Edmond G. (Pat) Brown Sr.was governor of California from 1959 to 1967.
He was considdered one of the three greatest Governors of Calif. along with Earl Warren and Hiram Johnson.
He defeated Richard Nixon and lost to Ronald Reagan.

According to Wikipedia, Brown's political popularity, multiplied by the state's population, would contribute to two national Presidential victories, when he pledged his votes to the national candidates, (Kennedy in 1960, and Johnson in 1964), at the Democratic conventions.

He skipped college to work in his father's cigar store but later went to the San Francisco College of Law at night.

Brown ran as a Republican for the State Assembly in 1928, but lost.
1950, he was elected as Attorney General and was re-elected in 1954. While he was Attorney General, he was the only Democrat to win statewide election in California.
In 1958 he was elected Governor.
He appointed my Aunt, Patricia Sikes, to a high level position in his administration, the first woman in that post.

He was known several big accomplishments:

  • The California Aqueduct built as part of the program now bears his name.
    This was criticized by some democrats because it benefited large agra-business at the expense of taxpayers and environmentalists.
    However, it made the San Joaquin Valley the single richest agricultural region in the world.
    California's agricultural production, $37.5 billion today, is double it's nearest competitor, Texas.
  • The California Master Plan for Higher Education
  • Expansion of the California Highway system.
The 2012 documentary "California State of Mind, the Legacy of Pat Brown" says,
- "He was Last Great American Political Builder"
- "He built the World's Greatest Public University System"

I assume you've seen Jeff Daniels rant on the opening show of "The Newsroom" on HBO.
"Why America is NOT the greatest country in the world, anymore."

It's interesting that two of the things where America is still #1 after 45 years are products of the Brown Administration .
1. The San Joaquin Valley - the single richest agricultural region in the world.
2. The University of California system is the greatest public university system in the world.
Seven UC campuses are in the top 50 universities in the world. The State University of New York (SUNY), another big system, has none.
Cal sent 45 representatives to the 2012 olympics in London and brought home 17 medals, 11 gold.
  It would have been 6th in the world if it was it's own country.
See www.arwu.org

Brown faced 3 of the most serious California controversies in my time.
  1. The Carl Chessman death penalty mess.
    Chessman was convicted and guilty beyond a doubt of rape (with no murder) which called for the death penalty under Calif. law. Brown was his last resort to commute the execution. Brown, a practicing Catholic, was torn between moral issues and pressure to follow the law. The media raised it to such a level that to cave, would have cost Brown political capital to persue his agenda to grow Calif. (according to several reports I saw). Chessman was executed. I've heard/read several Governors saying that the power to commute executions was the most difficult decisions they've had to make. I don't fault Brown for his decision.
  2. The free speech movement at UC Berkeley. One of my friends was jailed when the students occupied Sproul hall and were forcibly removed, under orders from Governor Brown, with some police violence.
  3. The Watts Riots in SW Los Angeles in 1965. Martin Luther King came to help Brown cool things down.
    This was part of the racial violence across the country associated with the civil rights movement, which resulted in the destruction of several blocks in Plainfield NJ, which had still not been rebuilt when I moved to North Plainfield in 1972.
    Oakland Calif. was the only large, predominately Black city which did not have violence. (Jerry Brown, Pat's son, was mayor of Oakland from 1999-2007, after his first term as Governor.)
Although he was hurt after each of these controversies, Pat Brown remained one of the more popular Governors in California history.

Pat Brown - Wikipedia
"California State of Mind, the Legacy of Pat Brown"
Edmund G. Brown Is Dead at 90; He Led California in Boom Years - The New York Times

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last updated 22 Oct 2012