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.

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

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.

He died, as Governor, in 1887.


  • Norton B. Stern, “Washington Bartlett: California’s Jewish Governor,” Western States Jewish History 28/3.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Washington Barlett,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.
Governor Bartlett's Tombstone WS 20/2853

Governor Bartlett’s Tombstone, #WS 20/2853