Edward S. Salomon: Jewish Territorial Governor of Washington

Edward S. Salomon,

9th Territorial Governor of Washington

Edward Salomon as Territorial Governor of the Washington Territories.

Edward Salomon as Territorial Governor of the Washington Territories.

Values Codes I-H-E-L

Edward S. Salomon was born in 1836 in Schleswig, Germany.

Edward Salomon arrived in New York, circa 1854.

Edward Salomon settled in Chicago in 1856.

Besides various mercantile pursuits, Edward Salomon practiced law both before and after his political career.



In 1861, Edward Salomon was elected Alderman of Chicago’s 6th Ward

After the Civil War he served as Clerk of Cook County.


In 1870-2, Edward Salomon was appointed as the 9th Territorial Governor of Washington Territory by President Grant.


1889-90, Edward Salomon was elected Assemblyman from the 42nd District in San Francisco, California.

In 1898, Edward Salomon was appointed Assistant District Attorney for the City and Country of San Francisco.


While Territorial Governor:

The Legislature met once in his two-year term.

“He vetoed a legislative reapportionment bill passed by both houses, saying,

‘This bill seems to me unjust, and would deprive some of the citizens of the territory of the representation they are entitled to.'”

–Edmond S. Meany.


The Northwest Pacific RR began a branch from the Colombia River.

Anticipating the Railroad’s arrival, Tacoma was founded as Commencement Bay City.

In 1871, the San Juan Boundary Dispute between the US and Great Britain, ends in the Treaty of Washington, giving the San Juan Islands to the United States.

“Speaking with a thick German accent and described as ‘short, plump and sporting a magnificent spiked German moustache and goatee,’ Edward S. Salomon, Olympia’s ninth territorial governor, often incited hilarity. 

“Disembarking from the steamboat at Yesler’s wharf, he climbed Mill Street (Yesler Way), made of slab wood covered with partly rotted sawdust from Yesler’s mill well-mixed with horse dropping, and plunged into his speech to the waiting crowd. 

“Suddenly he paused, stooped down and gathered up a handful of the odorous street covering.  ‘Mein Gott!’ he exclaimed.  ‘Vot a splendid soil for cabbages!’

Gordon Newell, Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen

“The acceptance of Governor Salomon’s resignation by the President is universally regretted by our people.  He was honest, fearless, and capable.  He mingled freely with the people, identified himself with their interests and generously expended his time and means to bring hither population and to promote our material interests. 

“He has established a reputation in the office which will make his administration a source of pride to his fellow citizens, and he carries into his retirement the consolation that the good and true of all parties regard it fortunate that he should have been called to preside over our destinies.

“His official acts are his best records; they have all met with the heartiest commendation of our people.”

Pacific Tribune.



General Edward Salomon, a Hero at Gettysburg.

General Edward Salomon, a Hero at Gettysburg.

In 1860,  Edward Salomon joined 1st Illinois Infantry as Second Lieutenant – but resigned with Col. Hecker.

In 1862, Edward Salomon joined the 82nd Illinois, the “Second Hecker Regiment” as a Lieutenant Colonel.

The 82nd Illinois was composed mainly of German, Jewish, Swedish, and other Europeans.

Edward Salomon rose to level of brevetted Brigadier-General for his gallant service at Gettysburg.

Fellow-immigrant Major General Carl Schurz, his corps commander, described him during battle:

“He was the only soldier at Gettysburg who did not dodge when Lee’s guns thundered; he stood up, smoked his cigar and faced the cannon balls with the ‘sang froid of a Saladin …'”



Edward Salomon was a Mason and served as Worshipful Master, Olympia Lodge No. 1 Free and Accepted Masons  32nd degree

He was a member of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) and was very active from end of the Civil War until his death in the George H. Thomas post in San Francisco.

Edward Salomon was elected GAR Department Commander of California, in 1887.

He was President of the Volunteer Officers’ Retired List.

Edward Salomon was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy Republican League of San Francisco for 8 years.



Edward Salomon participated in High Holy Days services, helped conduct services and delivered Yom Kippur sermon in at the home of one of the seven Jewish families residing in Olympia in 1871.

He  helped facilitate the purchase of cemetery land by the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Puget Sound, in 1974.



Edward Salomon married Sophia Greenhut, in 1860, in Pioria, Illinois.

Edward and Sophia had six children: Benjamin I. Salomon, 1861. Max Salomon, 1864. Carrie Salomon, 1866. Minna Salomon “Minnie”, 1873. Annie Salomon, 1879. Emil Salomon. Died at age 3.

All but Max and Mrs. Henry Harris pre-deceased him.

Max Salomon became a physician practicing at the German Hospital of San Francisco.


Edward Salomon died in 1913 in San Francisco.

The Salomon's Gravesite in Colma, California

The Salomon’s Gravesite in Colma, California

He was buried in Congregation Beth Israel portion of the Salem Cemetery, Colma, California.


Edward Salomon should not be confused with his cousins, Edward Salomon, Governor of Wisconsin and Union Army General, and Frederick Salomon, who was merely a Union Army General.


For more information see:

  • The Governor of Washington Territory, Edward O. Salomon, Western States Jewish History Vol. 17, No. 3 (April 1985), 214-215
  • Cone, Molly. Family of Strangers: Building a Jewish Community in Washington State. Washington State Jewish Historical Society, 2003.
  • Washington Secretary of State Legacy Project http://sos.wa.gov/legacyproject/HistoryMakersDetail.aspx?Salomon/Edward/691
  • A Regiment of Immigrants: http://webspace.webring.com/people/lo/oregon81/82salomon.html

Regina Merwin is the Curator for this Edward S. Salomon Exhibit.