Gwin, William McKendree

Published by Gideon & Co., Printers, 1851
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Gwin (1805-1885), a pro-slavery California Senator from 1850 to 1861, is credited with establishing the U. S. Mint in San Francisco. John Howell Books, Catalog 50, #587. Cowan p. 256. x,171,(1)pp. Illustrated with 2 folding maps that are partially hand- colored. One map is of the world, "Illustrating the Relative Position of California and Its Commercial Advantages," (to Europe and Asia). The other map is a Township Plat exhibiting the United States' rectangular system of surveys for private land titles used in California. Disbound. Lower right corner of the World Map is clipped (very minor loss) and one crease has been reinforced on the verso. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Publisher: Gideon & Co., Printers
Publication Date: 1851
Binding: Disbound
Book Condition: Very good
Edition: y 1st Edition.

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Gwin, William M.:
Published by Washington: Gideon & Co., 1851. (1851)
Used Quantity Available: 1
William Reese Company - Americana
(New Haven, CT, U.S.A.)

Book Description Washington: Gideon & Co., 1851., 1851. ix,[3-]171pp. plus two folding maps. Antique-style half morocco and marbled boards. Lower corner of folding map trimmed, slightly affecting image (only antarctic ocean). Light tanning and foxing. Very good. A scarce series of three speeches delivered by William McKendree Gwin on the floor of the U.S. Senate arguing for the amendment of what would become the California Land Act of 1851. The work also prints an introduction by Gwin addressed to the people of California, and an appendix with related government documents, as well as two folding maps, one showing sample land claims, and the other a world map highlighting the advantageous geographical position of California. "Contains, with observations, many extracts from Mexican laws and decrees relating to land grants" - Cowan. Many precedents are cited from the American takeover of Louisiana and Florida and how land rights were treated in those cases. The 1851 Land Law established a three-member review board to arbitrate disputes over land claims in California arising from different grants made by Spanish, Mexican, and American governments. In theory, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848 protected the land rights of those already resident in newly acquired American territory. In reality, those grants were immediately and continually challenged by squatters, homesteaders, miners, and numerous other claimants. Gwin supported the Land Commission as a way for the original settlers to validate their claims, arguing in these speeches that the burden of proof placed upon the Mexican residents would not be overly onerous. But he also supported the right of the U.S. government to appeal decision that went against Anglo-American settlers. This provision allowed the commission to become a mechanism for the entanglement of grantees in drawn-out and expensive legal battles that would eventually force them to give up or sell their property rights. Only the wealthiest Californio ranchers could survive such extended legal processes. The Tennessee-born Gwin (1805-1885) practiced medicine and law (serving for more than two years as a U.S. Marshal in Mississippi) before settling in California in 1849 and focusing on a career in politics. He was a part of California's constitutional convention in Monterey, and was elected the state's first U.S. Senator in 1850, serving until 1855 and again from 1857 to 1861. A "Chivalry" Democrat, he supported slavery, and worked hard for a transcontinental railroad and to bring federal resources to California. Suspected of southern sympathies during the Civil War, Gwin was arrested and briefly imprisoned, before going to France to interest Emperor Napoleon III in a plan to settle southerners and western miners in Mexico. COWAN I, p.1012 COWAN II, p.256 HOWELL 50, 587. Bookseller Inventory # WRCAM 52295

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