When the Legislature of 1861 assembled at Sacramento, members true to the Union were in the majority. And they resolved that no disloyal man should again represent California in Congress. Senator Gwin's time expired March 4, 1861, and the aspirants for the office were Timothy G. Phelps, Republican; John McDougall, Douglas Democrat, and John Nugent, Breckinridge Democrat or secessionist. The Legislature stood in joint session: 57 Douglas Democrats, 33 Secessionists, and 24 Republicans. Neither party could elect without votes from one of the other parties. In the voting Phelps took the lead. John Nugent was a close second and gaining rapidly. On the twenty-first ballot the vote stood: Phelps 55, Nugent 44 and McDougall 22. Phelps, fearing that Nugent would be elected, withdrew his name (a). Phelps' votes were then given to John A. McDougall and he was elected (b) Senator to serve until March 4, 1867.
A series of Union resolutions were introduced early in the session. They indorsed the Republican administration and denounced traitors. These resolutions caused some very heated debates, especially from the friends of the south. Four of the Senators were natives of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and they made strong secession speeches (c). Henry Edgerton, a native of Vermont, was the Union leader in the Senate, and he made an unanswerable argument in support of the resolution. His speech caused a sneering remark from Thomas Laspyre in the Assembly. John Conness came to the defense of Edgerton and it caused a sensation (d).
Another difficulty occurred in the Assembly between Showalter of Mariposa, a secessionist, and Percy of San Bernardino, a Douglas Democrat. The result was a challenge by Percy, a duel and a tragedy. The preliminary arrangements were made in Sacramento. The weapons used were rifles. The duelists stood forty pasces apart. At first fire both duelists missed their mark. Percy's bullet, however, whistled close to Showalter's head. Percy was shot through the mouth at the second fire. Falling heavily to the earth, he died in a few minutes. Showalter was then thirty-two and Percy but twenty-four years of age. Showalter was a rabid secessionist and in 1862 he was arrested and confined in Fort Yuma, on the Colorado river. In 1866 he was shot at Mazatlan, Mexico, while engaged in a drunken fight and died from the effect of the wound.
The election of a Union United States Senator was but the commencement of the fight. The next and most important contest was to elect none but Union state officers. The Republicans were first in the field. Assembling at Sacramento June 11, 1861, they nominated Leland Stanford for Governor. For Attorney General they nominated the staunch Republican, Frank Pixley (e). The southerners called him "the abolition editor." The Republicans in their platform repudiated the doctrine of state's rights and they resolved that "the doctrine that a state is superior to the federal government * * * and has the right of secession * * * is repugnant to the constitution, of every principle of our system of government, and can only result in the destruction of our Union and the establishment of general anarchy."
The Union Democrat convention composed of Douglas men July 4th assembled at Sacramento and organized. The following day they adopted a platform. It indorsed the government. It differed from the Republican in this very important principle: They opposed any coercion of the south. For Governor, John Conness, John biswell and John G. Downey were placed in nomination. Ex-Governor Downey (f) was their choice.
The Breckinridge, or secession convention, as it was called, assembled July 11th at the capital. The platform presented by the committee and adopted by the convention was so permeated with treasonable sentiment that some of that committee presented a minority report. It declared "that we ae opposed to the employment of force against the seceding states. * * * Resolved that if the union cannot be preserved by constitutional guarantees which will be acceptable to both sections of the Confederacy * * * then we are in favor of the recognition of the Confederate States * * * and a treaty of amity and peace between them and the United States."
For Governor they nominated the well known secessionist, John R. McConnell. The speakers in nominating the various candidates gave expression to many treasonable sentiments. they were all heartily applauded. None received greater applause, however, than the passionate address of Edmond Randolph (g). In closing he said, "Gentlemen: My thoughts and my heart are not here tonight in this house. Far to the east, in the homes from whence we came, tyranny and usurpation, with arms in its hands, is this night perhaps slaughtering our fathers, our brothers, and our sisters, and outraging in every conceivable way shocking to the heart of humanity and freedom. To me, it seems a waste of time to talk. For God's sake, gentlemen, tell me of battles fought and won. Tell me of usurpers overthrown, that Missouri is again a free state, no longer crushed under the armed heel of a reckless and odious despot. Tell me that the state of Maryland lives again, and oh, gentlemen, let us read, let us hear at the first moment that not one hostile foot treads the soil of Virginia. If this be rebellion, then I am a rebel. Do you want a traitor, then I am a traitor. For God's sake speed the ball, may the lead go quick to his heart--and may our country be free from this despot usurper, that now claims the name of President of the United States."
The campaign of that year was the hottest and most bitter of all political contests. It was a struggle for union or disunion. On the one side stood the Republicans for the Union, one and inseparable; upon the other side fought the southerners, determined if possible to make of California the leading state in a Pacific republic. Halting between two opinions were the Douglas Democrats. Broderick had split asunder the Democratic party over the question of slavery or no slavery in Kansas. For this he was challenged and died for the Union. The southerners, knowing their caue was weak, now attempted to reunite the old party. But when news came of the attack on Fort Sumpter all further efforts for reconciliation were useless. The Douglas Democrats were true to the Union (h) and although they still held their party intact, thousands of them, deserting their standard, voted the Republican ticket. As a result Stanford (i) polled 56,056, McConnell 32,750 and Conness 30,944 votes.
The loyal men were now assured that California was safe for the Union. The Republicans had elected their complete state ticket and they had a strong majority in the Legislature. To keep the state in line, it was necessary to continue none but Union men in office. Early in April, 1863, the Union state committee published a call "to all citizens who were willing to sustain the national administration, in its effort to suppress the rebellion," to meet in state convention.
The party assembled June 17th in Sacramento. In their platform they favored a continuation of the war "without regard to cost or sacrifice until the last rebel is disarmed, and with no party advocating 'peace upon any terms' while there is an enemy of the Union in open rebellion against the government." Still further they called "upon all loyal citizens to unite with us in rebuking and defeating at the polls in September next, the malignant tribe of copperheads (j) who, falsely claiming the name of Democrat, seek * * * to discourage our armies in the field and to corrupt the patriotic sentiment of the people."
Their nominee for Governor was Frederick F. Low, and for Congressman from the middle district William Higby was nominated. He had been expelled from the Douglas state committee because of his endeavor to form a fusion with the Republicans.
The desertions of the Douglas Democrats from their party and the small following of the Breckinridge Democrats so paralyzed the leaders that both parties failed to materialize in the election. A number of Democratic clubs uniting, organized and formed a fusion Democratic party. They held their convention July 8th and bitterly opposed the continuation of the war. In their platform they denounced the emancipation, the arrest of civilians by the militia, the suppression of free speech of the press and the "fanatical" attempt to place the Negro on an equality with the white man. Believing that John G. Downey would poll thousands of Union Democratic votes, they nominated him for Governor. Their belief was not well founded for Downey received only 44,843 votes. Low received 64,447.
An amendment to the constitution that year provided that state officers thereafter should hold office for four years. Hence there was no state election until 1867. In the meantime events were taking place which disrupted the Union party and again gave the Democrats full control. One of these events was the formation of labor clubs and their agitation against Chinese immigration. Another event, more serious to the party, was the formation of a political machine with John Conness and his friends in control.
The trouble first began in 1865 in San Francisco. Governor Low was then an aspirant for the United States Senatorship to succeed John McDougall. Conness was his backer, and he so endeavored to "gerrymander" the districts as to elect legislators favorable to Low. For his purpose he called to his assistance the tough or "shart haired" class of citizens. It was a renewal of the Broderick tactics, with this difference, however, an education political man was in the lead, and secret, silent work was to succeed the bold faced public work of Broderick. Each county was manipulated in the interest of Conness. "Federal officers, Governor Low's appointees and two-thirds of the county officers," said the Placerville Mirror (July, 1865), "have been steadily working for months trying to carry El Dorado county for Conness and Low." Whenever the Conness faction were defeated in any county convention, they bolted the party and affiliated with the "copperheads." (j)
The two factions, the anti-Conness men being known as "long hairs," had a lively fight July 25th at Sacramento. The result was that the "long hairs" suddenly left the convention, some of them by the window route. The county convention assembled in the assembly room of the capitol, then on J street. The desks were removed and chairs substituted. The Low men were all seated together ready for a scrap. After the calling of the convention to order, two persons were nominated for temporary secretary. The chairman announced that W. H. Burton, the "long hair" was elected. The "shorts" said the election was irregular. Then the trouble began. As the secretary started for his desk, the "shorts" blocked his way. Then the two factions clashed. Finally solid hickory canes came into play on the heads of the "long hairs." Spittoons flew like bomb shells on a battlefield. Inkstands took the place of solid shot. Pistols were drawn and used as clubs. Several of the anti-Low men jumped from the windows and the "shorts" took possession of the room. After the battle, which continued fully five minutes, the "shorts" were called to order. Nominating their elective candidates, they instructed their legislative nominess to vote for F. F. Low for United States Senator. Two weeks later Low declined the honor, saying that after such proceedings he could not honorably accept the position.
Those persons who have read this history from the beginning will remember that previous to the Civil war the leading political issue was slavery. During the war it wa union or disunion. In the campaign of 1867 the two issues were Chinese immigration and the Central Pacific Railroad. Anti-coolie clubs had been formed and they were an important factor in the contest. The railroads were now asking for everything in sight. They now entered politics for two reasons: First, to block a band of legislative grafters who endeavored to legislate them out of existence unless they "put up." Second, the elect if possible men to the Legislature who would further their plans.
As the campaign opened three Republicans announced themselves as candidates for Governor; George C. Gorham, up to this time unknown in politics; John Bidwell, pioneer and farmer, and Caleb T. Fay, a nonentity. The Anti-Coolie Club addressed a letter to each of these candidates asking their views on the Chinese question. In answer, John Bidwell replied, saying that he was "opposed to slavery in any form." Caleb T. Fay declared that he was opposed to Chinese immigration and labor. The letter of George C. Gorham was remarkable because of its honest ring, free from any misconstruction or subterfuge, a quality seldom found in politicians. He declared, "I am opposed to human slavery * * * Because I am opposed to the coolie system, I am not the enemy of its victims. I believe in the Christian religion, and that rests upon the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. I am as emphatically opposed to all attemps to deny the Chinaman the right to labor for pay, as I am to the restration of African slavery whereby black men were compelled to labor without pay."
The Republican convention assembled June 12, 1867, in Sacramento. The contest for Governor narrowed itself to Gorham and Bidwell. The San Francisco delegates, sixty-three in number, were solid for Gorham. He had worked the wires in the workingmen's convention and by the promise of an eight-hour law had captured their votes. In that convention they had outnumbered the people's and the Union party. The delegates from many interior counties, "cow" districts, Pixley called them, were pledged to Gorham. The people in general opposed Gorham. They believed him a "raidroad man" (which he was) and a dictator bound to rule or ruin. Their choice was John Bidwell, "the honest farmer." The convention organized for business. It was then learned that Sacramento had two sets of delegates seeking admission. It was the faction of 1865, the "short" and the "long" hairs. The former were pledged to Gorham for Governor and they favored W. W. Stow for chairman. The latter intended to vote for Bidwell, with J. G. McFarland as chairman. The convention by a vote of 142 to 132 elected W. W. Stow chairman. The vote indicated Gorham's strength. The "shorts" were admitted. Gorham was nominated for Governor and with him his entire state ticket.
For the first time in California politics party nominations were forced down the throats of the people. It was a nauseous dose and they soon cleared their stomachs of it. As a result thirty-six of the Union papers, among them the Sacramento Union (k), San Francisco Bulletin, Alta and Call bolted the party and, uniting, formed a National Republican party. They nominated John Bidwell for Governor. He declined the honor, saying, "Having been in the field once, I cannot consent to be a candidate again." The party then nominated Caleb T. Fay. He had no following, and as he campaigned the state he was jeered and ridiculed by the small audiences assembled.
At this time the old line Democrats had returned to their party, for they asserted that "the question involved in the late rebellion had been settled by the war." Assembling in San Francisco June 19, 1867, they nominated for Governor the war Democrat, Henry Huntley Haight (l). Said Judge Crockett while nominating Haight, "I have never known a better, more honest, more upright man than he." The Democrats advocated the cause of the laboring man and "favored making eight hours a legal day's work." They, however, believed it impractical to maintain republican institutions based upon the suffrages of Negroes, Chinese and Indians. This was an arrow shot at Gorham's (m) doctrine, "the brotherhood of man." "We regard the right to regulate suffrage as belonging exclusively to the several states of this Union," they declared. State rights again loomed up, and they held "that the power to regulate foreign immigration is vested in Congress, and it is the duty of that body to protect the Pacific states from an influx of Chinese and Mongolians." The Republicans in their platform deemed the passage of an eight-hour law eminently proper, declared that the Chinese immigration should be restricted by legislation and believed that the future primary elections of the party should be held under the primary election law and all persons not of the party should be excluded from voting. The result of the election was at no period doubtful. The Democrats swept clean the entire state.
The cause of the defeat of the Republican party was clear enough. They entered the contest with the mistaken idea that the war had settled not only the question of slavery, but the question of state rights and suffrage. They declared in their platform that the importation of Chinamen or any other people of the Mongolian races * * * "is in every respect injurious and degrading to American labor." Then they declared that this was a free country, the Chinese were here by treaty and we must make the best of it. They approved of cheap labor because it was impossible to build the railroads without the industrious Chinese. They approved of railroad monopoly. And a few days later the convention accepted a free ride to Chico. They were presumptuous enough to believe that the rank and file were so well broken to harness that they would pull anything, even a railroad. Then the machine was mistaken. Some years later, however, the party began pulling the railroad and they so continued until 1910. Then something happened.
Governor Haight's inaugural was the finest of the state up to this time. Accompanied by Lieutenant Governor Holden, ex-Governor Stanford, Downey Low and Bigler, he was escorted to the capitol by the Sacramento Hussars Light Artillery, the City and Emmett Guard, together with the San francisco McMahon Guard and Ellsworth Zouaves. The oath of office was administered by Judge Lorenzo Sawyer of the Supreme Court. The inaugural address from the steps of the new capitol, then nearly finished, was delivered before thousands of people from all parts of the state. A grand ball in the capitol completed the event. The Governor in his address not only surprised but pained many of his Union friends by his disloyal sentiments. He graciously accepted the results of the war. But he opposed the reconstruction policy of the administration as destructive of the end of federal government. He disapproved also of the act of Congress in keeping the ten rebel states under military rule and declared "it was a disgrace to our country and the age in which we live."
The politicians at this time first began to notice the laboring man because of the strength shown by the Carpenters' Eight Hour League (n). In San Franciso they were strong enough to elect several Democratic legislators. They were pledged to an eight-hour law. The legislative body, believing it good policy to favor the league, February 21, 1868, passed an eight-hour law (o).
The people are fast learning that party platforms are not worth the paper on which they are printed, unless they voice the sentiment of the general public. They are simply created to deceive the ignorant and catch votes. The working men learned this when they voted by the thousands for the Democratic ticket. Governor Haight declared "it is a short sighted policy which consents to curse our children * * * with a swarm of Asiatics whose presence will be a moral leprosy." And the party platform declared that the importation of Mongolian labor was degrading to the American race "and an evil that should be restricted by legislation." Yet they passed no restrictive law nor a single Chinese law until 1870. In that year they passed a law prohibiting the kidnaping of Chinese females and bringing them into this state. They passed a second law authorizing the appointment of a Chinese commissioner of immigration (p). James Mandeville, a prominent Democratic politician, was appointed commissioner. In the newly created office he made a fortune.
In the state campaign of 1871 the principal and only issue was the subsidizing of railroads. The Republican party, profiting by their experience in 1867, now turned right about and opposed all subsidies. They asserted in their platform June 17th that "the subsidizing of railroads or other private corporations by grants of public land or taxation of private property * * * is productive of gross corruption and abuse * * * and we hereby pledge the Republican party to uncompromising opposition to any and all legislation for such purpose." In discussing the leader best fitted to carry Republicanism to victory, they selected Newton Booth (q) by acclamation. He was an eloquent speaker, a man of fine educational attainments, and strongly opposed to the railroad because of business (r) and political interests.
The Democratic convention, believing that H. H Haight had given good satisfaction to the people, again chose him as their banner bearer. As he walked upon the platform the delegates, all save San Francisco, rose and greeted him with cheers. They opposed him because he signed the tide land bill. He had further opposition also from those who declared that he was a railroad man, because he signed so many railroad bills. Other divisions followed and finally the party was divided into three wings, the one led by Isaac Friedlander, the wheat baron; Eugene Casserly, United States Senator, and Frank McCoppin, ex-Mayor of San Francisco. The result was the defeat of Haight, he receiving 57,520 votes and Booth 62,581.
Governor Haight had made himself very unpopular. One of his acts causing much disapproval was the signing of the bill reducing the state militia to 2,000 men (s & t). The Democrats had no love for the militia, and when they obtained control of the state government, under the plea of retrenchment, they cut the military appropriation bill fifty per cent and limited the local companies to 2,000 men. The military men construed this as an insult (u). During the Civil war they had freely given their time, money and services in the saving of California to the Union and many companies disbanded (v).
The Legislature of 1871 posed as the opponents of the Central Pacific, yet by some mysterious means they elected as United States Senator the railroad's best friend (w), Aaron A. Sargent. He was no novice either in politics or Congress, for he had been a Representative in 1861 and 1868. A printer in 1850, he worked several years at the trade. During his term as Senator he was charged with all manner of jobs and tricks in the interest of the Central Pacific. One of his put-up jobs was the "tape work" ticket at Mare Island (x). Sargent again rain for United States Senator. He was defeated by James T. Farley. His candidacy was bitterly opposed by the San Francisco Chronicle, because he sued them for libel (y). He began suit in several different counties of the state. Sargent, after his defeat for the Senatorship, was appointed as Minister to Germany. Serving his term, he retired to private life and died August, 1887.
In the campaign of 1871 a new feature in politics was the campaign of Mrs. Laura de Force Gordon, a candidate from San Joaquin county, for State Senator. At that time woman suffrage organizations were in existence in the larger cities and the San Joaquin organization nominated Mrs. Gordon for Senator. She had been lecturing in Oregon on woman suffrage. In a newspaper card she accepted the nomination and gave her reasons for so doing. Mrs. Gordon stumped the county, although she knew she could not serve if elected, and sarcastically stated that the law excluded from voting, "Idiots, paupers, Chinamen and women" (1). After her acceptance she began stumping the county and August 28, 1871, delivered her first speech for woman suffrage. Mrs. Gordon at that time was about thirty years of age, pretty and of handsome form. Her hair was cut short and in curls. Her speeches were all delivered with her head uncovered. One of the Republican papers, a little worried, declared that she was speaking in the interest of the Democratic party. She could not fill the office, as the constitution declared none but qualified electors could serve. Mrs. Gordon was the most interesting feature of the campaign, but she polled only 116 votes.
At this time there had been organized what was known as "Patrons of Husbandry" or farmers' clubs. There were clubs or granges in every farming community in the state, and they were organized to fight monopolies, corporations and railroads. Assembling in convention in Sacramento September 24, 1872, they declared that "the freight rates on our railroads are ruinous to our interests." They believed that the corporations were the creations of law, and therefore the maximum of rates on freight should be so fixed as to prevent extortion. They declared that the state's prison labor should be utilized in the production of grain sacks, to be sold to the farmer at cost. They believed these matters were political, hence "we will cast our votes and send to the Legislature such men as will carry our views into effect (2).
Newton Booth was the farmers' hero, for he made them many promises. The goal of his ambition when nominated for Governor was the United States Senate. Winning out on the anti-railroad platform he worked that platform for all there was in it. The Republican party was then under the control of the railroad machine, run by George C. Gorham and A. A. Sargent. Many of the leading Republicans now received no pie. Because of this they were sore, and with the cry, "anything to beat the railroad," led by Newton Booth and John F. Swift, they organized an Independent Republican party. The adopted an anti-monopoly platform from top to bottom, and they welcomed into their ranks "sore heads from any party or by any name." The Republicans called them the "Dolly Vardens" because they were nost decidedly mixed (3).
The election of that year (1873) was for legislators and county officers only. That Legislature, however, was an important body as two United States Senators were to be elected. One to fill the unexpired term of Eugene Casserly, who had resigned. The other to succeed Casserly. Although Booth was Governor, he began his diplomatic work for the Senatorship and succeeded in electing quite a large number of farmers to the Legislature. It was the most motley legislative body every assembled, as it comprised men who four years previous had been known as Republicans, abolitionists, war Democrats, peace Democrats, sesessionists and copperheads. When the time of the election was at hand (December, 1873), the Democrats nominated James T. Farley, the Republicans James M. McShafter, later Supreme Judge, and the "Dolly Vardens" Newton Booth. On the fourth ballot Booth was elected to succeed Casserly by a majority of one. His (4) term began March 4, 1875. When his election was announced a yell went up from the gallery and labbies, which were densely packed. Ladies within the bar waved their handkerchiefs and men threw up their hats, for Booth's agreeable manners, handsome features and splendid ability as a speaker made him popular with both sexes. Governor Booth then astonished all modest men by his staying qualities, as he stuck to the Governor's chair until February 27, 1875. He was then compelled to resign in order to reach Washington by March 4th. His successor was the Lieutenant Governor, Romaldo Pacheco, who occupied the Governor's chair nine months only.
The Dolly Varden Legislature on the question of temperance stands pre-eminent. In its two sessions it passed seven liquor laws. And Governor Booth, although engaged in the wholesale liquor business, signed every law. All honor to him! The laws were aimed directly at the liquor traffic. Three of them made it a criminal offense to sell liquor to minors under sixteen years of age, within two miles of the state university, or within one mile of hte Napa asylum. They declared that no saloon keeper could collect a liquor debt over $5.00 in amount. They prohibited the selling of liquor on election days during the voting hours. Then, to feel the public pulse on the temperance question, March 18, 1874, they passed the "local option and civil damage bill" (5), but the Legislature found they they were fifty years ahead of public sentiment, fo they found that no only the Supreme Court, but the people "sat down upon it" heavily. Wherever a local option election was held whisky came out ahead. Defeated in Alameda county by a vote of 2,382 to 2,331, the temperance people carried the case to the Supreme Court. "Unconstitutional," the court declared.
In the state election of 1875 both Republicans and Democrats worked hard to defeat the Independent Anti-Monopolists. There were four parties striving for state control, the three mentioned and the Temperance Reform party. The Republicans nominated Timothy G. Phelps for Governor, and then many of the rank bolted the party and joined the Independents. The cause, Phelps was a monopolist and big land owner. The Independents, however, nominated John Bidwell, "king of Tehama county" and owner of 10,000 acres of fine land. The Temperance Reformers wanted Bidwell for their candidate also, but he telegraphed them, "I stand upon the people's independent platform. Believing firmly in temperance, will accept no further nominations." The temperance people nominated W. E. Lovett. The Democratic standard bearer was William Irwin.
The Republican party now played the baby act and cried out that the Central Pacific had caused the defeat of the party by their "past schemes and political intrigues." George C. Gorham received more than his share of denunciation, they asserting that he was a better friend to the Central Pacific than to his party. The new issue, freights and fares, was touched upon. They declared that the government had the right to regulate them. Candidates, they asserted, should pledge themselves "to oppose any discrimination between places." They opposed corporations and monopolies and then nominated the wealthy land owner, T. G. Phelps. Now graciously greeting the farmer, they earnestly invited his co-operation in the cost of transportation and a reduction in taxes and the inauguration of a plan of irrigation by representatives of their own selection in the Legislature.
For the first time in California politics the color line was erased and they adopted a resolution "that all citizens, without distinction of color, are entitled to equal advantage of public school education." Four years previous one of the features of the campaign was the Republican colored clubs, and they declared "in the future our political watchword must be admission to our public schools for every child in the state, without regard to color" (6).
Neither the Republicans nor the Independents touched upon the Chinese question, which was of far more importance to the working man than freights and fares or corporations. The Democrats, quick to notice this oversight, in convention June 29th asserted that the local government was sufficient to stamp out the Chinese evil and it was not necessary to go to Congress. They demanded an amendment to the Burlingame treaty which would make it a treaty for commercial purposes only. They opposed all monopolies. They favored irrigation. And they recommended the calling of an election for delegates to a constitutional convention. The measure had been opposed by the Republicans. Wm. Irwin (7) was elected by a big majority, the actions of Congress over the Chinese question defeating the Republicans. The vote stood, Irwin 61,509, Bidwell 20,752, Phelps 31,322.
As the Legislature had been elected upon certain issues, they catered to their party and passed, first, a law authorizing the supervisors of San Francisco to appropriate $5,000 from their general fund. The money was to be expended in sending delegates to Washington to solicit Congress to modify the Burlingame treaty and check Chinese immigration. They also passed a cubic air law applying to San Francisco only (8). Its object was to compel them to leave the city. It was declared unconstitutional. They also passed a law authorizing the Governor to appoint three railroad commissioners at a salary each of $5,000 a year.
Soon after Governor Irwin took his seat there came into existence an organization later known as the workingmen's party. It was composed of common laborers and mechanics and for a season they kept the citizens and politicians busy. They had no political strength except in the four largest cities. They succeeded in carrying several local elections and sending to the Legislature quite a large representation and causing the adoption of a new constitution. Assembling in San Francisco October 7, 1877, they organized by electing Dennis Kearney, president; John G. Day, vice president, and H. L. Knight, secretary. "The Chinese must go," was their slogan, and they denounced all capitalists, railroads and corporations (9).
They succeeded in sending to the Legislature of 1880 ten Senators and sixteen Assemblymen. Among them was John W. Bones, a railroad conductor, elected from Alameda county. Nathan Porter, one of the brightest and best men of the state, died January 3, 1878, and January 22nd an election was held for his successor. Alameda was a strong Republican county and the Republicans anticipated an easy election of their nominee, W. W. Crane. It rained heavily that day. The Republicans polled a light vote. The working men, putting forth extra efforts, elected their man. In the previous September election the working men polled only 118 votes out of a total of 7,118. In January they polled 2,730, the Republicans 2,138 and the Democrats 572. The San Francisco clubs were so delighted over the result that they tendered Senator Bones a rousing ovation. The monster parade indicated that the party possessed both numerical as well as physical strength. Soon after this the working men of Oakland and Sacramento elected several candidates in their local elections. A few of the newspapers, believing that they were the coming power, began assisting and advocating their cause (10).
The most important work in which the new party figured was on the formation and adoption of the new constitution. They believed that a new constitution formulated by them would cause the millennium to appear. In 1873 the question of a new constitution had been discussed. No action was taken, however, until September 5, 1877. On that date the voters declared by a small majority that they desired a new organic law. The Democratic party, from which most of the working men had strayed, was anxious to again have them within the fold and if a new constitution would bring them back, well and good. So the Democratic Legislature (March 30, 1878) passed a law calling for a special election to be held June 19th for the election of 154 delegates to a constitutional convention. The working men now labored with great enthusiasm to elect at least a majority of the delegates. As their nominees were not qualified to fill such an important trust, the old parties were compelled to unite. Organizing what they called a non-partisan party, they gave plenty of time and money that they might elect men well qualified to form a new constitution (11).
The convention convened in the capitol building September 28, 1878, and adjourned sine die March 3, 1879. It was a fairly representative body and contained some of the state's brightest minds. The lawyers (56) and the farmers (36) outnumbered those of all other occupations or professions. Among the working men the trades were well represented, there being one or more each of carpenters, plumbers, printers, cooks, tailors, gas fitters, butchers, etc. The president of the convention was Judge Joseph P. Hodge, a very able man and one well qualified to preside by forty years' experience as a lawyer. When we consider the circumstances, the constitution as adopted was a fairly good one. It was not framed by cool headed, reasonable, well qualified minds, but by a body of men, one-half of whom excited, strongly prejudiced and hating with a bitter hatred the very things upon which they were to legislate. In the beginning the most rabid Chinese haters, anti-monopolists and anti-railroad men tried to capture the convention. In this movement they were led by David S. Terry, who had been elected on the non-partisan ticket (12). The new constitution was ratified by the voters May 7, 1879, by the following vote, 77,598-67,134. The farming communities favored it, while the stock and mining counties were about equally divided. San Francisco, Alameda, Sacramento and Santa Clara opposed it. And San Joaquin, Sonoma and Los Angeles counties gave majorities for it.
As the constitutional convention was called principally by those opposed to the wealthy class and the Chinese, strong measures were adopted regarding them. The right of citizenship was denied the Chinese (13). No Chinese could be employed on public work. They also asserted that no corporation could employ them. This was a blow at the railroads. The Supreme Court quickly settled that question, they declaring that the Legislature had the right to regulate corporations; they made the railroads common carriers. They created a board of railroad commissioners with full power to regulate freights and fares. In order that they might tax the rich for full value, every taxpayer must swear to the value of his property at 12 o'clock meridian, March 1st of each year. Land and improvements were separately taxed. The holding of large acreages over 1,000 acres was discouraged. They also opposed women's suffrage, but after much labor, Clara Foltz and Mrs. Laura de Force Gordon succeeded in having introduced and passed a section that no person on account of sex should be disqualified from carrying on any lawful business, profession or vocation.
James A. McDougall, if reports be correct, was the brightest Senator ever in Congress from California. Born in Albany, New York, in 1817, he early in life emigrated to Illinois. At the age of twenty-five he was elected Attorney General of that state, and there came in touch with such men as Thomas Corwin, Edward D. Baker, John A. Logan, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. He came to California in 1849 and the following year was elected Attorney General. At the time of his election as United States Senator he was a very intemperate man. He was often drunk in the Senate, sometimes picked up from the streets of Washington and carried to his hotel. He deeply disgraced the state and died soon after his term expired in Albany, New York, September 3, 1867, a victim of the social drinking custom.
As early as 1855 the Assembly passed a ten-hour law. It declared that any employer requiring a person to labor more than ten hours a day or sixty hours a week could be fined $100 for each offense, or imprisoned until the fine was paid.
In the presidential election of 1868 Grant and Colfax were the Republican nominees for President. May 23rd the artillery company fired a political meeting salute. The local Democrats believed it the height of impudence, firing salutes for Grant, the general who had whipped their friends. They made complaint at Sacramento. Three days later, June 16th, there came an order to disband the Stockton Light Artillery for "disorderly conduct." At the time Adjutant Allen of the Governor's staff arrived. He was received by a salute of eleven guns. That evening all of the property of the company was turned over to him. As soon as the battery was delivered "the citizens" gave three rousing cheers for Grant and Colfax.
Although this Legislature passed these laws, it was by no means a non-liquor drinking body. A saloon was near every capitol building and in the second Legislature many of the members became beastly drunk, even during session hours. At Vallejo the saloon was too far distant and a new saloon was opened directly opposite the capitol. At Sacramento the saloon was too far distant and in 1871, the Governor being a wholesale liquor dealer, they opened a "well" in the basement of the capitol. That "well" continued to flow until 1893, notwithstanding the fact that in 1880 they passed a law prohibiting the sale of liquor upon the capitol grounds or within a mile of the building. The Legislature of 1886 and 1890 disgraced themselves and the state by their drunken carousals and licentious acts with women clerks. When the attention of the Legislature of 1890 was called to their violation of law, morality and decency, the Senate refused to even take action upon the resolution. In the session of 1893 the "well" was again opened as usual, but Assemblyman Bledsoe, of Sonoma, succeeded in having the infamy closed.