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    Chapter XXV

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    Chapter 28
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    Originally, Nevada was a part of Utah and was called Carson county; and a
    pretty large county it was, too. Certain of its valleys produced no end
    of hay, and this attracted small colonies of Mormon stock-raisers and
    farmers to them. A few orthodox Americans straggled in from California,
    but no love was lost between the two classes of colonists. There was
    little or no friendly intercourse; each party staid to itself. The
    Mormons were largely in the majority, and had the additional advantage of
    being peculiarly under the protection of the Mormon government of the
    Territory. Therefore they could afford to be distant, and even
    peremptory toward their neighbors. One of the traditions of Carson
    Valley illustrates the condition of things that prevailed at the time I
    speak of. The hired girl of one of the American families was Irish, and
    a Catholic; yet it was noted with surprise that she was the only person
    outside of the Mormon ring who could get favors from the Mormons. She
    asked kindnesses of them often, and always got them. It was a mystery to
    everybody. But one day as she was passing out at the door, a large bowie
    knife dropped from under her apron, and when her mistress asked for an
    explanation she observed that she was going out to "borry a wash-tub from
    the Mormons!"

    In 1858 silver lodes were discovered in "Carson County," and then the
    aspect of things changed. Californians began to flock in, and the
    American element was soon in the majority. Allegiance to Brigham Young
    and Utah was renounced, and a temporary territorial government for
    "Washoe" was instituted by the citizens. Governor Roop was the first and
    only chief magistrate of it. In due course of time Congress passed a
    bill to organize "Nevada Territory," and President Lincoln sent out
    Governor Nye to supplant Roop.

    At this time the population of the Territory was about twelve or fifteen
    thousand, and rapidly increasing. Silver mines were being vigorously
    developed and silver mills erected. Business of all kinds was active and
    prosperous and growing more so day by day.

    The people were glad to have a legitimately constituted government, but
    did not particularly enjoy having strangers from distant States put in
    authority over them--a sentiment that was natural enough. They thought
    the officials should have been chosen from among themselves from among
    prominent citizens who had earned a right to such promotion, and who
    would be in sympathy with the populace and likewise thoroughly acquainted
    with the needs of the Territory. They were right in viewing the matter
    thus, without doubt. The new officers were "emigrants," and that was no
    title to anybody's affection or admiration either.

    The new government was received with considerable coolness. It was not
    only a foreign intruder, but a poor one. It was not even worth plucking
    --except by the smallest of small fry office-seekers and such. Everybody
    knew that Congress had appropriated only twenty thousand dollars a year
    in greenbacks for its support--about money enough to run a quartz mill a
    month. And everybody knew, also, that the first year's money was still
    in Washington, and that the getting hold of it would be a tedious and
    difficult process. Carson City was too wary and too wise to open up a
    credit account with the imported bantling with anything like indecent
    haste.

    There is something solemnly funny about the struggles of a new-born
    Territorial government to get a start in this world. Ours had a trying
    time of it. The Organic Act and the "instructions" from the State
    Department commanded that a legislature should be elected at such-and-
    such a time, and its sittings inaugurated at such-and-such a date. It
    was easy to get legislators, even at three dollars a day, although board
    was four dollars and fifty cents, for distinction has its charm in Nevada
    as well as elsewhere, and there were plenty of patriotic souls out of
    employment; but to get a legislative hall for them to meet in was another
    matter altogether. Carson blandly declined to give a room rent-free, or
    let one to the government on credit.

    But when Curry heard of the difficulty, he came forward, solitary and
    alone, and shouldered the Ship of State over the bar and got her afloat
    again. I refer to "Curry--Old Curry--Old Abe Curry." But for him the
    legislature would have been obliged to sit in the desert. He offered his
    large stone building just outside the capital limits, rent-free, and it
    was gladly accepted. Then he built a horse-railroad from town to the
    capitol, and carried the legislators gratis.

    He also furnished pine benches and chairs for the legislature, and
    covered the floors with clean saw-dust by way of carpet and spittoon
    combined. But for Curry the government would have died in its tender
    infancy. A canvas partition to separate the Senate from the House of
    Representatives was put up by the Secretary, at a cost of three dollars
    and forty cents, but the United States declined to pay for it. Upon
    being reminded that the "instructions" permitted the payment of a liberal
    rent for a legislative hall, and that that money was saved to the country
    by Mr. Curry's generosity, the United States said that did not alter the
    matter, and the three dollars and forty cents would be subtracted from
    the Secretary's eighteen hundred dollar salary--and it was!

    The matter of printing was from the beginning an interesting feature of
    the new government's difficulties. The Secretary was sworn to obey his
    volume of written "instructions," and these commanded him to do two
    certain things without fail, viz.:

    1. Get the House and Senate journals printed; and,
    2. For this work, pay one dollar and fifty cents per "thousand" for
    composition, and one dollar and fifty cents per "token" for press-work,
    in greenbacks.

    It was easy to swear to do these two things, but it was entirely
    impossible to do more than one of them. When greenbacks had gone down to
    forty cents on the dollar, the prices regularly charged everybody by
    printing establishments were one dollar and fifty cents per "thousand"
    and one dollar and fifty cents per "token," in gold. The "instructions"
    commanded that the Secretary regard a paper dollar issued by the
    government as equal to any other dollar issued by the government. Hence
    the printing of the journals was discontinued. Then the United States
    sternly rebuked the Secretary for disregarding the "instructions," and
    warned him to correct his ways. Wherefore he got some printing done,
    forwarded the bill to Washington with full exhibits of the high prices of
    things in the Territory, and called attention to a printed market report
    wherein it would be observed that even hay was two hundred and fifty
    dollars a ton. The United States responded by subtracting the printing-
    bill from the Secretary's suffering salary--and moreover remarked with
    dense gravity that he would find nothing in his "instructions" requiring
    him to purchase hay!

    Nothing in this world is palled in such impenetrable obscurity as a U.S.
    Treasury Comptroller's understanding. The very fires of the hereafter
    could get up nothing more than a fitful glimmer in it. In the days I
    speak of he never could be made to comprehend why it was that twenty
    thousand dollars would not go as far in Nevada, where all commodities
    ranged at an enormous figure, as it would in the other Territories, where
    exceeding cheapness was the rule. He was an officer who looked out for
    the little expenses all the time. The Secretary of the Territory kept
    his office in his bedroom, as I before remarked; and he charged the
    United States no rent, although his "instructions" provided for that item
    and he could have justly taken advantage of it (a thing which I would
    have done with more than lightning promptness if I had been Secretary
    myself). But the United States never applauded this devotion. Indeed, I
    think my country was ashamed to have so improvident a person in its
    employ.

    Those "instructions" (we used to read a chapter from them every morning,
    as intellectual gymnastics, and a couple of chapters in Sunday school
    every Sabbath, for they treated of all subjects under the sun and had
    much valuable religious matter in them along with the other statistics)
    those "instructions" commanded that pen-knives, envelopes, pens and
    writing-paper be furnished the members of the legislature. So the
    Secretary made the purchase and the distribution. The knives cost three
    dollars apiece. There was one too many, and the Secretary gave it to the
    Clerk of the House of Representatives. The United States said the Clerk
    of the House was not a "member" of the legislature, and took that three
    dollars out of the Secretary's salary, as usual.

    White men charged three or four dollars a "load" for sawing up stove-
    wood. The Secretary was sagacious enough to know that the United States
    would never pay any such price as that; so he got an Indian to saw up a
    load of office wood at one dollar and a half. He made out the usual
    voucher, but signed no name to it--simply appended a note explaining that
    an Indian had done the work, and had done it in a very capable and
    satisfactory way, but could not sign the voucher owing to lack of ability
    in the necessary direction. The Secretary had to pay that dollar and a
    half. He thought the United States would admire both his economy and his
    honesty in getting the work done at half price and not putting a
    pretended Indian's signature to the voucher, but the United States did
    not see it in that light.

    The United States was too much accustomed to employing dollar-and-a-half
    thieves in all manner of official capacities to regard his explanation of
    the voucher as having any foundation in fact.

    But the next time the Indian sawed wood for us I taught him to make a
    cross at the bottom of the voucher--it looked like a cross that had been
    drunk a year--and then I "witnessed" it and it went through all right.
    The United States never said a word. I was sorry I had not made the
    voucher for a thousand loads of wood instead of one.

    The government of my country snubs honest simplicity but fondles artistic
    villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable
    pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two.

    That was a fine collection of sovereigns, that first Nevada legislature.
    They levied taxes to the amount of thirty or forty thousand dollars and
    ordered expenditures to the extent of about a million. Yet they had
    their little periodical explosions of economy like all other bodies of
    the kind. A member proposed to save three dollars a day to the nation by
    dispensing with the Chaplain. And yet that short-sighted man needed the
    Chaplain more than any other member, perhaps, for he generally sat with
    his feet on his desk, eating raw turnips, during the morning prayer.

    The legislature sat sixty days, and passed private tollroad franchises
    all the time. When they adjourned it was estimated that every citizen
    owned about three franchises, and it was believed that unless Congress
    gave the Territory another degree of longitude there would not be room
    enough to accommodate the toll-roads. The ends of them were hanging over
    the boundary line everywhere like a fringe.

    The fact is, the freighting business had grown to such important
    proportions that there was nearly as much excitement over suddenly
    acquired toll-road fortunes as over the wonderful silver mines.
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