San Francisco County
HON. HIRAM WARREN JOHNSON
Preeminent among the men who have represented the state of California in national affairs is the Hon. Hiram Warren Johnson, of San Francisco, now United States senator from California, former governor of this state, and internationally regarded as one of the most forceful, intelligent and masterly lawmakers ever to be sent to Washington, D. C.
Senator Johnson was born in Sacramento, California, September 2, 1866, and is a son of Grove Lawrence and Annie (DeMontfredy) Johnson. He is descended from an old New York state family, of English origin, members of which lived on American soil many years before the Revolutionary war. Grove L. Johnson, the senator’s father, was born in Syracuse, New York, March 27, 1841, and in 1865 came to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. He settled in Sacramento, and during the greater portion of his career engaged in the practice of law. He was a strong adherent of the republican party, and served a number of terms in the state assembly, also as congressman from California. His death occurred in 1925, when he was eighty-four years of age. His wife, who was Annie DeMontfredy, was descended from a French family which escaped from France to avoid religious persecutions. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, one of her ancestors having been a general in the Continental Army. On the maternal side, her descent was from the Van Courtland family. In addition to Senator Johnson, there was another son and three daughters born to his parents. The two daughters surviving are: Josephine, who is the wife of A. R. Fink of San Francisco; and Mabel, who is married to Bruce Dray, also of San Francisco.
Senator Johnson completed his schooling in the University of California, having left this institution during his junior term. He began work as a shorthand reporter, but with the future in mind he took up the study of law in his father’s office. He acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the legal profession in this manner, and in 1888 he was admitted to California state bar. Immediately he established himself in general practice in Sacramento, where he acquired a success commensurate with the extraordinary ability which he manifested. It was in 1902 that he came to San Francisco, where he quickly won renown. He was a member of the staff of prosecuting attorneys in the famous boodling cases, involving leading city officials and a number of public utility corporations of San Francisco, in 1906 and 1907. He was selected to assume the place of Francis J. Heney, after the latter was shot down in the courtroom while prosecuting Abe Ruef for bribery in 1908. Senator Johnson conducted the case thereafter with fine ability, and convicted Ruef. He retains his legal affiliation with the San Francisco bar as a member of the important firm of Sullivan, Roche, Johnson & Barry, the offices of which are situated in the new Mills Tower.
In politics, both state and national, Senator Johnson has been one of the outstanding figures in the governmental history of the United States. He was governor of the state of California from 1911 until 1915, and was reelected for the 1915-19 term. However, on March 15, 1917, he resigned from the gubernatorial position. He won fame in 1912 as being one of the founders of the progressive party, and was the national candidate of this party for the vice presidency on the ticket with Theodore Roosevelt. He was a candidate for the presidential nomination in 1920 at the republican convention. To enumerate all of the excellent achievements of Senator Johnson in this brief biography would be a repetition of that which is presented in the political history of the state in other volumes of this publication. It may be noted with emphasis, however, that he is considered one of the stanchest and most able California representatives ever to champion the state’s interests in the national halls of congress. He is recognized as a hard fighter, one who tenaciously holds to his opinions, which are based on thorough knowledge of law, politics, and human nature. He was first chosen for the senate in 1917, and is now serving his third term, which extends to the year 1935.
In 1886, Senator Johnson was united in marriage to Miss Minnie L. McNeal of Sacramento, and to them have been born two sons. Hiram Warren, Jr., the elder, is an attorney at law in San Francisco. He married Miss Amy Bowles, who is now deceased, and they were the parents of Hiram W. (III) and Philip Bowles Johnson. Archibald M., the younger son of the senator, is likewise engaged in the practice of law in San Francisco. He married Miss Martha Ruddey, a resident of this city and Burlingame, California.
Senator Johnson is a Protestant in his religious belief. He is a Knight Templar Mason, and is a loyal member of the Native Sons of the Golden West. He has an army of friends and supporters in the nation, people who believe in his opinions and have the utmost faith in his guidance in matters of local and national significance. His record, in its honesty and straightforward purpose, is unassailable, and to future generations his name will be known as that of one of the country’s greatest public men and statesmen.
Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
Source: Byington, Lewis Francis, “History of San Francisco 3 Vols”, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1931. Vol. 2 Pages 347-350.
© 2007 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.