Daily Alta California, 17 June 1851
Ever since California changed her national allegiance, the southern section of it, especially the Los Angeles Valley, has endured all manner of oppressions from wild Indians and dissolute white men with far less conscience and much greater capacity and taste for evil than the untaught savage. The Mexican rule ceased, almost no law existed, and as did the Jews at a particular time in their history, “every man did that which seemed right in his own eyes.” This might have been an almost enviable condition, had the inhabitants remained as before, free from the additions which the authority of the new flag allowed to quarter among them. There was not much danger of any very exciting scenes ot disorder while the hospitable native Californian Dons possessed their ranches of princely acres, inhabited by the listless Indian, too superstitious and too indolent for enterprizes of extensive crime and daring.
Before the war some of the ranches, occupied and cultivated by French and Americans, almost vied with the old Baronial estates of Europe in the number of their retainers as well as their wealth of flocks, herds and droves. But the results of the contest disorganized their households for such might have been termed their Indian laborers scattered them. and left the ranches uncultivated, and the stock exposed to the incursions of the Utah and other wild Indian tribes, and the no less unscrupulous inroads of professedly civilized men. The supremacy of the American arms imposed a new allegiance, but for a long time the ruling power afforded no protection in place of that which had existed previous to the war in the arms of the Indians and Californians, acting under the Mexican government.
Although a few soldiers stationed at the Cajon Pass would have almost entirely protected that whole section against the incursions of the marauding Utahs and other Indian and white thieves who ate up in the mountains or sold at Great Salt Lake, the horses and mules which they stole in the valleys below, from some cause or apathy on the part of the American military authority, the utmost that was effected was a visit to the Pass by General Smith and other officers, and a few troops for a while stationed at Ranch del Chino in the centre of the valley, out of all possible reach of preventing theft or punishing it. The rancheros have consequently been subjected to almost inevitable ruin. In a single night their horses and mules would be driven off and they left without even the means of pursuit.
Some eleven months ago, one of them for the fourteenth time within three years, had his cavalada swept away. Added to these forays are the oppressions from the lawless and reckless scum of our own countrymen and others, which the gold fever and new order of things generally had brought into the country. The city of Los Angeles became the head quarters of a gang, execrable beyond anything which we have experienced here. In the winter of 1849-50 a band of desperadoes put all law at defiance, and committed whatever crimes suited their depraved appetites, with impunity. Over twenty men were killed there within four weeks. Since then the Morehead Expedition to the Colorado was in a great measure fitted out with mules and horses forcibly obtained and unpaid for. And finally bands of armed men roamed about the country, laying the different proprietors under such contributions as their needs, or caprice, or malignity dictated.
But at last the spirit was aroused, and, like our own citizens, the people of Los Angeles found it necessary to take effective measures. But the poor despised Indians had preceded them, and become the avengers of crime. The account of this transaction as given in the Los Angeles Star, and in our columns, will give the public a new idea of those Indians. Indolent and listless as they usually are, they are dangerous when aroused. That the party which they destroyed deserved their fate, there can be no doubt. That the atrocities which have turned one of the most beautiful sections of the continent into a Pandemonium, have been allowed so long to continue is disgraceful to the American name. It was the duty of the American government to protect the people, according to the stipulations of the treaty, as well in accordance with policy, justice and humanity. Even the troops which might have been employed for this purpose were generally quartered near San Diego or at other places where there was no possible chance of their being of any service to anybody. It is to be hoped that the forces under Gen. Bean, the U. S. troops and the civil authorities will now act in concert and with energy, to put an end to the outrageous acts of the desperadoes who have ruled so long in that garden spot of California.
The country is well worth the duty’s performance, the people deserve it. A more hospitable class cannot be found on the continent than the native Californian of Spanish descent. That section of the state has been overshadowed by the golden dreams and realities of this, but its progress is no less sure and its future as promising, although its development has been and will be much more tardy.