CAPTAIN SUTTER'S GOLD by Jonreed auritzen


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Oddly enough there is currently in print almost no adult material devoted to Captain Sutter, whose story is integral to the overall picture of California's early and checkered history. Despite the title the focus is not on the gold but on Captain Sutter himself, a Swiss immigrant, swollen a bit with his conviction of a glorious future, a miniature empire which he would dominate. And he came close to realizing this goal- though the road was strewn with obstacles and setbacks, and the finale was a tragic anticlimax. At first, while he worked his way West, Santa Fe was his objective, but he reached Santa Fe when realization was impossible, and got out with his investment less of a total loss than others but with little to go on for the new objective, California. Once there, only grim determination to realize the dream away from the coast, despite the doubts of all he encountered and the difficulties attendant on the project, made success possible. But he won his empire- and then almost literally gambled it away. Always in debt- even if the flow of gold would seem to have filled the coffers; ever-trusting, though his friends and enemies betrayed him alike; uncertain in his loyalties -- as California changed hands, ultimately to raise the Stars and Stripes and- for a time- to hold Sutter virtual prisoner in his own fort, a sad picture of a man with immense potentials, incredible courage, a visionary who lacked the realism he needed. The story is told in flashbacks to Mary Hammil, whose ultimate relationship to Sutter was the subject of endless speculation by the historians. Lauritzen, who tells the tale, handles it with perception and understanding.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1963
Publisher: Doubleday