Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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CALIFORNIA, a state of the American Union, formed from territory acquired from Mexico. (see ANNEXATIONS, IV.) One of the earliest events of the Mexican war was the formation of a provisional government in 1846 in the Mexican province of Upper, or Alta California, by commodore Stockton and colonel J. C. Fremont. When the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, transferred to the United States the title to the soil, the provisional military government was continued, owing to the inability of congress to settle the status of slavery in the acquired territory. (See WILMOT PROVISO.) The discovery of gold, in 1848, increased the population so rapidly that in 1849 a convention, called by the military governor, framed a state constitution, Sept. 1-Oct. 13, which was ratified by popular vote, Nov. 13. It fixed the state limits as follows: "Beginning where longitude 120° west from Greenwich intersects latitude 42° north; thence south to latitude 39° north; thence southeast to the river Colorado; thence down the Colorado to the Mexican boundary, and west on the Mexican boundary line to the Pacific ocean; thence in a northwesterly direction along the Pacific coast to latitude 42° north, and thence east to the beginning; including all the islands, harbors and bays on the Pacific coast." The capital was to be San Jose, since changed to Sacramento by the legislature, and the governor was to hold office for a term of two years, changed in 1862 to four years. Article I, § 18, provided that slavery should never be tolerated in the state. From this provision arose the opposition in congress to California's admission, which was not accomplished until Sept. 9, 1850. (See COMPROMISES, V.)


—In national politics California was at first steadily democratic. In 1852 the democrats obtained entire control of the state government, and retained it until 1860. A strong whig opposition, averaging about 42 per cent. of the total vote, was kept up until 1855, and the opposition vote was then for several years very evenly divided between the republican and American, or know nothing, parties. After 1855 an opposition was developed among the democrats, headed by U. S. senator Broderick, but it never succeeded in ousting the regular wing from the control of the party. In 1860 democratic division gave the electoral vote of the state to Lincoln, the popular vote being 39,173 rep., 38,516 Douglas dem., 34,334 Breckenridge dem., and 6,817 const. union; but the Douglas democracy had a strong majority in the legislature. In national politics, 1860-76, the state was steadily republican, though usually by a close vote; in 1868 Grant had but 506 majority in a total vote of 108,660. In 1880 the state cast its electoral vote for Hancock by a very slender majority, one of the democratic electors being defeated.


—In state politics, 1860-76, California has been alternately democratic and republican. Since 1876 its politics have been a chaos. The national parties have been supplemented by various state organizations based on opposition to Chinese immigration, to the influence of great corporations in politics, or to the growth of monopoly in land, or on a general support of the interests of workingmen. The result of the continuous agitation kept up by these was the formation of a new constitution which was adopted by a state convention, March 3, 1879, and ratified by popular vote May 7, 1879. Among other changes this instrument prohibited the admission of any native of China to the privileges of an elector; the grant of money or special privileges to corporations by the legislature; the passage of special or local laws by the legislature in thirty-three specified cases; the buying and selling of shares of stock in boards under the control of any association; the making of contracts for future delivery of stock, or of sales of stock on margins; the grant of aid or the pledge of credit, by the legislature, or by any county city, or municipal corporation, to any institution controled by any sect, or to any individual or corporation whatever; and the grant by any of these bodies of extra compensation to any public servant. It authorized the legislature to limit the charges of telegraph or gas companies; retired two of the six supreme court justices at the end of each four years; withheld the salary of judges of the higher grades so long as their court decisions were more than ninety days in arrears; forfeited all existing charters under which bona fide organization had not taken place; forbade the "watering" of stock; provided for minority stockholders' representation in boards of directors; ordered all corporations to submit their books to the inspection of stockholders; made all railroad, canal and transportation companies subject to legislative control; established an elective board of railroad commissioners to fix rates of charges by railroad and transportation companies, which rates were to be observed by the companies under penalty of not more than $20,000 fine for each offense, and, in the discretion of the legislature, the forfeiture of the charter; condemned the holding of large tracts of land by individuals or corporations as against the public interest; and forbade the employment of Chinese by private or municipal corporations. Its provisions have been thus fully given because they were, at the time of the adoption of the constitution, generally attributed to the influence of local California demagogues, and excited wide-spread alarm among capitalists and corporations, many of whom made preparations to leave the state. The success or failure of the constitution is not yet well assured. (See CONSTITUTIONS, STATE.)


—The derivation of the name California is very uncertain; it was first applied by Bernal Diaz to a single bay on the coast, and thence transferred to the entire country. The popular name is The Golden State.


—GOVERNORS: Peter H. Burnett (1850-52), John Bigler (1852-6), J. Neely Johnson (1856-8), John B. Weller (1858-60), Milton S. Latham (1860-62), Leland Stanford (1862-4), F. F. Low (1864-8), Henry H. Haight (1868-72), Newton Booth (1872-6), William Irwin (1876-80), George C. Perkins (1880-84).


—See Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; Cutts' Conquest of California; Tuthill's History of California; Capron's History of California; Norman's Youth's History of California; Soulé's Annals of San Francisco; McClellan's The Golden State; Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia, 1861-80.


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