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June 23, 1861: San Francisco

June 24, 2011
Starr King

Tomb of Thomas Starr King; by tapbirds, on Flickr

[Today] I went to hear [Starr King] preach. He is a most brilliant orator, his language strong and beautiful. He is almost worshiped here, and is exerting a greater intellectual influence in the state than any other two men….

There is much improvement going on here, even more building than usual. Business is brisk, but rates of exchange with the East are enormous—more than twice as high as they were before the War, or even three times. When I sent money home in the fall, it cost three per cent, now six to ten per cent; and so it will remain until the fear of privateers ceases.

It has been most lovely weather, but the afternoons are windy, and the air often filled with dust. No hot weather—this city is always cool—never hot, never cold.

San Francisco Night

San Francisco night; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Professor Whitney has a house several hundred feet above the city, on a hill, with a most lovely view of the city, the bay, and the hills beyond. These lovely moonlight nights the scene is surpassingly beautiful. The city below, basking in the soft light, the myriad gas lights, the bay glittering in the moonbeams, the ships, the opposite shores in the dim light, all form a picture that must be seen to be appreciated. This is indeed a lovely climate—children and women look as fresh and rosy as in England.

I meet many friends and acquaintances here; all say, “How fat you have grown,” “How camp has improved you,” “How stout and healthy you look,” and similar assurances. Every friend I have met speaks of it.

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