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Letter from Sacramento [dated February 25, 1866]

Sacramento Saloons as Observed by Mark Twain

I arrived in the City of Saloons this morning at 3 o’clock, in company with several other disreputable characters, on board the good steamer Antelope, Captain Poole, commander. I know I am departing from usage in calling Sacramento the City of Saloons instead of the City of the Plains, but I have my justification — I have not found any plains, here, yet, but I have been in most of the saloons, and there are a good many of them. You can shut your eyes and march into the first door you come to and call for a drink, and the chances are that you will get it. And in a good many instances, after you have assuaged your thirst, you can lay down a twenty and remark that you “copper the ace,” and you will find that facilities for coppering the ace are right there in the back room. In addition to the saloons, there are quite a number of mercantile houses and private dwellings. They have already got one capitol here, and will have another when they get it done. They will have fine dedicatory ceremonies when they get it done, but you will have time to prepare for that — you needn’t rush down here right away by express. You can come as slow freight and arrive in time to get a good seat.