Pat Brown: Wikis


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Edmund Gerald Brown, Sr.

In office
January 5, 1959 – January 2, 1967
Lieutenant Glenn M. Anderson
Preceded by Goodwin Knight
Succeeded by Ronald Reagan

Born April 21, 1905(1905-04-21)
San Francisco, California
Died February 16, 1996 (aged 90)
Beverly Hills, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Bernice Layne
Religion Roman Catholic

Edmund Gerald "Pat" Brown, Sr. (April 21, 1905 – February 16, 1996) was the 32nd Governor of California, serving from 1959 to 1967. He is the father of former California governor Jerry Brown.



Brown was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Edmund and Ida Schuckman Brown. He was one of four children. His father was an Irish Catholic, his mother a German Protestant. He acquired the nickname "Pat" during his school years. When he was 12 years old, he sold Liberty Bonds on street corners. He would end his spiel with, "Give me liberty, or give me death."[1] The nickname was a reference to his Patrick Henry-like oratory. He graduated from Lowell High School in 1923 where he was a high school debate champion as a member of the Lowell Forensic Society. After high school, Brown skipped college and instead worked in his father's cigar store and ran an illegal gambling room,[citation needed] while studying law at a local night school. He graduated from San Francisco Law School in 1927. He took some University of California extension courses, but acquired his broad knowledge through reading widely.

Pat Brown started a law practice in San Francisco. He ran as a Republican for the State Assembly in 1928, but lost. He waited until 1939 to run again, this time as a Democrat, for District Attorney for San Francisco against Matthew Brady. Again, he lost. He ran again for the same position in 1943, and finally won. He served in that position for seven years, and made his name attacking bookies and underground abortion providers,[citation needed] he lost the race for Attorney General of California in 1946 losing to Frederick N. Howser. Running again in 1950, and winning, election as Attorney General of California.He served in that role for eight years. While he was the Attorney General, he was the only member of the Democratic Party to win statewide election. In 1949, he raided Sally Stanford's elegant San Francisco bordello[2].

Governor of California

William Knowland, Edmund Brown Newsreel.ogv
Newsreel of Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, running unopposed for the 1958 Democratic nomination

In 1958, he was the Democratic nominee for Governor of California. He defeated U.S. Senator William F. Knowland by a margin of nearly 20 percentage points and a plurality of over 1 million votes. He was reelected in 1962, defeating former Vice President Richard Nixon by 52% to 47%. He lost the 1966 election to another future Republican President, Ronald Reagan. Reagan unseated Brown with 58%, winning a plurality of some 990,000 votes.

Brown's two terms as governor are generally regarded as successful, and he enjoyed great popularity. His time in office was marked by an enormous water-resources development program (which later evolved into the California Aqueduct, which now bears his name: "The Governor Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct"), the enactment of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, fair employment practices, state economic development commission, and a consumers' council. He sponsored some forty major proposals. Only five failed to pass the legislature: state-wide minimum wage, regulation of unions, campaign finance, and an oil tax. He more than doubled the amount of state highways.[citation needed]

As for capital punishment, Brown commuted 23 death sentences (first time just second day after taking office) and allowed 36 executions[3], including highly controversial case of Caryl Chessman in 1960 and Elizabeth Duncan - the last female put to death before a national moratorium was instituted.

Brown himself opposed the death penalty[4] and no execution took place after 1963 during his term[5].

During the Chessman case he also proposed that the death penalty be abolished, but the proposal failed[6]. His Republican successor, Ronald Reagan, was a firm death penalty supporter and oversaw the last pre-Furman execution in California in 1967.

Personal life

Brown met his wife, Bernice Layne, when he was young. They were childhood sweethearts. They married in 1930. She was the daughter of a San Francisco police captain. They had four children (all born in San Francisco):

In 1974, Jerry Brown was elected the 34th Governor of California. He was reelected in 1978, was defeated in a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1982, Mayor of Oakland (1998-2006) and was elected California Attorney General in 2006. Kathleen Brown was elected California State Treasurer in 1990 and was defeated in a bid for Governor of California in 1994.

In 1958, as Governor-elect, Brown appeared as a guest challenger on the TV panel show "What's My Line?".

Pat Brown died aged 90 in Beverly Hills and is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.

My son asked me what I hoped to accomplish as Governor. I told him: essentially to make life more comfortable for people, as far as government can. I think that embraces everything from developing the water resources vital to California's growth, to getting a man to work and back fifteen minutes earlier if it can be done through a state highway program.

Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate

Unlike his son, Jerry, Pat Brown never seriously ran for President of the United States, but he frequently was California's "favorite son", running exclusively in his home state.

During the 1952 Democratic primaries Brown placed distant second to Estes Kefauver in total votes (65.04% to 9.97%)[11], losing California to Kefauver[12].

During Governor Brown's first term (1959-1963), the national census confirmed that California had become the nation's most populous state.[13] Brown's political popularity, multiplied by the state's population, would contribute to the following two national Presidential victories, by pledging his votes to the national candidates, (Kennedy in 1960, and Johnson in 1964), at the Democratic conventions.

While Governor, Brown was again California's favorite son in 1960, winning his home state with a large margin to his only opponent George H. McLain[14]. Brown joined favorite sons Ohio's Albert S. Porter, Governor Michael DiSalle and Florida Senator George Smathers.

More serious primary candidates were Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Adlai Stevenson II and Stuart Symington in 1960, with the nomination going to John F. Kennedy. Brown ran only in the California state primary. Yet his popularity with the largest state electorate in the nation gave him second place in the national Democratic primary vote, just behind Kennedy[15]. Thus he repeated his 1952 state and national rankings. However, only one delegate cast his vote for Brown for President at the 1960 Democratic National Convention[16].

During the 1964 primaries, by running again only in California, the nation's largest state electorate vote[17] led Brown to place first this time in both the California and the Democratic national primary total[18], besting the eventual nominee. Brown, as well as over a dozen other candidates except George Wallace, was a stalking horse for incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson, whose nomination was assured.

As for the Vice Presidency, he briefly sought nomination at the 1956 Democratic National Convention, winning one vote[19].

Political party identity in California

Prior to 1959, loyalty to a political party was not important in California. Through a practice known as cross-filing, a person could run in both the Democratic primary and the Republican primary at the same time. As indicated in the article on the California Democratic Party, Governor Earl Warren did so in 1946 and 1950. Cross-filing was abolished in 1959. Thus the fact that Brown first ran for office as a Republican and later as a Democrat was not, at that time, as significant in California as it would have been elsewhere.


  • Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, Reagan and Reality: The Two Californias (NY, 1970)
  • R. Rapoport. California Dreaming: The Political Odyssey of Pat & Jerry Brown, Berkeley: Nolo Press (1982) ISBN 0917316487
  • Ethan Rarick, California Rising: The Life and Times of Pat Brown, University of California Press. (2005) ISBN 0520236270, the standard scholarly biography


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Frederick N. Howser
California Attorney General
Succeeded by
Stanley Mosk
Political offices
Preceded by
Goodwin Knight
Governor of California
Succeeded by
Ronald Reagan


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