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Friend Richardson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friend William Richardson
Friend Richardson.jpg
25th Governor of California
In office
January 9, 1923 – January 4, 1927
LieutenantC. C. Young
Preceded byWilliam D. Stephens
Succeeded byC. C. Young
21st California State Treasurer
In office
January 5, 1915 – January 9, 1923
GovernorHiram Johnson
William Stephens
Preceded byEdward D. Roberts
Succeeded byCharles G. Johnson
Personal details
William Richardson

(1865-12-01)December 1, 1865
Friends Colony, Michigan
DiedSeptember 6, 1943(1943-09-06) (aged 77)
Berkeley, California
Political partyProgressive; Republican
Spouse(s)Augusta Felder
ProfessionPublisher, politician

Friend William Richardson (born William Richardson; December 1, 1865 – September 6, 1943) was an American newspaper publisher and politician, most famous for supporting a 1923 gun control bill aimed at Chinese and Latinos. A member of the Progressive Party and later the Republican Party, Richardson was elected as the California State Treasurer from 1915 to 1923, and shortly afterwards as the 25th governor of California from 1923 to 1927. Richardson's governorship marked a sharp reversal in policies from previous administrations, rolling back many of the Progressive reforms and state governmental agencies put in place by previous governors Hiram Johnson and William Stephens.


William Richardson was born in December 1865 to William and Rhoda Richardson at Friends Colony, Michigan, a Quaker township located outside of Ann Arbor. Early in his life, William legally changed his first name to "Friend", the traditional Quaker greeting.[1] In his young adult life, Richardson worked as a county clerk and law librarian, and following his move to San Bernardino, California, married Augusta Felder in 1891, with whom he had five children. Five years later, Richardson became the owner and newspaper editor of The San Bernardino Times Index.[2]

In 1900, Richardson relocated to Berkeley where he purchased within a year The Berkeley Daily Gazette and became active in the California Press Association. Due to greater name recognition, Richardson was increasingly noticed by the state government.[2] In 1901, Richardson was appointed as Superintendent of the State Printing Office with the consent of the California State Legislature and Governor Henry Gage. The Richardson family relocated to Sacramento where he assumed state printing responsibilities, while at the same time, continuing to own his newspapers in both San Bernardino and Berkeley.

In 1914, Richardson officially entered politics, running as a Progressive for California State Treasurer. Richardson easily defeated his Socialist and Prohibitionist rivals by a voting gap of 66 percent.[3] Following the Progressive Party's collapse, Richardson again won a second term as Treasurer in 1918, this time as a Republican, and again won a landslide victory against his Socialist and Prohibitionist rivals by garnering 78.2 percent of the vote.[4]

After two successful terms as state treasurer, Richardson set his sights on the governorship as the Republican Party's nomination in 1922. Running against incumbent William Stephens in the party's primary election, Richardson campaigned on a conservative platform, capitalizing on electoral fatigue with Progressive-minded politics. The campaign worked, successfully defeating Governor Stephens and effectively returned the state Republican Party to a more conservative bent.

With Stephens out of the 1922 general election, Richardson faced Democrat Thomas L. Woolwine, the popular District Attorney of Los Angeles County. Amongst Richardson's supporters in the election were the Ku Klux Klan, (although the California state Republican committee chairman A.E. Boynton repudiated these claims [5]) which deeply opposed Woolwine's Catholicism, as well as being an organization that was rumored to count Richardson as a member.[6] His campaign manager in the election, California State Assemblyman Frank Merriam, would himself became governor in 1934. In the end, Richardson triumphed in the election, defeating Woolwine by nearly 24 percent of the vote.[7]


Richardson began his governorship on January 9, 1923, promising a no-frills administration to deeply cut governmental expenditures.[1] Despite his past affiliation with the Progressive Party, Richardson blamed both the party and its Progressive movement with excess in his inaugural speech, replacing the Southern Pacific Railroad political machine with a Progressive machine. "In 1911 the people did a good job of political house cleaning," Richardson spoke, alluding the Hiram Johnson and his Progressive majority in the Legislature. "During the past few years another great political machine has come into power which has cost the people millions of dollars. It will be necessary to first wreck this political machine before the state can be put on an economical basis and the government again handed back to the people."[8]

Richardson embarked on a program to eliminate "unnecessary boards and officers, by consolidation, and by doing away with overlapping functions," calling it a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.[8] In the preface to his proposed 1923 budget to the Legislature, Richardson declared his opposition to pork barrel politics and that "[m]y chief burden has been to relieve the people of their great burden of taxation."[9] In his various modifications to the state bureaucracy, Richardson appointed various individuals that were favorable to corporate interests.[10]

Richardson's official portrait in the state capitol.
Richardson's official portrait in the state capitol.

An electoral backlash against his deep-rooted fiscal conservatism came during the 1924 legislative elections, when resurgent Progressives regained control of the California State Legislature, beginning a legislative bulwark against more proposed cuts to the state government and increased corporate influence.[10] A proposal by Richardson to close two state universities, believing that education had become too costly for state coffers, was successfully defeated by the Progressives.[1] Meanwhile, Richardson blocked the Progressives' passage of a bill in the Legislature to create a professional State Bar of California with a pocket veto in 1925.[11]

As the Legislature and Richardson thwarted each other's political agendas, the governor attended to other duties outside of the political realm. Richardson personally accompanied Swedish Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Louise Mountbatten on a portion of their tour through Southern California in 1926.[12]

That same year, the increasingly embattled Richardson faced a crucial primary election. Growing anger at Richardson's overly-conservative administration led to the progressive wing of the Republican Party supporting C. C. Young, the lieutenant governor under both William Stephens and Richardson.[10] Young emerged victorious in the primary vote, depriving Richardson of the chance to run in the general election.

Defeated by his own party, Richardson left the governorship as his term expired on January 4, 1927. One accomplishment to his various eliminations and consolidations to the state government was a surplus of $20 million in the state treasury.[1]


Richardson returned to newspaper publishing, becoming the chief publisher of the Alameda Times Star in 1931. He became politically active again in the 1930s, though in appointed positions. He served as the State Building and Loan Commissioner under James Rolph from 1932 to 1934, and later as the State Superintendent of Banks from 1934 to 1939 under his former campaign manager in 1922, Frank Merriam. He retired from public life in 1939.

In July 1943, Richardson suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered, and died at his Berkeley home on September 6, 1943. His ashes are now interred at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland.

Throughout his life, Richardson was a member of the Freemasons, the Knights Templar, the Shriners, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Elks, the Kiwanis, the Moose, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Rotary and the Woodmen.


  1. ^ a b c d "Governor Friend Richardson". California State Library. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-04.
  2. ^ a b Cook, Lynn and Janet LaDue (2007) [2007]. The First Ladies of California. Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4257-2965-3.[self-published source]
  3. ^ "November 3, 1914 General Election Results". 1914-11-03. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
  4. ^ "November 5, 1918 General Election Results". 1918-11-05. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Chalmers, David M. (2000) [1965]. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klam (3rd Edition). New York: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-0772-3.
  7. ^ "November 7, 1918 General Election Results". 1922-11-07. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
  8. ^ a b "Inaugural Address, Friend Richardson. Presented: January 9, 1923". California State Library. 1923-01-09. Archived from the original on September 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
  9. ^ Richardson, Friend (1923). Budget Recommendations and Estimated Revenues: 75th and 76th Fiscal Years. Sacramento: California State Printing Office.
  10. ^ a b c DeBow, Ken and John C. Syer. (2003). Power and Politics in California. New York: Longman. ISBN 0-321-08975-8.
  11. ^ Anonymous, "Introductory: The Genesis and Development of the State Bar," xiii-xix, in the Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California (San Francisco: The Recorder Printing and Publishing Co., 1929), xvi.
  12. ^ "The Mission Inn Museum's Hands on History; Movers and Shakers; Swedish Prince". Mission Inn. 2006-10-06. Archived from the original on 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2007-09-22.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
William Stephens
Republican nominee for Governor of California
Succeeded by
C. C. Young
Political offices
Preceded by
William Stephens
Governor of California
Succeeded by
Clement Calhoun Young
Preceded by
Edward D. Roberts
Treasurer of California
Succeeded by
Charles G. Johnson
This page was last edited on 5 May 2020, at 16:14
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