George Clement Perkins

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George Clement Perkins
Senator George Clement Perkins.jpg
14th Governor of California
In office
January 8, 1880 – January 10, 1883
LieutenantJohn Mansfield
Preceded byWilliam Irwin
Succeeded byGeorge Stoneman
United States senator
from California
In office
July 26, 1893 – March 3, 1915
Preceded byLeland Stanford
Succeeded byJames D. Phelan
Member of the California Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1839-08-23)August 23, 1839
Kennebunkport, Maine
DiedFebruary 26, 1923(1923-02-26) (aged 83)
Oakland, California
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Ruth Parker

George Clement Perkins (August 23, 1839 – February 26, 1923) was an American businessman and politician. A member of the Republican Party, Perkins served as the 14th Governor of California from 1880 to 1883, and as United States Senator from California from 1893 to 1915. He also served in the California State Senate.[1]

Born in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1839, Perkins ran away to sea at age twelve, eventually arriving in San Francisco in 1855. After making an unsuccessful effort at staking a mining claim in Butte County, Perkins worked a succession of jobs in Sacramento and the mining town of Oroville, including driving a mule team and working as a store clerk. Perkins eventually bought the Oroville store he clerked at, and was soon grossing $500,000 a year.[2]

Perkins was elected to California State Senate in 1869, representing Butte County. While in serving in the Senate in Sacramento, Perkins met businessman Charles Miner Goodall, with whom Perkins would form what would become the Pacific Coast Steamship Company.[2]

Leaving his Oroville business to be operated by his brother, Perkins moved to San Francisco in 1875 and expanded his interests in the shipping industry.[2]

Perkins sought the Republican nomination for governor in 1879 and ran a successful campaign emphasizing his purported independence from railroad interests given his interests in shipping, a competing industry.[2]

During Perkins' term as governor, former Civil War general John Mansfield served as his lieutenant governor.[3]

Perkins was appointed to the Senate by Governor Henry Markham in 1893 following the death of Leland Stanford.[2] As a Senator, Perkins was a part of the powerful Southern Pacific political machine, commonly called the Southern Pacific Political Bureau, headed by Southern Pacific chief counsel William F. Herrin.[2][4][5]

Perkins is buried alongside his wife Ruth Parker Perkins in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.[6]

Personal Life[edit]

Perkins married Ruth Parker, the daughter of his business partner Edward Parker, on May 3, 1864 in Marysville. Born in 1843 in County Cork, Ireland, she immigrated to California with her family at age eight. An avid reader of poetry, Ruth Perkins had several poems of her own published in magazines and newspapers. She died on February 4, 1921 in Oakland, California.[7]

Perkins and his wife Ruth had seven children.[7]


  1. ^ "Perkins, George Clement (1839-1923)". The Political Graveyard. 23 July 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Melendy, H. Brett; Gilbert, Benjamin F. (1965). The Governors of California: From Peter H. Burnett to Edmund G. Brown. Georgetown, California: The Talisman Press. p. 201.
  3. ^ "George Clement Perkins". California State Library. Archived from the original on 2010-06-03. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  4. ^ Hutchinson, W.H. (September 1962). "Prologue to Reform: The California Anti-Railroad Republicans, 1899-1905". Southern California Quarterly. Vol. 44, No. 3: 192.
  5. ^ Mowry, Geroge E. (1963). The California Progressives. Chicago: Quadrangle Paperback. pp. 15–16.
  6. ^ Evanosky, Dennis (2007). Mountain View Cemetery: History is All Around Us. Stellar Media Group, Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-60530-837-1.
  7. ^ a b "Governors of California - Ruth (Amelia) Perkins". Retrieved 2020-02-09.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Timothy Guy Phelps
Republican nominee for Governor of California
Succeeded by
Morris M. Estee
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Amasa Leland Stanford
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from California
Served alongside: Stephen M. White, Thomas R. Bard, Frank P. Flint, John D. Works
Succeeded by
James D. Phelan
Political offices
Preceded by
William Irwin
Governor of California
Succeeded by
George Stoneman