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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Malcolm R. Eiseler


The position of California in the years 1846-1850 was different from that of any other portion of the country; she did not become a state until 1850, and she as not even a territory. Though she was in the military possession of the United States, the ownership was not legal until the Treaty of Guadealoupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848. The military governors in California could do little without specific orders from Washington, but it was obvious that the confusion caused by the gold rush was hastening the end ot the inefficient mexican laws. By 1849, daily increasing crowds of foreigners, in the mines and in San Francisco, necessitated some sort of civil government. The military governors waited for directions from Washington with growing anxiety, while the miners developed their own government, usually the lynch law. Meanwhile, in Congress, the admission of California into the Union had become entangled with the slavery issue; the north and south had an equal number of states represented in Congress, and the southern men feared California would never be a slave state.

Since the complete of the construction of the state capitol in Sacramento is a long and tedious one, this chapter will give only a survey of events up to its final completion. On February 27, 1863, the Senate, after much harangue, passed a vote of 22 to 9 a bill to provide a special fund, by taxation, to complete work on the capitol. The bill passed the Assembly on March 17, and on April 9, the Assembly passed another Senate appropriation bill.29 In December of the same year, Governor Leland Stanford, in his message, emphasized the necessity for finishing the building as soon as possible, which could not be done in a pay-as-you go method heretofore employed.30 Work has been resumed on the building in June, 1863, and by the beginning of 1866, the interior work was being done. On January 1, 1866, Reuben Clark was judged insane and sent to the state asylum in Stockton, and was succeeded by Gordon P. Cummings. At last, in 1869, the building was ready.

To study the history of the seat of government of this state is to become familiar with the bickerings, delays, corruption, pettiness, greed, and frailties of republicanism at work. Yet the history of the government of California is at the same time a marvelous example of the opportunities, ideals, and accomplishments of democracy in action, building a mighty state. Those who read in this history inefficiency, confusion, blunders, and waster should not overlook that the cornerstone of the structure is belief that each individual has the right to his share in the development of his institutions. Such has always been the characteristic of california--and such the characteristic of the nation she helped to build





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