The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1972, Volume 18, Number 1
James E Moss, Editor

Excerpts from a speech by United States Representative Thomas Hart Benton from Missouri which he made in the House of Representatives, June 26, 1854.

“[The Mexican Treaty] . . . should be rejected . . . Its principal features are an acquisition of a string of territory in the States of Chihuahua and Sonora for a railroad and the payment of ten million dollars . . . The route . . . is a thousand miles out of the way to San Francisco, and through a country so utterly desolate, desert, and Godforsaken, that Kit Carson says a wolf could not make his living upon it . . . Mr. Walker was to get the right of way . . . and chartered privileges besides, for $6,500! And this treaty gets the same and pays $10,000,000! And now for the reason why this road must go south of the Gila . . . I will tell you, and for that purpose must introduce you to a large object on paper—the City of New San Diego. Here it is [holding up a large map laid off into squares and streets but without houses or people] . . . here it is and with explanatory notes, showing that it is a ‘port’ and ‘U.S. Military Depot’ . . . and surveyed by ‘A. B. Gray, U.S. Boundary Commission, and T. D. Johns, U.S. Army.’ This new San Diego . . . is so far south that no road to San Francisco could go by it unless it went south of the Gila [river], and that is the secret of the ultra Gila route for which the Government agreed to pay $20,000,000, which the Senate reduced to $10,000,000, and which Mr. Robert J. Walker was buying for $6,500 in money and a vial full of moonshine in the shape of Texas railroad stock which has no price on the exchange. New San Diego is the governing point in the Southern proposed railroad route to the Pacific Ocean. And who owns this city on a map which has suddenly become a governing point in our legislation and diplomacy? It is said to belong to the military—to the scientific corps—and to be divided into many shares and expected to make the fortunes of the shareholders or lot holders as soon as Congress sends the Pacific railroad to it. Its conception dates with the sojourn of the Boundary Commission. Mr. Emory, of the Topographical Corps, and who was of the Boundary Commission, and is in charge of the Pacific route surveys, and who is the brother-in-law of the president of the one hundred million company, is said to be interested in the city . . . an immense ramification of official and speculating interest is attributed to it, and to that interest is to be attributed the incessant and too successful attempts to establish the New San Diego as a seaport and military depot and gets this Mexican route for the road. The quotation from Mr. Walker’s publication connects his one hundred million company with this road. The map of New San Diego connects the army speculators with it . . . The military speculators (whose fortunes are in New San Diego) must go it in order to come up by that hopeful town. All in all, the treaty is a favor . . . to a couple of speculating companies and a stipulation for a road where nothing but insanity or criminality would place it . . . This is the secret of this extraordinary purchase. It is to help out the speculation of New San Diego and the one hundred million company—to enable them to sell lots and railroad shares in New York and London. This treaty gives them a great lift; a perfect windfall . . . Stock will be above par which is now below zero. I repeat: the whole object of getting this road through Chihuahua and Sonora is to make it come up by the ‘scientific’ city of New San Diego . . . the whole $10,000,000 go as a naked gratuity for a railway track purchasable for $6,500—and worth nothing—except as a speculation for New San Diego and for the London and New York markets. . .”