Passengers arriving at the Port of San Francisco


Arrive San Francisco

January 11, 1853
Ship Magellan
Captain L. Cazalis
From Havre, France

Rush to Gold: The French and the California Gold Rush, 1848- 1854
Malcolm J. Rohrbough

Copies of Le Havre, 1873, by Claude Monet, available by clicking the image.
View of Le Havre, 1873
Claude Monet

In 1851, Eustache Mathet, after a series of family tragedies and inability to find work in Paris, he petitioned for free passage to San Francisco. After a series of more mishaps, he wrote his family: "In the end, for us, it's victory or death." On July 23, 1852, with his 16-year-old son Henri, they joined 267 single men under the lingotier banner on the quay in Le Havre. The hardships of these travellers are echoed in virtually every work about the desire to leave subjucation and reach new shores and a new life.

Their journey lasted more than five months and they used their time as did all sea voyagers: sights of birds and aquatic life, other ships, they gambled for money, clothes, coffee, wine, brandy or bread. A few of the educated created courses.

At Valparaiso, local officials descended on the ship: health officers, customs officials, naval officers with friendly salutes, then as now, a swarm of merchants selling goods. There were women everywhere. There was also a military presence that dominated with seemed like a colonial town in its segregated neighborhoods, ruled by brutal force, widespread prostitutions and an exploitation of the poor. They left this port of call after three days.

After 170 days enroute, the Magellan entered San Francisco habror.

The first of these lottery ships arrived in San Francisco on February 28, 1852. The Committee of Vigilance in San Francisco sent a delegation to the French consulate to make inquiries. The consul, Patrice Dillon, assured the committee that there were no criminals among the 4,500-5,000 laborers that reached the city. The Committee ws satisfied; the Alta California prounounced the future arrivals "all respectable."


Daily Alta California, January 10, 1853

Shipping Intelligence
Port San Francisco, Jan. 10, 1853

Fr ship Magellan, Cazillis, 152 days from Havre, via Valparaiso 43 days, with a valuable cargo. Mdze to V. Marglo & Co. 256 passengers.

Daily Alta California, January 11, 1853

Monsieur, the French Consul in San Francisco: I have the honor of enclosing you the report of my voyage between Valparaiso and San Francisco. Anchored off of North Beach.

I left Valparaiso at 6 o'clock on the morning of the 26th November. On the 30th of the same month, I passed in sight of the Islands of Ambroise and St. Felix. My course in the Southern Hemisphere offers nothing remarkable. I continually had steady and moderate S.E. breezes.

On the 15th December, crossed the Equator in longitude 118S. I kept the S.E. winds up to latitude 4 degrees North, and from the 4th to the 9th degrees I had variable winds from the Southard, accompanied with the rain from off the land. I then caught the S.E. breeze again, after half a day of calm, and they run me into latitude 123 degrees North and 128 degrees of longitude. I was then at least 300 leagues from San Francisco. I had then been out only 28 days and found myself in the way of making a quick passage; but I was becalmed 13 days, during which, thanks to the sailing qualities of the Magellan, I made 200 leagues to the Northard; during the whole calm weather I was enveloped in thick fogs. I had very foul weather for the three days preceding my arrival at this port. The winds were baffling from S.E. to S.W., and finally hacked round to N.E. The sea was running very high, especially on nearing the land. Yesterday, 9th instant, I arrived on the Bar, where I took a pilot, who anchored me in the roads at 11 o'clock P.M. I took every precaution to preserve the ship against any injury she might sustain from the heavy rollers, which were tumbling in.

I left Havre with 270 emigrants, 20 of whom I have landed, and who have found employment. The report which was addressed by me to the French Consul at Valparaiso mentioned the perfect order which has ever existed on board the Magellan. I have the honor, on this occasion, Monsieur the Consul, to announce to you, officially, the continuance of that good state of things. The officers and all on board have ever preserved their obedience and respect. Thus, the internal arrangement of the Magellan has ever presented the appearance of a numerous and united family. This result, Monsieur the Consul, is the consequence of the reciprocal accomplishment of our obligations; the passengers, in observing the regulations of the ship and ourselves, in our constant efforts and solicitude to render as little disagreeable as possible to the poor emigrants a dreary passage of six months.

I should be wanting in the feelings due to my heart, if I failed to recommend, in an especial manner, the passenger troupe of the Magellan. It is in general well composed, and they give every evidence of being excellent subjects. I have the honor to recommend them to you as such.

I am also much pleased with my crew, whose duties, generally arduous, are necessarily made onerous from the fact of having 300 passengers to care for.

I have the honor to salute you, and remain your servant,

L. Cazalis
Cargo from France on the French ship Magellan January 15, 1853

Editor's Note: A French student in preparing his Master's Thesis on immigration to California read the above and wrote: "The Societe des Lingots d'Or was the largest attempt to send poor French gold seekers to California during the rush. It had official approval and backing and did manage to ship close to 4,000 people."


Daily Alta California
January 21, 1853

French Ship Magellan.--Consignees by this vessel are requested to call at our office, pay freight and receive orders for their goods. the ship Magellan is now discharging at Law's Wharf.

The Magellan anchored off North Beach.

The French barque Malvine Cezard, from Bordeaux, was also in port at this time. Consigenees by this vessel were notified that she was at Sacramento Street wharf and were to pay freight and receive orders for their goods from Gildemeester De Fremery & Co. on Sansome Street.

Daily Alta California, February 21, 1853 (and various dates through June and July)

FOR SALE - A fine patent cooking stove, with an apparatus for making fresh water.
One lot of 375 granite stones, of difference sizes, already cut.
Apply to: V. Marziou & Co.
178 Montgomery Street
Or to Capt. Casalis, on board the French ship Magellan.
Law's Wharf

Goods per the Magellan also included 150 cases French sperm candles for sale by Bandman, Nielsen & Co., 48 Front Street.


The passenger list for this ship has not yet been obtained.

Life in a California Mission. Jean Francois de la Perousse.
Life in a California Mission: Monterey in 1786Life in a California Mission.
Jean Francois de la Perousse. Linda Yamane, Illustrator. Introduction: Malcolm Margolin.
On the afternoon of September 14, 1786, two French ships appeared off the coast of Monterey, the first foreign vessels to visit Spain's California colonies. Aboard was a party of eminent scientists, navigators, cartographers, illustrators, and physicians. For the next ten days the commander of this expedition, Jean Francois de La Perouse, the commander of this expedition, took detailed notes on the life and character of the area: its abundant wildlife, the labors of soldiers and monks, and the customs of Indians recently drawn into the mission. de La Perouse also recorded his time in New Caledonia.

Rush to Gold: The French and the California Gold Rush, 1848–-1854
(Lamar Series in Western History)

Malcolm J. Rohrbough
Rush to Gold. The French and the California Gold Rush. 1848-1854.The California Gold Rush began in 1848 and incited many “wagons west.” However, only half of the 300,000 gold seekers traveled by land. The other half traveled by sea. And it’s the story of this second group that interests Malcolm Rohrbough in his authoritative new book, The Rush to Gold. He examines the California Gold Rush through the eyes of 30,000 French participants. In so doing, he offers a completely original analysis of an important—but previously neglected—chapter in the history of the Gold Rush, which occurred at a time of sweeping changes in France. Rohrbough is the author of Days of Gold, which is generally accepted as the essential text on the subject. This new book comes out of his extended research in French archives. He is the first to provide an international focus to these pivotal events in mid-nineteenth-century America. The Rush to Gold is an important contribution to the fast-growing field of transnational American history.

A Voyage to California, the Sandwich Islands, and Around the World in the Years 1826-1829Voyage to California, Sandwich Islands, around the world. Voyage to California, Sandwich Islands, Around the World. 1826-1829. Auguste Duhuat-Cilly.
Auguste Duhaut-Cilly, August Fruge (Editor, Translator), Neal Harlow (Editor, Translator).
While French sea captain Auguste Duhaut-Cilly may not have become wealthy from his around-the-world travels between 1826 and 1829, his trip has enriched historians interested in early nineteenth-century California. Because of a poor choice in goods to trade he found it necessary to spend nearly two years on the Alta and Baja California coasts before disposing of his cargo and returning to France. What was bad luck for Duhaut-Cilly was good luck for us, however, because he recorded his impressions of the region's natural history and human populations in a diary. This translation of Duhaut-Cilly's writing offers today's readers a rare eyewitness account of the pastoral society that was Mexican California, including the missions at the height of their power.

A veteran of the Napoleonic wars, Duhaut-Cilly was an educated man conversant in Spanish and English. He was also Catholic, which gave him special access to the California missions. Thus his diary allows the reader an insider's view of the padres' lives, including their dealings with the military. Through his eyes we see the region's indigenous people and how they were treated, and we're privy to his commentary on the behavior of the Californios.

This translation also contains Duhaut-Cilly's account of the Sandwich Islands portion of his voyage and provides an authentic rendering of life at sea during the early nineteenth century. In the spirit of Richard Henry Dana's Two Years before the Mast, Duhaut-Cilly's reflections are a historical gem for anyone with a love of personal narratives and original accounts of the past.


The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.






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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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