Edgar D. Peixotto, lawyer and orator of San Francisco, is a representative of one of the distinguished American families, his ancestry, both lineal and collateral, having through many generations have been distinctively American, for at an early epoch in the colonization of the new world the Peixotto family was established in this country, as was the Dvis family, from whom Mr. Peixotto is descended in the maternal line. It was in the latter part of the seventeenth century during the early settlement of Rhode Island that representatives of the paternal line became residents of Rhode Island. The grandfather, Dr. D. L. M. Peixotto, was a distinguished New York physician, a writer of ability, and became dean of the faculty of medicine in Columbia College. Benjamin F. peixotto, an uncle of Mr. Peixotto, was an eminent lawyer and at one time was associated in practice with Stephen A. Douglas. He was a member of the bar of San Francisco for a short time and afterward became connected with diplomatic service, occupying a position of minister to Roumania from the United States under General Grant, while under President Hayes he was connected with the consular service as consul to Lyons.

Raphael Peixotto, the father of Edgar D. peixotto, is a native of Ohio, and the year 1868 witnessed his arrival on the coast. He located in San Francisco, where he still resides, occupying a prominent position in the community affairs, his influence and labors largely molding public policy here. He was a very successful merchant and won a position of distinction as a representative of business interests in the metropolis of the Pacific coast. He married Myrtilla J. Davis, a representative of an old family of Virginia, in which state her birth occurred. Among their children was Ernest C. Peixotto, an artist and writer of note, whose literary productions are well known to the readers of Scribner's Magazine. Another brother, Major Sidney S. Peixotto, is prominently identified with philanthropic work in connection with the boys' clubs of San Francisco. A sister, Jessica B. Peixotto, has the distinction of being the second woman to receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of California, and is now a member of the faculty of that institution.

Edgar D. Peixotto was born in New York on the 23d of December, 1867, and when but a year old was brought by his parents to the west, being reared in San Francisco, where he acquired his preliminary education in the public school. His literary course was followed by preparation for the legal profession. He matriculated in the Hastings College of the Law, in which he completed the regular course and was graduated in the class of June, 1888. In January, 1889, he was admitted to the bar on passing the examination before the supreme court, subsequent to which time he spent a year in travel in the United States and Europe. Upon his return he entered upon the practice of law in San Francisco, and in December, 1893, became assistant district attorney of the San Francisco district under Hon. W. S. Barnes. He conducted the prosecution and was identified with many prominent cases, including the trial of Patrick Collins, who was convicted of murder and hanged. He also conducted the first trial of Jane Shattuck, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mr. Peixotto was mr. Barnes' only assistant, and he was counsel in the trial of William Henry Theodore Durrant -- the crime of the century -- and made the opening address to the jury in behalf of the people. This argument was a splendid example of Mr. Peixotto's forceful and succinct style. In 1899 he wrote the history of this case, which was published by a Detroit house, the work being well illustrated and designed for the general reader as well as for the profession. Shortly after this celebrated trial Mr. Peixotto resigned his position in connection with the office of district attorney and entered upon the private practice of law, now occupying a fine suite of rooms in the Claus Spreckles building. In 1899 he was attorney for Sheriff Henry S. Martin. Mr. Peixotto has been conspicuous in connection with Republivan politics in California as a promoter of the interests of the party, but never as an office-seeker. In 1896 and again in 1900 he was a delegate to the national republican convention, and in the latter year was secretary of the California delegation. He has always been a stanch advocate of the party and its principles, and has delivered many campaign addresses, his eloquence and logic never failing to impress his auditors and many times carrying conviction to the minds of those who hear him. He was one of the executive committee on the occasion of the reception of President Roosevelt in San Francisco in 1903. He is a prominent member of the Bohemian and other clubs of San Francisco and of various fraternal organizations, and is well known throughout the state, being a favorite upon the public platform and a most popular after-dinner speaker.

Few lawyers have made a more lasting impression upon the bar of the state for legal ability of a high order and for the individuality of a personal character which impresses itself upon a community. Of a family conspicuous for straong intellectuality, indomitable courage and energy, he entered upon his career as a lawyer, and such is his force of character and natural qualifications that he has overcome all the obstacles and written his name upon the keystone of the legal arch of California.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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