Edmund Gerald Brown, Sr. (April 21, 1905 - February 16, 1996), best known as Pat Brown, was the 32nd Governor of California, serving from 1959 to 1967.
Pat Brown was born in San Francisco, the son of Edmund and Schuckman Brown. He was one of four children. He acquired the nickname "Pat" during his school years. When he was 12 years old, he sold Liberty Bonds on streetcorners. He would end his spiel with, "Give me liberty, or give me death." The nickname was a reference to his Patrick Henry-like oratory. He graduated from Lowell High School, but couldn't afford college. He worked in his father's cigar store and studied law at night. He received a law degree from San Francisco College of Law in 1927. He took some University of California extension courses, but acquired his broad knowledge through reading widely.
Pat Brown started a law practice in San Francisco. He was an active Republican, before turning Democrat in the early 1930's. He ran as a Republican for the State Assembly in 1928, but lost. He waited until 1939 to run again. This time as a Democrat for the District Attorney for San Francisco. Again, he lost. He ran again for the same position in 1943, and finally won. He served here for seven years, before running for, and winning, election as Attorney General of California. He served in that role for eight years. While he was the Attorney General, he was the only member of the Democratic Party to win statewide election.
In 1958, he was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Califonia. He defeated Senator William F. Knowland by a margin of nearly 20 percentage points. He was reelected in 1962, defeating Richard Nixon. He finally lost the 1966 election to Republican Ronald Reagan.
His terms as governor was wildly successful. It was marked by an enormous water-resources development program (which later evolved into the California Aqueduct), the enactment of the University of California master plan, fair employment practices, state economic development commission, and a consumers' council. He sponsored some forty major proposals. Only five failed to pass the legislature: state-wide minimum wage, regulation of unions, campaign finance, and an oil tax. He more than doubled the amount of state highways.
He met his wife, Bernice Layne, when he was young. They were childhood sweethearts. They married in 1930. She was the daughter of a San Francisco police captain. They had four children. A son, Edmund, Jr. (also known as Jerry), and three daughters: Kathleen Brown, Barbara Brown Casey and Cynthia Brown Kelly. In 1974, Brown's son, Jerry Brown, was elected the 34th Governor of California. Jerry was reelected in 1978. Pat's daughter, Kathleen Brown, was elected California state treasurer in 1990.
My son asked me what I hoped to accomplish as Governor. I told him: essentially to make life more comfortable for people, as far as government can. I think that embraces everything from developing the water resources vital to Califronia's growth, to getting a man to work and back fifteen minutes earlier if it can be done through a state highway program.