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James Rolph: Wikis


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James Rolph, Jr.

In office
January 6, 1931 – June 2, 1934
Lieutenant Frank Merriam
Preceded by C. C. Young
Succeeded by Frank Merriam

In office
January 8, 1912 – January 6, 1931
Preceded by P. H. McCarthy
Succeeded by Angelo Rossi

Born August 23, 1869(1869-08-23)
San Francisco, California
Died June 2, 1934 (aged 64)
Santa Clara County, California
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Annie Marshall Reid
Profession Politician
Religion Episcopalianism

James Rolph, Jr. (August 23, 1869 – June 2, 1934) was an American politician and a member of the Republican Party. He was elected to a single term as the 27th Governor of California from January 6, 1931 until his death on June 2, 1934 at the height of the Great Depression. Previously, Rolph had been Mayor of San Francisco from January 8, 1912 until his resignation to become governor. Rolph remains the longest serving mayor in San Francisco history.


James Rolph was born in San Francisco on August 23, 1869. He had one younger brother. After attending school in the Mission District, he went to work as an office boy in a commission house. He entered the shipping business in 1900, by forming a partnership with George Hind. He would over the next decade, serve as president of two banks, one of which he helped establish.

Although he was asked to run for mayor in 1909, he chose to wait until 1911 to run for mayor – a position that he would hold for eighteen years. As mayor, he was known as "Sunny Jim" and his theme song was "There Are Smiles That Make You Happy". In 1915 he appeared as himself in an early documentary film titled Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco, which was directed by and starred Fatty Arbuckle. In 1924, Rolph appeared as himself in a Slim Summerville comedy short film, Hello, Frisco.

In addition to his mayoral duties and overseeing his shipping interests, he directed the Ship Owners and Merchants Tugboat Company, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He also was vice-president of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and president of the Merchants' Exchange. He resigned in 1931 to assume the office of Governor of California.

Rolph received considerable criticism for publicly praising the citizens of San Jose following the November 1933 lynching of the confessed murderers of Brooke Hart, while promising to pardon anyone involved, thereby earning the nickname, "Governor Lynch".

After suffering several heart attacks, he died in Santa Clara County on June 2, 1934, three years into his term. He is interred at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.


The official name of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge is the James "Sunny Jim" Rolph Bridge.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, husband to Valerie Plame from the Plame affair, is related to Governor Rolph. Rolph was Wilson's mother's uncle.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
P.H. McCarthy
Mayor of San Francisco
Succeeded by
Angelo Rossi
Preceded by
C. C. Young
Governor of California
Succeeded by
Frank Merriam


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