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George C. Perkins
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, U.S.
DiedFebruary 26, 1923(1923-02-26) (aged 83)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseRuth 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]

Life and career

Perkins was born in 1839 in Kennebunkport, Maine, the son of Lucinda (Fairfield) and Clement Perkins. 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][4] 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][5][6]

Perkins is buried alongside his wife Ruth Parker Perkins in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.[7]

Personal life

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.[8]

Perkins and his wife Ruth had seven children.[8] Mount Perkins in California is named after him.


  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. ^ "S. Doc. 58-1 - Fifty-eighth Congress. (Extraordinary session -- beginning November 9, 1903.) Official Congressional Directory for the use of the United States Congress. Compiled under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing by A.J. Halford. Special edition. Corrections made to November 5, 1903". U.S. Government Printing Office. 9 November 1903. p. 6. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  5. ^ Hutchinson, W.H. (September 1962). "Prologue to Reform: The California Anti-Railroad Republicans, 1899-1905". Southern California Quarterly. 44 (3): 192. doi:10.2307/41169745. JSTOR 41169745.
  6. ^ Mowry, Geroge E. (1963). The California Progressives. Chicago: Quadrangle Paperback. pp. 15–16.
  7. ^ Evanosky, Dennis (2007). Mountain View Cemetery: History is All Around Us. Stellar Media Group, Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-60530-837-1.
  8. ^ a b "Governors of California - Ruth (Amelia) Perkins". Retrieved 2020-02-09.
Party political offices Preceded byTimothy Guy Phelps Republican nominee for Governor of California 1879 Succeeded byMorris M. Estee U.S. Senate Preceded byAmasa Leland Stanford U.S. Senator (Class 3) from California 1893–1915 Served alongside: Stephen M. White, Thomas R. Bard, Frank P. Flint, John D. Works Succeeded byJames D. Phelan Political offices Preceded byWilliam Irwin Governor of California 1880–1883 Succeeded byGeorge Stoneman
Chairmen of the United States Senate Committee on Post Office and Civil Service