Born: August 23, 1869 in San Francisco, California
Died: June 2, 1934 in Santa Clara County, California
Married: Annie Reid on June 26, 1900
Political Party: Republican
James Rolph grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco. He attended the local parochial school, Trinity Academy. He was a young entrepreneur, only fifteen years old when he started raising and selling pigeon meat. After graduating from high school, Rolph worked as an office boy for DeWitt, Kittle and Company, a shipping firm. In 1898, Rolph and George Hind opened a shipping business, Hind Rolph Shipping Company, which was very successful. In 1928, he became a partner in a new business venture–James Rolph Jr., Landis, and Ellis, a general insurance firm.
Rolph entered politics in 1911 when he was elected the mayor of San Francisco. He served as the city’s mayor for 20 years. On November 4, 1930, he was elected Governor of California, and on January 6, 1931, he was sworn into office. Rolph was criticized for many things, including signing legislation that caused taxes to fall unfairly on the poor, endorsing a brutal jailbreak lynching in San Jose, and openly ignoring prohibition laws. During his term as governor, Rolph instituted the California Sales Tax, then known as "Pennies for Jimmy."
Rolph collapsed at the end of February, 1934. He was rushed to the hospital where he remained for several weeks. After he collapsed a second time in on May 3, Governor Rolph went to the Linfort Ranch in Santa Clara County, where he died on June 2, 1934.
Father: James Rolph, Sr.
Mother: Margaret Nicol
Wife : Annie Reid
Children: Annette, James and Georgina
As a remedy for the financial blues during the Great Depression, it was Rolph's suggestion that everyone take a two-week holiday.
Governor Rolph preferred wearing boots to shoes and had his boots custom-made.
Governor Rolph chose his parents anniversary day as his wedding date. Annie Reid, who became his wife, was his high school sweetheart.
Books and Articles
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.
Worthen, Governor James Rolph and the Great Depression in California, McFarland and Co., 2006