Criminal Justice, Early California, Race, Women: 1850

Legislature passes laws:

  • Allowing for the virtual slavery of Indian children and of adult Indians declared “vagrants” by judges. The law expires in 1863.
  • Barring African Americans, Indians, and mulattoes from testifying against whites in criminal cases. The following year, the legislature bans testimony from the same groups in civil trials.
  • Criminalizing abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.

Early California, Women: 1850

Legislature passes a ban on abortion; in 1858 the law is extended to criminalize disseminating information about abortion.

Early California, Women: 1852

Girls and young women are brought from impoverished families in China and forced into prostitution in San Francisco and mining regions. In 1852, there are only 19 Chinese women in San Francisco, and almost 3,000 Chinese men.

Early California, Women: 1860

CameronCameronAccording to the 1860 Census, 583 of the 681 Chinese women in San Francisco are prostitutes. Exploited and abused, many die very young; a small number are saved by Donaldina Cameron and other Christian mission workers.

Early California, Women: 1870

Women’s Suffrage Society founded to advocate for the right of women to vote.

Early California, Women: 1873

Legislature passes a law forbidding the trafficking of women from Asia for prostitution.

Early California, Women: 1874

After intense lobbying by women, the Legislature passes a law mandating equal pay for women teachers.

Early California, Women: 1878

Clara Shortridge FoltzClara Shortridge FoltzLaw forbidding women to become members of the state bar is repealed, after rigorous campaign by Laura deForce Gordon and Clara Shortridge Foltz, who became the first practicing women lawyers in California.

Early California, Women: 1879

Article XX, Section 18 of the new state Constitution states that women cannot be disqualified from any profession.

Women: 1881

Mary Maguire, arrested for tending bar, wins an acquittal and a ruling striking down the ordinance that bans women from that job.

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