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William Irwin

Gov. William Irwin

  • December 9, 1875 - January 8, 1880
  • Democrat
  • January 1, 1827
  • March 15, 1886
  • Ohio
  • Marietta College (Ohio)
  • Married Amelia Elizabeth Cassidy
  • Succeeded


WILLIAM IRWIN was born in Butler County, Ohio, in 1827. He graduated in 1848, from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, and taught school for one year in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Irwin moved to Siskiyou County, California in 1854, where he worked in a slaughterhouse, engaged in the mining and lumber business, and became a newspaper editor. Irwin entered politics as a member of the California Assembly, serving from 1861 through 1863. He was town trustee of Yreka from 1865 to 1866. He was elected in 1869 to the California Senate and reelected in 1873. He served as President pro tem of the Senate in 1873. In 1875, Lieutenant Governor Pacheco resigned from office to assume the governorship, and Irwin succeeded to the office. In September 1875, Irwin was elected Governor of California, and on December 9, 1875, he was sworn into office. During his term, paper money was widely introduced, oranges from California were shipped to Eastern markets, and the Southern Pacific’s Los Angeles-San Francisco line was completed. Also, a second constitutional convention was held, and a new state constitution was adopted that went into effect on July 4, 1879. Irwin, who was not the Democratic nominee for governor in 1879, left office on January 8, 1880. He was appointed to the Board of Harbor Commissioners of California, a position he held until his death on March 15, 1886. Governor William Irwin is buried at the City Cemetery, Sacramento, California.


Official Records: California State Archives

Governors of California

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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