The Edmund G. Brown Papers document the career of an American politician who served as the 32nd California Governor. Prior
to his two terms as Governor, from 1959-1967, Brown served as San Francisco District Attorney (1944-1950) and Attorney General
of California (1951-1958). His son, Jerry, has also served four terms as the 34th and the 39th Governor of California.
Edmund Gerald “Pat” Brown (1905-1996) was the 32nd California Governor, serving two terms from 1959-1967.
Born on April 21, 1905 in San Francisco, California, Brown acquired the nickname “Pat” during his school years, when he referred
to Patrick Henry’s famous quotation “give me liberty, or give me death” while urging others to buy liberty bonds during World
War I. He was a debate champion and class secretary at Lowell High School in San Francisco, where he graduated in 1923. Brown
attended night law school after graduation, while working first at his father’s cigar store and later in the legal offices
of Milton Schmitt. In 1927 he graduated from the San Francisco College of Law, passed the California State bar exam, and took
over Schmitt’s law practice. Brown married his high school sweetheart, Bernice Layne, three years later in 1930.
Brown’s political career began in 1928, when he unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for the California State Assembly. He joined
the Democratic Party in 1932, and was an active party member for the rest of his life. Brown campaigned for public office
in 1939 but lost in his bid to become District Attorney of San Francisco; undeterred, he ran again in 1943 and was elected
for the first of two terms. Brown began looking toward state office during his tenure as District Attorney, making the decision
to run for California Attorney General in 1946. Losing in his initial bid, he ran again four years later and was elected Attorney
General in 1950, then successfully campaigned for a second term in 1954.
By now a well-established politician both statewide and nationally, Brown ran against Senator William Knowland in 1958 for
Governor of California, winning in a landslide. California’s population was growing rapidly, which was reflected in the policies
and laws enacted during his first term, including The California Master Plan for Higher Education, California highway expansion,
and the advent of the State Water Project. Brown also became embroiled in death penalty politics during the prominent last-minute
stay and eventual execution of Caryl Chessman in 1960. He was re-elected as Governor in 1962, defeating the former Vice President
Richard Nixon in a hotly-contested campaign. While his first term was characterized by expansion, Brown’s second term was
marked by turbulence and civil rights issues, including the Rumford Fair Housing Act and Proposition 14, the Watts Riots,
the Free Speech Movement at the University of California Berkeley, and Vietnam War protests. Brown ran for a third term as
Governor in 1966 but lost decisively to future President Ronald Reagan, thus ending his political career.
Brown returned to practicing law upon leaving political office; he also wrote three books and continued his involvement with
the Democratic Party. Two of his four children followed him into political office: His son, Jerry, has served as Attorney
General, Secretary of State, and four terms as Governor of California, while his daughter, Kathleen, served as State Treasurer
and also ran unsuccessfully for Governor. In 1980, Brown helped create the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs
as a vehicle for discussion of California’s government policy; the institute is now located at California State University,
Los Angeles. Brown died in Beverly Hills at the age of 90, on February 16, 1996. He is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in
763 cartons, 26 volumes, 8 oversize boxes, 8 oversize packages, 1 tube, 11 oversize folders (974.5 linear feet)
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Collection is open for research. Carton 1, Folders 1-16, and Cartons 762-763 are restricted; inquiries regarding these materials
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Funding for processing this collection was provided by a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant.