The State of California issued its own Bill of Rights in 1849 with a strong defence of property rights (1849)

Francis Newton Thorpe

The Declaration of Rights in the California Constitution of 1849 listed among a person’s inalienable rights “acquiring, possessing, and protecting property” as well as a ban on a standing army in time of peace:

Section 1. All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

Sec. 12. The military shall be subordinate to the civil power. No standing army shall be kept up by this State in time of peace; and in time of war no appropriation for a standing army shall be for a longer time than two years.

The Declaration of Rights in the California Constitution of 1849 had an interesting variation of Jefferson’s formulation of the key “inalienable rights”. Whereas Jefferson did not directly specify property as inalienable (since one had the right to puy and sell it and otherwise “alienate” it), the authors of the California Declaration phrased it slightly differently in order to avoid this problem. They stated that the inalienable right was to the “acquisition, possession, and protection” of property. The twelfth clause is also interesting as there is a very strong antipathy to having a standing army in the state. Given the large number of military bases and other installations in the state of California today one wonders what the authors of the original constitution would have thought of it.