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Story of the Session of the California Legislature of 1909

By Franklin Hichborn

The well-being of the State requires that the opponents to the machine in Senate and Assembly, regardless of party label, organize the Legislature. But back of this is the even more important requirement that there be elected to the Legislature American citizens, with the responsibility of their citizenship upon them, rather than partisans, burdened, until their good purposes are made negative, by the responsibility of their partisanship.

San Francisco
Press of The James H. Barry Company



I. Breaking Ground
II. Organization of the Senate
III. Organization of the Assembly
IV. The Machine in Control
V. Election of United States Senator
VI. The Anti-Racetrack Gambling Bill
VII. Passage of the Anti-Racetrack Gambling Bill
VIII. The Direct Primary Bill
IX. The Machine Defeated in the Senate
X. Fight Over the Assembly Amendments
XI. Machine Amends Direct Primary Bill
XII. The Railroad Regulation Issue
XIII. Machine Defeats the Stetson Bill
XIV. Railroad Measures
XV. Defeat of the Commonwealth Club Bills
XVI. How the Change of Venue Bill Was Passed
XVII. Passage of the Wheelan Bills
XVIII. Defeat of the Local Option Bill
XIX. Defeat of the Initiative Amendment
XX. Defeat of the Anti-Japanese Bills
XXI. The Rule Against Lobbying
XXII. The Machine Lobbyist at Work
XXIII Influence of the San Francisco Delegation
XXIV. Attacks on and Defense of the Fish Commission
XXV. The Rewarding of the Faithful
XXVI. The Holdover Senators
XXVII. The Retiring Senators
XXVIII. Conclusion
Tables of Votes
Postal Direct Primary
Dr. Montgomery's Report
The Anti-Japanese Resolution


In writing the Story of the Session of the California Legislature of 1909, the purpose has been, not only to show what was done at Sacramento last Winter, but, what is by far more important, how it was done. To this end, the several measures are divided under three heads, namely, those dealing with moral, with political and with industrial issues. Instead of scattering on all the measures introduced, or even a considerable part of them, the principal issue of each group, that which meant the most to The People, and upon which the machine centered its efforts, has been selected for detailed consideration. On the score of the moral issues, the Anti-Racetrack Gambling bill has been taken as the most important; while the Direct Primary bill is dealt with as the chief political issue, and the railroad regulation measures as involving the chief industrial issue. The story of the fight over these bills is the story of the session of 1909. The events attending the passage of the Anti-Racetrack Gambling bill, the amendment of the Direct Primary bill, and the defeat of the Stetson Railroad Regulation bill, with the attending incident of the passage of the Wright Railroad bill, show, as nothing else can, how the machine controls and manipulates a Legislature - and such is the purpose of this little volume.

The efforts of justice-loving men to simplify the criminal codes, to the end that rich and poor alike may have equal opportunity in the trial courts - not in theory alone but in fact - and the successful efforts of the machine to block this reform, have made detailed consideration of the defeat of the Commonwealth Club bills and the passage of the Wheelan bills, and the so-called Change of Venue bill timely. And the story of these measures illustrates again how the machine element defeats the purpose of The People, and overrides what are the constitutional rights - and should be rights in fact - of every American citizen.

Measures which involved no particular contest between the good government and the machine forces - measures patched up by interested parties and slipped through the Legislature without opposition and generally without comment - although many of them of great importance, are not touched upon. The histories of those selected for consideration show the machine, or if you like, the system, at its work of passing undesirable measures, and of blocking the passage of good measures. If the Story of the Session of the California Legislature of 1909 assist the citizens of California to understand how this is done; if it give them that knowledge of the weakness, the strength, the purposes, and the affiliations of the Senators and Assemblymen who sat in the Legislature of 1909, a knowledge of which the machine managers have had heretofore a monopoly; if it point the way for a new method of publicity to crush corruption and to promote reform - a way which others better prepared for the work than I, may, in California and even in other States, follow - the labor of preparing this volume for the press will have been justified.

Franklin Hichborn.

Santa Clara, Cal., July 4, 1909.

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