Mercury and the Making of California
Mining, Landscape, and Race, 1840–1890
Publication Year: 2013
Gold and silver could not be refined without mercury; therefore, its production and use were vital to securing power and wealth in the West. The first industrialized mining in California, mercury mining had its own particular organization, structure, and built environments. These were formed within the Spanish Empire, subsequently transformed by British imperial ambitions, and eventually manipulated by American bankers and investors. In California mercury mining also depended on a workforce differentiated by race and ethnicity. The landscapes of work and camp and the relations among the many groups involved in the industry—Mexicans, Chileans, Spanish, English, Irish, Cornish, American, and Chinese—form a crucial chapter in the complex history of race and ethnicity in the American West.
This pioneering study explicates the mutual structuring of the built environments of the mercury-mining industry and the emergence of California’s ethnic communities. Combining rich documentary sources with a close examination of the existing physical landscape, Johnston explores both the detail of everyday work and life in the mines and the larger economic and social structures in which mercury mining was enmeshed, revealing the significance of mercury mining for Western history.
Published by: University Press of Colorado
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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication
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There is a long list of people whom I met and spoke with over the years, and who added some kernel to information that proved important to my work. These people include Kris Lane, Kenneth Cameron, Henry Glassie, Gerald Weber, Gray Brechin, Christopher Brown, José Peral López, Michael Boulland, Marianne Hurley, Brian Ramos, Rick Fitzgerald, Meg Scantlebury, Thad Van Buren, Sunshine Psota, Arthur ...
Introduction: California: The Quicksilver State
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...opment” that has characterized California.one.fitted McWilliams’s qualities that are often applied to the accumulation of wealth. A mercurial nature implies that one is erratic, volatile, and unstable—all acknowledged characteristics of California’s development. Following Carey McWilliams, if we were to invent an equation involving quicksilver for understanding the development of California, it ...
1. Imperialism and California’s Quicksilver
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...lessees for sixteen years of a quicksilver mine . . . Since that “confidential agent in California” in a secret dispatch from Buchanan.three.fitted As confidential agent his job was to promote in his letters.four.fitted While Larkin was acting in the interests of imperial.scism and cal.scif.scornia’s q.scaltuick.scsil.scv.scer22...
2. Money and Powerin the California Mercury Landscape
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...& Co. in the early 1850s.one.fitted Two younger men ran this of_f_ice: affairs early on for his wealth and connections.two.fitted Thomas money.sc and pow.scer in the cal.scif.scornia mercury.sc l.scandscape58involved in the quicksilver trade in the 1850s through working for Bolton, Barron & Co. The company these men developed was part of the Barron, Forbes & Co. net-...
3. A Geography of Mercury Mining in California
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...ore is more plentiful than ours, but not so good quality . . . Mine was threatened with closure by court injunction.two.fitted prospecting work as was necessary at New Almaden (Figure 3.1). In addition, the ground was firm, requiring little timbering, yet was more easily dug than the rock at New Almaden, and the mine was also dry, requiring neither elaborate pumping ...
4. Race, Space, and Power at New Almaden
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...mine, each attempting to further their own interests.one.fitted state.two.fitted In Racial Fault Lines: The Historical Origins of White state’s formative period of development.”three.fitted Although issues relatedly, their class possibilities. In California, a state with questions concerning the shaping of the landscapes of California’s quicksilver mines ...
5. Race, Technology, and Work
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Idria Mine in California (Figure 5.1).one.fitted Together these men—naces, and then bottled the resulting mercury for market.two.fitted this photographer at New Idria celebrated this theme.three.fitted the lowest group in the racial hierarchy there.five.fitted Thirty years the mine (Figure 5.2).six.fitted The hierarchies changed over time ...
6. Race, Family, and Camp Life
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...fornia, shows members of that mine community in 1879.one.fitted Chinese, and below the line and in the foreground, white.two.fitted living at the mine.three.fitted The racial organization displayed in the If the quicksilver mines—the shafts, tunnels, planillas, and furnace yards—were landscapes of production, then the quicksilver camps—the houses, outdoor areas, ...
7. Conclusion: The Legacy of the Quicksilver
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...1880s—In re Tiburcio Parrottone.fitted and Edwards Woodruff v. the l.scegacy.sc of.sc the q.scaltuick.scsil.scv.scer l.scandscapes of.sc cal.scif.scornia246the illegitimate son of John Parrott—one of the richest men in San Francisco—was arrested for violating a provision of the new California Constitution. Being a mem-ber of a powerful family in the city and the state, and having lived his life exercising ...
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Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 66 b&w photographs, 23 line drawings, 12 maps, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Mining the American West
Series Editor Byline: Duane A. Smith, Robert A Trennert, and Liping Zhu