JAMES NORRIS GILLETT was born on September 20, 1860, in Viroqua, Wisconsin. He left high school to study law, and was admitted to the bar in 1881. Gillett migrated to California in 1884 and was appointed five years later as Eureka’s attorney. He entered politics when he was elected to the California State Senate, where he served from 1897 to 1900. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1903 to 1906. Gillett won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1906, and was elected Governor of California. During his tenure, automobile usage increased and Gillett worked in pioneering a state highway system. Food and drug legislation was passed, and several new state buildings were constructed, many of which were in earthquake-destroyed San Francisco. State financial reserves grew, and legislation was enacted giving the state control of the horse racing industry. Gillett suffered financially while in office and chose not to seek a second term. He left office on January 3, 1911, returning to his law career, and serving briefly as a lobbyist for the oil industry. Governor James Gillett died of heart disease, on April 21, 1937, and is buried at the Oakland Columborium, Oakland, California.
Official Records: California State Archives
- Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
- California State Library - California History Section
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.