Written by Doug Noble for presentation at the Bell Tower on the Sesquicentennial of California’s statehood.
On December 3rd last, California stood proudly and knocked on the doors of congress, the noise loudly resounding like no other before it throughout that hallowed institution. “You have turned me down not once; not twice; but THRICE before,” she said, “but that does not lessen in any way my desire for statehood. At those times it was up to you, but now my people have spoken, and spoken loudly. I am a state out of the Union, complete with a magnificent constitution and government already in place, awaiting alone your final action to consecrate my existence and welcome me as a State in the Union.”
Within a few days hence, Senator William H. Seward stood before his colleagues and gave California a resounding welcome with these glowing words: “Let California come in! California, that comes from the clime where the west dies away into the rising east; California, that bounds at once the empire and the continent; California, the youthful queen of the Pacific, in the robes of freedom, gorgeously inlaid with gold, is doubly welcome.” But, there were many who did not wish to acknowledge her impassioned plea.
Her people, in open election, had declared her to be a free state – a concept that was not in keeping with the misguided desires of some southern ultraists and northern fanatics amongst those in Congress. Yea, they would attempt to use all means within their powers to stop her from her goal, but in the end, she but not they, would be the victor.
Her magnificent allies in that splendid body would rush to her aid and say, “enough is enough, let her in!” Forthright and honorable men with names like Henry Clay and William Seward would continue to speak loudly before that August body of the need to include her in the greatest union ever created by man. Her staunchest ally of all, our recently departed President, Zachary Taylor, would ask that all other issues be set aside in favor of her Statehood, but that was not enough for those seeking only to destroy our Union.
Some would attempt to cleave her in two along the imaginary Mason-Dixon Line at Monterey, admitting only the northern portion of her magnificence and forcing the southern remainder to relinquish their right for Statehood and languish in a questionable territorial status. Others would continuously seek to delay the actions of both houses of Congress, hoping beyond hope that her admission could be halted, and their perceived balance between free and slave states would remain. But, in the end, they would find that the righteousness of her being would prevail.
Last August 13, the Senate of the United States of America granted her wish and approved the California Admission Bill. Only two days ago, on September 7, the House of Representatives followed their glorious lead and similarly granted her their blessing. This morning, when presented with their actions, President Millard Fillmore did affix his signature thereon and California, the glorious and golden one, became the thirty-first state in the Union and the thirty-first shimmering star on the banner of freedom.
On the morrow, God willing, the Senate of the United States will graciously accept the credentials of her two illustrious statesman and Senators-elect, Dr. William Gwin and Colonel John Fremont and thereby seat them.
I am sure there will be those naysayers who will continue to find fault with this magnificent act. Some may even seek a dissolution of the Union, to forward their questionable goals. Even today, the eastern newspapers that arrive here by steamer contain hints of a movement to secede by some detractors and bring a feeling of uneasiness throughout the land. We can but hope that the admission of our state may aid in uniting all factions and cause a rekindling of the magnificent dedication shown by those who started us towards our destiny but two decades less than a century ago.
God Bless America and keep free forever California, the thirty-first State of the Union!