Hon. George C. Perkins, present United States senator from California, for many years prominent in the buinsess and public affairs of the state of California, with many of his industrial and commercial interests and operations attaining a world-wide scope, has had the career of a typical American captain of industry, with all the interesting phases of early struggles, a maturing business judgment and foresight, a widening of interests and a gaining control of extensive enterprises, and then permanent success and power in commerce and industry and political and public life.
His life began in the rather humble home of his parents at Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1839. His earliest ancestors ahd come to Maine from England some generations before his birth. He was reared in hardy and thrifty surroundings on his father's farm, attending in season the common schools. But at the age of thirteen years he slipped from the parental nest and went to sea as a sailor before the mast, for the following four years visiting nearly all the climes and ports of the world. He returned home at the age of fifteen and spent six months in school, when he once more went on the watery highways and worked before the mast. In the course of these journeyings he arrived in San Francisco in 1855, on the clipper ship Galatea.
He went to Sacramento and then to Butte and Plumas counties, and for two years tried his luck in mining, with poor success. Teaming and lumbering were his next ventures, then working in a store. He became interested in the Bank of Butte County, built the Ophir flour mills, acquired mining interests and constructed sawmills, and after the hard and meager returns of his youthful years began to develop rapidly into the master of many and important enterprises. In 1872 he formed a partnership with Captain Charles Goodall, the firm known as Goodall, Nelson and Perkins, from which Captain Nelson retired in 1876, and it has been known as Goodall, Perkins and Company to this day. This firm has been one of the leaders in developing the transportation interests of the state, and has for a number of years controlled the most extensive business on the coast, extending from Alaska to Mexico and employing two thousand men. The firm is largely interested in the Pacific Whaling Company and other corporations. Mr. Perkins is also largely interested in other lines of enterprise. He is a director of the First National Bank of San Francisco, a director of Central Trust Company and Central Bank of Oakland, director of the Bank of Butte County, of the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, of the Arctic Oil Works, etc. He has been successful, and is a man of moderate wealth, wielding a large influence in all the business circles of the west.
Senator Perkins is one of the foremost Republicans of the west, and has been prominent in politics from his early years in the state. He hs served two terms in the state senate, having been elected both times from a Democratic district. As the representative of the people and in his business he has done much to advance the welfare of his state and has promoted many enterprises bearing directly on California's prosperity and growth. In 1879 he was elected governor of California by a majority of twenty-two thousand. In 1893 he was appointed by Governor Markham to succeed United States Senator Stanford, deceased; in 1895 was elected to the senate for the full term expiring in 1903. In January of the latter year he was again re-elected on the first ballot for the term of six years, receiving every vote of the Republican members of the legislature. On motion of a Democratic member his election was made unaminous. Senator Perkins is a fair speaker and a good reasoner, and these qualifications combined with his personality are further sources of his power as a man of affairs.
In addition to his steamship and other interests and his long political career, Senator Perkins has been identified with many public and charitable institutions. He hs been for twenty-two years president of the Boys and Girls' Aid Society; for two years was president of the San Francisco Art Association; president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1878; a trustee of the Academy of Sciences since 1886.
He is one of the prominent Masons of the state; was grand junior warden of the Grand Lodge F. & A. M., of California, in 1871; grand senior warden in 1872; deputy master in 1873; grand master in 1874, by unanimous vote. He has been through all of the offices of the commandery up to grand commander of the Grand Commandery the Knights Templar of California, in 1882, and held that office during the triennial conclave held in San Francisco, and at which meeting he was elected grand junior warden of the grand encampment of the Knights Templar in the United States.
Senator Perkins was married in Oroville in 1864 to Miss Ruth A. Parker, and they have three sons and four daughters.
Return to California AHGP home page
Return to Sacramento County AHGP home page