgier, Chas. H. Hoyt, J. Bell, J. S. Christy, J. B. Fairchild, Witnesses. Jos. Foster, Interpreter. Fred Emory, John T. Hughes, Aids.

Note: This is the same Thomas Jefferson Green who who became a state senator and convinced the California government to declare his non-existent town of Oro the county seat of Sutter County.

Green was originally from North Carolina, but had moved to Texas and fought for its independence. According to “The Establishment of State Government in California,” by Cardinal Goodwin (1916), in July of 1849 “Green and a dozen other Texans, accompanied by about 15 Negro slaves, came to ‘Rose’s Bar’ on the Yuba river, and, without regard to the mining laws of the district, proceeded to occupy about a third of a mile of land along the left bank of the stream, locating claims of their own measurement, not only in their own names but in the names of their Negro slaves as well. The miners were aroused immediately; a meeting was called and the action of General Green and his companions denounced. It was urged that they had violated not only the mining laws of the district, but also the laws of the united Stated governing public lands. Such lands could be occupied only by citizens of the United States, or by those who had declared their intention of becoming citizens.”
The committee of miners informed Green that he must comply with the laws of the district and he told them he would fight them if necessary, “but would not surrender the claims occupied by his Negroes.” In order to prevent the recurrence of such a circumstance in the future, the miners passed a resolution “that no slave or negro should own claims or even work in the mines.”

Green and his group left, but his actions and the actions of the miners is what brought before the members of the Constitutional Convention in late 1849 their first question: the admission and rights of free Negroes in California.



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