California’s third governor was a Pennsylvania native and self-educated lawyer who came west in 1849 with thousands of others during the Gold Rush. John Bigler settled in Sacramento, where his kindness and selfless aid to sufferers during the 1850 cholera epidemic was widely applauded. Until 1863, when the term limit was changed to four years, California governors served two-year terms. John Bigler was the only nineteenth century governor to be elected for two terms, 1852 to 1856. During his tenure a jewel-like, alpine lake in the high Sierra was named Lake Bigler in his honor. Bigler advocated restriction of Chinese immigration, a sentiment echoed in many quarters, but his administration was plagued with activities by pro-slavery extremists and charges of fiscal extravagance. By the early 1860s public opinion held that Bigler had failed to distinguish himself, and Lake Bigler was renamed Lake Tahoe. However, he did effect one major change. On February 25, 1854, Governor Bigler signed into law a provision that made Sacramento, his adopted city, the permanent site of California’s capital. He died in Sacramento in 1871.
John McDougal was California’s lieutenant governor when Peter Burnett resigned after little more than one year in office. McDougal was sworn in on January 9, 1851, and served out Burnett’s two-year gubernatorial term through January 8, 1852. Born in Ohio in 1818, McDougal served in the Indiana Volunteer Continue reading Governor #2, McDougal
Born in Tennessee, Peter Burnett was a lawyer living in Missouri before he migrated to Oregon in 1843 to “make a comeback” after a series of business losses. There, he became a judge on the Oregon Territory Supreme Court. News of the gold discovery lured him to California in 1848, where he mined at Long’s Bar on the Yuba Continue reading Governor #1, Burnett
Handsome, intelligent and capable, John Charles Fremont acquired valuable navigational and mapping skills while still in his twenties, as a member of the Army Topographical Corps’ exploration of the immense northern sections of the Louisiana Purchase— today the northern Midwest. In 1842 He was Continue reading J. C. Fremont
Now the largest city in northern California, San Jose was founded November 29, 1777, twenty years before Mission San Jose was built, as a farming community to provide food for Spain’s presidios in Monterey and San Francisco Bay. Its original name was El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe (the Town of Saint Continue reading Founding San Jose