Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Malcolm R. Eiseler


As a figure in the American period of California history, Mr. James D. Phelan's achievements were an outstanding example of what an honest man can do in politics. First of all, I have endeavored to show his contributions to the city of San Francisco. There is hardly any field of San Francisco life in which James D. Phelan did not leave a tremendous influence. The politics of his term as mayor were a shining model of clean and progressive measures.

As senator he kept the interest of California at heart. Through his work at the World's Columbian Exposition, he made known to the world the progress and culture of California, then almost unknown.

Besides being a man of great accomplishments in the government, he had a vastly interesting personality, while a quiet, reserved man, he on the other hand never backed down if he felt the issue was right, His keen witticisms always followed a merry twinkle of his eyes, within his family he was found to be very strict and demanding; more so than with his business associates, he had great affection for his sister, Mary Louise. His individuality perhaps attracted my attention in the first place by being one that could be described as "the perfect gentleman of the old school" that is rarely found in politics. The fact that he was a poet also does not suit a political career, his character was an odd one, combining many characteristics which are not often found together.

He was the first modem dictator in San Francisco. Control of the city government was practically all in his hands; showing a good example of what can be done by this method with the proper type of man. Also, as his will showed, he was a rood capitalist who subscribed to the theory of "division of property." His enormous estate was divided so as to do the most good possible in the city of San Francisco in the hope that by its enrichment he might aid in turn California—a true pioneer of California was he!

Thus, I have endeavored to portray the character of a man whom I felt was an outstanding Califoranian, a personality different and rare, but worthy of imitation.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

No Known Copyright. URI:
The organization that has made the Item available reasonably believes that the Item is not restricted by copyright or related rights, but a conclusive determination could not be made. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.