Contents 1 Early years 2 Career 2.1 Governorship 2.2 American Civil War 2.3 Post governorship 3 Later years 4 Legacy 5 References 6 External links


Early years[edit] Downey was born on June 24, 1827 in the townland of Castlesampson, Taughmaconnell parish, County Roscommon, in central Ireland, to Denis Downey and Bridget Gately. Castlesampson is 12 kilometres west of the town of Athlone. He emigrated with his family at the age of 14 to the United States in 1842, before the famine years. Settling in Charles County, Maryland, the Downeys joined two stepsisters who had already settled in the U.S. Dwindling family finances forced Downey to halt his education at age 16 and start working to become independent. He apprenticed at an apothecary in Washington, D.C. until 1846.


Career[edit] Downey relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked as a druggist. Like many who heard about the California Gold Rush, Downey decided to go West. He stopped along the way at Vicksburg, Mississippi; then Havana, Cuba and finally New Orleans, Louisiana. By 1849, Downey had arrived in California, briefly prospecting in Grass Valley before finding a job at a drug store in San Francisco.[1] He soon moved to Los Angeles, and he was elected for a one-year term to the Los Angeles Common Council in May 1852 and again in May 1856. He resigned from the council in December 1856.[2] A Lecompton Democrat who favored slavery in the Kansas Territory, Downey was elected as a member of the lower house California State Assembly for the 1st District, serving from 1856 to 1857. In the 1859 general elections, Downey was elected Lieutenant Governor, overcoming the party split within the Democratic Party between Lecompton and Anti-Lecompton Democrats, as well as seeing off a challenge from the infant Republican Party. Governorship[edit] Five days after Downey was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor, Governor Milton Latham resigned after being elected (by the State Legislature) to fill the federal Senate vacancy left by the death of David C. Broderick, killed in a duel in 1859.[3] Downey assumed the governorship on January 14, 1860. Governor Downey by William F. Cogswell During Downey's governorship, the Assembly and Senate passed the "Bulkhead Bill," a highly controversial bill heavily supported by San Francisco capitalists. It would have placed the city's waterfront in the hands of private companies within monopolies. Despite support for the bill among San Francisco's wealthy, local merchants and the public alike were in staunch opposition. In a move that stunned many former wealthy supporters, Downey vetoed the Bulkhead Bill. He said, "[I]ts provisions are not only in conflict with the constitution and the principles of natural justice, but that the measure as a whole is calculated to work irreparable injury to our commerce, internal and external, of which San Francisco is and must forever remain a metropolis."[4] Downey's veto was widely popular both in San Francisco and throughout California, and it marked the peak of his popularity. Visiting the city shortly afterward, Downey was greeted as a hero.[4] But, supporters of the Bulkhead Bill never forgave the governor. During a later visit to San Francisco, Downey described a protester as a "bulkheader." The man responded with a fist fight, broken up only when Downey supporters physically restrained his opponent.[1] At the 1860 presidential election, the Democratic Party again splintered. Anti-Lecomptons favored Stephen A. Douglas, while Lecomptons supported John C. Breckinridge. Previously part of the Lecompton faction, Downey sided with Anti-Lecomptons, supporting Douglas in his failed bid against Abraham Lincoln.[4] American Civil War[edit] By the outbreak of the American Civil War, Downey pledged support to the Union, responding to requests by U.S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron for California troop assistance. But Downey's support for the Unionist cause remained vague. According to Victorian historian Theodore H. Hittell, "Downey's unionism, it was very plain, was not of the kind by which the Union could be preserved. It meant continued submission and subserviency to slavery and the slave power, which had hitherto dominated the country while the advance of the age had outgrown it...It cannot be said that Downey had any special love for slavery or the slave power; on the contrary, he had to a very considerable extent broken loose of the chivalry and what was called an Anti-Lecompton Democrat; but unfortunately for himself, he was still hampered with old-time doctrines when slavery ruled unquestioned..."[4] With the Civil War in its first stages by the 1861 general elections, Downey's earlier support generated by his veto of the Bulkhead Bill had all but evaporated. Downey's Democratic Party again splintered violently over slavery and the Union. Despite turning away from the Lecompton "Breckinridge" faction, Downey failed to gain the nomination of the Anti-Lecompton "Unionist" Democrats during the state Democratic convention. This effectively ended his political career. During the election, the Republican Party capitalized on the Democratic split and won the elections. Californians voted for Leland Stanford over Breckinridge Democrat John R. McConnell and Unionist Democrat John Conness.[5] Post governorship[edit] After his term as governor expired in 1862, Downey returned to Southern California. In 1871, he helped co-found Farmers and Merchants Bank, the first successful bank in Los Angeles, with Isaias W. Hellman, a banker, philanthropist and future president of Wells Fargo. In 1879, Downey joined some public-spirited citizens led by Judge Robert Maclay Widney, in laying the groundwork for the University of Southern California, the first university in the region. When Widney formed a board of trustees, he secured a donation of 308 lots of land from three prominent members of the community: Ozro W. Childs, a Protestant horticulturist; Hellman, a German-Jew; and Downey. The gift provided land for a campus as well as a source of endowment, the seeds of financial support for the nascent institution. Downey Street on the USC campus is named after him.


Later years[edit] Downey's Los Angeles home, 1888. In 1883, Downey, along with his wife, Maria Jesus Guirado, the daughter of a prominent Mexican gentleman of Sonora, were involved in a train accident at Tehachapi Pass, when their train plunged into a ravine. A porter pulled Governor Downey out of the burning wreckage, but Mrs. Downey's body was never found. The event plagued Downey for the remainder of his life, as he suffered from what was described as "nervous shock." Today it would likely be called Post-traumatic stress disorder.[6] Following the accident and the death of Downey's wife, his friend Frank M. Pixley introduced him to the twenty-year-old Yda Hillis Addis, a new writer at Pixley's San Francisco journal The Argonaut. Downey was 32 years older than Addis, and they became engaged to marry. When Downey's two sisters discovered the betrothal, they were not pleased. Downey was a wealthy man; if he should pass away, his wealth would shift to Addis. The sisters took Downey and put him on a boat to Ireland. Addis sued for breach of promise, but left San Francisco before the trial. Some time after returning to the U.S., Downey married Rosa V. Kelly, of Los Angeles. Downey's grave at Holy Cross In 1880, Downey had acquired the nearly 45,000-acre (18,000 ha) Warner's Ranch in San Diego County, which was being used for cattle ranching. In 1892 he moved to evict Cupeño American Indians who occupied some of the land as their traditional historic territory, especially near the hot springs (Agua Caliente.) The Cupeño challenged the eviction in a case that reached the US Supreme Court,[7] but by the time it was decided in 1901, Downey had died. While the court ruled the Cupeño did have a right to land, it said they had waited too long to press their case, according to a law about the issue when California entered the Union. In 1903 they were relocated to the Pala Indian Reservation about 75 miles (121 km) away.[8] Downey died in 1894 at his home in Los Angeles. He was originally interred at Old Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles. After the cemetery was removed, Downey's remains were relocated to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.


Legacy[edit] Downey, California was named after Downey. His land company owned the land that was subdivided to create the town in the 1870s. During Downey's governorship, construction began on the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Also, during his governorship, the Pony Express began service to San Francisco, and the Central Pacific Railroad was formed.[9]


References[edit] ^ a b "John G. Downey". California State Library. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-08-03. Retrieved 2007-07-12.  ^ Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials,1850-1938, compiled under direction of Municipal Reference Library, City Hall, Los Angeles (March 1938, reprinted 1966). "Prepared ... as a report on Project No. SA 3123-5703-6077-8121-9900 conducted under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration." ^ "The Last Duel in San Francisco History". Anchor Steam Brewing Company. 2002. Retrieved 2007-07-11.  ^ a b c d Theodore H. Hittell (1897) [1885]. History of California, Vol IV. San Francisco, CA: N.J. Stone & Company.  ^ "Election History for the state of California". JoinCalifornia. 4 September 1861. Retrieved 2007-07-12.  ^ "John G. Downey". City of Downey. Archived from the original on 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2007-07-12.  ^ Barker v. Harvey, US Supreme Court, 181 U.S. 481 (1901) ^ Lewis, Frank D. (August 1903). "The Warner Ranch Indians: And Why They Were Removed To Pala". Overland Monthly. XLII: 171–173.  ^ "California Governor John G. Downey". National Governors Association. 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 


External links[edit] Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Gately Downey. John G. Downey biography at the California State Library John G. Downey at Find a Grave Political offices Preceded by Milton Latham Governor of California January 9, 1860 – January 14, 1860 Succeeded by Leland Stanford Preceded by John Walkup Lieutenant Governor of California 1860 Succeeded by Isaac N. Quinn v t e Governors of California Colony (1769–1822) Capt. Portolà Col. Fages Capt. Rivera Capt-Gen. de Neve Col. Fages Capt. Roméu Capt. Arrillaga Col. Bórica Lt. Col. Alberní Capt. Arrillaga Capt. J. Argüello Don Solá Territory (1822–36) Capt. L. Argüello Lt. Col. Echeandía Gen. Victoria Don P. Pico Lt. Col. Echeandía Brig. Gen. Figueroa Lt. Col. Castro Lt. Col. Gutiérrez Col. Chico Lt. Col. Gutiérrez Sovereignty (1836–46) Pres. Castro Pres. Alvarado · Uncle Carrillo (rival) Brig. Gen. Micheltorena Don P. Pico Republic (1846–50) Cdre. Sloat Cdre. Stockton · Gen. Flores (rival) Gen. Kearny · Maj. Frémont (mutineer) Gen. Mason Gen. Smith Gen. Riley Burnett (from 1849) U.S. State (since 1850) Burnett McDougal Bigler J. Johnson Weller Latham Downey Stanford Low Haight Booth Pacheco Irwin Perkins Stoneman Bartlett Waterman Markham Budd Gage Pardee Gillett H. Johnson Stephens Richardson Young Rolph Merriam Olson Warren Knight P. Brown Reagan J. Brown Deukmejian Wilson Davis Schwarzenegger J. Brown Before 1850 After 1850 After 1850 by age v t e Lieutenant Governors of California McDougal Broderick* Purdy R. Anderson Walkup Downey Quinn* de la Guerra* Chellis Machin Holden Pacheco Irwin* Johnson Mansfield Daggett Waterman White* Reddick Millard Jeter Neff A. Anderson Porter Wallace Eshleman Stephens Young Fitts Carnahan Merriam Hatfield Patterson Houser Knight Powers G. Anderson Finch Reinecke Harmer Dymally Curb McCarthy Davis Bustamante Garamendi Pasquil* Maldonado Newsom * acting v t e Members of the Los Angeles Common Council, 1850–1889 Cristobal Aguilar David W. Alexander David Anderson Cayetano Apablasa James Baldwin Pascal Ballade Peter Baltz Phineas Banning John Barre A.W. Barrett Joseph Bayer Samuel J. Beck Alexander Bell R.L. Beauchet Prudent Beaudry Martin V. Biscailuz O.H. Bliss John Bobenreith J.H. Book Edward C. Bosbyshell Dionisio Botiller Leonicio Botiller Narciso Botello J.G. Bower Andrew A. Boyle Levi Newton Breed Charles Brode Albert Brown John Henry Bryant S.H. Buchanan James D. Bullis Alfred Louis Bush Jesse Houston Butler Thornton P. Campbell Joseph G. Carmona George Carson Samuel Bradford Caswell Burdette Chandler Julian Chavez Caro W. Childs Ozro W. Childs Bernard Cohn Michael Thomas Collins T.B. Collins Antonio Franco Coronel Ygnacio Coronel Thomas J. Cuddy Eulogio F. de Celis Frank R. Day George Dalton Ygnacio del Valle William H. Dennison Henry Dockweiler Jose Maria Doporto Arthur McKenzie Dodson John Gately Downey Ezra Drown Bernard Dubourdin C.N. Earl James Edwards George Fall George O. Ford Stephen C. Foster John Frohling William Ferguson Simon A. Francis Jacob Frankenfeld Loring A. French Charles Gassen George Gephard Jacob F. Gherkins Edward A. Gibbs Ira Gilchrist Morris L. Goodman John Goller Thomas Goss Lewis Granger John Strother Griffin Joseph Lancaster Grant Elisha K. Green Jose Vicente Guerrero Ezra M. Hamilton Henry Hammel William S. Hammel, Sr. James Hanley Horace Hiller John Frederick Holbrook John Edward Hollenbeck Vincent A. Hoover Alexander W. Hope Charles E. Huber Joseph Huber, Sr. John F. Humphreys Joseph Hyans Arnold Jacobi Charles H. Johnson Charles R. Johnson Edward Wadsworth Jones John Jones John F. Jones John H. Jones Wilson W. Jones Matthew Keller Albert Fenner Kercheval George Kerckhoff John King Jacob Kuhrtz William Thomas Lambie William B. Lawlor Solomon Lazard Thomas Leahy Louis Lichtenberger C.C. Lips George R. Long John Lovell Obed Macy Oscar Macy Damien Marchesseault Luis B. Martinez Jose Mascarel Newell Mathews James Greer McDonald Daniel Michael McGarry Hiram McLaughlin Anthony McNally Lewis Meinzer Francis Mellus Jacob Metzger D.E. Miles Richard Molony William Norton Monroe Walter Scott Moore William Moore John P. Moran John Moriarty Moritz Morris Murray Morrison Elijah Moulton Joseph Mullaly Henry R. Myles John B. Niles Myron Norton Agustin Olvera H.K.S. O'Melveny J.B. O'Neil John Osborn William Osborn S.M. Perry William H. Perry William H. Peterson Nehemiah A. Potter James Wesley Potts David M. Porter Augustine Poulain William R. Rand Manuel Requena William Whipple Robinson Louis Roeder Andrew S. Ryan Frank Sabichi Tomas A. Sanchez William T.B. Sanford Milton Santee John Schaeffer Clifton S. Scheiffelin Charles W. Schroeder H. Schumacher John Schumacher Juan Maria Sepulveda Austin C. Shafer Philip Sichel Felix Signoret Hiram Sinsabaugh Ramon R. Sotelo Edward Falles Spence Abel Stearns George L. Stearns Robert Steere F. Tamiet Eli Taylor Matthew Teed Jonathan Temple John B. Thompson John S. Thompson Edward R. Threlkeld James R. Toberman John Turner August Ulyard Nathan Russell Vail Julian Valdes B. Valle Juan C. Vejar James Velsir Collins Wadhams D.V. Waldron Henry Wartenberg Jacob Weizel Otto G. Weyse John Ozias Wheeler George N. Whitman Cyrus Willard Benjamin Davis Wilson H.T.D. Wilson James Brown Winston Joseph W. Wolfskill Louis Wolfskill Wallace Woodworth Elijah H. Workman William Henry Workman Geronimo Ybarra Authority control WorldCat Identities VIAF: 46055130 LCCN: n97112179 ISNI: 0000 0000 3595 5174 SNAC: w6v41kqs Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_G._Downey&oldid=823280758" Categories: Governors of CaliforniaLieutenant Governors of CaliforniaPoliticians from Los AngelesBusinesspeople from Los AngelesLand owners from CaliforniaAmerican pharmacists1827 births1894 deathsLos Angeles County Board of SupervisorsLos Angeles Common Council (1850–1889) membersMembers of the California State AssemblyAmerican financial company foundersFarmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles peopleUniversity of Southern California peopleBurials at Holy Cross Cemetery (Colma)Downey, CaliforniaHistory of Los AngelesIrish emigrants to the United States (before 1923)People from County RoscommonCalifornia DemocratsDemocratic Party state governors of the United StatesUnion state governors19th-century American businesspeople19th-century American politicians19th century in Los AngelesHidden categories: CS1: Julian–Gregorian uncertaintyFind a Grave template with ID same as WikidataWikipedia articles with VIAF identifiersWikipedia articles with LCCN identifiersWikipedia articles with ISNI identifiersWikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers


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