James H. Budd: The Governor Codifies the State’s Golden Past
January 24, 2012 § 2 Comments
The Golden California Holiday:
Printed below is the transcription of a declaration by James H. Budd, Governor of California (1895-1899), that January 24th, 1898 would be declared a legal California holiday. According to newspaper reports, this was not his idea but a request by the leading organizations of the California Golden Jubilee Executive Committee. The members of this committee included San Francisco’s most prominent figures in politics, culture, and industry. James D. Phelan, J. H. Jewett, and T. J. Parsons, respectively, led the push to declare January 24th a legal holiday.
Exemplified in a speech opening the Mechanics’ Fair in 1896 (Click here for full speech), James D. Phelan held a particularly strong view of San Francisco’s providential destiny in which would be codified into California’s newest holiday. Where he wrote:
No longer let it be said, then, of San Francisco, that, in the words of Bret Harte, she is “serene, indifferent to Fate,” but let it rather be known that she is alive to her interests, conscious of her duties, and prepared to merit her destiny manifest, but, as yet, unearned and unwon.
In promoting and marketing their anniversary celebration of California’s Gold Rush, these men were also ensuring that the Pioneer Myth of California would live on in a dramatically changing world of the 1890s. With the explosion of the Klondike gold rush in the summer of 1897, the economic recovery of the late 1890s, and San Francisco’s regional dominance slipping, influential commercial-civic elite sought to celebrate their city, its legacy, and its future as the continued regional hub of the Pacific Coast. Or at least thats what they were thinking. However, after the 1890s San Francisco’s regional dominance would only receive a temporary boost by this new gold rush and the Spanish-American War, especially by April of 1906.
The Governor’s Proclamation.
It is contemplated that the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of gold in California be celebrated on the 24th day of January, A. D. 1898. Recognizing the significance of that event, and the influence which that discovery has exercised upon the destinies of California and the history of the world (emphasis mine), and having been thereunto requested, I, James H. Budd, Governor of California, do hereby proclaim and appoint Monday, January 24, A. D. 1898, a legal holiday.
James H. Budd, Governor of California