Pardee, George C., 1857-1941

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George Cooper Pardee, born 25 July 1857 in San Francisco, California, was a doctor who specialized in diseases of the eye and ear. He served as mayor of Oakland (1893-1895) and as governor of California (1903-1907).

From the description of Scrapbooks, 1889-1912. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122644592


George Cooper Pardee, born 25 July 1857 in San Francisco, California, was a doctor who specialized in diseases of the eye and ear. He served as mayor of Oakland (1893-1895) and as governor of California (1903-1907).

From the guide to the George Cooper Pardee Scrapbooks, 1889-1912, (Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.)

Biographical Information

George Cooper Pardee, twenty-first governor of California (1903-1907), was born in San Francisco on July 25, 1857. His father, Enoch Homer Pardee, was a prominent eye doctor and politician, who served as mayor of Oakland, state senator, and state assemblyman. George Pardee followed closely in his father's footsteps, becoming an eye doctor in San Francisco and mayor of Oakland. Unlike his father, he did not serve in the state legislature in Sacramento; however he was elected governor of California in 1902. As governor he fought for many progressive ideas including conservation, irrigation, civil service reform, and better pay for public school teachers.

Excepting the time he spent in Germany earning his medical degree and the time he spent in the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento as the first of thirteen governors to live there, he spent the rest of his life in the family home in Oakland. Pardee's family moved to the house on Eleventh Street in Oakland shortly after the 1868 earthquake on the Hayward Fault. Pardee graduated from Oakland High School in 1875. In 1879, he graduated from the University of California. He then spent two years at Cooper Medical College in San Francisco, followed by study at the University of Leipzig in Germany where he earned his medical degree in 1885.

On his return to California in 1885 he joined his father's practice, specializing in diseases of the eye and the ear. He began his political career in local Oakland politics, where he served as a member of the Oakland Board of Health (1889-1891) and as a member of the Oakland City Council (1891-1893). He served as mayor of Oakland from 1893-1895. In 1898, he became a candidate for governor. Pardee failed to win the Republican nomination in 1898. From 1899 to 1903 he served as a University of California regent. In 1902, Pardee sought and won the nomination as the Republican candidate for governor. After a hard-fought campaign against Democratic nominee Franklin K. Lane, Pardee was inaugurated as the 21st Governor of California on January 7, 1903. Pardee was the first California native to become governor since statehood.

Governor Pardee is best known as the "earthquake governor." In 1906, the Great San Francisco Earthquake and resulting fire, one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the United States, caused an estimated 3,000 deaths and $524 million in property losses (in 1906 dollars). Following the disaster, Governor Pardee spent six weeks in Oakland at Oakland City Hall directly overseeing relief efforts, soliciting aid from public and private sources, and organizing the state militia to restore law and order. Because of these efforts Pardee received universal praise for his remarkable leadership during the worst tragedy in California history.

Despite his record, Pardee did not receive his party's nomination for a second term. Many believe that because of his refusal to side with either the "Railroad Republicans" or the "Reform Republicans," neither faction was willing to support him. He angered the Southern Pacific Railroad leadership by fighting with them over control of the Oakland waterfront and encouraging the development of a new, competing railroad company. His refusal to side with the railroad monopoly in his political decisions especially turned the party against him. Without the backing of the powerful Southern Pacific, Pardee's chances for renomination were remote.

Following his departure from the governor's office Pardee returned to his medical practice, but devoted much of his time to politics and conservation. Pardee was one of the most important early conservationists in the nation. While studying in Germany, Pardee was exposed to conservation efforts that influenced his support of conservation measures both as Governor of California and later in his life. In 1907, Pardee served as a member of the National Conservation Commission (1907-1908). In 1911, he was appointed chairman of the California Conservation Commission (1911-1915), created under Governor Johnson for the protection and development of forest and water resources. In 1919, he became chairman of the State Board of Forestry (1919-1923). In 1923, he resigned in protest against radical budget cuts by Governor Richardson, but accepted the post again in 1928 under Governor Young. In 1924, he became President of the Board of Directors of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (1924-1941), and in 1930 he was named chairman of the California Joint Federal-State Water Resources Commission.

In addition to these activities, Pardee was involved in civic affairs and belonged to many organizations including the Sierra Club, Bohemian Club, Native Sons of the Golden West, and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Governor and Mrs. Pardee (Helen Penniman, 1857-1947) met while attending Oakland High School. They lost two of their four daughters at early ages. Governor Pardee died on September 1, 1941 in Oakland and was buried at Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery. Helen Pardee died six years later.

Portions of the biographical sketch were excerpted from Alastair Dallas's Web site, "Governors of California," (accessed June 15, 2004); Pardee Home Museum, (accessed June 15, 2004); and the State of California Web site, (accessed June 15, 2004).

From the guide to the George C. Pardee Papers, 1857-1941, (The Bancroft Library.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Douglas Tilden Papers, 1860-1970 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Abraham Lincoln Fellowship. Abraham Lincoln Fellowship records, [1930-1935]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Plehn, Carl Copping, 1867-1945. Carl Copping Plehn papers, [ca. 1888-1939]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Metcalf, Woodbridge, 1888-. Woodbridge Metcalf papers, 1927-1932. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf George C. Pardee Papers, 1857-1941 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Jordan, David Starr, 1851-1931. David Starr Jordan papers, 1861-1964. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Sutro, Alfred, 1869-1945. Olney family papers, [ca. 1889-1957]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf California. Governor. Certificates of commissions for notary publics for A.C. Hartley and Emma A. Kreutzer, 1905,1911. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Stratton, Frederick Smith, 1859-1915. Frederick Smith Stratton papers, circa 1886-1917. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Portraits of University of California individuals and groups, ca. 1850-[ongoing] Bancroft Library
creatorOf Schwartz, Milton Harry. Milton Harry Schwartz scrapbooks, [1896-1952]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Alice M. Rose Lincoln-Roosevelt Republican League collection, 1900-1943 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn David Starr Jordan papers, 1861-1964 Cecil H. Green Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Needham, James Carson, 1864-1942. James Carson Needham papers, 1893-1936. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Digital Collection Bancroft Library
referencedIn Bancroft, Philip, 1881-1975. Photographs of California Delegates to the Progressive National Convention, Chicago [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Sherman, Edwin Allen, 1829-1914. Edwin Allen Sherman papers, 1872-1971, (bulk 1896-1913). UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Bancroft, Philip, 1881-1975. Philip Bancroft papers, 1908-1959. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Arlett, Arthur M. California delegates to the 1912 Progressive Party Convention [graphic] : photographs from the Arthur Arlett papers. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn William Frederic Badè papers, 1871-1936 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Rose, Alice M. Lincoln-Roosevelt Republican League collection, 1900-43. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf George Cooper Pardee Scrapbooks, 1889-1912 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Pardee, George C. (George Cooper), 1857-1941. Memoir of a meeting with Abraham Lincoln : typescript, signed, 1931. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Pardee, George Cooper, 1857-1941. Scrapbooks, 1889-1912. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Laidlaw family. Laidlaw family papers., [ca. 1885-1928]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Berkeley Club Papers, 1873-1960 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Alberti, Clark, 1855-. Clark Alberti papers, [ca. 1893-1931]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Pardee, George C. (George Cooper), 1857-1941. Salt River dam project photos from the George C. Pardee papers [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abraham Lincoln Fellowship. corporateBody
associatedWith Alberti, Clark, 1855- person
associatedWith Arlett, Arthur M. person
correspondedWith Badè, William Frederic, 1871-1936 person
associatedWith Bancroft, Philip, 1881-1975. person
correspondedWith Berkeley Club corporateBody
associatedWith California. Governor. corporateBody
associatedWith Jordan, David Starr, 1851-1931. person
associatedWith Laidlaw family. family
associatedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. person
associatedWith Metcalf, Woodbridge, 1888- person
associatedWith Needham, James Carson, 1864-1942. person
associatedWith Pardee, Enoch Homer. person
associatedWith Phelps, T. G. (Timothy Guy), 1824-1899. person
associatedWith Plehn, Carl Copping, 1867-1945. person
associatedWith Progressive Party (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Republican Party (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Rose, Alice M. person
associatedWith Rose, Alice M. person
associatedWith Schwartz, Milton Harry. person
associatedWith Sherman, Edwin Allen, 1829-1914. person
associatedWith Stratton, Frederick Smith, 1859-1915. person
correspondedWith Tilden, Douglas, 1860-1935 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Contra Costa County (Calif.)
Oakland (Calif.)


Birth 1857-07-25

Death 1941-09-01





Ark ID: w6xs66nd

SNAC ID: 76136705