California Rumors

Lansford Hastings’ bright, deluded mind was a-boil. He was fresh from helping John Bidwell lay out a theoretical town called Sutterville, which could use buyers. He was the local representative of an even gaudier speculation in real estate. California was ripe to the sickle . . . and rich with rumors. Castro was going to revolt against Pico. Pico was going to make war on Castro. Mexico was going to order all foreigners out. Mexico was going to expropriate the lands it had granted to Americans. Mexico was going to sell California to England – to France – to Russia – in order to prevent the United States from seizing it on the outbreak of war. Great Britain was going to occupy California to use it as a counterweight in the Oregon controversy. Vallejo was going to turn it over to the United States, Pico to England, Castro to France, Prince Henry of Spain was to rule over it. . . . And ten thousand Mormons were coming, either at Sutter’s invitation or in defiance of hirn (and in some rumors at the instigation of Hastings himself), to settle at New Helvetia. And a great, a vast emigration was even now gathering on the Missouri – so vaguely vast that it was pulling Hastings’ mind to the upper strata of fantasy.”