“Legislature of 1,000 Drinks”
California’s first legislative session in 1849 has become known as “the Legislature of 1,ooo Drinks, thanks to the famous sh0uted urgings of Sen. Thomas Jefferson Green, a Texas transplant, who upon recess would say:
“Well boys, let’s go and take a drink, 1,000 drinks.”
History is silent as to how close his colleagues got to goal set by Green, who carried the bill creating the University of California.
But those first 52 lawmakers – 36 Assemblymen, 16 senators – did far more than simply drink.
Here’s how Nat B. Read in his biography of Don Benito Wilson, who went from mountain man to Los Angeles mayor, describes the Golden State’s first Legislature:
“The representatives had borrowed from other states’ constitutions, primarily those of New York and Iowa. The American military governors who had administered the state since it had come under American control had carefully left Mexican law and custom in place for the stability of the state. The fist Legislature swept aside that structure, leaving in place only ‘such laws as have been passed by the present Legislature.’
“One concession to Mexican law was for registration of property by women, thus making California the first state in the union with a constitutional provision for married women’s separate property.
“The Legislature prohibited slavery, allowed free Blacks – although without voting rights – and organized a militia, primarily to confront Indians.
“Of that first body of legislators, some would wear blue and some would wear grey uniforms in the Civil War. Two would die in duels – despite their votes for a law prohibiting such encounters
“Two would be committed to insane asylums. One would take his own life. And one would take the widow of another elgsitor as a lover, only to be murdered by her.”
Filed under: California History
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