Monday, September 12, 2011

Reading Old Newspapers

I have been reading the British Colonist from Victoria for the given day 150 years ago.    What I like about reading old newspapers is that I can get a real sense of what the public was worried about while at the same time knowing what has coming.

As an example, in the September 12th 1861 edition of the British Colonist there is news about the US Civil War.   Most interesting are the rumours of foreign intervention in the war.  It was clearly in question if the South would be recognized by Spain, England and France.   The paper has numerous dispatches from the war and the one thing that is clear is the degree of suspense and uncertainty there is about the outcome.

With hindsight, it is clear the South had little or no chance to win militarily against the the North.  It is also clear there never was any realistic expectation of British or French support of the South.   But in 1861 no one knew this.

Most interesting in the paper from 150 years ago today was the speculation of what might happen in the 1861 California election.   There is an active fear that California may vote for a successionist governor in the form of John McConnell.   The speculation is that California would become a separate Pacific republic.  

The article clearly shows a great degree of concern about the possible outcome but this is something I have never heard about in California history.   I had no idea there was such a strong movement in southern California in favour of the South and in favour of the creation of a new state or territory for southern California.

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