Last month, we explained how former Nevada County District Attorney Bill Stewart, as a Republican U. S. senator, came to write the words that in February 1870 were ratified as the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, providing suffrage for black men. This month, let’s look at why the Democratic-led 1870 California Legislature rejected the 15th Amendment.

The issue in California was not so much that blacks would be given the right to vote, although that was certainly part of the debate. Of greater concern was a fear by many that Chinese, Native American and Mexican males might eventually be granted suffrage.