James White was a 21 year old farmer from Quincy, MA. In 1849 he sailed from Boston around Cape Horn to San Francisco and the gold diggings of California. In all he spent 6 months at sea and a year in California. I've transcribed his journal and am publishing it here as well as on Amazon/Kindle and Apple/iBooks.
Now things start to come apart. There are difficult times ahead. This does not bode well.
Friday May 11th
In Lat. 28º 08' Long. 75º 39'. Commenced with fair weather and a light wind from SE. Began to think that we should be in trades before long. All continuances have wore rather disconsolable appearance as to the weather. It has been cracking weather, but rather calm, rather pacific, for us who are so anxious to get there before the fleets that are bound there. For a ten knot breeze is the cry of all.
Sometimes I think that luck is against us, at other I think that we ought to thank the Lord that He has taken us so far on our journey, preserving our lives and ship, and even our health for the sake of letting us gain a fortune or wordily riches. At night, calm.
Saturday Mar 12th
In Lat. 27º 53' Long. 75º 59'. Commenced with a head wind very light from the NW. Very light all day. The carpenters were at work in the timber for a large flat bottom boat for the engine to ply up and down the Sacramento for the use of the Company and other small boats skills.
--[At this point James White included the constitution and by-laws of the Company as well as a list of its members. These are included in the Appendix]--
Sunday May 13th
In Lat. 26º 49' Long. 76º 52'. Commenced fair with light winds from the SW. All hands wear a grave continence. All are so anxious to get to California that they feel anything but pleasant when not favored with a fair wind and other things tend to cause discontent. Some are displeased with the officers of the ship. Some will not associate with others. A discontented man. A dark cloud hangs over the Company. What will come from it is hard for the present to tell.
Monday May 14th
In Lat. 25º 59' Long. 77º 50'. Commenced with fair weather and light winds from the S.W.
Nothing of importance has troubled the happiness of the Company till now. "Dissolve, dissolve the Company" is the cry of some of the discontented avaricious. Some who think they can make a fortune in less than a year's time want to divide because they say that the officers are inefficient, that a great many of the members are lazy and not willing to do their part. Perhaps this is not their object. Perhaps the cry of dissolve is to excite the members to turn out some of the officers, or perhaps they have other reasons, but until I have better reasons then are now offered, I shall go for union and nothing but union. Tomorrow a meeting is to be held to see who are for dissolving.
But there are other things which cause a great deal of excitement at the present time, the trials of some of the members for drinking intoxicating liquors at Valparaiso. Some came aboard high, but the Company bore away a good name, and I hardly think that a Company will sail for California that bears so good a reputation as this. Some predicted that we should have trouble before we got out there, but till now everything has gone on peacefully and quietly. Perhaps this will not amount to much but will have a good tendency. Another trial is now going on. The trial of Stone for theft for stealing Home's gun.
Tuesday May 15
In Lat 24º 23' Long. 78º 02'. Commenced with fair beautiful weather and a very light wind from the W. No trade winds yet, nor any signs of it. This is truly the Pacific Ocean. Saw a ship astern coming up with us very fast.
Wednesday May 16th
In lat. 23º 48' Long. 78º 29'. Commenced with fair weather. Wind N. All sails, the drawing sails, set. The same as ever since we left Valparaiso.
In the morning at 9 a meeting was held as by the request of several members to take into consideration the subject of dissolving the Company. A petition was handed in as preamble to dissolve the Company at San Francisco by some twenty of the members for the reason that there was a great deal of dissatisfaction witnessed among the Company. They thought it advantageous to all to divide into six different parties and build boats, six in number, sufficient to carry the parties up the river, and divide the property ,and give each and all his share, and have the ship and property sold at auction at San Francisco, and the business settled by the directors.
The question was discussed by the unionist only. The revolters not able to defend their proposition, the ays and noes were taken on the subject. One hundred and nineteen were in favor of union, three in favor of dissolving and twenty eight seatering. This was enough that the Company were determined to hold together firm and united. A resolve was then offered by Mr. Lull and passed by a unanimous vote.
Resolved that we, as New England men bound together by the ties of common interest & mutual protection, will use every means in our power to foster feelings of harmony & good will in the Company & will frown on any attempt to dissolve the same. The meeting was adjourned.
The ship in the morning sun yesterday was within five miles of us abeam as she neared us. She showed her colors and we ours. She came down and spoke us. She proved to be the Architect from New Orleans, a Baltimore build craft. She sailed from Valparaiso the Sunday two days after we did. She had sixty passengers. Lost six in the Gulf of Mexico by cholera. We exchanged Lat. and Long, gave six cheers which was returned, bid us good luck and flew on.
Thursday May 17th
In Lat. 23º 42'. Long. 78º 32'. Commenced fair and calm. Calm most all day. The Architect in sight all day. Boarded by us with a dory built for the Sacramento. Got a file of New Orleans papers.
Today a petition was handed in against I.C. Whipple, one of the Directors of the Company for misconduct and not doing his duty as a Director. A meeting was held and, as is stated in Art. 9, two stockholders and one Director was chosen to investigate the matter and report tomorrow. Mr. Agery, one of Directors, E.P. Weeks and L.R. Lull of the stockholders.
A new week will be published each Sunday.