SOCIAL STUDIES FACT CARDS
CALIFORNIA GOVERNORS
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ROBERT WHITNEY WATERMAN


17th Governor of
California, September 13, 1887 - January 8, 1891
(Republican)

Born:† December 15, 1826, in Fairfield, New York

Died:† April 12, 1891, in San Diego, California

Marriage:† Jane Gardner (1847), 7 children

 

Robert Waterman was the Republican lieutenant governor under a Democratic governor, Washington Bartlett. He became governor when Bartlett died in office, the fourth lieutenant governor to move into the governorís chair.

 

Early Life

Robert was descended from a pioneer family of New York State. When the boy was eleven years old, his father died and Robert moved to Newburg, Illinois, where his two older brothers were running a general store. By 1846 Robert had opened his own store in Belvidere, Illinois, where he served as postmaster as well. One of his brothers went to California in 1849, and talked Robert into coming later. Robert (who now had a wife and two children) drove an ox team overland to California in 1850, a very rough journey.

 

Career

In California, Waterman tried goldmining along the Feather and Yuba rivers, then opened a store there. However he went back to Illinois in 1852, where he began publishing a newspaper. In 1873, the Watermans returned to California, this time via the transcontinental railroad, and settled in Waterman Canyon near San Bernardino. Near here he found silver which he mined successfully between 1881-87. He built a mill along the Mojave River, founding the town of Waterman Junction, which became Barstow.

In 1886 Waterman bought the Stonewall Gold Mine in San Diego County and many acres of land that is now Cuyamaca State Park. He put the closed mine back in business and operated it until 1891.

 

As
Governor

Waterman was the Republicanís candidate for lieutenant governor in 1886, and he won that election even though his running mate for governor was not elected. Waterman became governor when Bartlett died in office. As governor, Waterman tried to reduce the costs of government. He suggested fewer committees and fewer clerical assistants. He also spoke out against the new constitution of 1879, feeling that it had so many defects that another constitutional convention should be called.

 

Later Years

Waterman became ill with pneumonia shortly after leaving office. He died a few months later at his home in San Diego.

 


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