Pioneer Governors: Washington Bartlett 1887

Washington BartlettThe Gold Rush lured Washington Bartlett to California in 1849, but when he sailed from Charleston, South Carolina, he brought along a printing press from his home town of Savannah, Georgia. Bartlett, born February 29, 1824, never attended college but learned the printing business from his father who owned a newspaper.  Settling in San Francisco, he began publishing the Daily Journal of Commerce in 1850, the first daily newspaper on the west coast. Over time he published several other newspapers, including the Daily Evening News and the True Californian. He also published books, among them the first English-language book ever printed in California: California as It Is and as It May Be or a Guide to the Gold Region. He studied the law, was admitted to the bar, and left journalism to enter the legal profession in 1857. Two years later he was elected San Francisco County Clerk, serving two terms; Governor Haight appointed him as Harbor Commissioner for 1870-71. Elected to the California state senate, Bartlett served as a state senator from 1873 to 1877 and served two terms as mayor of San Francisco, from 1882 to 1886. On January 8, 1887 he was inaugurated as California’s 16th governor.  He was only 63 in August 1887 when he suffered a severe stroke and died September 12, 1887, after serving just nine months as governor. Washington Bartlett was a life-long bachelor with a reputation for honesty in a politically corrupt era. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.

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