California Gov. Pete Wilson met with local Church leaders in the State Capitol Jan. 22 to accept a copy of a new LDS video depicting the Mormon Battalion's role in the development of the state.
The film, "More Precious Than Gold: The Contributions of the Mormon Battalion," was produced by the Church's Audiovisual Department and donated to the state of California in conjunction with the state's sesquicentennial of the 1848 discovery of gold. The 17-minute video premiered for the general public Jan. 24 at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, Calif., about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento.The video will be shown on a continuous basis at the state park where it will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of tourists and school children who visit the park each year. The video premiered at the opening ceremonies, which the governor attended, of the beginning of the state's three sesquicentennial celebrations, which will continue through 2000. Next year, in 1999, the state will celebrate the sesquicentennial of the gold rush, and the following year, in 2000, the state will commemorate 150 years of statehood.
"More Precious Than Gold" depicts battalion members helping discover gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma on Jan. 24, 1848, and later blazing a trail through the Sierra Nevada range that was used by thousands of settlers.
Presenting the film to the governor in his office on behalf of the Church were Elder Norman Boehm, Area Authority Seventy, and Bishop Dennis Holland of the Placerville Ward, El Dorado California Stake.
Prior to the presentation of the video, former California state Sen. Bill Campbell, who is LDS and serves as Church director of public affairs in Northern California, visited with Gov. Wilson to share some of the history of the battalion and of the ship Brooklyn that carried the first Mormon pioneers to California.
Gov. Wilson listened with great interest as Brother Campbell told him about the role of Latter-day Saints in building up the cities of San Diego and San Francisco, their part in instigating one of the most famous gold rushes in history and the settlements they created throughout the state. The governor acknowledged the contributions of the pioneers in exploring, settling and building up California.
During the presentation, Gov. Wilson said: "I am grateful to accept this video on behalf of the people of California in recognition of those who have made such a marvelous contribution to the sesquicentennial of gold discovery. It's appropriate because the Church played such an important role in the early settlement of the state. I was fascinated when told about this history, and I thank you for delivering this to me in person."
During his address at the Jan. 24 ceremonies, Gov. Wilson again lauded the video and the role of the Mormon Battalion in the settlement of the state. Attending the ceremonies were many local Church members and leaders, including Bishop Holland who was asked to give the invocation.
As Gov. Wilson stepped to the microphone, his first remark was: "How appropriate that we would thank God for being here today in this beautiful setting, but how appropriate it is that we would have Bishop Holland offer that prayer. Even though, Bishop Holland, you may not be of direct lineage
of the Mormon BattalionT, you are certainly of religious lineage of those members of the Mormon Battalion who were here building the sawmill of Sutter and were a part of the discovery of gold.
"If it were not for them, we would not be meeting together here today for this event. While we lead the nation and the world in many, many areas such as aerospace, agriculture, computer technology and the like . . . if I may borrow the title from your great video, Bishop Holland, it is our people of the great state of California that truly make us great, as they really are, `More Precious Than Gold.' "