JULIUS L. MEIER was born in Portland, Oregon and graduated from the University of Oregon Law School in 1895. After practicing law for four years, he joined his family's merchandise business (Meier & Frank Department Store), serving as general manager from 1910 to 1930 and then becoming President. During the World War I era, Meier was regional director of the Council of National Defense and helped in France's rehabilitation after the war. He also headed the Oregon Commission of the Pan-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Upon the death of his close friend and former law partner George W. Joseph, who had won the Republican nomination for governor on a platform supporting public over private development of hydroelectric power, and the subsequent nomination of a Republican who held the reverse position, Meier agreed to run as an Independent supporting Joseph's platform. Although he won election, he was unable to succeed in implementing his platform, with the federal government instead taking over development of the Columbia River. However, due in part to voter approval of a state income tax, Meier was able to financially stabilize the state. He also supported legislation to regulate liquor traffic; helped establish a State Board of Agriculture, a State Unemployment Commission, and the Oregon State Police; and sought adoption of a nonpartisan judicial system. Both the Republican and Democratic parties offered him support to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate, but he declined due to ill health. After leaving office, Meier went into semi-retirement at his estate on the Columbia River, where he died.

SOURCES:

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 29. New York: James T. White & Company.

Oregon State Archives