California Wins Eastern Friends

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Examiner/February 25, 1896


The Fight Against Funding Taken Up by Great Journals

Huntington Is Scored in Both New York and Washington Papers

Surprises Are Said to Be in Store for the Pacific Railway


Mayor Sutro’s Letter on the Opposition and Congratulating the “Star” is Published There


WASHINGTON, February 24. Some further evidence is seen that California’s protest against the funding bill is beginning to get attention in the East, and especially here.

Two or three weeks ago it would hardly have been possible to overstate the indifference of the press and public to our protest and to what we protested against. There was actually no public opinion in the matter at all; nobody took the trouble to write, speak or think about it, except those whose views took shape in their pockets and what shape they took it is needless to say.

Now the Washington newspapers publish full reports of each day’s proceedings of the Congressional committees on Pacific roads, as do several New York and Philadelphia papers, which did not before. The “Journal” naturally is foremost in New York in the fight against the bill; but it is not alone, as the following from the Washington correspondent of the “Times” (reprinted In today’s Washington “Star”) will serve to show:

“From day to day visitors to the Capitol see in the halls of the building, and sometimes in its committee room, a giant of picturesque appearance, a man much past the middle time of .life, but still vigorous and alert as a man of twenty-five. Taller than Mr. Hiscock, and with a head graced after the ex-Senator’s fashion, with a wealth of curling gray hair, he presents a sufficiently unusual appearance to the sightseer to provoke most of the curious to stop and ask, ‘Who is that?” Pretty nearly everybody can tell. All the members who are not just now green have known him for years. All the employees who hold over have known him since they were battened on the Government as doorbangers or messengers.

“It is Collis P. Huntlngton. and he has become since the death of Eads and ‘Billy’ McGarrahan the most conspicuous of the old-time frequenters of the Capitol. Not for many years has he spent so much time in the building as he does this year. Something that the Pacific Railroad Committees of the two Houses may do or should be prevented from doing keeps him and a little company of alert satellites constantly on guard. He has been a witness before the committees that are considering propositions for settling the never-settled controversy about the payment of the Pacific Railroad’s indebtedness.

“And watching the every movement of the magnate and the committees are some gentlemen from San Francisco who have maintained against Mr. Huntington a light in which the East has acquired an increasing interest. The lobbyists think that this ought to be a good year for them. They are inclined to give Mr. Huntington the impression that it should be a good year for him, and any number of them are waiting to contribute to his objects the assistance which they furnish out of a long, varied and not too scrupulous experience.”

The “Star” this evening contains also the following characteristic letter from Mayor Sutro, conspicuously displayed:

“SAN FRANCISCO, Cal.. Feb. 23.

“To the Editor of the ‘Evening Star’: You have always been an honorable and independent newspaper man, and it is glorious news to see one newspaper at Washington have the manhood to come out squarely against the foremost criminal and traducer of our age. False statements in hireling newspapers attempt to prove to Congress that people of the Pacific Coast are in favor of the Funding bill. Our people want the Government to let the law take its natural course and foreclose. Fourteen hundred thousand inhabitants of California oppose the Funding bill. The other 100,000 are dependents, bondholders and people otherwise interested in the Southern Pacific of Kentucky or persons intimidated by the octopus.


On the whole we are making progress. I have reason to think that when the Senate Committee’s examination of Mr. Huntington is resumed on Friday next and the days following he will be confronted with matters that he is not dreaming of and may find himself in the state of mind of the colonel who lost his regiment in an unexpected night attack by the enemy.

“Sir,” said his commanding general, sternly, after hearing the tale of woe. “You have allowed yourself to be surprised.”

“ ‘Surprised’ is no word for it, general,” he replied. “I was astonished.”




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s