Edward S. Salomon: Jewish Territorial Governor of Washington

Edward S. Salomon

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.

Salomon arrived in New York, circa 1854, settling in Chicago in 1856.

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


Along the way . . . 

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, Salomon was appointed as the 9th Territorial Governor of Washington Territory by President Grant.

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 Railroad 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 U.S. and Great Britain ended 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 (Hangman Press, 1975)

“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

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

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


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, he joined the 82nd Illinois Infantry, known as the “Second Hecker Regiment,” as a Lieutenant Colonel.

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

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. He was elected GAR Department Commander of California in 1887.

He was President of the Volunteer Officers’ Retired List.

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



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

He also helped facilitate the purchase of cemetery land by the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Puget Sound in 1874.



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

Edward and Sophia had six children: Benjamin I. Salomon (b. 1861); Max Salomon (b. 1864); Carrie Salomon (b. 1866); Minna Salomon “Minnie” (b. 1873); Annie Salomon (b. 1879); and Emil Salomon, who 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.

The Salomon's Gravesite in Colma, California

The Salomon’s Gravesite in Colma, California

Edward Salomon died in 1913 in San Francisco.

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


Curator’s Note: Edward Salomon should not be confused with his cousins, Edward Salomon, Governor of Wisconsin, and Union Army General, and Frederick Salomon, who was a Union Army General.



  • “The Governor of Washington Territory, Edward O. Salomon,” Western States Jewish History 17/3.
  • Molly Cone, Family of Strangers: Building a Jewish Community in Washington State (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003).

Regina Merwin is curator for this Edward S. Salomon exhibit.