Miners had to create their own laws and government when they first arrived in California. They had to do so because California was not organized with a government yet; it was not a state. The miners in the mining camps had to call a camp meeting, elect a presiding officer, a recorder, and sometimes a marshal. The miners would call a camp meeting for two reasons. The first reason was that they made laws; the second reason was that they enforced the laws. Also, if a miner felt mistreated by another miner, or wanted a problem solved, the miner could call a camp meeting. The camp meetings were quick, rough, and democratic. Often, judges did not give minorities a fair trial because they were not like any of the white miners. The white miners, though, always had a fair trial. The system worked this way because minorities were not treated fairly. Sometimes, decisions were made by judges and juries, and occasionally punishments were death by hanging for crimes like robbery of gold and claim squatting.


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