California's First Constitutional Convention
(1849 at Colton Hall in Monterey)
In 1849, as California prepared for statehood, a Convention was held at Monterey to write the Constitution for the new state. The Military Governor of California, General Bennett Riley, called an election for August 1st to elect 37 delegates to attend the convention. During the first meeting of the Convention, it was decided to increase the number of delegates in order to make the body more proportional for the recent flood of miners who had been arriving in Gold Country. For example, the number of delegates from Sacramento and San Joaquin each grew from 4 delegates to 15, while San Diego delegation was to have two members.
A major debate at the convention was whether it was appropriate for the Constitutional Convention to prohibit slavery, or whether that was a decision that would be better left to the first legislature. In the end, the Convention voted to settle the matter immediately, with Section 18 of Article I reading "Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State."
The 1849 Constitution guaranteed the right to vote to "every white male citizen of the United States, and every white male citizen of Mexico, who shall have elected to become a citizen of the United States" and who was at least twenty-one years old. It also set San Jose as the first state capitol [Article XI, Section 1], and required Assemblymembers to be elected annually (State Senators were elected every two years). The Constitution established both English and Spanish as the official languages for the state, and allowed dueling to be punished by the loss of the right to vote and hold public office. The constitution also prohibited the legislature from allowing divorce or the establishment of a state lottery. Dueling is still illegal (although you can't lose your vote for doing it), although the state lottery was authorized by initiative in 1984.
[elected members who failed to attend the convention]
California's Second Constitutional Convention
(1879 at the Assembly Chambers in Sacramento)
After thirty years of statehood, and only a single amendment to the Constitution (an 1862 change that prohibited the legislature from passing 'special laws' or 'local laws'), a movement in support of a new constitution emerged. Let in large part by the Workingmen’s Party, a second constitutional convention was called in late 1878. The Convention was held in the Assembly Chambers at the new State Capitol in Sacramento (the building had been in use for just ten years at that point).
The new constitution was almost twice as long as the previous version, expanding from 13 pages long to 23 pages and from 12 Articles to 22 Articles. Article IV lengthened legislative terms from 1 year to 2 for the Assembly and from 2 years to 4 for the State Senate. The goal of Article XIX was to "prohibit the introduction into this State of Chinese", which it tried to accomplish by disallowing the employment of Chinese by the state or local governments "except in punishment from crime." The new Constitution also established Sacramento as the permanent capitol [Article XX, Section 1], and established the 8-hour work day [Article XX, Section 17].
As of 2008, the California Constitution has been amended 519 times since 1879.
[elected members who failed to attend the convention]
|Randolph S. Swing||Edward Evey||Eugene Fawcett||Joseph C. Brown||L. F. Jones|
|Eli T. Blackmer||Volney E. Howard||Charles G. Finney||Samuel A. Holmes||G. M. Hardwick|
|Horace C. Rolfe||John P. West||George Steele||V. A. Gregg||William J. Howard|
|Patrick Reddy||J. M. Strong|
|Tyler D. Heiskell|
|SD-06||SD-07||SD-08 to SD-13||SD-08 to SD-13||SD-08 to SD-13|
|N. G. Wyatt||Dennis W. Herrington||Clitus Barbour||Jacob Richard Freud||Charles R. Kleine|
|Daniel Tuttle||Thomas H. Laine||Charles J. Beerstecher||Joseph C. Gorman||Raymond Lavigne|
|William F. White||Rush McComas||Peter Bell||William P. Grace||John F. Lindow|
|Edmund Nason||E. O. Smith||John D. Condon||Thomas Harrison||John J. Kenny|
|Joseph R. Weller||Patrick T. Dowling||Conrad Herold||Bernard F. Kenny|
|Luke D. Doyle||William P. Hughey|
|Simon J. Farrell||Peter J. Joyce|
|SD-08 to SD-13||SD-08 to SD-13||SD-08 to SD-13||SD-14||SD-15|
|Thomas C. Morris||James S. Reynolds||S. B. Thompson||A. Campbell Jr.||Hiram Mills|
|Thorward K. Nelson||Charles S. Ringgold||Alphonse P. Vacquerel||Daniel Inman||Thomas H. Estey|
|Henry Neunaber||Henry W. Smith||Patrick M. Wellin||John G. McCallum||Hugh Walker|
|Charles C. O'Donnell||John C. Stedman||Lucius D. Morse||William Van Voorhies|
|James O'Sullivan||Charles Swenson||William S. Moffatt||Jonathan V. Webster|
|John A. Eagon||J. B. Garvey||James Caples||Jonathan M. Dudley||Alonzo E. Noel|
|William H. Prouty||John Walker||Presley Dunlap||Joel A. Harvey||H. C. Boggs|
|John R. W. Hitchcock||Royal M. Lampson||Henry Edgerton||Samuel G. Hilborn||Robert Crouch|
|David Lewis||Abraham Clark Freeman||Charles F. Reed|
|Justus Schomp||Hugh M. La Rue||John M. Rhodes|
|David S. Terry||Thomas McConnell|
|W. L. Dudley||Thomas B. McFarland|
|J. M. Charles||Samuel B. Burt||Henry Larkin||Charles W. Cross||George Ohleyer|
|George A. Johnson||Joseph A. Filcher||James E. Dean||Hamlet Davis||D. H. Cowden|
|W. W. Moreland||George W. Hunter||John McCoy||John Fleming McNutt|
|Charles V. Stuart||John T. Wickes||James H. Keyes|
|Henry K. Turner|
|Josiah Boucher||James E. Murphy||Jehu Berry||Benjamin B. Glascock|
|Mark R. C. Pulliam||W. J. Sweasey||D. C. Stevenson||Henry C. Wilson|
|Ezra P. Soule||F. O. Townsend||Alexander R. Andrews|
|Augustus H. Chapman||James N. Barton|
|William H. L. Barnes||Henry H. Haight||Isaac S. Belcher||James J. Ayers|
|Eugene Casserly||James E. Hale||Marion Biggs||William J. Graves|
|Morris M. Estee||John B. Hall||W. F. Huestis||John L. Mansfield|
|John S. Hager||J. West Martin||John M. Kelley||Edward Martin|
|Joseph P. Hoge||James Martin Porter||A. P. Overton||George W. Schell|
|Samuel M. Wilson||Rufus Shoemaker||James McMillan Shafter||George Venable Smith|
|Joseph W. Winans||Walter Van Dyke||Benjamin Shurtleff||Pleasant B. Tully|
|Wiley J. Tinnin||Byron Waters|
NOTE: Former Governor Henry H. Haight died at the beginning of the Convention and J. West Martin was elected to fill the vacancy.
NOTE: Bernard F. Kenny died shortly before the Convention began and his brother John J. Kenny was elected to fill the vacancy.
NOTE: G. M. Hardwick died and J.M. Strong was elected to fill the vacancy. Strong died quickly after joining the Convention and William J. Howard was elected to fill the vacancy.
NOTE: Thomas C. Morris resigned on the first day of the Convention and S. B. Thompson was elected to fill his vacancy.
California Constitutional Revision Commission (1964 to 1971)
As state government grew following World War II, the State Constitution grew as well. By 1960, the Constitution had grown from its 1879 length of 23 pages to a massive 132 pages long. The Commission held meetings from 1964 to 1970, and produced a final report in March 1971. The proposals generated by the Commission were put to the voters as initiatives ever two years between 1966 and 1976.
In addition to updating the Constitution to better reflect the needs of the state, a major goal of the revision was to shorten what had become the longest of all the state constitutions. One example of a successfull abbreviation by the Commission can be seen in Article XX, Section 1, which was trimmed from: "The city of Sacramento is hereby declared to be the seat of government of this State, and shall so remain until changed by law; but no law changing the seat of government shall be valid or binding, unless the same be approved and ratified by a majority of the qualified electors of the State voting therefor at a general State election, under such regulations and provisions as the Legislature, by a two-thirds vote of each House, may provide, submitting the question of change to the people." [Article XX, Section 1, of 1960] to "Sacramento is the capital of California." [Article XX, Section 1, of 1972].
Over the seven years that the commission met, meetings took place at a wide variety of locations around the state in Bakersfield, Claremont, Coronado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Newport Beach, Oakland, Palm Springs, Pasadena, Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Barbara.
|Ernest J. Loebbecke||1964||George W. Rochester||1964-1971||Judge Phil Gibson||1965-1971|
|James C. Sheppard||Grandvel A. Jackson||Mrs. Earl Shoesmith|
|Mrs. Paul Holmer||Jack A. Beaver||Mrs. William Irvine|
|Maurice H. Stans||John A. Vieg||Robert S. Ash|
|James L. Beebe||1964-1965||John D. Babbage||James L. Holmes||1966-1969|
|Mrs. Frederic Spencer||Joseph A. Ball||Robert C. Brown||1966-1970|
|Mrs. Harry A. Williams||Judge Bruce Sumner||Bryant Essick||1966-1971|
|Joseph Harris||1964-1966||Milton M. Teague||Harry Bardt|
|Willard W. Keith||1964-1966||Mrs. Ernest Lilienthal||Mrs. Walter Oliver|
|Arthur J. Dolan||1964-1967||Mrs. Joel Y. Nemschoff||Norman Woodbury|
|Franklin D. Murphy||1964-1968||Mrs. Lauffer T. Hayes||Otis L. Frost|
|Thomas L. Pitts||Mrs. Lawrence E. Spear||William McKenna|
|Dr. Norman Topping||1964-1969||Mrs. Robert Zurbach||Gale Brandon||1967-1971|
|John A. Sproul, Esq.||P. N. Hyndman||Harlan J. Nissen|
|Einar O. Mohn||1964-1970||Paul Mason||Lloyd Graybiel|
|Richard Carpenter||Ralph N. Kleps||Richard L. Patsey|
|William R. MacDougall||Richard L. Taw||Rodney W. Rood|
|Adrian McCalman||1964-1971||Ruth Church Gupta||Daniel G. Aldrich Jr.||1968-1971|
|Albin J. Gruhn||Sol Silverman||Donald McClure|
|Arthur F. Corey||Totton J. Anderson||Sigmund Arywitz|
|Bernard L. Hyink||James F. Crafts||1965-1970||Carl W. Robertson||1969-1971|
|Burnham Enersen||Dr. Cornelius H. Siemens||1965-1971||Frank Nakamura|
|Donald H. Pflueger||James S. Cantlen||Harold McClelland|
|Dr. Robert Gordon Sproul||John A. Busterud||Herman Selvin|
|Frank C. Newman||Judge Joseph G. Babich||Robert Osbourne|
NOTE: Commission Co-Chair Sheppard died while serving as Co-Chair in December 1964. Dr. Robert G. Sproul, the other original Co-Chairman resigned on November 18, 1965 due to ill health. Following his resignation, the two Co-Chair positions were consolidated into a single Chairmanship.
NOTE: Commissioner Spencer died on March 2, 1965.
NOTE: Murphy resigned and was replaced by Aldrich.
NOTE: James L. Holmes died while attending a Commission meeting in Sacramento. Holmes died February 13, 1969 in Sacramento, CA.
NOTE: Paul Mason, author of numerous books about the California Constitution and legislative procedure (including his "Manual of Legislative Procedure") had a heart attack and missed the last meetings in late 1970.
California Constitutional Revision Commission (1994 to 1996)
In 1993, State Senator Lucy Killea authored a law that established a second Constitutional Revision Commission to serve from 1994 to 1996. The proposals developed by the Commission included amending term limits so both houses would be eligible to serve three four-year terms in each house. Another proposal was to restrict the Legislature to a six month session each year, and changing the state budget to a biennial budget that could be approved on a majority vote.
Revision Commission Members (1994-1996)
|William Hauck, Chair||Donald Benninghoven, Vice-Chair|
|George Babikian||Lewis Coleman|
|Anne Bakar||Russell Gould|
|Andrew Baron||Alan Heslop|
|Patricia Castillo||Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill|
|Betty Chu||Jane Pisano|
|Senator Lucy Killea||Leon Williams|
|Senator Bill Leonard|
Served until 1/31/1996
Served starting 1/31/1996
|Judge Roger Warren||Judge Ronald Robie (3/25)|
|Elizabeth Cabraser||Larry Arnn|
|Kamala Harris||Edward Erler|
|Assemblyman Phil Isenberg||Steve Frates|
|Chui Tsang||Richard Rider|
|Craig Brown (3/4)|
|Three members added later =>||Joel Fox (3/25)|
|Gary Hunt (3/25)|
NOTE: Judge Ronald Robie was selected to fill the vacancy caused when Judge Roger Warren resigned from the Commission. Warren resigned in order to become the President of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) where he served 1996-2004.