Early California

Early California, Race: 1855

Legislature rescinds the constitutional requirement that all laws be published in Spanish.

Legislature passes the “Greaser Law,” allowing law enforcement officers to arrest for “vagrancy” people of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry.

Early California, Race: 1856

MasonMasonBiddy Mason, a slave, wins her freedom in a judicial ruling by a Los Angeles judge.

Criminal Justice, Early California: 1856

Fort GunnybagsFort GunnybagsLeaders of the 1851 Committee of Vigilance revive the group after two sensational shootings. During its three months of existence, the Committee executed four men and banished 30 others.

Early California: 1858

Legislature criminalizes advertising, advising, or hinting about how to obtain an abortion.

Early California, Race: 1858

Slave Archy Lee gains freedom from a U.S. Commissioner in San Francisco after several thwarted attempts in various courts.

Early California, Race: 1860

Massacre of nearly 200 Indians near Eureka.

Early California, Women: 1860

CameronCameronAccording to the 1860 Census, 583 of the 681 Chinese women in San Francisco are prostitutes. Exploited and abused, many die very young; a small number are saved by Donaldina Cameron and other Christian mission workers.

Criminal Justice, Early California, Race: 1862

Legislature revokes the ban on African American testimony.

Early California, Immigrants' Rights: 1862

To discourage Chinese immigration and competition from Chinese workers, the legislature levies the “Chinese Police Tax” of $2.50 per month on almost all Chinese immigrants.

In Lin Sing v. Washburn, the California Supreme Court invalidates the “Chinese Police Tax,” ruling that the state had overstepped its authority and legislated in an area - foreign commerce - that is the exclusive sphere of the federal government. This was the first case in which a Chinese immigrant legally challenged a state law as a violation of a federal law or the United States Constitution.

Early California, Race: 1863

Legislature excludes African American and Indian children from white schools.

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