Few of the historical publications in the Magazine and Newspapers Center microfilm collection have as storied a San Francisco past as the ALTA CALIFORNIA. Initially a reclamation project of publisher Edward C. Kemble and some fellow investors, the ALTA was forged from the remains of what had once been THE CALIFORNIAN and the CALIFORNIA STAR newspapers - victims, as much as anything else, of the Gold Rush itself (and the subsequent manpower shortage resulting from the mass exodus to the hills). The first city daily paper, the ALTA CALIFORNIA (1849-1891) itself shared - and made - much of the vibrant early history and events of San Francisco. It was a time of foundation building (and rebuilding), moralizing, retribution, and not a little sanctification - generated from scratch . . .
The ALTA's Edward Gilbert and associates took some strong editorial stands in their day. Commenting on imports in March 1851, the paper voiced a complaint that San Francisco merchants (amidst growing pains) would only repeat in succeeding years:
and continuing in this vein in late February 1851:
Crime in Gold Rush San Francisco plagued the populace to alarming degrees, in the predominant forms of assault, battery, larceny, criminal arson and murder. The ALTA, as did other local newspapers, blamed Australian (and later Chinese) immigrants at large for much of early San Francisco's rampant vice and lawlessness in the February 25, 1851 issue:
TO BE CONTINUED