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John R. McConnell

Breckinridge Democratic

Picture of John R. McConnell
CA Attorney General
Date Party Office Votes Result
10-08-1853 Democratic Attorney General 40729 Win
09-04-1861 Breckinridge Democratic Governor 32751 Loss
09-07-1875 Democratic AD-02 0 Win

Candidate Biography:

Born: 1815 or 1826 in Kentucky
Died: August 18, 1879 in Denver, Colorado

Previous: City Attorney, City of Nevada
Previous: District Attorney, Nevada County
1864: Candidate for CA Supreme Court Justice (Lost)

  • McConnell served as attorney for George W. Hall (in People v. Hall), who in 1854 had murdered several "Orientals" including a Chinese miner named Ling Sing. In order to defend his client, McConnell successfully excluded testimony from the only witnesses on the basis of race. An 1850 law established that "No black, or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of, or against a white man." McConnell successfully argued before the CA Supreme Court that because Asians were not caucasian, they were (by default) black and unable to testify in court. Hall was freed.

Source: History of Political Conventions in California, 1849-1892 by Winfield J. Davis (1893)
Source: Directory of the California Legislature. Twenty-First Session, 1875-6 by William Halley (1876)