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Passenger Receipt, First Cabin, Rufus Lockwood, Fremont's Gold Rush Attorney [158887]

Currency:USD Category:Artifacts / Shipwreck Artifacts Start Price:1,000.00 USD Estimated At:2,000.00 - 0.00 USD
Passenger Receipt, First Cabin, Rufus Lockwood, Fremont's Gold Rush Attorney [158887]
SOLD
1,500.00USD+ (300.00) buyer's premium + applicable fees & taxes.
This item SOLD at 2022 Dec 03 @ 10:49UTC-8 : PST/AKDT
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One of two of Fremont's Gold Rush Attorneys, Rufus Lockwood, Passenger Receipt. First Cabin, ticket #2. San Francisco to New York, August 20, 1857. Degraded upper right. legible, but light. Recovered from the S.S. Central America shipwreck in 2014. Lockwood was quite possibly much more important that many of the other First Cabin passengers. He was the main lawyer for John C. Freemont regarding his Mariposa Estate in the central Mother Lode region. While Fremont did use other lawyers in the early 1850s, Lockwood and David Hoffman (his London agent and lawyer) was "the main guy" in the USA in all matters involving gold, mining, and related property issues. When Rufus Lockwood died at sea from the S.S. Central America disaster, Fremont's financial world began its collapse. Fremont was the renowned Western Explorer. He had led five expeditions through the West, each for different reasons, including his first exploratory expedition to California in the 1840s, where he marched through territory then unknown to the rest of the Country, including the fabulous Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border, at a time when the Federal Government had no ownership or political ties to the West, they had not yet undertaken the purchase of any land from Mexico, and the trip preceded the war with Mexico over Western territory. Fremont personally purchased from Mexico Governor J. V. Alvarado the Las Mariposas Estate in 1847, later known as the Mariposa Estate, originally 44,000+ acres. On it were some of the richest gold deposits, which included what was probably the first producing hard rock gold mine. The four key mines were the Pine Tree, Josephine, Princeton, and the Mt. Ophir, all located near the mining camp of Mariposa. These mines produced a wealth of gold for Fremont but were not without their challenges. Fremont hired Rufus Lockwood to protect his rights. Rufus thus became one of the most important and influential lawyers on property rights in America. It is said he was a brilliant strategist and lawyer, acutely aware of how the law worked. In the early days of mining on the Fremont's Mariposa Estate, Fremont used the best minds in the gold business. He hired John Little Moffat and others, including the Wass, Molitor company to advise on different aspects of the gold business. (See Spence, M. L.; The Expeditions of John Charles Fremont, (Letters) v3, 1984). Numerous challenges were made to the title of the Mariposa estate, and after years of legal battles, Lockwood secured title on June 19, 1855, though the formal patent to the 17,709.79 acres was not completed until 1866. The original Mariposa Grant had gotten whittled down because of complexities in the law, and a method of land transfer and language used by then California Governor Alvarado used in his "land grants" that conflicted with US custom and law. Lockwood was the person that had to sort it all out. Alvarado, as was the custom with Mexico land grants, had included a phrase that could be interpreted as not allowing the receiver to sell any part of the land, but could lease it. We see evidence of this in another lot in this sale, where US land agents for nearly a decade investigated Mexican land claims. Spence, in the Fremont Letters, claims Lockwood's real name was Jonathan A. Jessup, and considered him an "eccentric legal genius." In the early 1850s, Lockwood was off to the Australian gold rush, of which little is known of his time there. He returned to handle Freemont matters. (See Spence, M. L.; Fremont Letters, v3, p282 and others). Lockwood perished on the S.S. Central America. His wife and three children survived. Fremont, by the way, could easily have been on the S.S. Central America. He had been traveling back and forth from California to New York on legal and political matters since about 1850, and most recently had done so in late 1856. He ran for President of the USA in 1856. While Fremont was busy in Washington on his Presidential campaign, Lockwood was busy perfecting his land title. Successful in securing formal patent to 17,000+ acres, other things were going on in the background. In Fremont's absence, a band of crooks and miscreants had forcefully taken over Fremont's key mines at Mariposa. They had threatened violence, threatened to kidnap Mrs. Fremont and to ruin everything Fremont owned. Lockwood was the guy who would find legal mechanisms to put these men, not only under arrest, but in prison. But he died on the S.S. Central America. Fremont was suddenly without his Number One weapon, Rufus Lockwood. Confusion, threats and near war broke out between the bad guys, known as the Hornitos League, and Jesse Fremont sought help from neighbors and help from lawmen. Once a Freemont insider "escaped" to get help in Stockton, the word passed, and support for Fremont was overwhelming. The cries for help to Stockton never happened, as the "Coulterville Home Guard" came to the rescue and threatened the Hornitos gang in a manner that permanently dispersed the group. This was a form of necessary vigilantism at a time when tempers ran high in San Francisco with the Vigilance Committee of 1856 and the hangings of Casey and Cora. After some time, the help came in quickly and got rid of the squatters. But Fremont's woes were far from over. Without Lockwood guiding Fremont in his Mariposa ventures, Fremont outspent his income and saw expenses and expenditures mount out of control. The man who had kept the reins on Fremont, kept his estate under control, and managed all the legal aspects of the Mariposa Estate -- Rufus Lockwood, was dead. Fremont's financial world collapsed. By the 1860s, he was forced to sell to New York investment bankers, and in so doing, had turned a large fortune into a tiny stipend.

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Provenance: SS Central America Collection