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Rutherford, and Mecklenburg. Previous to 1825 the metal bad been obtained from washings, but in that year auriferous vein stones were discovered and 625 ounces of gold obtained by rock mining, after which other leads were found in most of the counties above named.
In 1829 $3,500 were deposited at the miut from South Carolina, and from 1830 to 1861 mining was prosecuted in that State with varying success. In 1852 the Dorn mine was opened in the Abbeville district, and in a little more than a year produced $300,000 worth of gold by the aid of a single Chilian mill worked by two mules. The total deposit from this State amounts to $1,353,663 98. The whole northwestern part of South Carolina contains gold, but the districts in which it has been mainly developed are Abbeville, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union, York, and Lancaster.
In 1830 $212,000 were received from Georgia as the first contribution of its mines, which from that date to 1861 yielded a product of $6,971,681 50. The whole of the State lying along the base of the Blue Ridge has been found more or less auriferous, but the counties in which mining has been principally conducted are Carroll, Cobb, Cherokee, Lumpkin, and Habersham.
Gold has been found in Tennessee and Alabama, but the quantity has been small, the whole amount deposited from the former State since 1828 being only $81,406 75, and from the latter since 1838, $201,734 83.
Specimens of silver ore have been discovered in several of the States aforesaid, but, so far, in paying quantities only at the Washington mine in Davidson. county, North Carolina, where ores of great richness exist. The gold obtained by washing in the southern States was eagerly purchased by jewellers, anxious to secure the same on account of its great purity; and one-half of the product, it is supposed, was thus consumed.
The whole amount deposited at the mint from the six States between 1804 and 1866 is $19,457,297 55; and if an equal quantity passed into manufactures and foreign commerce without reaching the mint, the total gold product of the Atlantic slope up to 1868 may be set down at $40,000,000.
* Efforts are now being made to develop the quartz veins of the southern States with the aid of the improvements in mining found to be effective in California and elsewhere.
But the most important gold fields of the United States and of the world are found in the States and Territories extending from the northern to the southern boundaries of the republic, and from the Pacific ocean to the eastern spurs and outliers of the Rocky mountains, embracing an area of more than a million of square miles.
This extensive region is included within California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Everywhere throughout this vast extent are found districts rich in the precious metals, including mines surpassing, in the quantities of treasure yielded, the most celebrated of other countries.
The existence of gold on the Pacific, within the limits of the present State of California, was well known to the Jesuit fathers long before the territory became a part of the United States; but the first discovery which became practical in the development of an extensive mining interest was made in the spring of 1818. A contractor, having engaged to furnish lumber to a retired Swiss officer of the Guard of Charles X, erected a saw-mill on the south fork of the American river, at a place now called Coloma, in California, on the western declivity of the Sierra Nevada. The mill was completed in March, 1848, and on setting it in operation, the water, rushing through the new tail-race, exposed numerous small particles of a light metallic lustre, recognized as gold. The news of the discovery soon spread far and wide, and as early as July of that year four thousand persons were engaged in washing on the Ameri
can river and its tributaries, obtaining from thirty to forty thousand dollars' worth of gold every day, and by the month of November they had extracted from four to five millions.
In July,1849, fifteen thousand persons had reached the new El Dorado, including miners from Mexico, Peru, Chili, and elsewhere. These were soon after joined by immense immigratione from the United States and Europe, making an aggregate number before the close of 1849 of fifty or fifty-five thousand persons, who had washed from the river beds of California, before the commencement of the year 1850, gold equal to forty millions of dollars, increased during the following year to ninety millions.
The gold-bearing rocks of California are a belt of talcose and other varieties of slate, varying in width from forty to fifty-five miles, alternating with masses of trap and serpentine, flanking the Sierra Nevada on the west, extending into the valley of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, where these rocks are overlaid by recent deposits of a sedimentary nature. Within the slate in metamorphic rocks are enclosed veins of auriferous quartz, believed to be the most prolific source from which is taken the gold of California, and to the detritus of which, separated from the original matrix by disintegration, abrasion, and distribution. by aqueous and other agencies, the shallow placers owe their origin.
The gold-bearing rocks of the Ural mountains, of Australia, and of the Andes belong to the palæozoic or silurian age, Sir Roderick Murchison claiming to have established the fact that all the more productive auriferous rocks belong to that geological period. The gold-producing States of California and Nevada appear, however, to form a remarkable exception to this general rule, as numerous fossils of undoubted jurassic origin have been found in situ in several different localities upon the most auriferous rocks in these States.
West of the Sierra Nevada silver ores first appear, and at the Comstock lode, in Nevada, an annual yield has been obtained nearly twice as great as that of the celebrated Potosi mines during the most prosperous periods of their history. The product of California is almost entirely gold, yet some silver is obtained by separation, while the product of Nevadais principally silver, the deposits of gold being less numerous and less extensive. In the Territories of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana, both the precious metals abound. Silver mining began in 1860 in Nevada, and it is estimated that to the present time the quantity extracted is equal to one hundred millions of dollars.
The first gold-mining operations were confined to shallow washings, where the metal lay near the surface, and was obtained without expensive machinery. As these deposits became exhausted, methods were resorted to for the purpose of carrying water to levels above the course of present streams, to wash the auriferous gravel found at such elevations. This method is known as the hydraulic process. At a still later period the system of mining in quartz rock was commenced, which appears at the present time to be well established in California, and is annually producing increased quantities. To render this branch of mining successful, an established and permanent population, with due proportion of skilled mechanics and establishments for the manufacture of machinery, appears to be necessary.
Of the quantities of the precious metals already taken from the mines of the United States, different estimates have been formed, some placing the product of California alone, since the commencement of 1848, at over one thousand millions of dollars. The special commissioner for the collectior of statistics of gold and silver west of the Rocky mountains estimates the product of California, from
1848 to the end of 1865, at nine hundred millions, and that of the neighboring States and Territories, including the province of British Columbia, at $100,000,000, making an aggregate of $1,000,000,000. To reach this result the manifests at the custom-house at San Francisco have been taken, amounting to $740,832,623,
to which was added the sum of $45,000,000 for gold and silver in use as currency on the Pacific, with an estimate of $115,000,000 for jewelry and plate manufactured in California, gold dust carried to the Atlantic States and foreign countries by miners returning home, without passing through the custom-house, and for dust buried or concealed by miners at remote points. It is safe to assume the total yield of Nevada, up to the end of 1867, at $100,000,000; that of Colorado at $30,000,000; of Oregon and Washington Territory, $25,000,000; Idaho and Montano, each, $25,000,000; and Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, $5,000,000. If the product of California, up to the end of the same period, be assumed as equal to $900,000,000, the total product of the western mines up to the first of January, 1868, will amount to $1,110,000,000, or, in round numbers, $1,100,000,000, of which $1,000,000,000 may be set down for gold, and $100,000,000 for silver.
As to the annual product of the mines, opinions are likewise divided, some claiming eighty and others a hundred millions.
In 1865 and 1866 a revenue tax of six-tenths of one per cent. was collected on all gold and silver bullion in lumps, ingots, bars, or otherwise as assayed, which in 1866 amounted to $499,455, indicating a total value of bullion assayed, upon which a tax was paid, of $83,242,551 in paper currency value; equal in gold value to $56,000,000. A considerable quantity of bullion doubtless escaped taxation, but it is not probable the amount was greater than a fifth of the whole quantity subject to a revenue duty.
In the remote and unsettled regions mining is generally conducted by large parties operating in such a manner as to afford mutual protection against hostile Indians, and the localities become well known and are not likely to be passed over by the internal revenue collector. The chances for evasion are greater in the more settled districts, where the miners are more scattered. But these are not so numerous as to render it probable that an amount greater than we have assumed could escape the excise duty. Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah produced a certain quantity, which, but for the Apaches, would have amounted to many millions; considerable quantities passed into manufactures without being previously assayed, and left the country in the form of dust by miners returning to foreign parts, or was shipped in the form of ore; and $5,000,00C may be set down as a contingent under these heads, making a total of $75,000,000, gold value, for the year 1866, of which $18,000,000 represent the silver product.
The amount deposited at the mints for the year 1866 was less than $32,000,000, gold value, the mint returns exhibiting about four-sevenths of the amount of assayed bullion produced during that year upon which a revenue tax was assessed and paid. A license tax was paid by sixty-eight private assayers, nearly all of whom were located in the mining territory, and it may be safely affirmed that for some years past the larger portion of the gold and silver product of the United States has been cast into bars or ingots by these licensed assayers, and thus passed into the market without being returned to the mint.
The tax on bullion for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1867, was five-tenths of one per cent., amounting to $441,339, indicating a currency value of bullion on which a tax was paid of $88,267,900, equal in gold value to about $60,000,000; gold in the Pacific States being at a premium on paper of about fifty per cent.
It is not probable the product of the last fiscal year differs materially from that of the preceding, the increased amount of taxes collected being due rather to greater efficiency in the execution of the revenue laws. The yield for the calendar year of 1867 can hardly fail to be less than that of 1866, on account of Indian troubles in Montana, Idaho, and Arizona, and also because many mining companies wishing to import mills and other machinery are awaiting the . completion of the railroads across the mountains, as offering greater facilities for transportation; hence mining in many localities is, for the present, in a measure
suspended. Under these circumstances it is not likely the product for the year ending December 31, 1867, will exceed $70,000,000, gold value. Placer mining, from the exhaustion of deposits, must
necessarily decline on the Pacific slope, as it has in all other countries, but rock and hydraulic mining are destined to increase largely when our western regions become occupied by a settled population.
The field for enterprise in these branches is almost unlimited, and with the completion of proper railroad facilities, and the termination of Indian difficulties, the gold-bearing rocks of the western States and Territories will furnish profitable employment for millions of men and hundreds of millions of capital; and with the aid of suitable machinery and accomplished metallurgists, our annual supply of the precious metals may easily be increased to several hundred millions.
Mexico, since its conquest by the Spaniards in 1521, has contributed large quantities of silver, amounting, for 347 years, to an annual average of more than nine millions of dollars. ·
Humboldt estimated the product of its mines, from the conquest to the end of the year 1803, at $2,028,000,000,* of which about $79,000,000 were gold.
Of the whole amount, $1,767,952,000 had passed through the mints and were accounted for upon the official records; the balance, amounting to $260,000,000, and nearly one-seventh of the whole, was reckoned as a furtive extraction, finding its way into the market without any official recognition.
Chevalier calculated the silver product of Mexico from 1521 to 1845 at 162,858,700 pounds, troy; worth $2,605,739,200. Humboldt's estimate for the silver alone up to 1803 was $1,948,952,000. The silver coinage of the country between 1803 and the end of 1845 amounted to $506,000,000. If this amount, with one-fifth of the whole for the produce of the mines not passing through the mint, be added to Humboldt's estimate, the result will be nearly the same as the computation of Chevalier.
In the article “Mexico," in the New American Cyclopædia, we find a statement of the amount of the gold and silver coinage in all the Mexican mints from the conquest to 1856, with the mint returns for each year from 1822 to 1856, furnished by the ministerio de fomento. The total coinage to the year 1856 is set down atSilver...
$2,534, 115, 679 Gold.
96, 892, 542
2, 631, 008, 221
If to this one-seventh be added for the unregistered produce of the mines, the amount will reach the sum of $3,007,000,000. The same result will be obtained by adding the produce from 1803 to 1856 to Humboldt's figures, thus attesting the substantial accuracy of the conclusions reached nearly three-quarters of a century ago by that eminent philosopher.
The mint returns from 1822 to 1856, furnished by the “ministerio,” foot up $478,392,014 for both gold and silver, the coinage of the two metals not being stated separately. For the period from 1801 to 1821 recourse may be had to the reports made to the British government by its consuls in Mexico, from which it appears that during the twenty-six years from the commencement of 1804
The proceeds of the Mexican and South American mines from 1492 to 1803 stated in piasters, or Spanish dollars, a coin of very nearly the same value as our Jar, it is treated in this article as equivalent, and all values given in the gold cury United States. When reference is made to the produce of the American mine 1803, Humboldt's computations are implied, unless otherwise stated. For contained in the returns of the British consuls, we are mainly indebted before the Statistical Society of London, by Mr. J. T. Danson, an Englisb
the end of 1829 the silver coinage amounted to $350,579,867, and the gold returned to the mints during the same time to about $18,368,811, or an annual average of $13,484,000 in silver, and $700,000 in gold, equal to $14,184,000 of both metals and to $255,312,000 for the eighteen years from 1804 to 1821, both inclusive. For the twenty-six years from 1822 to the commencement of 1848, the year of the gold discoveries in California, the coinage of both metals in the Mexican mints was $313,661,674, thus exhibiting the amount of $568,973,674 gold and silver coinage for the forty-four years from 1803 to 1848. For the proportion of gold coinage in this amount it is believed the annual average of $700,000 may be adopted for the whole period. In the early part of the
century, when the coinage amounted annually to more than twenty millions of dollars, that of gold was slightly in excess of a million.
During the Spanish revolutionary troubles, commencing in 1810, when the mint records show a yearly supply of less than ten millions, that of gold declined sometimes to less than half a million. In 1832 the mints again returned a product of more than twelve millions, increased to thirteen millions in 1838, fifteen millions in 1845, and nineteen millions in 1848, when the gold coinage 'amounted to about one million. An annual average of $700,000 for forty-four years would produce $30,800,000, and may be stated, in round numbers, at $31,000,000, and the silver at $538,000,000.
In estimating the produce of the Mexican mines in 1841, M. St. Clair Duport, who had been engaged in refining gold and silver at the mint of the city of Mexico, states, in a work published in 1843, that the silver passing through the Mexican mint, was about four-fifths of the whole, while the gold returned was only about three-eighths of the amount produced. Humboldt's addition of oneseventh to the registered product was made under the old Spanish régime, when the police regulations of the mines were enforced with an extreme rigor that has not been practiced since.
In reference to mining operations during the revolutionary period, Mr. Ward remarks : “It is a fact universally admitted that although the towns of the mining districts have been ruined by the emigration of capitalists formerly interested in mining, the lower classes have, throughout the revolution, found means to draw their subsistence from the mines.
“ Under the denomination of buscones or searchers, they have never ceased to work, and have, in general, continued to extract from the upper levels, or from the old workings, a very considerable quantity of silver. This desultory system is still pursued in many parts of the country, and in many districts a large population is even now maintained by it.”
When it is considered that in our own country the amount deposited at the mints for the year 1866 was less than $32,000,000, gold value; while, for the same year, a revenue tax was assessed and paid upon assayed bullion equal, in gold value, to $56,000,000—the mint returns thus indicating an amount equal to four-sevenths only of the quantity upon which the tax was collected—it will be conceded that the estimate of Duport is quite reasonable. We will therefore adopt it, with a slight modification as to gold, by assuming that one-half of the actual product of that metal is indicated by the records of the mints. This will produce for the forty-four years subsequent to 1803 a product of $734,500,000; or $672,500,000 of silver, and $62,000,000 of gold.
For the nine years froin 1848 to 1856, the returns show a product of both metals of $164,730,340, or an annual average of $18,303,371; gold amounting to about $950,000, silver to $17,350,000.
Applying the same estimate for unregistered metal as above, we obtain a total for the nine years of $212,287,000, or $23,587,000 annually, of which about $2,000,000 may be set down for gold.
Of the produce of the mines since 1856 no official data are at hand. A gradual progress appears to have been made up to the advent of Maximilian,