The California state census of 1852, upon which representation in Congress and the state legislature was based, was intentionally manipulated, as this article indicates. Census takers in both San Francisco and the mining counties engaged in chicanery, revealing the nature of politics in the new state. The study also finds that the proportion of women and families in San Francisco was greater than heretofore realized, which calls for a re-evaluation of the city’s social history. In addition, the census was inflated by counting Chinese residents as white, affecting historians’ understanding of the city’s racial composition. The author calculates the degree of miscount for future reference.