FRANK FINLEY MERRIAM was born in Hopkinton, Iowa, on December 22, 1865. He attended Lenox College, taught school, and worked as a principal, all in his native hometown. Merriam entered politics as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, and served from 1896 to 1898. He also served as Iowa’s state auditor for two terms, before moving to Long Beach, California in 1910. He served in the California Assembly for six terms, and served as speaker in the assembly for two terms. He was elected to the California Senate in 1928, and also served as chairman of California’s Republican State Central Committee in 1928. Merriam, who was lieutenant governor of California from 1932 to 1934, assumed the office of governor on June 2, 1934, due to the death of Governor James Rolph. Six months later, on November 7, 1934 Merriam was elected governor, and on January 2, 1935 he was sworn into office. During his tenure, Alcatraz became a federal prison, the Golden Gate Bridge opened, and a transpacific airmail service was started, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened, work on the All-American Canal was initiated, and construction was started on Parker Dam. Governor Merriam also appointed a special committee to examine the corruption amid political lobbyists. Merriam ran unsuccessfully for reelection, and left office on January 2, 1939. He later served as honorary president of California’s Real Estate Association. Governor Frank Merriam died on April 25, 1955, and is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Long Beach, California.
Official Records: California State Archives
Personal Papers: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Image source: California State Library: Governors' Gallery
Governors of California 1849-2002
The Political Graveyard
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.