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Eugene Schmitz

In office
January 8, 1902 – July 8, 1907
Preceded by James D. Phelan
Succeeded by Charles Boxton

Born August 22, 1864(1864-08-22)
San Francisco, California
Died November 20, 1928 (aged 64)
San Francisco, California
Political party Union Labor Party
Profession Musician
Religion Roman Catholic

Eugene Edward Schmitz (August 22, 1864, San Francisco, California - November 20, 1928, San Francisco) was an American politician and mayor of San Francisco, who became notorious for his conviction by a jury on charges of corruption.

"Handsome Gene" was the son of an Irish mother and a German father. He had played the violin and conducted the orchestra at the Columbia Theatre on Powell Street in San Francisco. Schmitz was president of the Musicians' Union, when Abe Ruef chose him to run for mayor on the ticket of the Union Labor Party. Schmitz was elected in 1902 and was the mayor of his hometown when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed a prodigious amount of the city. On the day of the earthquake, Wednesday, April 18, he invited a cross section of the city's most prominent businessmen, politicians and civic leaders, but none of the members of the Board of Supervisors, to form the Committee of Fifty to help him manage the crisis.

On June 13, 1907, Schmitz was found guilty of extortion, and the office of Mayor was declared vacant. He was sent to jail to await sentence. Shortly thereafter he was sentenced to five years at San Quentin State Prison, the maximum sentence the law allowed. He immediately appealed. While awaiting the outcome of the appeal, Schmitz was kept in a cell in San Francisco County Jail.

On January 9, 1908, the District Court of Appeals nullified his conviction. Two months later, the California Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals' ruling, and he was released on bail, pending the resolution of the outstanding bribery indictments. He was brought to trial once more in 1912, on charges of bribery. Ruef was brought from San Quentin to testify, but refused to give evidence. The other key witness, Chief Supervisor Gallagher, had disappeared without leave to Canada, and did not return. Schmitz was acquitted.

Schmitz ran for mayor again in 1915 and 1919, but was soundly defeated due to his past reputation. Elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1921, he remained until 1925. He was married and had two daughters.


  • New International Yearbook for 1907 and 1908

External links


  • Walton Bean: Boss Ruef's San Francisco: The Story of the Union Labor Party, Big Business, and the Graft Prosecution (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1952; republished Greenwood Press, 1981, ISBN 0-313-23211-3).
  • Gordon Thomas & Max Morgan Witts: The San Francisco Earthquake (Stein and Day, New York; Souvenir Press, London, 1971; reprinted Dell, 1972, SBN 440-07631).
Preceded by
James D. Phelan
Mayor of San Francisco
1902 - 1907
Succeeded by
Charles Boxton


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