Monday, December 26, 2011

George Pardee (July 25, 1857-September 1, 1941) - California Governor

Governor George Pardee

The son of a prominent physician and politician (who served as Mayor of Oakland, State Senator and State Assemblyman), George Pardee was destined to follow in his father's footsteps. He was born in San Francisco in 1857 and raised in the family home in Oakland.

Pardee attended the University of California where he received a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1879 and a Master of Arts in 1881. He attended the Cooper Medical College for two years and he received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Leipzig, Germany in 1885. Pardee joined his father’s medical practice, which specialized in diseases of the eye and ear.

Pardee Grave in Plot 1; Pardee home in Oakland

Pardee’s political career began when he was appointed to serve on Oakland’s Board of Health in 1889. In 1891, he was elected to Oakland’s City Council and in 1893 was elected Mayor for a two-year term. He served as California Governor from 1903 -1907 and became known as "The Earthquake Governor," since he oversaw the aftermath of the Great Earthquake of 1906. Pardee sought to take command of the situation himself, traveling to his native Oakland in the later afternoon to oversee the state response to the disaster. Making his headquarters in Oakland Mayor Frank K. Mott's office, Pardee worked twenty-hour days during the disaster, signing travel permission papers, coordinating state and federal relief funds and trains, and remaining in contact with the outside world through Oakland's undamaged telegraph lines. In addition, Pardee also visited other afflicted cities, such as San Jose and Santa Rosa, to tour and coordinate their own disaster responses.

Pardee was the second native-born Californian to assume the governorship, after fellow Mountain View Cemetery denizen Romualdo Pacheco, and the first governor born in California post-statehood.

His exposure to innovative environmental conservation efforts in Germany heavily influenced his political decisions; as Governor, he was a strong supporter of conservation measures. After leaving office he was president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities district. The Pardee Dam, near Jackson, is named after him.

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