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Washington Bartlett

Gov. Washington Bartlett

  • January 8, 1887 - September 12, 1887
  • Democrat
  • February 29, 1824
  • September 12, 1887
  • Georgia
  • Died in office


WASHINGTON BARTLETT was born in Savannah, Georgia, on February 29, 1824. He never attended college, but learned the printing business from his father who owned a newspaper. In 1849 Bartlett migrated to California and settled in San Francisco, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. He entered politics as county clerk of San Francisco, serving in 1859, 1861, and 1867, and then was appointed to the Harbor Commission, where he served from 1870 to 1871. Bartlett also served as a member to the California Senate from 1873 to 1877, and was elected twice as mayor of San Francisco, serving from 1882 to 1886. He won the 1886 gubernatorial election, and on January 8, 1887 was inaugurated into office. During his term, considerable legislation was enacted, although Bartlett did not introduce these proposals. The Wright Irrigation Law was passed, allowing for the development of irrigation districts, and the University of California was granted a broader independence from the legislature. On August 23, 1887, Bartlett suffered a severe stroke, and on September 12, 1887, he passed away after serving only nine months in office. Governor Washington Bartlett, who published the first English-language book ever printed in California, is buried at the Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, 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.

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