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management of the affairs of your municipality. It is therefore hoped that an election will be held, with no more delay than' may be necessary in order to have the notice generally known in the town and district.
It is the opinion of all eminent legal authorities which have been con. sulted, that all laws of California which existed at the time this country was annexed to the United States, and which are not inconsistent with the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States, are still in force, and must continue in force till changed by competent authority. The powers and duties of all civil officers in California, except so far as they may have been modified by the act of annexation, are therefore the same as they were previous to the conquest of the country. As the laws touching the subject of town councils (ayuntamientos) may not be of convenient reference, I am directed to subjoin a few of their provisions. The number of members for each town cannot exceed 6 alcaldes, 12 councilmen, (regidores, 1 collector, and 1 treasurer, (or 2 syndicos;) to change, however, from their number previously established, requires the assent of the governor. For the town of San Francisco, such assent is hereby given for any number not exceeding the provisions of the law.
The council is charged with the police and good order of the town, the construction of roads, the laying out, lighting, and paving of streets, the construction and repair of bridges, the removal of nuisances, the establishment of public burying-grounds, the building of jails, the support of town paupers, the granting of town licenses, the examination of weights and measures, the levying of municipal taxes, and the management and disposition of all municipal property. The council appoints its own secretary, who, as well as the members, before entering upon their respective duties, must take the usual oath of office. Each member of the council is bound to assist the alcaldes in executing the laws, and is individually liable for any mal-administration of the municipal funds, provided he voted for such mal-administration. A full account of the receipts and expenditures of the council must be kept, and at the end of each year submitted to the prefect or sub-prefect of the district, who, after his examination, will transmit them to the governor, for file in the government archives. In case of the death or removal of any member of the council, the vacancy may be supplied by a special election; but if such vacancy occur within three months of the close of the year, it will not be filled till the regular annual election. In case of the suspension of the members of the council, those of the preceding year may be reinstated, with their full powers.
As questions are frequently asked respecting town lands, I am directed to say that the most recent law on the subject that can be found in the government archives gives to the council (ayuntamiento) power to sell out in building lots (solares) the municipal lands (proprios) which have been regularly granted to the town; but the common lands (egidos) so granted cannot be sold without special authority. All public lands with out the limits of the town form a part of the public domain, and can be disposed of only by authority of Congress.
The laws require that the results of elections be transmitted to the governor for his approval, and placed on file in this office. This is not always a useless form, for in some cases it is necessary to accompany legal papers with certificates of the governor or secretary of state that
certain officers have been duly elected and qualified—which certificates cannot be given unless the requisite evidence of election is deposited in the government archives. By order of Governor Riley:
H. W. HALLECK,
Brevet Captain, and Secretary of State. Messrs. R. A. PARKER, FREDERICK BILLINGS, Joun SERVINE, W. S.
CLARK, STEPHEN Harris, B, R. BUCKALEW, William K. TIL-
STATE DEPARTMENT OF THE TERRITORY OF CALIFORNIA,
Monterey, June 4, 1819. Sir: Your letter of the 6th ultimo, erroneously addressed to General Smith, has been referred to Brigadier General Riley, commanding terith military department, and governor of California, who directs me to reply as follows:
With respect to the administration of the estate of which you speak, it is sufficient to remark that the law should be allowed to take its accastomed course; and that, if the alcalde has illegally interfered to change such administration, or to deprive you of your rights and liberties, he has rendered himself liable to the penalties of the law. The governor does not consider himself competent (even if he possesses the power) to decide, with the information before him, upon so complicated and important a case; and the whole matter, if not amicably settled between the parties interested, can be brought before the proper courts, which will, without doubt, be established in the course of a very short time. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
Brevet Captain, and Secretary of State. Don ANTONIO JOSÉ Got,
Los Angeles, California.
To the people of California.
Congress having failed at its recent session to provide a new gover. ment for this country to replace that which existed on the annexation of California to the United States, the undersigned would call attention to the means which he deems best calculated to avoid the embarrassments of our present position. The undersigned, in accordance with instructions from the Secretary of War, has assumed the administration of civil affairs in California, not as a military governor, but as the executive of the existing civil government. In the absence of a properly-appointed civil governor, the commanding officer of the department is, by the laws of California, ex officio civil governor of the country; and the instructions from Washington were based on the provisions of these laws. This subject has
been misrepresented, or at least misconceived, and currency given to the impression that the government of the country is still military. Such is not the fact. The military government ended with the war, and what remains is the civil government recognised in the existing laws of California. Although the command of the troops in this department and the administration of civil affairs in California are, by the existing laws of the country and the instructions of the President of the United States, temporarily lodged in the hands of the same individual, they are separate and distinct. No military officer other than the commanding general of the department exercises any civil authority by virtue of his military commission; and the powers of the commanding general as er officio governor are only such as are defined and recognised in the existing laws. The instructions of the Secretary of War make it the duty of all military officers to recognise the existing civil government, and to aid its officers with the military force under their control. Beyond this, any interference is not only uncalled for, but strictly forbidden. The laws of California not inconsistent with the laws, constitution, and treaties of the United States are still in force, and must continue in force till changed by competent authority. Whatever may be thought of the right of the people to temporarily replace the officers of the existing government by others appointed by a provisional territorial legislature, there can be no question that the existing laws of the country must continue in force till replaced by others made and enacted by competent power. That power, by the treaty of peace, as well as from the nature of the case, is vested in Congress. The situation of California in this respect is very different from that of Oregon. The latter was without laws, while the former has a system of laws, which, though somewhat defective and requiring many changes and amendments, must continue in force till repealed by competent legislative power. The situation of California is almost identical with that of Louisiana; and the decisions of the Supreme Court in recognising the validity of the laws which existed in that country previous to its annexation to the United States, where not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the United States, or repealed by legitimate legislative enactments, furnish us a clear and safe guide in our present situation. It is important that citizens should understand this fact, so as not to endanger their property and involve themselves in useless and expensive litigation by giving countenance to persons claiming authority włrich is not given them by law, and by putting faith in laws which can never be recognised by legitimate courts.
Aš Congress has failed to organize a new territorial government, it becomes our imperative duty to take some active means to provide for the existing wants of the country. This, it is thought, may be best accomplished by putting in full vigor the administration of the laws as they now exist, and completing the organization of the civil government by the election and appointment of all officers recognised by law; while at the same time a convention, in which all parts of the Territory are represented, shall meet and frame a State constitution, or a territorial organization, to be submitted to the people for their ratification, and then proposed to Congress for its approval. Considerable time will necessarily elapse before any new government can be legitimately organized and put in operation; in the interim, the existing government, if its organization be completed, will be found sufficient for all our temporary wants.
A brief summary of the organization of the present government may not be uninteresting. It consists, first, of a governor, appointed by the supreme government: in default of such appointinent, the office is tempo. rarily vested in the commanding military officer of the department. The powers and duties of the governor are of a limited character, but fully defined and pointed out by the laws. Second, a secretary, whose duties and powers are also properly defined. Third, a territorial or departmental legislature, with limited powers to pass laws of a local character. Fourth, a superior court (tribunal superior) of the Territory, consisting of four judges and a fiscal. Fifth, a prefect and sub-prefects for each district, who are charged with the preservation of public order and the execution of the laws: their duties correspond, in a great measure, with those of district marshals and sheriffs. Sixth, a judge of first instance for each district: this office is, by a custom not inconsistent with the laws, rested in the first alcalde of the district. Seventh, alcaldes, who have concurrent jurisdiction among themselves in the same district, but are subordiňate to the higher judicial tribunals. Eighth, local justices of the peace. Ninth, ayuntamientos, or town councils. The powers and functions of all these officers are fully defined in the laws of this country, and are almost identical with those of the corresponding officers in the Atlantic and western States.
In order to complete this organization with the least possible delay, the undersigned, in virtue of power in him vested, does hereby appoint the 1st of August next as the day for holding a special election for delegates to a general convention, and for filling the offices of judges of the superior court, prefects, and sub-prefects, and all vacancies in the offices of first alcalde, (or judge of first instance, alcaldes, justices of the peace, and town councils. The judges of the superior court, and district prefects are, by law, executive appointments; but, being desirous that the wishes of tlfe people should be fully consulted, the governor will appoint such persons as may receive the plurality of votes in their respective districts, provided they are competent and eligible to the office. Each district will therefore elect a prefeci and two sub-prefects, and fill the vacancies in the offices of first alcalde, (or judge of first instance,) and of alcaldes. One judge of the superior court will be elected in the districts of San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara; one in the districts of San Luis Obispo and Monterey; one in the districts of San José and San Francisco; and one in the districts of Sonoma, Sacramento, and San Joaquin. The salaries of the judges of the superior court, the prefects and judges of first instance, are regulated by the governor, but cannot exceed, for the first, $4,000 per annum; for the second, $2,500; and for the third, $1,500. These salaries will be paid out of the civil fund which has been formed from the proceeds of the customs, provided no instructions to the contrary are received from Washington. The law requires that the judges of the superior court meet within three months after its organization, and form a tariff of fees for the different territorial courts and legal officers, including all alcaldes, justices of the peace, sheriffs, constables, &c. All local alcaldes, justices of the peace, and members of town councils elected at the special election, will continue in office till the 1st of January, 1850, when their places will be supplied by the persons who may be elected at the regular annual election, which takes place in November, at which time the election of members to the territorial assembly will also be held.
The general convention for forming a State constitution or a plan for territorial government will consist of thirty-seven delegates, who will meet in Monterey on the first day of September next. These delegates will be chosen as follows:
The district of San Diego will elect two delegates; of Los Angeles, four; of Santa Barbara, two of San Luis Obispo, two; of Monterey, five; of San José, five; of San Francisco, five; of Sonoma, four; of Sacra. mento, four; of San Joaquin, four. Should any district think itself en. titled to a greater number of delegates than that above named, it may elect supernumeraries, who, on the organization of the convention, will be ad mitted or not, at the pleasure of that body.
The places for holding the election will be as follows: San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, Los Angeles, San Fernando, San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara, Nepoma, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Juan Bautista, Santa Cruz, San José de Guadalupe, San Francisco, San Rafael, Bodega, Sonoma, Benicia. (The places for holding elections in the Sacramento and San Joaquin districts will be hereafter designated.) The local alcaldes and members of the ayuntamientos, or town councils, will act as judges and inspectors of elections. In case there should be less than three such judges and inspectors present at each of the places designated, on the day. of election, the people will appoint some competent persons to fill the vacancies. The polls will be open from 10 a. m. to 4 p. m., or until sunset, if the judges deem it necessary. Every free male citizen of the United States and of Upper California,
years of age, and actually resident in the district where the vote is offered, will be entitled to the right of suffrage. All citizens of Lower California who have been forced to come to this Territory on account of having rendered assistance to the American troops during the recent war with Mexico should also be allowed-to vote in the districts where they actually reside.
Great care should be taken by the inspectors that votes are received only from bona fide citizens, actually resident in the country. These judges and inspectors, previous to entering upon the duties of their office, should take an oath faithfully and truly to perform these duties. The returns should state distinctly the number of votes received for each candidate, be signed by the inspectors, sealed, and immediately transmitted to the secretary of state, for file in his office. The following are the limits of the several districts:
1st. The district of San Diego is bounded on the south by Lower California, on the west by the sea, on the north by the parallel of latitude including the mission of San Juan Capistrano, and on the east by the Colo
2d. The district of Los Angeles is bounded on the south by the district of San Diego, on the west by the sea, on the north by the Santa Clara river, and a parallel of latitude running from the head waters of that river to the Colorado.
3d. The district of Santa Barbara is bounded on the south by the district of Los Angeles, on the west by the sea, on the north by Santa Inez river and a parallel of latitude extending from the head waters of that river to the summit of the coast range of mountains.
Ath. The district of San Luis Obispo is bounded on the south by the . district of Santa Barbara, on the west by the sea, on the north by a par,