Born: February 29, 1824 in Savannah, Georgia
Died: September 12, 1887 in Oakland, California
Political Party: Democrat
Father: Cosam Emir Bartlett
Mother: Sarah E. Melhado
Find out more about the time period and interests of Washington Bartlett
Did You Know?
- Bartlett’s political slogan was “Honesty in Politics”
- Bartlett was California’s first Jewish Governor
In 1849, the lure of gold brought Bartlett to California where he became a notable publisher. He sailed from Charleston, South Carolina that November and arrived in San Francisco. Bartlett brought a printing press with him and began publishing the Daily Journal of Commerce on January 23, 1850. It was the first daily newspaper on the west coast. Bartlett published several other newspapers including the Daily Evening News and the True Californian. In addition to newspapers, Bartlett also published books. He published the first English-language book ever printed in California, under the cumbersome title of California as It Is and as It May Be or a Guide to the Gold Region.
Bartlett served two terms as the San Francisco County Clerk, after which he practiced law with his brother, Columbus. In 1870, Governor Haight appointed Bartlett as the Harbor Commissioner—a post he held until 1871. Bartlett served as a California state senator from 1873 to 1877, followed by two terms as San Francisco’s mayor from 1882 to 1886.
Bartlett was a life-long bachelor with a reputation for honesty. He suffered a severe stroke on August 23, 1887. He passed away three weeks later on September 12, 1887 after serving only nine months in office.
Books and Articles
- Hightin, Roach, and Hittell, Memorial of the Life and Services of Washington Bartlett, Late Governor of California, Society of California Pioneers, 1888
- Melendy and Gilbert. The Governors of California: From Peter H. Burnett to Edmund G. Brown, Talisman Press, 1965
- Schaechtele. The Governors of California and their Portraits, California State Capitol Museum Volunteer Association, 1995
- Tinkham. California Men and Events: Time 1769 – 1890, Record Publishing, 1915
- Wagner. California Imprints, August 1846 – 1851, Berkeley, California 1922
- “The Dying Governor” The Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1887
National Governors’ Association
Regents of the University of California