November 4, 1864: Virginia City
November 4, 2014
I sit down this lovely morning to write a letter from a new state, emphatically, in every sense of the word. I am in a city of twelve thousand to fourteen thousand inhabitants, where four short years ago the desert bushes grew unmolested, the desert mountains sent back no echoes of the sounds of human industry, and the desolate hills showed no signs of human inhabitants, or at least of the homes of civilized men. New in another sense—a state constitution has just been adopted, has been telegraphed entire to Washington, and the wires just bring the news the President has issued his proclamation making Nevada a state…. Nevada Territory embraces over eighty thousand square miles, but it is nearly all desert. It has just been made a state, but I see no elements here to make a state. It has mines of some marvelous richness, but it has nothing else, nothing to call people here to live and found homes. Every man of any culture hopes to make his fortune here, but to enjoy it in more favored lands. The climate is bad, water bad, land a desert, and the population floating. Enormous salaries are paid, of course, for it takes great skill to run a mine producing half a million per month. In fact, I think the highest salaries in the United States are paid here. Last year, Palmer, superintendent of the Gould & Curry got a salary of forty thousand dollars per year! I would have no serious trouble in getting a place here with a salary of three hundred to five hundred dollars per month—men of less knowledge in my line get twice that.