Governor #2, McDougal

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 Infantry during the Mexican-American War. He moved to California with his wife and daughter in 1848, at first as a gold miner, and later as a Sutterville merchant, entering politics in the new territory as a delegate to the first constitutional convention in 1849. One of his first acts as governor was to sign legislation removing the capital from San Jose to Vallejo. Popular at first, McDougal’s recurrent drinking and frequent quarrels over minor bureaucratic matters, as well as his unsuccessful attempt to squash the growing vigilante movement in San Francisco, ruined his political career. During the 1851 state general elections, the Democratic Party refused to re-nominate him as their choice for governor, and McDougal fell out of public view after leaving office in 1852. He died in San Francisco in March 1866, aged 48.


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