Hope and California: Two Minority Perspectives
The position of the free negro in this state is a peculiar one, he is not the equal of the white man, socially or politically, he can not testify in our courts or exercise the right of suffrage. Hence, in our judgment it is not good policy on our part to encourage the immigrations of any class of persons incapable of appreciating and enjoying, to the fullest extent, our institutions.
The negro is by nature indolent and in a state of freedom becomes a ready prey to vice, particularly in our large cities. We deem it unnecessary to refer to the conditions of the free Negro, in portions of our union as a proof of the evil of harboring them here in our midst.
That there are here in California many worthy and industrious free negroes, your Committee do not deny. In fact we know many who for industry sobriety and good conduct, would be a good example to many of our white citizens, but these are exceptionable instances.
The Bill does not interfere with those free negroes already here, but simply requires them to procure a certificate of Registry, from the County Recorder in the County of their residence, to show that they were residents of this state prior to the 1st day of October 1858. This portion of the Bill is necessary to render it Effectual.
Believing therefore that the further immigration of free negroes and Mulattoes into this state, is not desirable, we beg leave to report the Bill back to the Senate and recommend its passage without amendment.
The bill was passed overwhelmingly in the state assembly and was then sent to the senate. Uneasiness about the bill was more evident in this body. Nonetheless, its passage was to be ratified (by a vote of 21 to 8), with some minor revisions. These revisions required the bill’s return to the assembly for approval. The assembly had, however, in the meantime adjourned and the bill therefore died.
There was brief respite in this overwhelming sentiment of prejudice in 1865. It was in this year that the California State Legislature voted to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery as a legal institution.