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14th Governor of
California, January 8, 1880 - January 10, 1883

Born:† August 23, 1839, in Kennebunkport, Maine

Died:† February 26, 1923, in Oakland, California

Marriage: Ruth Parker (1864), 3 sons and 4 daughters


George C. Perkins was the only California governor to be elected for a three-year term.


Early Life

George grew up on a farm in Maine but ran away to sea when he was 12 years old. In 1855 he landed in San Francisco where hopes of getting rich at mining still lingered among many people. Perkins walked from San Francisco to Butte County, carrying his mining equipment.



Mining didnít prove profitable for him, but Perkins did strike it rich in the gold country. Employed as a clerk in a store in Oroville, he bought the store. At the age of 20, Perkins had a booming retail business. Over the next 15 years he became the owner of sheep and cattle ranches, and mining and lumbering businesses. He was a founder of the Bank of Butte County.

Perkins political career began with his election in 1869 as a state senator from Butte County. While senator he formed a shipping firm (later the Pacific Coast Steam Navigation Company) with 21 ships sailing from Alaska to Panama. In 1875 he moved to San Francisco. He soon was involved in many other businesses, as well as being president of the San Francisco Merchantsí Exchange. Perkins had become a well-respected and wealthy businessman.



Though Perkins had been opposed to the revised constitution adopted in 1879, he was the first governor to serve under it. It was his task to supervise the writing of new codes and statutes. When the legislature adjourned without passing a state budget in 1881, Perkins called them back into special session. This was the first time a California governor had called a special session.


Later Years

In January 1883 Perkins again devoted full time to his many business ventures. When U.S. Senator Leland Stanford died in 1893, Perkins was appointed to complete that term. He served three more terms in the U.S. Senate, until 1915, where he was active in naval affairs and the building of the Panama Canal.

Perkinsí last years were spent in Oakland, where he participated in art and literary societies. He was 84 years old when he died of heart failure in 1923.


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