September 9: Admission Day

Banner - CA SealMonday, September 9th, marks the 163rd anniversary of California’s admission to the union as a state. Formerly a state holiday called “Admission Day”, the day served as an import reminder of California’s early history.

What was most remarkable was that Californians didn’t wait for statehood before establishing the first civil institutions. More than a year before statehood, Californians elected delegates to write a State Constitution, approved the resulting document, and elected a Governor and Legislature to take over from the federally-appointed Military Governor of California.

In one of the most remarkable moments in U.S. history, that Military Governor, Bennett C. Riley, chose to recognize the elected Governor and (without approval from Washington) ended the military occupation of California.

A 2012 proclamation by Governor Jerry Brown noted the importance of the observation;

“The observance of Admission Day was once prominent in the civic life of our state and nation. On September 9, 1924, by order of President Coolidge, the Bear Flag flew over the White House in honor of California’s admission to the Union. In 1976, I vetoed a measure to remove the observance of Admission Day as a state holiday, writing: “For 125 years California has celebrated its admission into the Union on September 9th. To change now comes a bit late in our history and hardly seems in keeping with the Bicentennial Spirit.” In 1984, however, Governor Deukmejian signed legislation eliminating our traditional observance of Admission Day on September 9th in favor of a “personal” holiday—convenient to some but in no way respectful of our storied founding.

“California’s early history is too often neglected in schools and among our citizens. For that reason, I call upon Californians to pause and celebrate Admission Day this year by reflecting on how it was that California became the 31st state.”

Happy Admission Day, everyone!


Updated 9/8/2013 @2:58 PM: Just in case you were wondering, the bill that ended Admission Day was SB 1432 by Robbins. The bill passed 27 to 8 in the State Senate, and 57 to 18 in the Assembly