Niles Searls was an attorney and the 14th Chief Justice of California. Searls, whose last name is sometimes spelled as Searles, was born in Coeymans, New York, his father, Abraham Searls, of English descent, worked as a farmer. His mother, Lydia Niles, was of Scottish descent. Searles had three brothers, Wilson and Abraham (1844-1877/80, as well as four sisters, Alice and Lydia Jane; when the family moved to Prince Edward, Canada, Searls attended school in Wellington for five years before returning to New York to study at Rensselaerville Academy for the next three years. From here, he spent a year in the law office of O. H. Chittenden, preparing himself for the practice of law before attending John W. Fowler's newly established State and National Law School with fellow students Chancellor Hartson and Tim N. Machin, he was admitted to the New York bar May 2, 1848. Searls travelled to Kentucky and Illinois before settling for a short time in Missouri to practice law; when he decided to join the California Gold Rush, he chose the wagon train company endorsed by the Daily Missouri Republican, the Pioneer Line.
He traveled with his friend from Charles Mulford. Arriving in California in October 1849, they traded. In 1850, he settled in the town of Nevada. Two years he was elected district attorney of Nevada County. Elected on the Know Nothing ticket, from 1855 through 1862, he was a judge of the 14th judicial district. In 1864, Searls moved back to New York and became a farmer for the next six years before returning to his mountain home in California, retiring. However, in 1877, Searls was elected to represent Nevada County in the California Senate, became Chairman of the California Debris Commission. At the 1884 Democratic National Convention, Searls nominated General William Rosecrans for Vice President of the United States, but Thomas A. Hendricks went on to be selected as the running mate to Grover Cleveland. Searls was appointed California State Supreme Court Commissioner in 1885, serving in this office until April 19, 1887, when he became the 14th Chief Justice of California. Defeated for re-election in November 1888, he became a Supreme Court Commissioner for a second time during the period of 1894-1897.
Searls sat on the Board of Directors of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad. In 1853, Searls returned to New York to marry his first cousin, Mary Corinthia Niles of Rensselaerville, New York, brought her back to Nevada City, traveling by steamer with their friends, Charles Mulford and his new bride, Deb, they had two children, one of whom, Fred Searls engaged in the practice of law, the other was a mechanical engineer. He kept a diary about his experiences in 1869 during an arduous rail trip from New York to California and wrote a book about it, "Coast to coast by railroad: The journey of Niles Searls--May, 1869". Searls was Vice President of the Society of California Pioneers. Along with Aaron A. Sargent, Searls was a Freemason of the Nevada No. 13. He retired to Berkeley, California in 1899, died at his home eight years later, he was a Protestant. Searls' grandson, Fred Searls, Jr. and great-grandson, Carroll Searls, were all attorneys. Fred Searls, Jr. was president of the international conglomerate mining concern, Newmont Mining Corporation, which operated, among many others, the Empire-North Star mine complex in Nevada County, after 1929-1950s.
His great-grandson, Frederick Searls an attorney, was Vice President of Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Searls' first cousin, Mary's brother, Addison Niles, was an Associate Justice on the California Supreme Court during the period of 1872-1880. Burial: Find A Grave Memorial# 48970480 Built in 1872, Searls' brick, two room, single story law office on Church Street, across from the Nevada County Courthouse, was converted into the Searls Library, containing the historical documents collection of the Nevada County Historical Society. Niles Searls diary: ms. S, 1849 May 9-Oct. 1. Coast to coast by railroad: the journey of Niles Searls--May, 1869.. Worldcat.org. Niles Searls. California Supreme Court Historical Society. Retrieved July 18, 2017. Past & Present Justices. California State Courts. Retrieved July 19, 2017. List of Justices of the Supreme Court of California Jackson Temple Van R. Paterson Thomas Bard McFarland
William F. Fitzgerald
William Francis Fitzgerald was an American jurist who served on the Federal bench as an Associate Justice of the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court, as well as at the state level as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. Other positions he held include California Attorney General and judge of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Fitzgerald was born February 1846 in Jackson, Mississippi, he was educated in his hometown's public schools until the age of 12 when his work as a newsboy prompted a patron to sponsor him into St. Mary's College. Fitzgerald attended the Kentucky school from late 1858 till the start of the American Civil War. With the outbreak of hostilities, Fitzgerald enlisted in the Confederate States Army on March 27, 1861, he saw considerable action during the course of hostilities, participating in the Battle of Shiloh and being wounded at least once. A account in the Vicksburg Daily Herald reported of the youth, "It was under the eye of the gallant Bod Smith that Fitzgerald a beardless stripling of seventeen, with his gallant company, the impregnable Federal works, held by a large body of troops intrenched, with heavy siege guns, behind quadrilateral earthworks, fell, sword in hand, pierced through the lungs, at the foot of the murderous parapet.
He alone of his entire company succeeded in reaching the works." As a result of this action Fitzgerald received a battlefield promotion to first lieutenant. Following the war, Fitzgerald began studying law and was admitted to the Mississippi bar on February 18, 1868. Upon obtaining his law license, he began practicing law in Jackson. Fitzgerald was times to a daughter of Dr. C. S. Knapp of Jackson; as a result of his marriages, Fitzgerald fathered one daughter. Politically, Fitzgerald joined the Republican party, he was twice elected to four-year terms as district attorney for the eleventh judicial circuit in 1878 and 1882. In July 1881, Fitzgerald received the Republican nomination for Mississippi Attorney General. Despite winning support from both the Greenbacks and Independent Democrats he failed to win the election. During the United States Senate elections of 1882, Fitzgerald was the Republican challenger to incumbent Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. In February 1883, Fitzgerald represented the Vicksburg Cotton Exchange and Chamber of Commerce at the National Mississippi River Improvement convention in Washington D.
C. During the convention, Fitzgerald met President Chester A. Arthur who asked if the Mississippi attorney would be interested in a Federal post. Fitzgerald requested a judgeship in Dakota Territory, a request, repeated in December 1883. On March 3, 1884, following the death of Justice A. W. Sheldon, President Arthur nominated Fitzgerald for a seat on the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court. Senate confirmation occurred a week later. Fitzgerald was assigned to judicial district one, consisting of Graham and Pinal counties and changed to Cochise and Pima counties in 1885, made his home in Tucson, Arizona Territory. Only a single ruling survives from his time on the Arizona bench, Smith v. County of Mohave, 2 Arizona 27; the one-page ruling determined that an 1881 act by the legislature did not remove the right to file suit against an Arizona county. The inauguration of Grover Cleveland in 1885 signaled the end of Fitzgerald's time on the Arizona bench; the judge was popular among the territorial population and protest meetings were organized to fight the expected removal.
Despite these efforts, President Cleveland named Fitzgerald's replacement, William H. Barnes, on October 23, 1885. Fitzgerald moved to Los Angeles, California, in early 1886. There he worked with Charles Silent at the legal firm of Silent and Fitzgerald before joining the firm of Anderson and Anderson. During this time he was active in the local legal community, helping perform an 1888 reorganization of the Los Angeles Bar Association. Outside his legal career, Fitzgerald served as chairman of the board for the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, director of the California Sewer Pipe Company, was active in the state Republican party, being elected chairman of the party's central committee in 1892. In 1891, Fitzgerald became a Supreme Court Commissioner, he held the position until his resignation in May 1892 when he joined the San Francisco legal firm of Estes, Fitzgerald, & Miller. On February 2, 1893, Governor Henry Markham appointed Fitzgerald to fill the seat on the California Supreme Court left empty by the death of Justice John Sharpstein.
During the two years he served on Fitzgerald authored thirty-two opinions. Instead of running for reelection to the California Supreme Court, Fitzgerald became the Republican nominee for California Attorney General in 1884, he won the election and began a four-year term on January 7, 1895. As his term was set to expire, Fitzgerald ran on the Republican ticket and lost a close race for San Francisco city attorney; when he left office, Fitzgerald returned to his legal practice in San Francisco. In late 1899, Governor Henry Gage appointed Fitzgerald to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County to fulfill the remaining term of a deceased judge, he held the position for two years. In April 1903, Fitzgerald traveled to Montana to visit his daughter and son-in-law. There, on May 1903, he died of heart failure. Fitzgerald was buried in Butte's Holy Cross Cemetery. Goff, John S.. Arizona Territorial Officials Volume I: The Supreme Court Justices 1863-1912. Cave Creek, Arizona: Black Mountain Press. OCLC 1622668.
Rodman, Willoughby. History of the bench and bar of s
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
Thomas Bard McFarland
Thomas Bard McFarland was a miner and judge in the U. S. state of California. He served as a state assemblyman, Superior Court judge, associate justice of the Supreme Court of California. McFarland was born in 1828 near Pennsylvania, he graduated from Marshall College and soon thereafter studied law with his cousin, Robert M. Bard, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, he was admitted to practice in 1849. Instead of commencing practice, however, he headed to California, arriving September 1850, was a gold miner for three years, he opened a law office in Nevada City where he practiced with various partners, including Addison Niles, until 1861. In September 1855, he was elected and served one term in the 1856 term of the California State Assembly from Nevada County, running on the Know Nothing or American Party ticket. On April 21, 1856, he was admitted to the bar of the California Supreme Court. In 1857, he was nominated by the Know Nothings for California Attorney General but lost the election. In 1861, he was elected judge of the Fourteenth District Court, in which capacity he served for two terms.
After he retired from the bench, he practiced law in Sacramento for the next 12 years, except an interval during which he served as Register of the United States General Land Office at Sacramento, accepting this position at the suggestion of Aaron A. Sargent. In 1879, McFarland served as a member of the convention which framed the existing Constitution of California. On December 18, 1882, he was appointed to fill a two-year vacancy upon the bench of the Sacramento County Superior Court by Governor George Clement Perkins. In 1884, McFarland was elected for a full term. In November 1886, McFarland was elected on the Republican ticket for a 12-year term as associate justice of the Supreme Court of California, taking his seat in January 1887. In 1898, McFarland was re-elected to the high court despite accusations he favored railroads in his rulings, he sat continuously as an associate justice up to the time of his death, September 16, 1908, a period of over 21 years. In September 1908, Governor James Gillett appointed Henry A. Melvin to finish the remainder of McFarland's term until January 1911.
McFarland was a member of the Whig Party, but joined the Republican Party when it was organized. He sat on the board of education of the city of Sacramento and was a trustee of Leland Stanford Junior University. McFarland married Susie Briggs at Nevada City in 1861. Briggs' sister was married to Dr. Robert M. Hunt, the first physician to practice medicine in that town, was a charter member of the California Medical Society; the McFarlands had Jennie. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: California. Supreme Court's "Reports of Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of California" This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lewis Publishing Company's "A Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California: Containing a History of this Important Section of the Pacific Coast from the Earliest Period of Its Occupancy to the Present Time" This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: O.
T. Shuck's "History of the Bench and Bar of California: Being Biographies of Many Remarkable Men, a Store of Humorous and Pathetic Recollections, Accounts of Important Legislation and Extraordinary Cases, Comprehending the Judicial History of the State" Thomas B. McFarland. California Supreme Court Historical Society Past & Present Justices. California State Courts. Retrieved July 19, 2017. List of Justices of the Supreme Court of California Jackson Temple Van R. Paterson Niles Searls John D. Works William H. Beatty
Charles N. Fox
Charles Nelson Fox was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California from June 25, 1889 to January 7, 1895. Born at Redford, Wayne County, Michigan to Benjamin F. Fox, a farmer of English descent, Fox moved to Ann Arbor at the age of fifteen to earn his own living, to attend the newly opened Ann Arbor University. Due to a bout of illness, unable to afford tuition, he took a job at a printing office, soon became an editor, he was elected city recorder of Ann Arbor, acted as mayor of the city a portion of the term. He read law in the office of Kingsley & Morgan, was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of Michigan in 1856. In August 1857, he moved to San Mateo County, was admitted to the California bar in July 1858, shortly thereafter was appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of the district attorney, he won successive elections to the office for five years. He was retained by the Spring Valley Water Company to attend to their business in San Mateo County, succeeded in securing the legal rights and property without involvement in any lawsuits over a ten year period.
He became a local attorney for the newly organized San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company, securing their right of way through San Mateo County, thereafter became president and attorney of the Western Pacific Railroad Company. He moved from Redwood City to San Francisco and was appointed general attorney of the Spring Valley Water Company, continued to act as one of its legal advisers for nearly forty years. Fox declined several overtures to accept judicial and other positions, but ran for a seat as a Republican in the first session of the legislature held under the 1879 Constitution of California, he was made chairman of the judiciary committee, used his position to keep bad laws out of the statutes causing the postponement of a thousand bills. Few bills that he opposed passed, every one, passed against his opposition on the ground that it conflicted with the constitution, was pronounced unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. In September 1880, he resigned from the Assembly to serve as an elector for presidential candidate James A. Garfield at the Republican national convention.
Fox remained active in civic activities in Oakland. In June 1877, he helped organize a free reading room in the city. In February 1878, he was a founder of the Oakland Law Library. In March 1879, he was elected to the Oakland Board of Education, served as its president. In 1881, Fox was selected as general counsel for the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company. In June 1889, Governor Robert Waterman appointed Fox as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, following the resignation of Justice Jackson Temple. Fox served on the court to the end of the next year, he authored one of the most noted opinions of the term in Jessup's Case, establishing a rule by which an illegitimate child can become legitimized. After leaving the court, he was a member of the law firm of Campbell, Fox & Campbell with the firm of Fox, Kellogg & King; this firm became Kellogg & Gray until 1895, when it became the firm of Fox & Gray. He was working up until the day of his death, leaving his office on April 26, 1903, about five o'clock in the afternoon, dying before morning had dawned.
Fox became a member of the Odd Fellows at the age of 21, was active and influential in that organization throughout his life, serving as grand master for the state of California in 1867-68, grand patriarch in 1868-69, representative to the grand lodge of the United States in 1869-70. He was the first president of the Odd Fellows' home founded under his administration, acting in that capacity from 1893 to 1898. In October 1869, he was elected an officer of the Daughters of Temperance. Fox had married Celestia M. Fox in Michigan, but she died in Redwood City, California, on January 29, 1859. On January 1, 1860, he remarried to Lucy Taylor in California. In June 1864, after her death, he remarried to Mary Schwartz Rice, a native of France, who came to California in 1857 and lost her first husband soon after her arrival, he had eight children, but only two survived him: Miss Ida Frances Fox. His two brothers, Benjamin F. and George W. Fox, an attorney, two sisters lived in California. California Supreme Court Historical Society page on Charles N.
Fox "Past and Present Justices". California State Courts. Retrieved July 10, 2017. List of Justices of the Supreme Court of California Thomas Bard McFarland John D. Works William H. Beatty John J. De Haven
Sacramento is the capital city of the U. S. state of California and the seat of Sacramento County. Located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in Northern California's Sacramento Valley, Sacramento's estimated 2018 population of 501,334 makes it the sixth-largest city in California and the ninth largest capital in the United States. Sacramento is the seat of the California Assembly, the Governor of California, Supreme Court of California, making it the state's political center and a hub for lobbying and think tanks. Sacramento is the cultural and economic core of the Sacramento metropolitan area, which had 2010 population of 2,414,783, making it the fifth largest in California. Sacramento is the fastest-growing major city in California, owing to its status as a notable financial center on the West Coast and as a major educational hub, home of Sacramento State University and University of California, Davis. Sacramento is a major center for the California healthcare industry, as the seat of Sutter Health, the world-renowned UC Davis Medical Center, the UC Davis School of Medicine, notable tourist destination in California, as the site of The California Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, California Hall of Fame, the California State Capitol Museum, the Old Sacramento State Historic Park.
Sacramento is known for its evolving contemporary culture, dubbed the most "hipster city" in California. In 2002, the Harvard University Civil Rights Project conducted for Time magazine named Sacramento "America's Most Diverse City". Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area was inhabited by the Nisenan people indigenous peoples of California. Spanish cavalryman Gabriel Moraga surveyed and named the Rio del Santísimo Sacramento in 1808, after the Blessed Sacrament, referring to the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. In 1839, Juan Bautista Alvarado, Mexican governor of Alta California granted the responsibility of colonizing the Sacramento Valley to Swiss-born, Mexican citizen John Augustus Sutter, who subsequently established Sutter's Fort and the settlement at the Rancho Nueva Helvetia. Following the American Conquest of California and the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, the waterfront developed by Sutter began to be developed and incorporated in 1850 as the City of Sacramento; as a result of the California Gold Rush, Sacramento became a major commercial center and distribution point for Northern California, serving as the terminus for the Pony Express and the First Transcontinental Railroad.
Nisenan and Plains Miwok Native Americans had lived in the area for thousands of years. Unlike the settlers who would make Sacramento their home, these Native Americans left little evidence of their existence. Traditionally, their diet was dominated by acorns taken from the plentiful oak trees in the region, by fruits, bulbs and roots gathered throughout the year. In 1808, the Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River. A Spanish writer with the Moraga expedition wrote: "Canopies of oaks and cottonwoods, many festooned with grapevines, overhung both sides of the blue current. Birds chattered in the trees and big fish darted through the pellucid depths; the air was like champagne, drank deep of it, drank in the beauty around them. "¡Es como el sagrado sacramento!" The valley and the river were christened after the "Most Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ", referring to the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist. John Sutter Sr. first arrived in the area on August 13, 1839, at the divergence of the American and Sacramento Rivers with a Mexican land grant of 50,000 acres.
The next year, he and his party established Sutter's Fort, a massive adobe structure with walls eighteen feet high and three feet thick. Representing Mexico, Sutter Sr. called his colony New Helvetia, a Swiss inspired name, was the political authority and dispenser of justice in the new settlement. Soon, the colony began to grow as more pioneers headed west. Within just a few short years, Sutter Sr. had become a grand success, owning a ten-acre orchard and a herd of thirteen thousand cattle. Fort Sutter became a regular stop for the increasing number of immigrants coming through the valley. In 1847 Sutter Sr. received 2,000 fruit trees, which started the agriculture industry in the Sacramento Valley. That same year, Sutter Sr. hired James Marshall to build a sawmill so that he could continue to expand his empire, unbeknownst to many, Sutter Sr.'s "empire" had been built on some thin margins of credit. In 1848, when gold was discovered by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, a large number of gold-seekers came to the area, increasing the population.
In August 1848 Sutter Sr.'s son, John Sutter Jr. arrived in the area to assist his father in relieving his indebtedness. Now compounding the problem of his father's indebtedness, was the additional strain placed on the Sutters by the ongoing arrival of thousands of new gold miners and prospectors in the area, many quite content to squat on unwatched portions of the vast Sutter lands, or to abscond with various unattended Sutter properties or belongings if they could. In Sutter's case, rather than being a'boon' for Sutter, his employee's discovery of gold in the area turned out to be more of a personal'bane' for him. By December 1848, John Sutter Jr. in association with Sam Brannan, began laying out the City of Sacramento, 2 miles south of his father's settlement of New Helvetia. This venture was undertaken against the wishes of Sutter Sr. however the father, being in debt, was in no position to stop the venture. For
Constitution of California
The Constitution of California is the primary organizing law for the U. S. state of California, describing the duties, powers and functions of the government of California. Following cession of the area from Mexico to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican–American War, California's original constitution was drafted in both English and Spanish by delegates elected on August 1, 1849, to represent all communities home to non-indigenous citizens; the delegates wrote and adopted the constitution at the 1849 Constitutional Convention, held beginning on September 3 in Monterey, voters approved the new constitution on November 13, 1849. Adoption of the "state" constitution preceded California's Admission to the Union on September 9, 1850 by ten months. A second constitutional convention, the Sacramento Convention of 1878–79, amended the original document, ratifying the amended constitution on 7 May 1879; the Constitution of California is one of the longest collections of laws in the world due to provisions enacted during the Progressive Era limiting powers of elected officials, but due to additions by California ballot proposition and voter initiatives, which take form as constitutional amendments.
Initiatives can be proposed by the governor, legislature, or by popular petition, giving California one of the most flexible legal systems in the world. It is the 8th longest constitution in the world. Many of the individual rights clauses in the state constitution have been construed as protecting rights broader than the United States Bill of Rights in the Federal Constitution. An example is the case of Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, in which "free speech" rights beyond those addressed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution were found in the California Constitution by the California courts. One of California's most significant prohibitions is against "cruel or unusual punishment," a stronger prohibition than the U. S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment." This caused the California Supreme Court to find Capital Punishment unconstitutional on state Constitutional grounds in the 1972 case of People v. Anderson; the constitution has undergone numerous changes since its original drafting.
It was rewritten from scratch several times before the drafting of the current 1879 constitution, which has itself been amended or revised. In response to widespread public disgust with the powerful railroads that controlled California's politics and economy at the start of the 20th century, Progressive Era politicians pioneered the concept of aggressively amending the state constitution by initiative in order to remedy perceived evils. From 1911, the height of the U. S. Progressive Era, to 1986, the California Constitution was amended or revised over 500 times; the constitution became bloated, leading to abortive efforts towards a third constitutional convention in 1897, 1914, 1919, 1930, 1934 and 1947. By 1962, the constitution had grown to 75,000 words, which at that time was longer than any other state constitution but Louisiana's; that year, the electorate approved the creation of a California Constitution Revision Commission, which worked on a comprehensive revision of the constitution from 1964 to 1976.
The electorate ratified the Commission's revisions in 1966, 1970, 1972, 1974, but rejected the 1968 revision, whose primary substantive effect would have been to make the state's superintendent of schools into an appointed rather than an elected official. The Commission removed about 40,000 words from the constitution; the California Constitution is one of the longest in the world. The length has been attributed to a variety of factors, such as influence of previous Mexican civil law, lack of faith in elected officials and the fact that many initiatives take the form of a constitutional amendment. Several amendments involved the authorization of the creation of state government agencies, including the State Compensation Insurance Fund and the State Bar of California. Unlike other state constitutions, the California Constitution protects the corporate existence of cities and counties and grants them broad plenary home rule powers; the Constitution gives charter cities, in particular, supreme authority over municipal affairs allowing such cities' local laws to trump state law.
By enabling cities to pay counties to perform governmental functions for them, Section 8 of Article XI resulted in the rise of the contract city. Article 4, section 8 defines an "urgency statute" as one "necessary for immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety". Many of the individual rights clauses in the state constitution have been construed as protecting rights broader than the Bill of Rights in the federal constitution. Two examples include the Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins case involving an implied right to free speech in private shopping centers, the first decision in America in 1972 which found the death penalty unconstitutional, California v. Anderson, 6 Cal. 3d 628. This noted that under California's state constitution a stronger protection applies than under the U. S. Constitution's 8th Amendment.