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The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, August 19, 1864


Since the recent extraordinary expose of the concerns of the Grass Silver Mining Valley Company, by which Stockholders discovered, to their grief and dismay, that figures could lie as to what became of some of their assessments, and could also be ominously reticent as to what went with the balance, people have begun to discuss the possibility of inventing a plan by which they may be advised, from time to time, of the manner in which their money is being expended by officers of mining companies, to the end that they may seasonably check any tendency towards undue extravagance or dishonest expenditures that may manifest itself, instead of being compelled to wait a year or two in ignorance and suspense, to find at last that they have been bankrupted to no purpose. And it is time their creative talents were at work in this direction. The longer they sleep the dread sleep of the Grass Valley, the more terrible will be the awakening from it. Money is being squandered with a recklessness that knows no limit - that had a beginning, but seemingly hath no end, save a beggarly minority of dividend-paying companies - and after these years of expectation and this waste of capital, what account of stewardship has been rendered unto the flayed stock holder? What does he know about the disposition that has been made of his money? What brighter promise has he now than in any by-gone time that he is not to go on hopelessly paying assessments and wondering what becomes of them, until Gabriel sounds his trumpet? The Hale & Norcross officers decide to sink a shaft. They levy forty thousand dollars. Next month they have a mighty good notion to go lower, and they levy a twenty thousand dollar assessment. Next month, the novelty of sinking the shaft has about worn off, and they think it would be nice to drift a while - twenty thousand dollars. The following month it occurs to them it would be so funny to pump a little - and they buy a forty thousand dollar pump. Thus it goes on for months and months, but the Hale & Norcross sends us no bullion, though most of the time there is an encouraging rumor afloat that they are "right in the casing!" Take the Chollar Company, for instance. It seems easy on its children just now, but who does not remember its regular old monotonous assessment an them? "Sixty dollars a foot! sixty dollars a foot! sixty dollars a foot!" month in and month out, till the persecuted stockholder howled again. The same way with the Best & Belcher, and the same way with three-fourths of the mines on the main lead, from Cedar Hill to Silver City. We could scarcely name them all in a single article, but we have given a specimen or so by which the balance may be measured. And what has gone with the money? We pause (a year or two) for a reply. Now, in some of the States, all banks are compelled to publish a monthly statement of their affairs. Why not make the big mining companies do the same thing? It would make some of them fearfully sick at first, but they would feel all the better for it in the long-run. The Legislature is not in session, and a law to this effect cannot now be passed; but if one company dare voluntarily to set the example, the balance would follow by pressure of circumstances. But that first bold company does not exist, perhaps; if it does, a grateful community will be glad to hear from it. Where is it? Let it come forward and offer itself as the sacrificial scape-goat to bear the sins of its fellows into the wilderness.

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