Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



Hiram W. Johnson, present governor of California, was born in Sacramento September 2, 1866, the son of Grove L. Johnson and his wife, nee Miss Anne de Monfrid}^ He was educated in the public schools of this city, and graduated from the high school at the age of seventeen. He studied law in the office of his father during the following year, and at the age of eighteen entered the University of California in the class of '88. He soon became recognized as a leader from his aggressive disposition and it is stated that the students used to say that "a freshman is boss of the whole university. He was pitcher of the college nine in his day and his son, Hiram, Jr., became its catcher. Reared in a political atmosphere, it is not surprising that he mixed in the' interclass politics of the university and attained a commanding position. He was elected editor of the "Blue and Gold" in his junior year, but did not enter upon the duties of the office. Cupid had marked him for his own, and in his twentieth year he left the university to marry Miss McNeal, daughter of Archibald McNeal, a Sacramento pioneer. By her he has two sons, Hiram W. Johnson, Jr., and Archibald McNeal Johnson.

After his marriage Mr. Johnson entered his father's law office, and with his elder brother, Albert M. Johnson, entered into partnership with his father. The partnership did not endure long, however, on account of political differences, and the brothers set up a separate office. He plunged into politics as a practical reformer, and became a frequent delegate to city, county and state conventions of the Republican party, twice splitting the Sacramento delegation on the issue of railroad domination. He and his brother made and won a sensational campaign against heavy odds and won the election of George H. Clark for mayor of the city. He moved to San Francisco in 1902, with his brother, and they opened a law office. Albert died about a year later, and Hiram continued to practice alone. He was engaged in the "graft prosecutions" for a time, but withdrew from the prosecution to make Langdon's campaign for district attorney. When Heney was shot, however, he took up Heney's work, and was successful in convicting Abe Ruef.

In 1910 Mr. Johnson was nominated as the progressive Republican for governor, and won by a handsome plurality. In 1912 he was nominated at the convention of the Progressive party to run on the ticket for vice-president with Theodore Roosevelt, but was defeated, winning, however, eleven of the thirteen electors for California. His aggressive nature is still prominent and through his influence a number of radical reforms in state affairs have been inaugurated. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011