Biography of Hon. James Rolph, Jr.
San Francisco, CA Biographies





HON. JAMES ROLPH, JR.
In the history of California no public official has made a record more brilliant than James Rolph, Jr., mayor of the city of San Francisco for a period of twenty years, and now the holder of the highest office within the gift of the state, the governorship. No man has surpassed his personal popularity in the service of the people of California, nor has excelled his tolerant, intelligent, and astute manner of conducting the responsible duties which have been assigned to him. The thinking citizens of his native city and state recognize his keen understanding of human nature, of human rights, and his ability to apply this extraordinary knowledge to the task in hand. The welfare of his city and state have been his uppermost concern, and in countless ways and through numerous methods of procedure he has manifested his executive genius in promoting civic development. As governor of the state of California, he is following the same time tried methods which he employed during his long regime as mayor of San Francisco, methods which have created for him the widespread popularity which he now enjoys.

James Rolph, Jr., was born in San Francisco, California, August 23, 1869, and is a son of James and Margaret (Nicol) Rolph. He attended the public schools of this city, also the Trinity Academy The Governor's business career began rather humbly. From selling newspapers on the streets of San Francisco his first office position was in the employment of Kittle & Company, a shipping firm. Upon graduation from Trinity College he became a partner of the well known shipping firm of Hind, Rolph & Company and in 1914 headed the firm of Rolph Navigation & Coal Company. He organized the Mission Savings and the Mission Bank in San Francisco and in 1928 became a partner in the well known insurance firm of Landis & Brickell, and the new firm became known as James Rolph, Jr., Landis & Ellis. These, in brief, have been the commercial connections of Governor Rolph, although he has been interested in many other affairs of business nature. He served as vice president of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915.

One of the noteworthy achievements of Governor Rolph was his courageous and unremitting effort in behalf of the stricken city of San Francisco after the disastrous fire of 1906. He worked ceaselessly day and night to relieve the suffering community, and aided in establishing many relief committees to conduct the work of protecting the inhabitants, saving such property as could be reached, and in providing material assistance for those who lost everything.

Governor Rolph's conspicuous public career began in 1911, when he became mayor of San Francisco, having been elected as a candidate on the republican ticket. For twenty years thereafter he held this position, at each succeeding election the voters having indicated with unmistakable emphasis their faith in his integrity and ability, and their satisfaction with his previous accomplishments. The administrative details of his numerous terms in office are noted in extenso in the general historical text of this publication, hence will not be repeated here. It may be stated, however, that as mayor of San Francisco, James Rolph, Jr., became internationally known. His rule was distinctive; he was different and was colorful. He made his own decisions, and has never been affiliated with any interests which in any manner would influence his decisions or his procedure. He catered to no certain class, but generously granted his attention to all matters brought before him, irrespective of the business or social standing of the one who offered them. It was inevitable that sooner or later he should be a candidate for the state's highest office, and this became a reality in 1930 when he became his party's nominee for the governorship. He conducted a spectacular campaign, and was received everywhere in the state with enthusiastic acclaim, which convinced the most incredulous that his election was certain. He made his campaign trips by airplane, and he visited every county seat in the state of California, fifty eight of them, as well as making numerous other trips and appearances on the speaker's platform. When the polls were opened on the morning of election day his supporters responded universally, and he was elected by nearly one million votes, which is a record. Mr. Rolph has carried into the governor's office the same principles and methods which he used in the mayor's office, methods singularly his own. Frankness of action and speech are notable features of his character, backed by dominating courage which refuses to admit defeat. He understands the frailties of human nature, the inner thoughts, motives, and lives of the human race, and his interpretation of the law is sane, reasonable, and based on careful deliberation and investigation of all phases of whatever case is in hand. It is freely predicted that his regime as governor will be attended with the same degree of success and popular acclaim as was his long career as mayor of San Francisco.

On June 26, 1900, Governor Rolph was married to Annie Marshall Reid, of San Francisco, and to this union there have been born the following children: Annette Reid, who is the wife of John P. Symes; James Rolph (III); and Georgina, who married Richard C. Willets.

In conformity with his public position and also with his personal love for social contacts, Governor Rolph has many connections in clubs and fraternal organizations, among which may be mentioned the Hesperian Parlor, No. 137, of the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Commercial Club, the Pacific Union Club, the Bohemian Club, the Union League Club, the Press Club, and the Commonwealth Club. He is an ex president of the Merchants Exchange and the Ship Owners Association of the Pacific Coast. He believes in the value of watching the growth of California, and the various cities, through frequent visits to the community centers. Consequently, his presence is constantly in demand at celebrations, fairs, fruit shows, pageants and wherever people congregate for worthy purposes. The name and the work of Governor Rolph have great advertising value for San Francisco and California, and the synonymy of the names James Rolph, Jr., San Francisco and California is recognized over the entire civilized world.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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