Mayo Native William E. Shannon - U.S. Soldier, Attorney, Leader, Abolitionist

William E. Shannon (c 1821-November 3, 1850) was Born in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland.  He passed the New York State Bar, was commissioned as a captain in the New York Volunteers, and given command of Company J.  He arrived in San Francisco on the Susan Drew on March 20, 1847 to take part in the California Conquest campaign of the Mexican-American War.  He served as mayor of Coloma, California, and then was elected to the State Senate, where he stood out as a staunch abolitionist,

At 27 years of age and only three years a resident of California, he secured the declaration in the Bill of Rights that neither slavery or involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this state.

In 1849 he joined the mad rush for gold. He made his living by setting up a lucrative general mercantile store, then adding a hotel. General Riley, the Military Governor, appointed Shannon to be the Alcalde (Spanish for Mayor/Justice of the Peace), because there was no formal Government or effective law enforcement. When California became a State on September 9, 1850, Shannon reportedly moved to Sacramento, where he resumed his law practice. Shannon died in Sacramento during the 1849–51 cholera pandemic, aged 28.

Irish Families on the California Trail

Capt. William E. Shannon

Seventy-Five Years of Law in California

By California Constitutional Convention of 1849 - Records of the Constitutional Convention of 1849, California State Archives, Secretary of State of CaliforniaTransferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Zscout370 using CommonsHelper, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19059553

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Tags: California, Law, Pioneers, War

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