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Peter H. Burnett


Picture of Peter H. Burnett
Date Party Office Votes Result
11-13-1849 Nonpartisan Governor 6783 Win

Candidate Biography:

Born: November 15, 1807 in Nashville, Tennessee
Married: Harriet Rogers
Child: Children: Dwight, Martha Letitia Ryland, Romeetta, John, Armstead, Sallie
Family: Father in law of Assembly Speaker C. T. Ryland
Died: May 17, 1895 in San Francisco, CA.

1844-1845: Member, Legislative Committee of Oregon
1845-1848: Justice, Oregon Supreme Court
1848: Member, Oregon Territorial Legislature
1851: Resigned as Governor on January 8.
1852: Justice, California Supreme Court
1852: Member, Sacramento City Council
1857-1858: Justice, California Supreme Court

  • PLACENAME: California has six elementary schools (including Hawthorne (Mascot: Bulldogs) and Sacramento (Mascot: Hawks) and one middle school (San Jose; "Home of the Bears") named for Governor Burnett. Burnett Elementary in Long Beach was renamed in 2014, Hawthorne was renamed in 2020, Sacramento was renamed in 2023.
  • PLACENAME: "Burnett Township" (Santa Clara County) was named after the first Governor. The township (founded around 1852) included most of eastern Santa Clara Valley, and was later incorporated into the city of San Jose. There is also a Burnett Way in Sacramento. 
  • Positive Review: Described by Francis J. Lippett (who ran as Lieutenant Governor on the same ticket as Burnett) as "a Western man of the highest character".
  • Negative Review:  In 2011, activists led by Rev. Amos Brown (San Francisco NAACP Chapter President) successfully convinced the San Francisco Board of Education to change the name the "Peter Burnett Preschool" in the Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhood, noting that "Peter Burnett was a staunch racist" and that renaming the school would help the city in "getting away from a vestige of our dark past." The school is now named for Leola Havard, San Francisco's first female African-American principal.

Source: Sacramento Street Whys by Carlos Alcala (2007)
Source: "SF school swaps out name of racist Calif. governor" by Robin Hindery, Associated Press (5/19/2011)