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News & Tall Tales. 1800s.


San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Tall Tales: Lawyers in California

December 24, 1849, Alta California, San Francisco, California

LAWYERS IN CALIFORNIA.

The well known correspondent of the N. Orleans Delta, Capt. Tobin, who came to this country early last summer, and whose death at Sacramento city has been recorded, in writing from Tobago, made the following estimate, and all things considered, very just observation: 

Of nearly two thousand passengers now between Chagres and Panama, there are about six hundred lawyers, and of them four hundred go out with the expectation of being returned to Congress, or the legislature, at least: seventeen are electioneering for the gubernatorial chair, and twenty-one embryo senators are already calculating the savings to be made on the mileage allowed by Uncle Sam from San Francisco to Washington and back. 

The letter adds: "Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed."


Practicing Law in Frontier California (Law in the American West)Law in Frontier California.
Gordon Morris Bakken
The author combines collective biography with an analysis of the function of the bar in a rapidly changing socioeconomic setting. Drawing on manuscript collections, Bakken considers hundreds of men and women who came to California to practice law during the gold rush and later, their reasons for coming, their training, and their usefulness to clients during a period of rapid population growth and social turmoil. He shows how law practice changed over the decades with the establishment of large firms and bar associations, how the state's boom-and-bust economy made debt collection the lawyer's bread and butter, and how personal injury and criminal cases and questions of property rights were handled. In Bakken's book frontier lawyers become complex human beings, contributing to and protecting the social and economic fabric of society, expanding their public roles even as their professional expertise becomes more narrowly specialized.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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