HIRAM WARREN JOHNSON was born on September 2, 1866, in Sacramento, California. He attended the University of California, but left in his junior year to marry. Johnson worked in various law offices, was admitted to the bar in 1888, and joined his father and brother in a law practice. He became well known when he successfully took over as special prosecutor in an infamous graft trial. In 1900 he was appointed to serve as Sacramento’s corporation counsel, and in 1910 he won the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Johnson was elected Governor of California, and on January 3, 1911, he was sworn into office. He was reelected as a Progressive to a second term in 1914. During his tenure, railroads and utilities were regulated, and workmen’s compensation and an eight-hour workday for women and children were passed into law. The Alien Land Law and the California Land Act were also enacted. A civil service system was initiated along with many independent state boards. Johnson, who advocated reform throughout his administration, was the first U.S. governor to present a cohesive state budget. After joining the Progressive revolt in the Republican Party, Johnson ran unsuccessfully as the vice presidential nominee on the 1912 Bull Moose ticket. He was successful in his 1916 bid for the U.S. Senate; however, he did not resign from the governor’s office until March 15, 1917. Johnson was reelected to four more terms in the Senate, and served until his death on August 6, 1945. Governor Hiram Johnson is buried at the Cyprus Lawn Cemetery in San Francisco, California.
Official Records: California State Archives
Personal Papers: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Image source: California State Library: Governors' Gallery
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.