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25th Governor of
California, January 9, 1923 - January 4, 1927

Born:  December 1865, near Ypsilanti, Michigan

Died:  September 6, 1943, in Berkeley, California

Marriage:  Augusta F. Felder (1891), 3 children


Christened William Richardson when he was born at Friends Colony in Michigan, young William grew up being called Friend William, as is the custom in the Quaker faith. He later chose to have “Friend” become his legal first name.


Early Life

The Richardson family moved to California when Friend William was young. They settled in San Bernardino where he went to school. After graduating from Sturges Academy, he studied law for two years.



In 1896, after five years as San Bernardino county clerk and law librarian, Richardson became a newspaper publisher, first of the San Bernardino Times-Index and then of the Berkeley Gazette. In 1911 Governor Johnson appointed Richardson as superintendent of state printing, and three years later he began two terms as state treasurer. He ran for governor on a platform of reducing the cost of government, claiming that the preceding two governors had wasted money and appointed many of their friends to board positions.



Richardson began his term by presenting a state budget that called for many cuts in positions and programs. At the end of two years, he claimed to have saved $12 million and created a surplus in the general fund. Highway construction and repair became a major issue at this time, as the number of automobiles on the roads had increased dramatically. Under Richardson, over 300 miles of highway were paved.

California’s judicial system was strengthened under Richardson when the municipal court system was created in 1924. Two years later the courts were brought together under a judicial council.


Later Years

Richardson failed in his bid for a second term as governor. He and his wife traveled abroad for several years. Richardson had been elected president of the California Press Association in 1902, and he held this position until his death, resuming an active role in publishing as owner of the Alameda Times-Star in 1931-32. He was 78 years old when he died from a heart attack in Berkeley. Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County is named for him.


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