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Robert Whitney Waterman

Gov. Robert Whitney Waterman

  • September 12, 1887 - January 8, 1891
  • Republican
  • December 15, 1826
  • April 12, 1891
  • New York
  • Married Jane Gardner
  • Succeeded


ROBERT WHITNEY WATERMAN was born in Fairfield, New York, on December 15, 1826. He received a rudimentary education in Sycamore, Illinois. Waterman worked as a store clerk, owned his own mercantile business, and in 1849, was appointed postmaster in Geneva, Illinois. He was the publisher of the Independent, a Willmington newspaper, and was a delegate to the 1854 state Republican convention, and later he played a key role in the election of President Lincoln. Migrating to California, Waterman made a fortune in gold and silver mining, netting $500 a day. He was president of the San Diego, Cuyamaca and Eastern Railroad, and in 1886, was elected lieutenant governor of California. Governor Washington Bartlett died in office on September 12, 1887, and Waterman, who was lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the governor’s office. During his tenure, one major issue was whether the state of California should be divided. Pomona College opened, the state’s irrigation system was increased, and Long Beach was incorporated. Yosemite became a national park in 1890, and the first Tournament of Roses was held in Pasadena. Waterman left office on January 8, 1891, retiring from public service, and returning to his various business investments. Governor Robert Waterman died on April 12, 1891.


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

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.

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