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Constitution

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California’s Constitution
Law and Order
In 1837, Mexico adopted a new constitution which created executive, legislative and judicial branches of government for the provinces. In California, considerable power was vested in the Governor who, among other duties, appointed regional officers (prefects) and local magistrates (alcaldes), the latter acting in the capacities of mayor, judge and representative of the
Governor.
This system had little opportunity to take root before Commodore Sloat raised the American Flag at Monterey in 1846, proclaiming California a permanent possession of the United States, establishing military authority, and promising constitutional rights, privileges, and law. Many Californians objected to military rule and insisted upon immediate provisions for civil government. “With the establishment of the American military government, the alcalde system was restored. On every bar, and in every gulch, and ravine, where an
American crowd was collected, there an American alcalde was elected. And there were strange and often conflicting laws in adjoining neighborhoods, depending on the settlers or on the alcaldes, who made the laws, as the occasion required.” 1
After the treaty of peace with Mexico was signed in 1848, California was left with practically no government other than that provided by the local alcaldes, since the effect of peace was merely to take away the authority of the military government.
The American alcaldes were generally ignorant of the Spanish language and
Spanish-Mexican law upon which the alcalde system was founded. The
Americans were unwilling to abide by and unable to transact their business under the provisions of such an unfamiliar system. The inevitable result was that little law, other than that upheld by custom or tradition, existed.
The discovery of gold by James Marshall...

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