California Christian Advocate,

 Bio-Pen Pictures

            M. C. Briggs, D. D., is a native of Rome, Oneida County, New York.  His parents were both teachers in their youth, and his father was a soldier in the War of 1812.  After the war was over his attention was turned to farming, and he lived to the ripe old age of ninety-two years.  A year after the birth of M. C. Briggs his parents removed to Martinsburg, Lewis County, New York, where they remained until he was eight years of age, when they emigrated to Ohio and settled at Concord, in what is now Lake County.  There he worked as a farmer’s boy, and attended the district school in the winter.  At that time he was bashful, awkward, sensitive to a fault, read such books as children rarely read nowadays (because he had access to no others), studied during odd half-hours, and often at night till one o’clock, until the door of a high school providentially was opened to him.  Owing to his father’s misfortunes, he was dependent on his own resources throughout his course of education, both classical and theological.

            During a stay of a year and a half in Tennessee, license was given him to preach.  The kindness received everywhere in the South greatly endeared its people to him, although he abhorred the institution of slavery in all its forms.  Returning North, he preached for a time in the Erie Conference, then went to the Biblical Institute (now the Biblical School of the Boston University) at Concord, New Hampshire.  Graduating in June, 1850, he was appointed by Bishop Morris, as a missionary to California, and sailed from New York September 9, on the steamer which brought the news of the admission of California as a free State.  October 17, 1850, with Rev. S. D. and Mrs. Simonds and others, he landed on Long Wharf, in San Francisco.  On October 10, in the following year, the California Christian Advocate issued its first number, M. C. Briggs and S. D. Simonds, editors.  Months previous to sustaining this relation, a circular came into his hands from some unknown source, the exposure of which, by the Advocate, brought on a protracted and angry controversy.  As he was forced into a very active and long-continued participation in this controversy, it may not be amiss to give a brief outline of the history of events.

            Previous to the calling of a convention to form a constitution, an opinion prevailed that California was a country in which to get gold to spend elsewhere.  Few had learned to regard it as a land of vast resources, and eminently desirable as a place of residence.  Hence the slavery question was not brought to the front, and some wise men inserted an anti-slavery clause into the fundamental law.  Before the admission of the State, which occurred, after a long and excited debate, September 7, 1850, the general view had greatly changed, and the “chivalry” element in our society was much chagrined at its oversight, and Southern Members of Congress interposed every obstacle to the admission of the State.  In 1851 a meeting of pro-slavery politicians convened at Wilmington, North Carolina, to devise means of repairing the fancied loss and restoring the balance between the free and the slave States.  Three expedients were agreed upon to be tried in succession.  The papers outlining the scheme were so carefully distributed that Mr. Briggs knew but one besides himself, other than the known friends of the undertaking, who received a copy.  This paper Mr. Briggs held quietly for a considerable time, closely observing the movements of the parties, to satisfy himself whether an attempt at carrying the scheme into effect would really be made.  Being convinced that it would, he exposed the plan in an editorial, January 21, 1852.  Many old Californians will remember the surprise and rage resulting.  Forced into a prominence he would have gladly resigned, and impelled by a conviction of duty which he dared not disregard, he joined with a few brave men, lectured in many parts of the State, had his life threatened many times, and sincerely thanked the Lord when a changed condition of popular sentiment left him free to retire from an arena for which he had neither taste nor ambition.

            Dr. Briggs is an earnest worker in the temperance cause.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Pg. 286-287
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight