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32nd Governor of
California, January 5, 1959 - January 2, 1967

Born:  April 21, 1905, in San Francisco, California

Died:  February 16, 1996, in Beverly Hills, California

Marriage:  Bernice Layne (1930), 3 daughters, 1 son


Edmund Gerald “Pat” Brown earned his nickname when, as a seventh-grader in 1917, he ended a speech about liberty bonds by shouting, “Give me liberty or give me death,” the famous words spoken by Patrick Henry during the Revolutionary War. The nickname stuck throughout his political career.


Early Life

“Pat” Brown was a second-generation Californian. He grew up in San Francisco where he delivered newspapers to earn spending money. He went to Lowell High School and then to the San Francisco College of Law, earning a law degree in 1927.



Brown stayed in San Francisco in his own law practice until 1943. During that time he was an organizer of the Order of Cincinnatus, a nonpartisan group advocating good city government. Brown’s first elected position was as San Francisco district attorney in 1944. After two terms there (1944-50), Brown, a Democrat, served two terms as attorney general of California (1950-58) under Republican Governor Earl Warren. His election as governor in 1958 marked a rebirth of the Democratic party in California.



As governor, Brown led the legislature to passage of some water measures, education bills, and reorganization of the government into agencies. Water distribution issues between the “wet” northern counties and the “dry” southern part of the state continued to be a problem. The California Water Project network of reservoirs and aqueducts was an attempt to solve that issue.

In his bid for a second term in the 1962 election, Brown defeated Republican Richard M. Nixon. During this term the state faced rising social welfare costs due to population growth. A costly public works program built highways and university campuses. Brown’s attempt for a third term as governor ended in a defeat by Republican Ronald Reagan.


Later Years

In retirement, Brown joined a law firm in Los Angeles. He wrote about the political scene, including Reagan and Reality: The Two Californians.  The Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University in Los Angeles, is dedicated to “furthering the urban legacies” of Edmund G. “Pat” Brown.


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