Colfax in California

The Honorable Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The meeting in the White House that evening of April 14, 1865, was of necessity brief. The President and Mrs. Lincoln were expected at Ford’s Theatre.

In May, Colfax departed for the West, repeating across the country what may have been Lincoln’s last words on a public subject. Traveling in company with Illinois Lieutenant-Governor William Bross and two journalists, Samuel Bowles and Albert Richardson, Colfax spoke ten times in Colorado, seven in Utah, eight in Nevada. A journey two thousand miles by stage undoubtedly cemented his conviction that the nation desperately needed the continental railway finally under construction.

Colfax’s trip to California was eloquently reported by journalist Samuel Bowles in his famous overland account, Across the Continent, 1865.
The Colfax party boarded the steamer Chrysopolis at Front Street in Sacramento and proceeded downriver to San Francisco where they were greeted by the city’s mayor and a reception committee.
The famous photographer Eadweard J. Muybridge recorded the burgeoning town of Colfax from the south east with his stereo camera.
In 1865, the Central Pacific Railroad named its Placer County depot in honor of Colfax’s visit to California.
In this engraving from Across the Continent, it depicts Colfax enjoying a dinner party at a Chinese restaurant in the city. Chi Sing-Tong, president of the San Yup Company, presided at the Speaker’s table.
Upon arriving in San Francisco, the Colfax party lodged at the opulent four-story Occidental Hotel at Bush and Montgomery Streets.



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