Washington Bartlett: California’s Pioneer Jewish Governor

Governor Washington Bartlett WS 21/3012

Governor Washington Bartlett
WS 21/3012

Governor Washington Bartlett

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Washington Bartlett was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1824.of a Sephardic mother, Sarah Melhado.

He arrived in San Francisco, in 1849.

He and his brothers established newspapers in the Bay City, in 1850 and 1853

In 1857, Bartlett left journalism and entered the legal profession.

He advertised his new practice regularly in Rabbi Julius Eckman’s Jewish newspaper, The Weekly Gleaner.


Bartlett gave liberally to Jewish charitable causes but was not otherwise involved with the Jewish community.



In 1859, Washington Bartlett was elected San Francisco County Clerk and was re-elected a number of times.

In 1873, he was elected to the California State Senate.

Next Bartlett was elected Mayor of San Francisco, in 1882 and 1884.

Washington Bartlett was elected Governor of California, on the Democratic ticket, in 1886.


Research has revealed that Washington Bartlett was an honest politician in a corrupt era, and he manifested a deep concern for the public’s welfare.


Washington Bartlett never married.


Washington Bartlett died, as Governor, in 1887.


More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Bartlett, Washington; Washington Bartlett: California’s Jewish Governor; California; Stern, Norton B.; 28/3
  • Barlett, Washington, Pioneer Jews of San Francisco, Part One, A-L, Norton Stern, 41/1

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Governor Bartlett's Tombstone WS 20/2853

Governor Bartlett’s Tombstone
WS 20/2853